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US military says it mistakenly killed 20 Afghan civilians last year

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(Last Updated On: June 3, 2021)

The US military says air and ground operations it conducted in Afghanistan last year unintentionally killed 20 civilians.

According to an annual report on civilian casualties submitted to Congress, the US Department of Defense (DoD) “assesses that there were approximately 23 civilians killed and approximately 10 civilians injured during 2020 as a result of US military operations.”

The Pentagon said in addition to the 20 deaths in Afghanistan, five people were injured in the country. The deaths and injuries took place in seven air and ground operations in January and February, the report said.

The number of civilians killed last year is far lower than in previous years.

In 2017, by contrast, the US military said it had killed nearly 500 civilians.

According to the report, although Congress allocates $3 million annually for financial compensation to the families of victims, no compensation has been paid to the victims killed and injured in 2020.

However, the number of victims that the Pentagon took responsibility for in its report is far below figures compiled by NGOs about civilian death tolls in areas where the US military is active, RFE/RL reported.

The monitoring group Airwars, which tracks civilian victims of air strikes, cited the United Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and said it counted 89 deaths and 31 people wounded in operations by US-led coalition forces.

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US imposes new visa restrictions on some IEA members

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday Washington has imposed additional additional visa restrictions on some Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) members in response to bans on women’s rights.

“I am taking action today to impose additional visa restrictions on certain current or former Taliban (IEA) members, members of non-state security groups, and other individuals believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, repressing women and girls in Afghanistan through restrictive policies and violence, including the Taliban’s decision to ban women from universities and from working with NGOs,” Blinken said in a statement.

 “The immediate family members of such persons may also be subject to these visa restrictions,” he said.

Blinken said the IEA has again shown disregard for the welfare of Afghan people through their decisions.

“So far, the Taliban’s actions have forced over one million school-aged Afghan girls and young women out of the classroom, with more women out of universities and countless Afghan women out of the workforce,” he said.

“These numbers will only grow as time goes on, worsening the country’s already dire economic and humanitarian crises.”

Blinken stated the IEA cannot expect the respect and support of the international community until they respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans, including women and girls.

“We condemn in the strongest of terms the Taliban’s actions. The United States stands with the Afghan people and remains committed to doing all we can to promote and advance respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans, including women and girls,” he added.

Responding to the new visa restrictions, the IEA said increasing travel restrictions on Islamic Emirate officials is not “a correct policy and will not help to solve the problems because Afghanistan will become more isolated with the restrictions”.

Meanwhile some experts say that the Islamic Emirate should adopt a policy that solves internal problems and one whereby the international community can interact positively with them.

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IEA defense minister meets with former generals

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

Defense Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) Mawluvi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid has met with former senior military officers and assured them that their problems will be resolved and their security will be ensured.

According to a statement issued by the defense ministry on Wednesday, the defense minister and Chief of Army Staff, Qari Fasihuddin Fitrat, met with generals of the former government and several other ex-military officials.

“The whole goal now is peace, security and defense of territorial integrity, and we have to preserve this Islamic system at any cost,” Mujahid told the generals.

The former military personnel included lieutenant general Afzal Aman, lieutenant general Mohammad Zaman Ahmadzai, major general Shaor Gul, major general Nabiullah, brigadier general Farid, colonel Afandi and several other generals and former corps commanders, read the statement.

At the meeting Mujahid said that their only aim is to restore peace in the country and heal the past wounds. He said that bringing an end to prejudice needed sincerity and love.

The minister listened to the problems and recommendations of the former military officers and promised them their issues would be resolved. He also assured them of their security.

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Iran resumes issuing visas to Afghans in Herat

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(Last Updated On: February 1, 2023)

Local officials in Herat say that the process of issuing Iranian visas to Afghans has resumed in the province after a pause of two months.

A private company has been authorized as Iranian visa application center in Herat, but travel agencies which used to offer services to the applicants criticize the move.

They say that this process was put out to tender and seven companies were selected to offer visa services, but this process has been given exclusively to one company.

“We used to do this for 150 afghanis, but this company charges 350 afghanis,” said Abdul Waheed Amiri, the manager of a travel agency in Herat.

Currently, more than 300 travel agencies are operating in Herat city.

Local officials in Herat say that the company that is authorized as Iranian visa application center is an Iran-linked agency.

“Iran has set agents for itself in three parts of Herat city. The agency of the diplomatic mission of Iran operates here,” said Naeemulhaq Haqqani, the head of Herat’s information and culture department.

The process of issuing Iranian visas resumed in Herat since three days ago, but visa applicants are not satisfied with this process and say that they wait day and night for their visas to be issued.

“We have been visiting here for three days. The Islamic Emirate says that the visa is suspended, but it will be opened when we leave here. People are not taken care of,” said Fraidoon, a visa applicant.

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