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U.S. Raises the Stakes in Afghanistan From the Air


Foreign Policy, 16 May 2019

Starts as a reportage from Qala-ye Zal district of Kunduz where the government only controls two of 107 villages: “‘This is a safe area for the Taliban,’ Andarabi said. ‘They can have picnics in Qala-i-Zal, because the government doesn’t do any operations here.’ […] And now, in what appears to be an new U.S. strategy to secure the dwindling space it controls and counter the Taliban’s battlefield momentum, the United States may be pursuing a more aggressive air campaign with little restraint—even in populated areas, according to official sources and witness accounts.

[…] Among the recent victims, so far unacknowledged by the Americans, was the family of a 25-year-old woman named Rachida, who found herself suddenly awakened the night of March 22 when a firefight erupted near her home, 200 yards from a small Afghan commando base in the village of Aqulabul, seven miles north of Kunduz city. Soon after, as families from the village sheltered in their home, an airstrike came. Thirteen members of Rachida’s family, including five of her own children, were killed, she recounted to me from her hospital bed a week after the attack. The family had only recently moved to Aqulabul after fleeing another village, which had been under Taliban control for a year. Rachida’s husband, Abdul Wahid, 35, who was also killed in the airstrike, had been a member of the government’s Afghan local police. Of their six children, only one was still alive.”

By Andrew Quilty, who also shot the photos.

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