Map by The Intercept

In an extensive investigative report for The Intercept, journalist Andrew Quilty detailed the actions of US backed “death squads” in Afghanistan who killed civilians, including children as young as 8 years old, in a series of night raids at mosques and madrassahs in Wardak province. The report revealed details of 10 previously unreported CIA-led raids that resulted in the deaths of at least 51 civilians in Wardak. 

The perpetrators are believed to be from an elite, CIA-trained paramilitary forces known as Unit 01 and Unit 02 which, according to Quilty,”unleashed a campaign of terror against civilians” alongside US Special Forces and airstrikes in Afghanistan. The units comes under nominal control of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

“The units’ American CIA advisers go by pseudonyms or call signs rather than names,” the report revealed.

The war in Afghanistan is currently in its 19th year. Donald Trump’s administration initiated the steady withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan last year, in contradiction to the views of US’s foreign policy elite. To compensate for this, the report states, Trump loosened the rules of war to allow aggressive military action in Afghanistan, including the reported atrocities against civilians.

Quilty’s report, featuring quotes from residents from four districts in Wardak—Nerkh, Chak, Sayedabad, and Daymirdad—exposes incidents of massacres, summary executions, forced disappearances, attacks on medical facilities, and airstrikes targeting structures known to house civilians.

The Americans “step on all the rules of war, human rights, all the things they said they’d bring to Afghanistan,” Wardak provincial council head Akhtar Mohammad Tahiri told Quilty. “They conduct themselves as terrorists. They show terror and violence and think they’ll bring control this way.”

“The victims, according to these residents, were rarely Taliban. Yet the Afghan unit and its American masters have never been publicly held accountable by either the Afghan or U.S. governments,” the investigation reported.

This exposé of US-backed war crimes comes soon after the revelation of atrocities committed on civilians by Australian elite troops in Afghanistan. According to a report released by the Australian Defence Force, following a four-year long inquiry, “credible evidence” revealed that Australian soldiers unlawfully killed 39 people during the Afghan war.

The Intercept’s report has been met with relative silence by US media. When approached for comment by The Intercept, the the CIA declined to comment on a detailed list of the raids or any related questions.

“The CIA has a long history of training, arming, and funding indigenous militia networks. Since its birth in 1947, the agency has supported anti-communist outfits in Greece, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, and Central America, as well as the Afghan mujahedeen in the 1980,” Quilty reported.


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