A U.S.-led military effort to oust the Taliban has failed, the rights group Human Rights Watch reported Monday.
In a report, the Washington-based watchdog alleged that local Taliban had executed up to 1,200 Afghan security forces at police stations and checkpoints following the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 attacks.
The report also alleged that Afghan security forces themselves had targeted civilians, killing at least 65 civilians in their districts and towns, making it hard to hold the Taliban to account.
The Taliban and other insurgent groups are known to kill civilians they see as friendly to the U.S.-led coalition. The level of civilian casualties, however, is limited by the presence of a civilian-protection force led by the U.N.
HRW cited many accounts from Afghan and Western officials, survivors, and witnesses.
The group said that both the Taliban and the U.S.-led coalition had the means to protect civilians from further attack but failed to use them. The report said the Taliban’s strategies and their tactics specifically favored use of the civilian population as “human shields.”
The Taliban, in many cases, retreated after receiving U.S. air support, but then re-emerged from areas that had been bombed to carry out attacks.
The Taliban has denied that it engages in atrocities, saying that in its fight against foreign and domestic forces it will honor the rules of war.
The report says Afghan security forces have committed a litany of abuses, including killings of suspects and bystanders, land grabs, forced displacement, and torture in detention centers.
The report quotes U.S. Gen. John Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan, as saying: “It is critical that Coalition forces use force in accordance with all applicable laws of war.”
However, he reportedly added that “much more emphasis should be placed on protect human life, while ensuring civilian casualties are avoided” in operations against the Taliban.
Gen. Nicholson is to leave the U.S. on April 15.
The U.S. is backing Afghan forces, which are commanded by Gen. Scott Miller, with approximately 15,000 troops in the country. A separate, much smaller U.S. military effort is focusing on information-gathering and counter-terrorism operations against the Taliban and other militant groups, including the Islamic State.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Click for more from News.com.au.