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Civilian casualties show Afghan war has ‘gone too long’: US envoy

WASHINGTON: Special Representative of the United States (US) Zalmay Khalilzad said the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan showed that this war has “gone too long”.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported that in the first quarter of 2019, there were 1,773 civilian casualties in Afghanistan — 581 deaths and 1,192 injured. The UN also reported 582 child casualties — 150 deaths and 432 injured.

It noted that during this period, Nato-led and Afghan forces killed more civilians in the worn-torn country than the Taliban did.

“We are distressed by reports of civilian casualties, each one an unnecessary victim of a war that has gone too long,” Ambassador Khalilzad wrote in a tweet.

Sharing the pain of Afghan victims, he said: “Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, neighbours and friends. Their deaths outrage us all and we stand with Afghans who protest the deaths and want to end the bloodshed.”

He said the forces on the ground “never target innocents. War is treacherous & unintended consequences are devastating.” Khalilzad assured that the Afghan and US forces are striving “to prevent casualties” and that the “real solution is a ceasefire or reduced violence as we pursue lasting peace.”

Referring to a Taliban statement that a ceasefire is not on the agenda for the next round, Mr Khalilzad said: “For us, peace is the agenda. The Afghan people have had enough violence & want an end to the war. The United States stands with them. I challenge Talibs to join other Afghans and work to make this the year of peace,” he earnestly added.

A key part of the long Afghan peace process, entailing a meeting between the Taliban and Afghan officials along with civil society members, was postponed owing to militant’s reservation over the lengthy guest list last week.

 

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