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US casualties in Afghanistan highest since 2015, says report

WASHINGTON: The Afghan insurgency and US casualties in the first quarter of this year were at the level highest since 2015, when the United States drastically reduced its military presence in Afghanistan, says an official report released this week.

The report by the office of the Special Inspector General Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) also shows that between January and March 2018, US forces dropped a total of 1,186 munitions in Afghanistan, the highest since 2013, when SIGAR began compiling its quarterly report for the US Congress.

This is over two and a half times the number dropped in the first quarter of 2017. Statistics released by the US Air Force’s Central Command Combined Air Operations Centre shows that the United States dropped 378 munitions in January, 469 in February, and 339 in March 2018 during 215 missions.

The SIGAR report points out that in the first quarter of 2018, the insurgency’s control over districts was also at its highest level since SIGAR began receiving district control data in November 2015.

The report includes data collected by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNMA), which documented 10,453 civilian casualties from January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017. The casualties included 3,438 deaths and 7,015 injuries. Men were the majority of civilian casualties, 58 per cent, followed by children,30pc, and women,12pc.

UNAMA attributed 6,768 civilian casualties (2,303 deaths) to anti-government forces and 2,108 civilian casualties (745 deaths) to pro-government forces.