13 civilians killed in latest US strikes in Afghanistan

More than a dozen civilians were killed in northern Afghanistan by U.S.-led airstrikes, the UN announced on Monday.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported that an airstrike conducted by international coalition forces on Friday night in the northeast of the country killed 13 civilians and injured three more.

The body indicated that 10 of those killed were the children of a single family that had been displaced by violence elsewhere in the country.

"Armed dissidents entered several dwellings in the urban center of Kunduz and used civilians as human shields," Governor Ismet Muradi told Anadolu Agency on the latest strikes.

Muradi said 58 armed opposition members -- 11 of them holding senior positions -- were killed in the attacks and that injured 15 others, adding that women and small children were also among the dead.

Debra Richardson, spokeswoman for the NATO-led mission Resolute Support held the Taliban responsible for the deaths, telling reporters that members of the organization took shelter in the surrounding houses without considering damage to civilians.

Afghan media reported that locals protested the killing of women and children during the funeral of the civilians.

The alliance announced in a written statement that the strikes were held in response to the killing of two U.S. soldiers by opposition fighters.

On Monday, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) condemned the civilian deaths, expressing deep concern on the increase in civilian casualties.

"Targeting civilians and their homes is a clear violation of human rights, and is explicitly contrary to the provisions of International Conventions on human rights, IHL, National laws and the holy religion of Islam," AIHRC said in a written statement.

It called on opposition groups not to use civilians and their homes as human shields, and to "comprehensively respect the human rights of citizens and international humanitarian law's provisions."

According to UNAMA, 2017 saw the highest number of civilian casualties from airstrikes since it began documenting such incidents in 2009.

More than 3,000 civilians lost their lives with over 7,000 wounded in coalition airstrikes led by the U.S., as well as in attacks by the Taliban and Daesh.

One in three killed in blasts in the war-ravaged country were younger than 18, said Patricia Gossman, senior researcher on Afghanistan in an article published by the Human Rights Watch.

Gossman said the U.S. military played a "crucial role" in all aspects of Afghan air operations, and that it was the sole provider of training to the Afghan air force.

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