20 Oct. 2008
PR# 2008-549

MoD, ISAF statement on civilian casualty incident at Nad E Ali, Helmand Province

KABUL, Afghanistan - On 16 October at approximately 10 a.m. in the Nad e Ali area of Helmand province, forces operating in a large Afghan national security forces (ANSF) clearance operation, supported by ISAF, were ambushed by enemy forces operating out of a compound.

At approximately 11 a.m., after sustained fighting, and having exhausted all other options, ISAF troops concluded that there was a need for a targeted airstrike on the compound the enemy was firing from.  A careful assessment of the compound was conducted in accordance with ANSF and ISAF rules of engagement and there was no evidence that any civilians were present in the compound.

The airstrike accurately struck the enemy target.  It now appears that some civilians may have been killed as a result of that assault. We regret and are deeply saddened by the loss of civilian life. 

Afghan authorities and ISAF have rigorous procedures in place to investigate incidents that do happen and to minimize the risk of civilian casualties.   A joint commission led by Afghan authorities, on behalf of the Afghan people, and including a representative from ISAF, has investigated this matter and concluded that this was a legitimate strike and that any loss of innocent life was the direct result of the insurgents policy of placing innocent civilians in harms way.

The enemy’s indiscriminate use of violence presents the real threat to the Afghan people.  It is the enemy who are to blame for any loss of civilian life in this incident.  The insurgents deliberately fight from civilian areas in an attempt to involve innocents in their actions. 

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/