Col Sonny Leggett said US forces collected their own record of civilian casualties which was “more thorough, evidentiary and accurate”.
Civilian casualties blamed on insurgents dropped by more than two-fifths. The Taliban have said the fall is because they are taking greater care not to kill civilians, but the Afghan government says the fall is because its forces are managing to stop attacks.
“Parties to the conflict may give differing explanations for recent trends, each designed to justify their own military tactics,” Richard Bennett, the UN’s human rights chief in Afghanistan, said.
Civilian deaths as a whole fell 27 per cent from the same period in 2018 amid the lowest total of civilian casualties for the first six months of the year since 2012.
American negotiators are due to meet Taliban envoys again this week to negotiate a deal allowing foreign troops to pull out in return for assurances Afghanistan will not become a springboard for terrorist attacks. The Taliban are so far refusing to talk to the Afghan government about a wider political settlement that could stop the war continuing after America leaves.
Mr Trump wants combat forces reduced in Afghanistan by the next US presidential election, Mr Pompeo said. “He’s been unambiguous: end the endless wars, draw down, reduce. It won’t just be us,” he said. “We hope that overall the need for combat forces in the region is reduced.”