U.N. Report on Civilian Casualties Encourages ISAF Commander

KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 6, 2012 — The com­man­der of the NATO-led Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force in Afghanistan react­ed over the week­end to a Unit­ed Nations report that notes a decline in coali­tion-relat­ed civil­ian casu­al­ties.

“Every cit­i­zen of Afghanistan must know ISAF will con­tin­ue to do all we can to reduce casu­al­ties that affect the Afghan civil­ian pop­u­la­tion,” Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen said in a state­ment. “This data is promis­ing, but there is more work to be done. Even one civil­ian casu­al­ty is a tragedy, and I will con­tin­ue to direct each mem­ber of the coali­tion to work to dri­ve the num­ber of ISAF-caused civil­ian casu­al­ties to zero.”

Over the past year, ISAF has tak­en a num­ber of mea­sures to pro­tect inno­cent Afghan civil­ians from the harm caused by armed con­flict, offi­cials said, and the com­mand con­tin­ues to place sig­nif­i­cant empha­sis on rein­forc­ing the tac­ti­cal direc­tives that instruct coali­tion forces in safe­guard­ing inno­cent civil­ians.

ISAF hosts con­fer­ences and train­ing specif­i­cal­ly devot­ed to reduc­ing casu­al­ties relat­ed to both land and air oper­a­tions, offi­cials not­ed.

“The most strik­ing — and obvi­ous — com­po­nent of the report is the increas­ing num­ber of civil­ian casu­al­ties attrib­uted to insur­gents,” Allen said in his state­ment, not­ing that impro­vised explo­sive devices now are respon­si­ble for rough­ly a third of civil­ian casu­al­ties, accord­ing to the U.N. Assis­tance Mis­sion in Afghanistan report. The death toll from insur­gent attacks is much too high, he added, and it deserves direct atten­tion and action from Mohammed Omar, the Taliban’s spir­i­tu­al leader.

“If the insur­gency has any real inter­est in ceas­ing the indis­crim­i­nate killing of Afghan civil­ians, they will act imme­di­ate­ly and stop any and all actions that kill inno­cent men, women, and chil­dren,” Allen said.

From an Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force News Release