As U.S. homes in on Taliban, family bears brunt of violence

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By Nanna Muus Steffensen

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan — Ehsanullah, 14, was missing parts of his face and skull when he was rushed into the emergency room.

His left eyeball was crushed, his right eye missing, his forehead an open wound.

He cried out as a doctor pressed gauze over his head, the material quickly turning dark red.

“They wanted to hit the Taliban, but they bombed us instead,” said the boy’s mother, Qarara, who like many in Afghanistan goes by one name. “We are sinless people. How could this happen to us?”

Ehsanullah lies in hospital after surgery.Nanna Muus Steffensen / for NBC News

Most members of Qarara’s extended family were killed or wounded on Nov. 24 when at least one airstrike called in by American forces slammed into their home in Nad-e-Ali, a village in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. Her husband, Obaidullah, and one of Ehsanullah’s older brothers, Esmatullah, died, she said. Thirteen others were injured.

They are among the latest on a growing list of casualties amid an intensifying U.S. air operation aimed at forcing Taliban militants to agree to a peace deal and end America’s longest war.

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