Afghanistan: Reported US covert actions 2020

The timeline below contains information on all US air attacks on Afghanistan recorded by the Bureau in 2020. It is updated with the latest US air attacks. We also log Afghan Air Force attacks when they are reported. The Bureau collects information on the US and Afghan strikes and the people they kill from local and international media reports – including the Bureau’s own field investigations – as well as academics and NGOs that cite US, Afghan and Pakistani civil, military and intelligence officials, and witnesses and local people in the affected areas.

Please note that our data changes according to our current understanding of particular strikes. The information below represents our present best estimate.

Background

US aircraft have been bombing Afghanistan since late 2001 and the airstrikes have continued into the Trump administration. Up until December 2014 the US was operating in concert with its allies in the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force. Now it is just the US, and the Afghans, flying strike missions in the country.

The Bureau began tracking the strikes from January 1 2015 onwards, when the US and Nato’s combat mission in Afghanistan came to an end. The Afghan military and police took the lead in fighting the Taliban with the US and its international partners moving into a non-combat “train, advise, assist” role, supporting local forces.

US air forces are still flying combat missions however. There are three targeting authorities that govern the kind of strikes the US can conduct in Afghanistan.

Force protection strikes are intended to protect friendly ground forces who are under attack, or are about to be attacked. From January 1 2015 the US was supposed to stop deliberately going after the Taliban, leaving that to the Afghans. But in June 2016, with the Taliban pushing the Afghan forces to breaking point, the US went on the offensive against the Taliban, under “strategic effect” strikes.

The third authority governs the US’s counter-terrorism strikes, part of its offensive operations against al Qaeda and, since January 2016, Afghanistan’s Islamic State offshoot.

Full data

The Bureau publishes a narrative timeline of US strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen each year. Links for all other timelines can be found here.

We also publish spreadsheets detailing casualty numbers in each country. You can download the entire Afghanistan sheet here.

Reported US strikes, Afghanistan 2020
Strikes recorded by the Bureau
Total reported strikes 1
Total reported killed 16-41
Civilians reported killed 15-60
Children reported killed 3
Total reported injured 5-60

Strikes

AFG3744CXV link

19 February 2020

  • 1 reported killed

An airstrike in Ghazni province killed one Taliban fighter, Khaama Press reported - though it was not clear whether US or Afghan forces were responsible.

Military officials reportedly said that the strike was carried out in the Deh Yak district over the past 24 hours. It is therefore not clear whether it was on February 19 or 18.

  • Type of strike: Possible US air or drone strike
  • Location: Deh Yak district, Ghazni province
  • References: Khaama Press

AFG3744CXiV link

19 February 2020

  • 1 reported killed

An airstrike in Kunar province killed one fighter from Afghanistan's branch of the Islamic State, Khaama Press reported - though it was not clear whether US or Afghan forces were responsible.

Military officials reportedly said that the strike was carried out in the Tswoky district over the past 24 hours. It is therefore not clear whether it was on February 19 or 18.

  • Type of strike: Possible US air or drone strike
  • Location: Tswoky district, Kunar province
  • References: Khaama Press

AFG3744CXiii link

19 February 2020

  • 3 reported killed

An airstrike in Helmand province killed three Taliban fighters, Khaama Press reported - though it was not clear whether US or Afghan forces were responsible.

Military officials reportedly said that the strike was carried out in the Nahr e Saraj district over the past 24 hours. It is therefore not clear whether it was on February 19 or 18.

  • Type of strike: Possible US air or drone strike
  • Location: Nahr e Saraj district, Helmand province
  • References: Khaama Press

AFG3744CXii link

18 February 2020

  • 5 reported killed

Airstrikes in Kunar province killed five fighters from Afghanistan's branch of the Islamic State, Khaama Press reported - though it was not clear whether US or Afghan forces were responsible.

The Afghan MoD reportedly said in a statement that one strike was carried out in the Suki district and killed four fighters, while another killed one in the Tarang district.

Khaama Press did not explicitly give a date for this strike, so we have recorded it as the date that it was reported on.

  • Type of strike: Possible US air or drone strike
  • Location: Suki & Tarang districts, Kunar province
  • References: Khaama Press

AFG3744CXi link

14 February 2020

  • 7 reported killed

An airstrike in Takhar province killed seven Taliban fighters, Khaama Press reported - though it was not clear whether US or Afghan forces were responsible.

The Afghan MoD reportedly said that the security forces carried out the strike in the Baharak district.

While responsibility was placed with the security forces, we cannot rule out US involvement as they often provide the security forces with air support.

Jalal Sirat, alias Nasrat, the deputy commander of the Red Unit of Taliban in Takhar was among those killed. Ahmadullah Taloqani, one of the senior commanders of the group in Takhar was also killed and three others wounded.

Multiple Taliban motorcycles were also reportedly destroyed.

Khaama Press did not explicitly give a date for this strike, so we have recorded it as the date they reported on it.

  • Type of strike: Possible US air or drone strike
  • Location: Baharak district, Takhar province
  • References: Khaama Press, Khaama Press

AFG3744CX link

14 February 2020

  • 0-11 civilians reported killed, including 0-1 children

Eight civilians were killed in an airstrike in eastern Nangarhar, local residents told Reuters - though it was not clear whether US or Afghan forces were responsible.

One of the eight was said to have been a child.

A spokesperson for the provincial governor of Nangarhar confirmed the incident but did not say who the victims were.

Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, said that 11 civilians were killed in the incident.

"Unfortunately, eight civilians, including a child, were martyred during (the) operation against the Taliban," the provincial governor's spokesperson Attaullah Khogyanai told Efe news.

"The target of the attack was Taliban militants who wanted to establish checkpoints on the road, but unfortunately civilians were hit," Khogyanai told AFP.

Provincial council member, Ajmal Omar, said the civilians were returning from a picnic when they were hit, according to IANS. They also reported that a Nangarhar security official that nine Taliban fighters were also killed in the military operation.

The strike came just hours after President Donald Trump announced a breakthrough in the Taliban peace talks.

Talib Khan, a relative of the dead, also told AFP the victims had been driving home from a picnic when their truck was hit, killing everyone inside.

Another relative, Shah Mir, 70, said: "No other breadwinner is left in my house, all my three sons were killed. I have a dozen grandchildren, I don't know how to bring them up."

The Gulf Times put the death toll at nine civilians with provincial councillors Abdul Qahar Qadir and Ajmal Omar saying that the strike was in the Kakarak area of Sorkh Rod district.

A US military spokesman said they were "looking into the incident" and an Afghan defence ministry spokesman said they had launched an investigation.

We are currently unable to record this in our database of confirmed US strikes until we have confirmation that it was US forces, rather than Afghan.

  • Type of strike: Possible US air or drone strike
  • Location: Eastern Nangarhar province
  • References: Reuters, IANS, AFP, Gulf Times

AFG3744CiX link

13 February 2020

  • 4 reported killed

Airstrikes in Farah province killed four Taliban fighters, Khaama Press reported - though it was not clear whether US or Afghan forces were responsible.

The Special Operations Corps of the Afghan military reportedly said that the strikes were carried out in the Posht e Rod district and also destroyed a vehicle.

No reference was made as to who carried out the strike.

Khaama Press did not explicitly give a date for this strike, so we have recorded it as the date that it was reported on.

  • Type of strike: Possible US air or drone strike
  • Location: Posht e Rod district, Farah province
  • References: Khaama Press

AFG3744CViii link

11 February 2020

  • 5 reported killed

An airstrike in southern Helmand killed five Taliban fighters, Khaama Press reported - though it was not clear whether US or Afghan forces were responsible.

Military officials reportedly said that the strike was carried out in the Sang district over the past 24 hours - it is therefore unclear whether the strike was carried out on February 11 or 10.

No further details were given.

  • Type of strike: Possible US air or drone strike
  • Location: Sang district, Helmand province
  • References: Khaama Press

AFG3744CVii link

10 February 2020

  • 0-21 reported killed

An airstrike in Kunar province killed a number of Taliban fighters, Khaama Press reported - though it was not clear whether US or Afghan forces were responsible.

Military officials reportedly said that a strike hit the Nadir Shah Kot district - between this and two strikes in other provinces, 21 Taliban fighters were killed. It is not clear how many were killed in each strike.

While responsibility was placed with the security forces, we cannot rule out US involvement as they often provide air support for the security forces.

The strike was said to have taken place over the past 24 hours - it is therefore unclear whether it happened on February 10 or 9.

  • Type of strike: Possible US air or drone strike
  • Location: Nadir Shah Kot
  • References: Khaama Press

AFG3744CVi link

10 February 2020

  • 0-21 reported killed

An airstrike in Kunar province killed a number of Taliban fighters, Khaama Press reported - though it was not clear whether US or Afghan forces were responsible.

Military officials reportedly said that a strike hit the Chawkai district - between this and two strikes in other provinces, 21 Taliban fighters were killed. It is not clear how many were killed in each strike.

While responsibility was placed with the security forces, we cannot rule out US involvement as they often provide air support for the security forces.

The strike was said to have taken place over the past 24 hours - it is therefore unclear whether it happened on February 10 or 9.

  • Type of strike: Possible US air or drone strike
  • Location: Chawkai district, Kunar province
  • References: Khaama Press

AFG3744CV link

10 February 2020

  • 0-21 reported killed

An airstrike in Helmand province killed a number of Taliban fighters, Khaama Press reported - though it was not clear whether US or Afghan forces were responsible.

Military officials reportedly said that a strike hit the Nahr e Saraj district - between this and two strikes in other provinces, 21 Taliban fighters were killed. It is not clear how many were killed in each strike.

While responsibility was placed with the security forces, we cannot rule out US involvement as they often provide air support for the security forces.

The strike was said to have taken place over the past 24 hours - it is therefore unclear whether it happened on February 10 or 9.

  • Type of strike: Possible US air or drone strike
  • Location: Nahr e Saraj district, Helmand province
  • References: Khaama Press

AFG3744CiV link

9 February 2020

  • 1 reported killed

A precision airstrike in Balkh province killed one "high profile Taliban leader", Khaama Press reported - though it was not clear whether US or Afghan forces were responsible.

Mohammad Gul, alias Abu Bakar, was reportedly in charge of high-tech weapons for the Taliban.

The security forces were said to have carried out the strike at 5:30pm local time in the Dilbar village in Chemtal district of Balkh province.

While responsibility was placed with the security forces, we cannot rule out US involvement as they often provide air support for the security forces.

  • Type of strike: Possible US air or drone strike
  • Location: Dilbar village, Chemtal district, Balkh province
  • References: Khaama Press

AFG3744Ciii link

8 February 2020

  • 0-5 civilians reported killed

An airstrike in Farah killed five civilian businessmen, according to the provincial governor and a Farah MP, TOLO News reported.

It was not clear whether US or Afghan forces were responsible.

The five were said to have been travelling from Farah City to Abu Nasar Farahi Port when their vehicle was struck.

“We have set up a commission to investigate the incident and will share its findings with the governor's office and we will take serious action,” said Farah's governor Massoud Bakhtor.

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission AIHRC expressed concern about the casualties and took note that the numbers had increased lately. The AIHRC spokesperson Zabiullah Farhang called on all parties to respect international law and the Afghan constitution. Zaman Sultani, Amnesty International Researcher for South Asia said:“Unfortunately, we do not see any proper action towards civilian victims of the Afghan conflict, and we do not see any accountability for those who caused civilian casualties.”

We will reach out to Resolute Support for their civilian casualty assessment of this allegation.

AFG3744Cii link

31 January 2020

  • 0-1 civilians reported killed, including 0-1 children
  • 0-2 civilians reported injured

A child was killed in a US airstrike in Uruzgan province, the New York Times reported - another child and his mother were also injured in the strike.

The strike was said to have taken place in Tarin Kot.

We will approach Resolute Support for their civilian harm assessment of this allegation.

AFG3744Ci link

30 January 2020

  • 0-7 reported killed
  • 0-7 civilians reported killed, including 0-2 women and 0-1 children

An airstrike in Kunduz killed seven civilians, Khaama Press reported - though it was not clear whether US or Afghan troops were responsible.

Ghulam Rabbani, a former commander of Hezb i Islami and seven members of his family were killed in the strike, a member of Hezb i Islami, reportedly told Tolo News.

They were said to have been travelling by car from the Imam Sihab district of Kunduz to Dasht e Archi.

"Seven members of our family including my two uncles and their spouses, a grandson of them, my uncle’s son-in-law and another close relatives of us were killed in a US airstrike," Nilofar Ayoubi, a social media activist and one of the relatives of the victims living in Kabul tweeted.

https://twitter.com/NilofarAyo...

According to Anadolu Agency, two women and a child were among those killed in the strike that hit the car as it was returning from a funeral.

"In a social media post, the leader of the Hezb-e Islami party, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's son, Habibur Rehman, claimed the slain civilians were maternal relatives," AA reported.

A NATO’s Resolute Support spokesperson had said early on Friday morning that an airstrike in Dasht e Archi killed 3 Taliban militants, Khaama Press reported.

AFG3744C link

17 January 2020

  • 3 reported killed

Three Taliban fighters were killed in a drone strike in Khost province, Pajhwok reported - though it was not clear whether US or Afghan forces were responsible.

In a statement, Khost police headquarters said that the strike killed the militants in the Alisher district.

While there was no reference as to who conducted the strike, the US are the only known country to be flying armed drones in Afghanistan. The term "drones" can sometimes be used as a catch-all phrase for airstrikes, however.

Khanamuddin, a resident of the area, confirmed the strike had killed three individuals to Pajhwok but did not confirm their identities.

  • Type of strike: Possible US air or drone strike
  • Location: Alisher district, Khost province
  • References: Pajhwok Afghan News

AFG3744 link

8 January 2020

  • 16-41 reported killed
  • 15-60 civilians reported killed or injured
  • 5 civilians, including 2 children, reported injured

A US airstrike in Herat province that killed a top commander of a Taliban splinter faction, may have resulted in up to 60 civilian casualties, local media have reported.

The strike, which took place at around 4pm local time in the centre of Shindand, took place when “four foreign drones targeted several houses,” local eyewitnesses told TOLO News.

“At least 40 civilians, including women and children” were also among the dead,” the local sources said, adding that “about 30 or 35 Taliban were also killed in the airstrikes.”

"US Forces-Afghanistan, at the request of Afghan Security Forces, conducted a coordinated defensive air strike in support of Afghan forces in Shindand, Herat on Jan. 8, 2020," the US Forces - Afghanistan spokesperson said.

Mullah Nangyalai, a top commander of a Taliban splinter faction that's led by Mullah Rassoul was killed along with 15 other Taliban fighters.

"According to the people, over 60 civilians were killed and wounded in the operation," Toryalai Tahiri, deputy head of Herat provincial council, told Afghan local media TOLO News.

Over 30 of them were killed, Khaama Press reported.

"Nangyalay split from the main branch of the Taliban after the 2013 death of founder Mullah Omar and joined a smaller breakaway faction led by a commander known as Mullah Rasool," Al Jazeera reported.

A senior provincial police source said Wednesday's air raid had been carried out by a US drone.

An Afghan official who is on the Afghan Human Rights Commission told AP that the US strike killed at least 10 civilians, including three women and three children. Five other civilians, including two children were also injured the strike, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A later report by Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission confirmed that 15 civilians were killed in the strike, including three women and three children.

The incident was “a clear violation of human rights,” the commission said in a statement.

A spokesman for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan confirmed an American aircraft conducted the strike but said further questions should be directed to the Afghan Defense Ministry, Stars and Stripes reported.

We will reach out to Resolute Support for their civilian harm assessment of this incident.

General Khoshal Saadat, the deputy minister of interior for security said, “an investigation team is conducting comprehensive research on the incident, and it is too early to conclude what truly happened.”

The connection of Mullah Rasul with the Afghan government and his stance against the Taliban network makes the situation rather complicated. Some even raise concern that, indeed, Mullah Nangialai, a loyal commander to Mullah Rasul, was targeted, which caused the death of scores of innocent civilians.
Tur Mohammad Zarifi, a tribal elder in Herat’s Shindand district, said “Mullah Nangialai leads a Taliban splinter faction that fights on the government side, and our concern from the Afghan government is that why those people who abandon war are being killed systematically,”
Abdul Qayoum Rahimi, the governor of Herat, said, “the airstrike case is extra complicated, and the responsible institutions in the central government have to respond to the questions raised by the public.

AFG3743CXXVi link

4 January 2020

  • 4 reported killed

Four Taliban fighters were killed in a US drone strike in Nangarhar province, Sputnik reported.

Several others were reportedly injured in the strike, a local source told Sputnik news.

The attack took place in the Tangi Ahmedkail area of the Wazer district, the source said.

We are currently unable to record this in our database of confirmed US strikes due to vague sourcing.

  • Type of strike: Possible US strike
  • Location: Tangi Ahmedkail area, Wazer district, Nangarhar province
  • References: Sputnik