A United Nations monitor issued figures on Monday showing that civilian casualties in Afghanistan have soared over the period the United States began rapidly withdrawing forces ahead of Biden's declared full exit, which is to be accomplished before the symbolic date of September 11.
Civilian casualties in the war-torn country hit record highs for the first half of the year, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in its report. "In May and June alone, when the Taliban began its surge of attacks, 783 civilians were killed and 1,609 were injured," the group indicated according to The Hill, which notes further: "In just those two months, the civilian casualties neared the total from January through April, when 876 civilians were killed and 1,915 were injured, the mission added."
Just last week Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley admitted the Taliban now has "strategic momentum" against Afghan national forces. He said the Taliban holds roughly half of all the country's districts, yet also held out hope for national forces' ability to push the Islamic fighters back, saying "I don’t think the end game is yet written." Washington has lately pledged continuing air strikes in support of the national army.
The new UN report indicates the majority of civilian casualties were caused by the Taliban, the Afghan ISIS branch, and other terrorist insurgents, while a big portion were also caused by being "caught in the crossfire".
The Hill summarizes of the report's findings:
- More than 60 percent of civilian casualties documented by the U.N. mission were caused by "anti-government elements," which includes the Taliban, the Afghan branch of ISIS and other “undetermined” groups, according to the report.
- The leading cause of civilian casualties was improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used by the Taliban and ISIS, according to the report. Pressure-plate IEDs used mostly by the Taliban have killed and injured 42 percent more civilians this year than the same period last year.
- Another 33 percent of the civilian casualties were people caught in ground fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces, the report said.
- The number of women and girls killed and injured nearly doubled this year compared to last, the report added.
President Biden in his big early July Afghan exit speech said he believed it's "highly unlikely" the Afghan government will ultimately retain "unified" control of the country.
Since that July 8 speech the terror group has continued advancing at lightning pace, lately also with the majority of border areas in Taliban control (the Taliban itself boasts control of at least 90% of major border crossings as areas). The Taliban has also lately overrun prisons where they've freed hundreds or possibly thousands of detained jihadists which have rejoined Taliban ranks.