in Afghanistan Completes Investigation Into Engagement Resulting
in Civilian Casualties
Afghanistan (AFPS) — Intense enemy fire justified actions
taken by Afghan and U.S. forces during an Aug. 22 engagement
several civilians and more than 30 Taliban fighters were killed in western
Afghanistan, a coalition investigation has concluded.
found that Afghan and U.S. forces began taking fire from Taliban
militants as the
combined force approached its objective in Azizabad,
Herat province, during a planned offensive operation in the pre-dawn hours.
of the enemy fire justified use of well-aimed small-arms fire
and close-air support to defend the combined force, investigators
concluded, adding that the type and application of fires were
used in accordance with existing rules of engagement.
found that 30 to 35 Taliban militants were killed, and it revealed
evidence suggesting a known Taliban commander, Mullah Sadiq,
was among them, officials said. Five to seven civilians were
killed, the investigation determined. Two civilians were injured
and were treated by coalition forces, and five Taliban were
said investigators determined the range in the casualty numbers
by observation of the enemy movements during the engagement
as well as on-site observations immediately following the engagement.
investigators discovered firm evidence that the militants planned
to attack a nearby coalition base, officials said. Other evidence
collected included weapons, explosives, intelligence materials,
and an access badge to a nearby base, as well as photographs
from inside and outside of the base.
disrupted any planned attack, officials said.
officer took statements from more than 30 Afghan and U.S. participants.
The investigating officer also reviewed reports made by ground
and air personnel during the engagement; video taken during
the engagement; topographic photo comparisons of the area before
and after the event, including analysis of burial sites; reports
from local medical clinics and hospitals; intelligence reports;
and physical data and photographs collected on the site, coalition
officials and Afghan coalition forces were denied entry into
the village the day following the event. No other evidence
that may have been collected by other organizations was provided
to the U.S. investigating officer and therefore could not be
considered in the findings, Combined Joint Task Force 101 officials
of the investigation were provided to Army Gen. David McKiernan,
commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance
Force in Afghanistan, for his use as part of a joint inquiry
into the incident.
officials said the investigating officer conducted the investigation
using methods prescribed by U.S. Army Regulation 15-6, Procedures
for Investigating Officers and Boards of Officers.