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Real Afghanistan Casualty Numbers

Yochi Drezen has a scoop on the Wall Street Journal‘s website. He reports:

U.S. military investigators have concluded that roughly 50 people — including at least 20 militants — died in a controversial American air strike in western Afghanistan this week, disputing Afghan and Red Cross reports of a much higher civilian death toll, according to senior American officials.

The investigators have also found evidence that Taliban fighters prevented some families from evacuating their houses during the nearly 12-hour firefight, effectively assuring civilian casualties, the officials said.

In the aftermath of the Monday air strikes in the village of Granai, Afghan officials said that as many as 120 civilians had been killed, which would have made the incident one of the bloodiest since the start of the U.S.-led war in 2001. The International Committee of the Red Cross largely backed the Afghan claims….

In other words, assuming this report is accurate, civilian casualties were probably 30, not 120. That’s quite a discrepancy. Don’t expect such findings to quiet the hysteria over American-caused casualties — any more than facts will spoil outrage over alleged Israeli-caused casualties. But at least it would be nice if, for a change, Afghan President Hamid Karzai tried to dampen this hysteria rather than stoking it. It would also be nice if there were half as much outrage over the civilian casualties deliberately caused by groups like the Taliban or Hamas. I know, I know. Dream on.


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