NATO Airstrikes Kill at Least 16 Civilians in Western Afghanistan

Attacks Targeted 'Taliban Base,' Expanded to Entire Civilian Neighborhood

At least 16 civilians, including a number of women and children, were killed and many others wounded Monday in western Afghanistan, when NATO warplanes carried out a flurry of airstrikes in Herat Province’s Zerkoh District, aiming to hit a “Taliban base.”

The raid started with strikes on the Taliban base, but quickly got out of hand when survivors of that strike started fleeing in all directions, and the NATO planes responded by bombing civilian homes in the same neighborhood, assuming the Taliban had taken refuge there.

Provincial officials say a number of Taliban fighters were killed in the strike, 16 to 18 depending on the source,but all seem to agree that the attack also resulted in substantial numbers of civilian deaths. Though the Defense Ministry had initially credited the Afghan Air Force with the strike, they later admitted it was a NATO operation.

NATO, for its part, has been unusually silent on the operation, having made no statements confirming or denying the incident, nor their requisite claim that they’d heard reports of civilian deaths and intend to investigate.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.