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    Report lays bare grim toll of Afghanistan war in first half of 2019

    Amid ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, 1,366 civilians have been killed and another 2,446 wounded in the first half of this year, according to the United Nations.

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    The 3,812 casualties are a 27% decline from a record high over the same six-month period in 2018, according to a report released Tuesday.

    PHOTO: In this photo taken on June 6, 2019, US soldiers look out over hillsides during a visit of the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Scott Miller at the Afghan National Army (ANA) checkpoint in Nerkh district of Wardak province.Thomas Watkins/AFP/Getty Images

    In this photo taken on June 6, 2019, US soldiers look out over hillsides during a visit of the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Scott Miller at the Afghan National Army (ANA) checkpoint in Nerkh district of Wardak province.

    At the 2019 Intra-African Dialogue in Doha earlier in July, Afghan leaders vowed to reduce civilian casualties to zero.

    “Everyone heard the message loud and clear from Afghan delegates in the Doha talks — ‘reduce civilian casualties to zero!'” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA. “We urge all parties to heed this imperative, to answer the call of Afghans for immediate steps to be taken to reduce the terrible harm being inflicted.”

    Most casualties — about 52% — continue to be caused by anti-government elements including the Taliban, according to the report. On-the-ground fighting remained the leading cause of casualties, at about one-third of the total, with improvised explosives, or IEDs, responsible for 28% and airstrikes contributing about 14%.

    PHOTO: Afghan security forces inspect the aftermath of Sundays attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 29, 2019.Rahmat Gul/AP Photo

    Afghan security forces inspect the aftermath of Sunday’s attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 29, 2019.

    Women continue to be disproportionately harmed, and among the 3,812 casualties, approximately one-third were children, the report said.

    “Parties to the conflict may give differing explanations for recent trends, each designed to justify their own military tactics,” said Richard Bennett, UNAMA’s human rights chief. “The fact remains that only a determined effort to avoid civilian harm, not just by abiding by international humanitarian law but also by reducing the intensity of the fighting, will decrease the suffering of civilian Afghans.”

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