New Revelations In Deadly Afghan Airstrikes

The U.S. military has been investigating the incident last month in which U.S. planes killed Afghan civilians. Initial findings suggest U.S. forces didn't follow procedures for the use of air power.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

That's NPR's Tom Bowman who's been embedded with U.S. Special Forces in Western Afghanistan. Tom is back in Kabul now. He's been following another developing story about the U.S. military there. And Tom this one has to do with the U.S. military investigation into airstrikes last month in another part of Western Afghanistan. These U.S. airstrikes killed Afghan civilians along with Taliban fighters. What's new on this today?

BOWMAN: Well, the latest is that there have been several mistakes in these bombing runs out in Farah province. And we reported last week that there was a video taken of these bombing strikes by a B-1 Bomber. Military was saying last week that it seem to say that everything they did was right, that the people on the ground were taking great care in selecting the targets. The pilots were taking their time but what we're learning now is the investigative officer found that in three of the estimated 12 bombing runs mistakes were made.

And another thing, I was talking to a senior American officer here in Kabul today and what he told me was he talked with the commander on the ground who ordered the airstrikes. He's a marine captain and this captain told him had he not called in those airstrikes he definitely would have lost marines.

BLOCK: Tom, both sides here agree that civilians were killed in these airstrikes, the dispute is over how many. Do you think this investigation is going to lead to any changes in the way the U.S. military uses power in Afghanistan?

BOWMAN: Well, it's hard to say. There's some talk that there will be more restrictions put in place as a result of what happened in Farah province. But again, the folks on the ground here weren't following the restrictions that were put in place last year when there was another problem with civilian casualties. And in the embed we were on with the special forces, they told us they were very, very careful about using airstrikes. They said they're very worried about civilian casualties, about reaching out to the population out there and you certainly don't protect civilians by calling in bombing runs.

BLOCK: That's NPR's Tom Bowman speaking with us from Kabul, Afghanistan. Tom, thanks very much.

BOWMAN: You're welcome.

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