Civilian deaths from international air strikes in Afghanistan nearly tripled between 2006 and 2007 with new deadly strikes fuelling a public backlash, Human Rights Watch said Monday.

Insurgents were also guilty of causing civilian deaths by using ordinary people as "human shields" against troops, including by deploying into villages, the New York-based rights group said in a report.

But the international forces, and the US military in particular, needed to "end the mistakes that are killing so many civilians," Asia director Brad Adams warned in a statement accompanying the report.

"Mistakes by the US and NATO have dramatically decreased public support for the Afghan government and the presence of international forces providing security to Afghans," he said.

"Civilian deaths from air strikes act as a recruiting tool for the Taliban and risk fatally undermining the international effort to provide basic security to the people of Afghanistan."