Saleh orders arrest of person who claimed civilians killed in airstrike
Vice President Amrullah Saleh has ordered the arrest of the individual who reported civilian casualties from an Afghan government airstrike on October 22, 2020, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.
The Afghan air forces targeted a Taliban gathering at a mosque in Hazara Qarluq village in Takhar on Wednesday morning in which at least 12 children were killed and 18 civilians were wounded, sources said.
Saleh, however, rejected claims, stating: “No child was killed in Afghan Air Force strike in Takhar.”
VP stated that the Taliban sniper unit “responsible for massacre of our special forces a day earlier was targeted.”
“The person responsible for spread of this venomous and fake news was arrested immediately. Talibs use houses and mosques as shield,” Saleh tweeted.
Saleh also wrote on Facebook that legal action would be taken against those “who make false allegations.”
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Thursday that the Afghan government ordered an investigation into the incident. However, findings from investigations into other incidents of civilian casualties have not been made public and no one has been held accountable.
“Vice President Amrullah Saleh is trying to silence those who reported a potentially unlawful airstrike that killed civilians, including many children,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director. “The government should immediately release anyone detained under Saleh’s order and carry out a thorough and impartial investigation of the airstrike.”
In #Afghanistan, “Vice President Amrullah Saleh is trying to silence those who reported a potentially unlawful airstrike that killed civilians, including many children.” – @pagossman https://t.co/Tgjs2KnFrk pic.twitter.com/Y01doFIcMO
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) October 23, 2020
In response to the Human Rights Watch’s report, Saleh stated that the Afghan government has no intent to restrict the absolute rights of the people.
“We are standing against freedom to kill, freedom to kidnap, freedom to harass, freedom to rape, freedom to steal, freedom to a massacre, freedom to grab public land, freedom to extort & freedom to cage the defender of the freedom.”
“We aren’t silencing the lawful frees and freedoms,” he tweeted.
We are standing against freedom to kill, freedom to kidnap, freedom to harass, freedom to rape, freedom to steal, freedom to massacre, freedom to grab public land, freedom to extort & freedom to cage the defender of the freedom. We aren’t silencing the lawful frees and freedoms. https://t.co/JsycUuvn32
— Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh2) October 23, 2020
In recent weeks, Afghan government forces have sustained many casualties during intense fighting in Takhar province. The uptick in fighting comes amid rising numbers of Taliban attacks and little progress on the Afghan peace talks in Doha.
The laws of war permit attack only against military objectives, which include enemy fighters, weapons, and equipment. Warring parties are prohibited from deliberately attacking civilians, except those directly participating in hostilities. For a specific attack on a military objective to be lawful, it must discriminate between combatants and civilians, and the expected loss of civilian life and property must be proportionate to the anticipated military gain from the attack. Attacks that target civilians, that are indiscriminate, or that cause disproportionate civilian loss are unlawful.
It is not clear if Taliban forces were in the vicinity of the mosque. Mosques and schools are civilian objects not subject to attack unless being used for military purposes. Any Taliban fighters present would be required to take all feasible precautions to remove civilians from the vicinity.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has reported that women and children comprised 65 percent of the civilian casualties from airstrikes by the Afghan air force for the first half of 2020. The Afghan government has a poor record of investigating such incidents.
“The Afghan government is obligated to investigate possible laws-of-war violations by their forces,” Gossman said. “The free expression rights of those reporting on alleged violations should be respected.”
Iran holds ‘good negotiations’ with IEA over water rights
Iran’s foreign minister has said that Tehran had “good negotiations” with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) over the issue of water rights.
“We have the water rights issue on the agenda, and the [Iranian] president has assigned Hassan Kazemi Qomi [Iranian ambassador to Afghanistan] to follow up on the matter, with the view that the issues between the two countries should go in the direct direction and be resolved,” Hossein Amir Abdollahian told Iranian state media.
On the recent border clash, he said that the clash did not have any agenda, and the situation in Afghanistan is understandable for Iran.
Tensions between Iran and IEA escalated after Tehran accused Kabul of restricting the flow of water to Iran.
The tensions began last month after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned the IEA needs to “honor” Iran’s rights over the Helmand River.
IEA officials have stressed that they are committed to the 1973 water treaty between Iran and Afghanistan, but there is a lack of water due to drought.
EU-Central Asia summit calls for inclusive government in Afghanistan
Leaders of Central Asian countries and the EU chief met in Kyrgyzstan on Friday, where they discussed Afghanistan among other issues.
The meeting in Cholpon Ata was attended by the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, and a delegation from Turkmenistan.
On Afghanistan, the participants discussed common concerns over the deteriorating situation in the country and reaffirmed their commitment to see the country develop into a secure, peaceful, stable, prosperous country, according to a joint communique.
The leaders also recognised the efforts of the international community to assist the people of Afghanistan in a principled manner and in accordance with international law and universally recognized norms and principles, despite difficult circumstances.
Participants also called on the international community to step up humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan and noted the key role of the UN in providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan in a principled manner.
They underlined the importance of the establishment of an inclusive and representative government and the importance of promotion of and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans citizens, in particular women, girls and ethnic groups.
IEA special forces kill key Daesh commander in eastern Afghanistan
The Islamic Emirate’s special forces in an operation on Wednesday killed a top Daesh commander along with his accomplice in eastern Nangarhar province, state-run Bakhtar news agency reported.
This Daesh commander’s name was reportedly “Turab”.
The operation was conducted on Wednesday evening in Wuch Tangi village of Shiwa district in eastern Nangarhar province, according to the provincial officials reported by Bakhtar news agency.
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