KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- The number of Afghan civilians killed or injured by coalition airstrikes fell sharply in the last few years despite stepped-up fighting, allied commanders said.
Coalition statistics said airstrikes so far in 2010 resulted in 88 civilian casualties -- both killed and injured -- down from 169 for the same period in 2008, USA Today reported Wednesday.
U.S. and allied commanders have made a reduction of civilian casualties a focus of their strategy in Afghanistan.
Officers attribute better vetting of targets and more restrained use of airstrikes for the reduction in civilian deaths and injuries. Insurgents have used reports of civilian casualties to work up the citizenry against coalition forces.
"As we've come into contact with the enemy, we've been very judicious in the use of air power," said U.S. Air Force Col. Jim Sturgeon, chief of the Air Operations Control Center in Afghanistan.
This year, bombs or other weapons were dropped on 11 percent of sorties flown, down from 37 percent in 2007, USA Today reported.
"We're going to win or lose this war ... on that human terrain of the Afghan population," said U.S. Air Force Col. Robert Campbell, deputy director of the combined air operations center. "The use of firepower really isn't the goal in this."