Topic: War on Terror
So the Marine massacre story goes on. Since I last got around to posting, the Marine unit involved in the massacre of civilians in Jalalabad on March 4th has been removed from Afghanistan and the case has been refered to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
AP reported on April 11:
"[An] official said NCIS got the case within the past week but has not yet begun interviewing the Marines. This official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the number of Marines involved in the case is 'in the 20s.' They were in six military vehicles that were traveling in a convoy at the time of the incident.
The second official said the initial military investigation concluded that there was a 'reasonable suspicion' that the Marines violated rules for the use of deadly force, and that crimes, possibly including homicide, may have been committed in the aftermath of the convoy being struck by a car bomb."
Meanwhile, another apparent massacre just took place in Shindand district, in Herat province where the US military said they killed 136 Talibs in intense fighting over the past few days.
"After gaining intelligence describing Taliban activity in the Zerkoh Valley, coalition and Afghan National Police forces maneuvered into positions to pinpoint and attack [BM0] the Taliban fighters. Once in position, coalition and Afghan National Police forces initiated the attack on the enemy positions with mortars, small arms and rocket propelled grenades.
A few hours later, additional coalition and Afghan National Army reinforcements arrived. A coalition aircraft was requested and dropped multiple munitions on several identified enemy locations. As Taliban fighters attempted to flee, an AC-130 gunship engaged and killed 26 enemy fighters on both sides of the river valley. A total of seven enemy positions were destroyed, and 87 Taliban fighters were killed during the 14-hour engagement."
"Another 49 guerrillas, including two local Taliban commanders, were killed two days earlier by a combination of small-arms fire and close air support near the Parmakan village in the same valley."
Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman, says "Taliban fighters are no match for ANP and coalition forces." Neither apparently are innocent civilians, 51 of whom the Afghan government says the US killed in their arial assaults.
The WaPo reports:
"Afghan President Hamid Karzai declared Wednesday that his government can "no longer accept" civilian casualties caused by U.S.-led operations, shortly before news spread that as many as 51 civilians may have died during clashes this week in far western Afghanistan. Civilian deaths are 'becoming a heavy burden and we are not happy about it,' Karzai told reporters here. . . The intention may be very good to fight terrorism, sometimes mistakes are made, but five years on, it is very difficult for us to continue to accept civilian casualties,' Karzai said. 'It's not understandable anymore.'"
"Investigators said women and children were among those killed in Herat province. More civilians deaths were reported in Kandahar province. President Karzai summoned foreign military commanders to tell them his people's patience was wearing thin. . . Afghan police who visited the area found that 51 civilians had been killed in the fighting, Herat provincial spokesman Akramudin Yawar said. 'The figures I have so far of the civilians killed in the three-day operation in Shindand is that 51 civilians were killed, including 18 women and a number of children.'"
And add to that . . .
"More than 1,000 students protested in the eastern province of Nangarhar for a fourth day over the alleged killing of civilians by US-led forces in a raid at the weekend. In the southern province of Kandahar, Governor Asadullah Khalid said civilians had been among 13 people killed by foreign and Afghan forces in an attack on a convoy. He said the dead included two women."
. . . And (A-Times again):
"Reports from Helmand province on Sunday confirmed that six children and women were killed as North Atlantic Treaty Organization warplanes bombarded houses in the Kharko area of Garmser district. But police denied the pounding of civilian targets in the air strike.
Ghulam Shah, a resident of Kharko, told Pajhwok Afghan News all the dead were ordinary villagers with no links to any militant group. The area was pounded after Taliban gunmen attacked a coalition convoy, he said."
. . . And you've got one big mess. This spring offensive seems to be going the Talibs way so far. All they have to do is send a bunch of ill-educated, poorly trained fighters to die in large numbers and the US will do the rest.
Using AC-130 Gunships in densely populated areas usuallly equals one big bloody mess of dead civilians that the Talibs are more than happy to exploit.
But not to fear, Defense Link also reports that Royal Netherlands Army Maj. Gen. Ton van Loon says 'Ongoing NATO military and reconstruction operations are helping erode Taliban militants’ power in southern Afghanistan. . . . Taliban extremists were 'severely diminished' in the Panjwai and Zari districts of Kandahar province after operations Medusa and Bazooka, which were conducted last summer and into the fall and winter, van Loon said.
After repeated poundings during stand-up fights with NATO and Afghan security forces, he said, the Taliban have taken to fading into the shadows and employing hit-and-run guerrilla tactics. The enemy is increasingly using improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers, he said."
Employing hit and run guerrila tactics like using IEDs and suicide bombers, where have I heard that before? Oh right Iraq, the place where for the past four years we've not been able to even make a dent in the insurgency.
Yeah, that's great Gen. van Looney, I'm very sure your rosey assessment of the situation in the south of Afghanistan won't come back to bite you on th ass.