The U.S.-led international coalition on Friday rejected a U.N. rights group’s concern about reports that U.S. military strikes have killed hundreds of children in Afghanistan in the past four years, saying they are “categorically unfounded.”
The statement by the International Security Assistance Force came a day after the Geneva-based U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said the casualties were “due notably to reported lack of precautionary measures and indiscriminate use of force.”
The coalition also dismissed that claim, saying that it takes special care to avoid civilian casualties. The coalition said the number of children who died or were wounded from air operations dropped by nearly 40 percent in 2012 compared with the year before, although it did not give specific figures.
The U.N. was reviewing a range of U.S. policies affecting children for the first time since 2008. The release of the report coincides with an intensifying debate in Washington over U.S. policy on drone targeting and airstrikes.
CIA Director-designate John Brennan faced a Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing Thursday. His defense of drone strikes to kill terror suspects, including Americans, is causing key lawmakers to consider lifting secrecy from what has become an important weapon in the fight against al-Qaida.
In its report, the U.N. committee told the United States to “take concrete and firm precautionary measures and prevent indiscriminate use of force to ensure that no further killings and maiming of civilians, including children, take place.” Human-rights and civil-liberties groups applauded the findings.