Posts Tagged ‘McChrystal’




Civilian casualties have become a deep source of friction between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers, largely stemming from an incident in August 2008 in which Afghan and U.N. investigators say U.S. strikes killed 90 civilians.

Washington initially denied large numbers of civilians had been killed in that incident, only to acknowledge three months later that at least 33 had died.

Tensions were further strained in May this year, when the U.S. military carried out an air strike in the southwest. Afghan officials say that killed 140 civilians while U.S. estimates were between 20 and 35 civilians and 80 to 95 insurgents killed.

Although more civilians die in insurgent attacks, deaths at the hands of foreign forces cause the most outrage among ordinary Afghans and have made many question the presence of international troops. (more…)

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The Washington Post


Under Strict Rules to Protect Civilians, Marines Face More Complex Missions

MIANPOSHTEH, Afghanistan — The new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, as articulated in military headquarters and congressional hearing rooms, puts the emphasis not on killing Taliban fighters but on winning over the local people. But in this highly contested swath of Helmand province, Sgt. Anibal Paz’s squad is likely to be ambushed before he has time to sit down for tea.

The sergeants’ war that Paz fights is often craftier and more complex than the war mapped out by generals, and it’s always dirtier and bloodier. Young Americans and Afghans set out to taunt and lure their foes, then try to outsmart or outgun them. The running clashes that result send villagers fleeing their fields, hampering the U.S. Marines’ overarching mission of making the local population feel secure. (more…)

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DAHANEH, Afghanistan — The British jet called in by the U.S. Marines had the Taliban position in site, but the pilot refused to fire, a decision that frustrated Marines on the ground but one in line with new orders by the top U.S. commander to protect civilians.

The Marines themselves didn’t attack militants shooting at them Wednesday because women and children were in the compound, an approach meant to avoid civilian casualties at all costs.

“They did that on purpose,” sniper platoon leader 1st Lt. Joseph Cull, 28, of Delafield, Wisconsin, said of the Taliban. “They are trying to bait us.”

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has made protecting Afghan civilians his top priority. The approach is a shift away from a military mindset whose traditional first response has been to kill as many militants as possible. By holding fire McChrystal hopes to avoid the massive civilian casualty cases of past months and years and help win over Afghan villagers. (more…)

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The Globe and Mail


Taliban bombers, some disguised as women with suicide vests hidden under their burkas, stormed government buildings near Kabul in a brazen attack just 10 days before a presidential election.

Gun battles lasted for hours Monday and smoke poured from blasted buildings in Pul-e-Alam, capital of Logar province, about an hour’s drive from Kabul. Three policemen and two civilians were killed, along with six militants, said Deen Mohammad Darwish, spokesman for the provincial governor.

It was the latest in a series of assaults in the run-up to the Aug. 20 election. The Taliban have vowed to disrupt the poll, and the United Nations says spiralling violence threatens to keep many Afghans from voting. (more…)

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Outraged southern Afghan villagers said today that a pre-dawn airstrike killed three children and a man in the latest case of civilian deaths at the hands of Western troops.

The U.S. military said it had killed four insurgents on motorcycles in that area and could not confirm any civilian fatalities.

Residents of Kowuk were seen bringing the bodies of three boys and a man to the guesthouse of the Kandahar governor from their village, 12 miles north of the provincial capital, Kandahar city. (more…)

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