Afghan Taliban say willing to engage in dialogue to end war

The Latest Iraqi spokesman confirms US forces drawing down

The United Nations says the number of civilians killed or injured in the fighting and terror attacks in Afghanistan dropped by 9 percent a year ago.

One of the deadliest single episodes of the war for civilians took place last May, when a big truck bomb estimated to contain two metric tons of high explosives went off on a Kabul street during rush hour, killing 92 and wounding 491 people.

Afghan security forces have been unable to cope with the rise in anti-government forces, such as the Taliban, and they are "troubled by poor leadership, high rates of attrition, and so-called ghost soldiers, who exist on paper only to collect pay for corrupt officers", according to The New York Times.

Two-thirds of all casualties previous year were inflicted by anti-government forces, with the Taliban responsible for 42%, Islamic State 10% and 13% caused by undetermined anti-government elements.

To persuade the American public that the US military will never win in Afghanistan, the Taliban cites the "3,546 American and foreign soldiers" killed, "more than 20,000 American forces injured", and an "87% rise" in opium and heroin production in 2017.

"The key finding in the report is that more than 10,000 civilians died and injured as a result of conflicts in 2017, the majority of civilians killed are the outcome of attacks by anti government elements, and it includes not only the Taliban but also the Daesh or Islamic State (IS)", UNAMA chief and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto told reporters here.

While ground clashes were the second leading cause of civilian casualties, that toll was 19% lower than a record level seen in 2016.

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That compares to a total 11,434 casualties in 2016, when there were 3,510 deaths and 7,924 wounded.

"Attacks where anti-government elements deliberately targeted civilians accounted for 27 percent of the total civilian casualties.mainly from suicide and complex attacks", the United Nations said in a statement, in reference to the Taliban, ISIS and other factions.

"Such attacks are prohibited under global humanitarian law and are likely, in most cases, to constitute war crimes".

The UNAMA also noted that the number of airstrikes carried out by global military forces and the Afghan air force grew significantly in 2017 which had an impact on the number of casualties.

Report states that over 28,000 civilians have been killed and over 52,000 wounded in Afghanistan since 2009. "The Taliban had been making last efforts for their presence in Helmand and some security forces suffered casualties due to recent fighting", he added.

Other protection measures adopted by the Government included a national policy to prevent civilian casualties and ratification of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapon instruments, which under Protocol V directs clearance of explosive remnants of war.

Among its recommendations, the report urges parties to the conflict to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians and civilian installations.

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