Aug 2, 2021 - World

U.S. accuses Taliban of massacring dozens of civilians in "revenge killings"

Afghan security forces

Afghan security forces at the Torkham border point. Photo: Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul accused Taliban fighters on Monday of carrying out "revenge killings" against dozens of civilians in Spin Boldak, a border district captured in a military offensive last month.

Why it matters: Reports of violence and human rights atrocities are growing ahead of the U.S. military's full withdrawal from Afghanistan. Officials have warned that the country could descend into a chaotic civil war as the Taliban continues to seize more territory on the battlefield each week.

What they're saying: "In Spin Boldak, Kandahar, the Taliban massacred dozens of civilians in revenge killings. These murders could constitute war crimes; they must be investigated & those Taliban fighters or commanders responsible held accountable," the U.S. Embassy in Kabul tweeted, calling for an immediate ceasefire.

  • "The Taliban's leadership must be held responsible for the crimes of their fighters. If you cannot control your fighters now, you have no business in governance later," the embassy added.

Details: Afghan security forces attempted to recapture the Spin Boldak district in the days after it fell to the Taliban on July 14, according to a report by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

  • The military operation was welcomed by some local residents, who ran out of their homes to greet the Afghan soldiers. The operation ultimately failed, however, and the Taliban conducted a sweep of the villages to identify government supporters.
  • At least 40 civilians were then expelled from their homes and killed by the Taliban, according to the report, which also accused Taliban fighters of looting property.
  • "[T]his and other similar incidents show that contrary to what they proclaim, the group has no practical commitment to the principles of international human rights and humanitarian law," the AIHRC said in a statement.

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