According to the US Air Force Central Command (AFCENT), 7,423 bombs were dropped in Afghanistan last year, the highest number in a decade. In 2018, at least 7,363 bombs were dropped as counter-insurgency measures to fight the Taliban.
The drastic rise in these bombings reflects the posturing of the US forces stationed in the region. The strikes continue to take place despite the worldwide condemnation over the civilian casualties they cause. According to observers, the civilian population has been the most affected in the Afghanistan conflict. They also took place amid talks between the US and Taliban which broke down after US president Donald Trump withdrew from the process.
On January 26, seven members of a single family were killed in air raids carried out by US troops in collaboration with Afghan forces in the northern Balkh province. Prior to that, Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission had blamed the US forces for the death of 15 Afghan civilians, including three minors and three women, in an air strike conducted earlier this month.
In another US drone attack in the western Afghanistan province of Herat on January 10, as many as 60 civilians were reported to have been killed or severely wounded.
However, despite the spike in US airstrikes and the growing hostilities between rival groups, the insurgent Taliban controls more than half of the 230 districts in the country.
The US seems trapped in what US President Donald Trump has called a “never ending war” in the rugged terrains of Afghanistan since its invasion in 2001. Though most of its troops withdrew after 2011, the US still has around 14,000 troops present in Afghanistan. Apart from this, 17,000 more troops from 39 NATO member states are also stationed in the country.