The violence in Afghanistan is exploding to new levels. As the US bombing campaigns on Taliban targets intensify a battle for dominance between ISIS, the Taliban and Afghanistan government forces are adding to the chaos. Presidential elections are set for September 28, in Afghanistan and campaign rallies along with polling stations are special targets for terrorist attacks.
The first half of 2019 saw a threefold rise in civilian casualties in Afghanistan compared to the same time frame in 2018. US airstrikes resulted in 158 civilian casualties in the first half of 2018 but 439 in the first half of 2019. This is the first time since 2015 that the US was responsible for more civilian harm from airstrikes. Experts believe the ramp-up in violence was part of an effort by the US to push the Taliban toward peace talks. Those talks appeared to be nearing a positive end until last week when a Taliban strike resulted in the death of a US soldier. President Trump tweeted that the peace talks were dead, and the violence has worsened.
This morning the Taliban launched an attack on a hospital in southern Afghanistan, killing at least 20. Elsewhere an airstrike carried out by the Afghanistan government against ISIS in Nangarhar province resulted in another 15 deaths. In both events, Kabul and Nangarhar, civilians made up the bulk of the death count.
Earlier this week the Taliban struck a campaign rally that was being held by Afghanistan’s President. A suicide bomber on a motorcycle packed with explosives struck and killed 48 people. Once again, civilians were the targets and victims killed in this attack.
The BBC recently released a report tracking the death counts in Afghanistan over the month of August. In that month along, according to the BBC report, 473 civilians were killed in Afghanistan’s violence and 783 injured. “An average of 74 men, women and children were killed every day of the month of August in Afghanistan.”
The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project has pronounced Afghanistan as the most lethal conflict in the world today. In the month of August battle-related fatalities in Afghanistan were three times higher than either Syria or Yemen.
The US has been at war in Afghanistan for 18 years. There is no end in sight. The violence in Afghanistan has only worsened. For the people of Afghanistan, this is only the latest phase of a fight that has been ongoing for at least 40 years.