The US military and NATO force in Afghanistan (ISAF) say the July 17 raid against “high-priority Taliban targets” in Herat province led to the deaths of two key insurgent tribal leaders—identified as Haji Nazrullah Khan and Haji Dawlat Khan—and a significant number of their followers. The US/ISAF statements denied claims of local tribal elders that dozens of civilians were killed in the air-strike in the Zirko valley of Shindan district.
The issue of civilian casualties is highly sensitive, with the US-led coalition admitting that an air-strike in the western province of Farah on July 14 killed eight local residents. The US military is investigating reports by Afghan officials that over 60 civilians were killed in two separate air strikes by US-led forces this month in eastern Afghanistan. (ISAF press release, July 17; Radio Australia, BBC, July 18)