In response to Afghan government concerns, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US troops in Afghanistan, issued a directive last July making the protection of civilian life a top priority during combat operations. The US effort to contain civilian casualties appears to be meeting with success, even though McChrystal issued an apology in late February for an air strike in Uruzgan Province that killed 21 civilians. Despite the US success in reducing collateral damage, Afghan doctors, including Sayed Omi Shayan, the head of orthopedics at a medical facility in the western city of Herat, still say the number of war-wounded civilians is rising.
Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar treats a large number of civilian casualties due to its location near Taliban strongholds. Concurring with Shayan's observations in Herat, doctors in Kandahar say they are seeing an alarming upsurge of wounded civilians coming through the hospitals doors, victims of air strikes, gunfire, and, increasingly, roadside bombs.
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