- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan has not slowed this year despite ongoing intra-Afghan peace talks and a February agreement between the U.S. and Taliban to reduce violence.

More than 2,000 Afghan civilians were killed and nearly 4,000 wounded between January and September of this year as heavy clashes between Afghan forces and the Taliban raged on, according to a new United Nations report released on Tuesday.

“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said.

The quarterly report documented 5,939 total civilian casualties with 2,117 killed and 3,822 injured.

The U.N. noted that although the number of civilian casualties reported marks the lowest figures over the same nine months since 2012, “the harm done to civilians remains inordinate and shocking.”

“UNAMA reiterates that all parties to the conflict can and must do more to protect civilians from harm by urgently reviewing practices and strengthening mitigation measures, as well as working towards an end to the fighting — the only way to definitively stop conflict-related civilian casualties,” the report said.

The Taliban and other anti-government groups were responsible for 58% of the casualties, the report found, while Afghan government forces were responsible for 23%.

Ground fighting caused the majority of the casualties, followed by suicide and non-suicide IEDs 29%, targeted killings 16%, and airstrikes 8%.

The Taliban and U.S.-backed Afghan government began peace negotiations last month, marking a milestone opportunity to end two decades of war. But violence has continued including this week when two suicide bombs went off near a police special forces base in eastern Afghanistan that killed three civilians and four militants.

A February peace deal between the U.S. and Taliban called for a steep reduction of violence, opened the door to American troop withdrawal from the country and eventual intra-Afghan negotiations.

The Taliban and the Afghani government, who agreed to negotiations following the U.S.-Taliban peace deal, are aiming for a long-term resolution that can end conflict between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters while also paving the way for the U.S. to pull all of its troops from a country in which they’ve been stationed since October 2001.

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