July 30 (UPI) -- Civilian casualties are down 27 percent in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2019 compared to the same period last year, but are on the rise again in recent weeks, the United Nations reported Tuesday.
The report found 1,366 deaths and 2,446 injuries in the first half of 2019, following a record year in 2018 for civilian deaths and injuries. But in the second quarter of 2019, civilian deaths increased by 27 percent compared to the first quarter.
Richard Bennett, human rights chief for the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said all sides of the conflict may give differing explanations for the recent trends to justify their military tactics.
"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," Bennett said.
Most of the casualties are caused by anti-government elements. Children were nearly one-third of the overall civilian casualties with 327 deaths and 880 injuries.
Aerial operations caused 519 civilian casualties with 363 deaths and 156 injured. The number of civilians killed more than doubled from aircraft missiles and bombs. The report said 83 percent of those were from international military forces with only 9 percent from the Afghan Air Force. The remaining 8 percent were undetermined.
The United Nations discussed civilian casualties at the Intra-Afghan Dialogue in Doha, Qatar on July 7.
"Everyone heard the message loud and clear from the Afghan delegates in the Doha talks -- reduce civilian casualties to zero!" said U.N. Secretary-General's special representative for Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto. "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."
"If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week," Trump said. "I just don't want to kill 10 million people ... It would be over in -- literally, in 10 days, and I don't want to do -- I don't want to go that route."