The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Was There Actually an Airstrike in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province?

That’s the subject of an increasingly heated charge from the Afghan government after a Dec. 27 raid in the eastern province of Kunar left nine men dead. The

Paolo Reyna
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Dec 29, 2009

That’s the subject of an increasingly heated charge from the Afghan government after a Dec. 27 raid in the eastern province of Kunar left nine men dead. The International Security Assistance Force, NATO’s command in Afghanistan, said the men were part of an insurgent network planting improvised explosive devices. Representatives of the Afghan government say they were civilians. And the governor of the province says they were killed in an airstrike. Only one thing: there may not have been any airstrike.

There’s an investigation open into the Kunar incident ordered by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. But an ISAF official who would only speak on background while the investigation proceeds said unequivocally that there was “no airstrike.” Instead, the official said, a joint U.S./Afghan operation — on the ground — disrupted an IED network, leaving nine male combatants in their late teens and early 20s dead. The allegation of an airstrike is a heated one because Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S./ISAF commander, sharply curtailed the use of airstrikes upon assuming command in June following years of airstrikes that inflamed the civilian population.

Obviously I’m thousands of miles from Kunar and can’t directly verify whether there was or wasn’t a strike. But the timeline of available reporting supports the ISAF official. On Monday, the day after the raid, Karzai referenced the raid, but not any airstrike. Neither did a New York Times story about the raid that ran yesterday. There are references to* civilian casualties* emerging from the raid, but nothing about any airstrike until Kunar Governor Sayed Fazlullah Wahedi told Reuters yesterday that a strike occurred. Yet The Times quoted the Kunar police chief, Khalilullah Ziayee, who didn’t mention any airstrikes, and he’s investigating the incident.

I called Afghanistan’s embassy in Washington and asked an embassy official named Ashraf Hadari if he could confirm a strike occurred. “Not really, I cannot confirm that,” Haidari said, “I think it’s still being looked into.” Similarly, there’s a demonstration scheduled for Wednesday in Kabul to protest the deaths. I called and emailed representatives of the group that’s sponsoring it, the youth wing of the Afghan Society for Social Reform and Development, but haven’t heard back from them. When I have more information about what happened in Kunar, I’ll update.

ISAF is pledging to cooperate with the Afghan investigation. But that effectively blocks its ability to come out and prove that there wasn’t an airstrike. With Karzai publicly endorsing the investigation and the governor of the province insisting the strike occurred, unequivocal public repudiations of the airstrike allegations would most likely be viewed as bigfooting the Afghan investigation and lead to additional political complications in the ISAF-Afghan relationship. And there’s no timetable for the investigation to wrap itself up.

Paolo Reyna | Paolo is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in International Studies with a Latin American emphasis. During the fall semester of 2012, he had the opportunity to study abroad in Peru, which piqued his interest in international growth. He learned about the disparities that impact indigenous peoples, got a taste of Peruvian culture, and improved his Spanish skills. Mitchel interned with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, conducting research on food security in Latin America, after being inspired by his foreign experience. He wants to work in international development and for a government department, writing legislation. He loves playing intramural basketball and practicing for the Chicago marathon when he is not thinking about current events in Latin America.


Rep. Paul Ryan to deliver SOTU response

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union Tuesday, according to Mike Allen

Rep. Paulsen allies with medical device industry to relax FDA oversight

Source: Flickr; Republicanconference ( On the heels of the Minnesota Independent story last week about U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s cozy financial relationship with the medical device industry, the New York Times reported Tuesday that some health professionals are alarmed by Paulsen’s push to relax Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight

Rep. Paulsen touts balanced budget constitutional amendment

In a post for the conservative blog True North , U.S. Rep

Rep. Patrick McHenry: Please, Conservatives, Fill Out Your Census Forms!

The conservative congressman from North Carolina, a constant critic of the census -- one of the people who sounded the alarm about politicization when the

Rep. Paulsen, Karl Rove the latest to get ‘glittered’

Rep. Erik Paulsen and former Bush staffer Karl Rove were both showered with glitter at the Midwest Leadership Conference Friday

Rep. Perlmutter to hold constituent meet-up in grocery store

Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter will hold a Government in the Grocery constituent meet-up this evening from 5-7 at the Safeway at 38th and Wadsworth in Wheat Ridge. The address is 3900 Wadsworth. The meeting, where Perlmutter typically sits at a folding table and talks to whomever shows up, is free and open to the public

Rep. Perlmutter criticizes House measure that would eliminate 800K federal jobs

Congressman Ed Perlmutter today issued a scathing statement criticizing the House of Representatives for passing a spending bill that could put nearly a million federal employees out of work. The Colorado delegation voted strictly on party lines, with all four Republicans voting in favor of the bill and the three Democrats voting in opposition. Perlmutter’s statement: “My number one priority is to get people back to work because that’s the best thing we can do to pay our debt and move forward toward economic stability

Rep. Pete Stark Won’t Dignify Constituent by, er, Micturating Upon His Leg

In the tradition of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), California Democratic Rep. Pete Stark revealed at a recent town hall gathering that there are limits to what

Rep. Peace, ACLU seek investigation of soldier’s allegations of racial discrimination in Afghanistan

Both Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) and the American Civil Liberties Union agree: There needs to be an investigation into Spc.

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy |