UN: US Attack on Afghan Drug Lab in May Killed 30 Civilians

Pentagon condemns report, prefers to think of victims as 'insurgents'

Following a four-month investigation, the UN has issued a report on a May 5 US airstrike against a drug lab in western Afghanistan. The reported found the attack violated international humanitarian law, with 39 civilian casualties, including 14 children. They added that the victims were strictly non-combatants.

Among the 39 civilian casualties, 30 were killed. The lab was accused of producing meth, and there was no sign that the workers there were in any way participating in combat functions, which means they were entitled to protection from attack during the war.

Since the US military isn’t in one of those periods where they are trying honesty in response to such incidents, they issued their own statement angrily rejecting the UN report, claiming that the sources who reported on the casualties to the UN had “conflicted motives.”

But mostly, they objected to the UN report identifying everyone killed as civilians. The military claimed they were “insurgents,” and later called them “lawful military targets” on the grounds that the Taliban was making money from the lab.

The UN report already addressed that claim in its own report, noting that the victims weren’t participating directly in combat in any way. That their survival benefits the enemy does not legally justify killing them under international law.

The UN also disputed the idea that these were even “Taliban” facilities, saying some of the facilities were owned by criminal groups, and neither controlled nor operated by the Taliban itself.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.