An unnamed defense official has told the Associated Press today that “errors were made” in the deadly bombing in Farah Province last month, adding that the military’s failure to follow the rules for US bombing missions in the nation likely lead to the enormous civilian toll.
The attack, which hit two villages in the province, killed 140 civilians, most of them children, according to the Afghan government. The US has repeatedly disputed the toll and indeed the entire incident in the slightly less than one month since it happened.
The military initially claimed to have “very reliable evidence” that the Taliban had kidnapped all the civilians, pre-killed them with grenades, stowed them in buildings in the villages, then tricked the US into blowing up the buildings so as to take the blame for it.
It didn’t take long, however, for the military to concede that the claims were “thinly sourced” and admit that they had killed “at least some” of the civilians killed in the attack. The US has promised wholesale changes to policy to prevent such air strike deaths several times over the seven years of war, and while they don’t seem to have changed anything it now seems to be an issue of the military ignoring the rules rather than the rules being problematic.