Wars are kind of like that. They are brutal and ugly. That is why we should try to avoid it.
Making war clean and neat? You might as well talk about humanizing hell.
Tim, in general you are right, but i would like to highlight few points:
1. Yes all wars are brutal and bloody, and almost always some innocent people are killed in process. But the wars with no clear objective to reach and no clear enemy to defeat are especially prone to end up with civilians shot almost randomly . Soviets in Afghanistan were lucky it was age when remote-controlled IEDs, suicide bombers and mobile phones were not invented, so local person walking without rifle was considered safe to ignore (and tales about teenagers with hand grenades were told mostly to keep soldiers alert on their outposts), plus significant number of Soviet conscripts were ethnic Tadjiks and Uzbeks, undistinguishable from locals - as result, now Soviet veterans are mostly in good relations with former Mujahedin fighters who consider them "good enemy" compared to Western forces who are "bad enemy". It was lucky coincidence. Western involvements in Iraq, Afghanistan and, now, Syria are lacking clear objective to reach - and it is recipe for having the sort of trouble described in article above, and this troubles are eroding concept of "moral high ground" that was one of the pillars of Western domination (other two were economic might and military might). Results of that are now spilling over (see reports of former US and UK servicemen joining Ukraine war in another thread).
2. To your point of Chinese Army brutality - history of China-Russia conflicts is going centuries back (see https://en.wikipedia...order_conflicts) with both sides quite brutal on each other from time to time (let's leave it without examples) or, sometimes, contrary, not brutal - see https://en.wikipedia...iki/Albazinians , so there is no doubt Chinese Army troops could be brutal nowadays as i do not think human kind evolved greatly in this respect. For me as Russian it is not something surprising - as i still remember sound of bullets overhead on streets of Moscow in 1993, and it was just local conflict - so no reason to expect invading foreign troops to be more careful.
3. My Russian background is influencing my perception - and when i am reading stories of locals shot for crossing the road with shovel or just looking suspicious - my memory is bringing me the tales of Smolensk region village elders who still remember silage pits full of corpses of people shot by Germans for crossing "military road" on their way from village to village to get some potatoes for starving families.