A suspected US drone strike against in Afghanistan has killed 18 people, Afghan officials have said.
The strike in Nangarhar province on the eastern border with Pakistan killed 15 militants and three civilians, said Mohammed Ali, the police chief of Achin district, where the attack occurred.
“They were in a house to visit someone who had just come from the Hajj pilgrimage,” he said. “A drone targeted the house and killed most of them.”
The provincial police spokesman, Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal, said several Isis leaders had been killed, but he denied there were any noncombatants among the victims.
in US airstrikes against Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan have long been a source of friction between the allies who have been fighting since 2001 to end militant opposition to the government in Kabul.
Isis has enticed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan to join, and it holds some territory in Nangarhar, with Achin a stronghold. But it has not been able to expand its influence in beyond a few districts and the Taliban remain the dominant Islamist force.
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A spokesman for the command in Kabul confirmed that American forces conducted a counter-terrorism airstrike in Achin, but would not discuss the details of the target.
“US forces Afghanistan takes all allegations of civilian casualties very seriously,” said Brig Gen Charles Cleveland. “We are aware of some claims of Afghan casualties, and are currently reviewing all materials related to this strike. We are continuing to look into these allegations.”
Determining which victims were civilians and which were militants would not be possible until an investigation was complete, said Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
Thousands of US troops remain in Afghanistan, with many recent airstrikes and special operations missions aimed at Isis in Nangarhar, as well as in various parts of the country.
Between January and August, American aircraft released more than 800 weapons and flew more than 3,500 close air support missions in Afghanistan, according to US military reports.