The fallout from last week’s US air strikes in the Farah Province, which an Afghan commission concluded had killed 140 civilians, continued today as an Afghan MP involved in the investigation said that 95 of the dead were actually children (which he defined as under the age of 18). The attack was the single largest instance of US-killed civilians in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion.
US Military spokesman Col. Greg Julian was dismissive of the claims, mocking the locals and saying they were unable to tell if 19 or 69 bodies were buried in a mass grave. He also rejected the list of the names of the dead presented earlier this week, saying “I can sit down and give you a list of names too … but the physical evidence doesn’t compare.” Col. Julian went on to suggest that the $2,000 given to the families in compensation for a slain family member was driving civilians to exaggerate the toll.
The military has yet to present its final report on how many civilians it killed, but calls the reports from Afghan officials, which are all in the realm of 130-150 civilians killed, “extremely over-exaggerated.” It took several days before the military was willing to admit that it had killed anyone at all, previously suggesting the whole incident was manufactured by the Taliban.