Afghan Civilian Deaths: A Rising Toll

The US military's air campaign against the Taliban is claiming more and more civilian lives. Can they be avoided?

Fraidoon Pooyaa / AP

An Afghan woman and her daughter mourn the death of a relative after an August 2008 air strike in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan.

There is no fog of war at 20,000 ft. above Afghanistan. For nearly three years, as U.S. warplanes and drones hit targets spread across the country's corrugated, dun-colored mountains and green poppy-growing valleys, every mission detailed by the Air Force in its daily "airpower summary" has been deemed a success. In July, B-1 bombers began striking Afghan targets with 500-lb. bombs guided to their prey by a new targeting pod slung under the plane's belly. Known as the Sniper, the pod sends long-range, high-resolution video--it can tell whether an Afghan on the ground is armed--right into the cockpit. Such weapons systems...

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