July 18, 2008 | FDD’s Long War Journal

ISAF rejects claims civilians killed in strike that killed two Taliban commanders

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) denied yesterday's operation in western Afghanistan resulted in civilian deaths. The operation led to the killing of two Taliban leaders and the discovery of a makeshift jail.

ISAF said the claims made by a tribal elder and a district leader was “baseless” because Coalition aircraft were not operating near the villages where civilians were purportedly killed.

“ISAF has thoroughly investigated and rejects claims that ISAF forces killed more than 50 civilians in the Shindand area,” the Afghanistan command stated in a press release. “Our extensive investigation reveals that the closest airstrikes carried out were 13 km to the South East of these villages.”

Today's denial is the second of its kind made this week by ISAF. Afghan officials said a July 14 airstrike in Nuristan and Kunar provinces killed 47 members of a wedding party. An ISAF investigation concluded that it did not kill the civilians as no aircraft were within 40 kilometers of the attack.

Afghan and Coalition forces killed two “high priority Taliban targets” during yesterday's raid in the Shindand district of Herat province. The leaders were identified as Haji Dawlat Khan and Haji Nasrullah Khan. “A significant number of other insurgents were also killed,” ISAF reported in a press release.

Afghan and coalition forces also found a Taliban jail in one of the compounds during the raid. “A number of men were discovered hand-cuffed and imprisoned in appalling conditions.”

The deaths of the two Herat Taliban leaders comes just days after Afghan and Coalition forces killed two senior Taliban commanders in Kandahar province in the southeast.

Afghan and Coalition forces have had success in targeting the Taliban's mid and high level commanders. But the extremist's hold on southern Afghanistan has widened as the Taliban control more districts in the south due to a shortage of Afghan and Coalition forces to hold territory.

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