The US dropped more bombs on Afghanistan in 2019 than in any other year since the Pentagon began keeping track in 2006. A total of 7,423 munitions were dropped, up from 7,362 in 2018 and 4,361 in 2017, Military.com reports based on data from the US Air Forces Central Command. And civilians suffered. UN data shows the US is responsible for half of 1,149 civilian deaths attributed to pro-government forces in Afghanistan in the first three-quarters of 2019, per the Guardian. Another 1,207 civilian deaths during the same period came at the hands of the Taliban and other insurgent groups. That period included July 2019, which brought the highest number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan in a single month since the UN began its tally in 2009.
There were 1,337 bombs dropped in 2016 and 947 in 2015, when the rules for aerial attacks were tightened under the Obama administration. Some believe the Trump administration is willing to risk more civilian casualties now as a means to pressure the Taliban amid peace talks. But "the Taliban side is also using their own ramped-up violence to gain leverage; as a consequence, we saw record levels of overall violence in the third quarter of 2019, as both sides thought they were heading toward a preliminary agreement," says Frances Brown, who served on the National Security Council under Obama and Trump. The US dropped the greatest number of munitions toward the end of the year: 948 in September, 783 in August, 777 in October, and 696 in December. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)