Over 3000 Civilians Killed, 7000 Injured in Afghanistan in 2017 - UN Mission

Taliban publishes open letter to Americans

To persuade the American public that the US military will never win in Afghanistan, the Taliban cites the "3,546 American and foreign soldiers" killed, "more than 20,000 American forces injured", and an "87% rise" in opium and heroin production in 2017.

UN Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, says, "When we document these appalling civilian casualty figures, it hurts, because it counters the best interests of this country and undermines efforts serving the people of Afghanistan".

The letter, released by the Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, comes amid deteriorating conditions for United States and Afghan coalition forces on the battlefield and after a month in which two Taliban assaults on Kabul killed 150 civilians.

"UNAMA documented 631 civilian casualties (295 deaths and 336 injured) from aerial operations conducted by pro-government forces, a seven per cent increase from 2016, and the highest number from airstrikes in a single year since 2009", the press release said. Child casualties - 861 killed and 2,318 injured - decreased by 10 percent compared to 2016.

"Drones are used more frequently among the tools that are causing those civilian casualties but it is hard to assess the scale of those casualties and whether they are lawful or not without information about the targeted killings actions".

According to the report, attacks also increased significantly in places of worship - with almost 500 civilian casualties from 38 attacks in 2017.

"Afghan civilians have been killed going about their daily lives - travelling on a bus, praying in a mosque, simply walking past a building that was targeted", Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN high commissioner for human rights, was quoted as saying in the report.

Citing the "3,546 American and foreign soldiers" killed and the "87 percent rise" in heroin production in 2017, the letter argues that "if the policy of using force is continued for another one hundred years, the outcome will be the same.as you have observed over the last six months since the initiation of Trump's new strategy".

"Such attacks are prohibited under worldwide humanitarian law and are likely, in most cases, to constitute war crimes".

The report attributes 1,000 civilian casualties (399 deaths and 601 injured) and the abduction of 119 civilians to Daesh / ISIL-KP.

Almost 2,300 civilians were killed or wounded in suicide bombings and attacks in Afghanistan last year, more than any previous year of the conflict on record, the report said.

Danielle Bell, director of human rights of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, speaking Thursday described the nine percent reduction in civilian casualties previous year as an "important step" towards minimizing harm to non-combatant Afghans.

The report also found that the number of air strikes conducted by Afghan air forces and the global coalition increased "significantly" - and with it the number of strike-related deaths. It calls on anti-government elements to cease the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian objects and the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of all IEDs.

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