Flashback: NATO’s novel battle tactic spawns opposite effects as 12 civilians killed | German army chief resigns over Afghanistan air strike | NATO pledges probe of deadly Afghan air strike; civilians killed | Afghan Airstrike Video Goes Down the Memory Hole | New Afghan mission commander vows to protect civilians | US air strikes kill dozens of Afghan civilians | NATO denies air strike killed Afghan civilians
James Meikle, Declan Walsh, Stephen Bates, The Guardian
February 15, 2010
A Nato statement said a joint patrol of Nato and Afghan troops saw individuals digging along a path in the Zhari district of Kandahar province today and mistakenly concluded that they were planting an improvised explosive device. Two civilians were also wounded in the strike.
The incident follows the deaths yesterday of 12 Afghan civilians, who were killed by two stray Nato rockets in neighbouring Helmand province.
Major General Michael Regner, Isaf’s joint command deputy chief of staff for joint operations, said: “We regret this tragic accident and offer our sympathies to the families of those killed and injured.
“Our combined forces take every precaution to minimise civilian casualties, and we will investigate this incident to determine how this happened.”
Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup said the incident had damaged efforts to win the support of local communities, but added that accidents were inevitable during conflict.
The civilians died when two rockets from a high mobility artillery rocket system hit a house on the outskirts of the town of Marjah, in an area of Helmand province being targeted by a joint US and Afghan force.
Stirrup, the chief of the defence staff, said: “It is a very serious setback. It is not one which can’t be overcome and of course the Afghans themselves, the local government, play a key role in this and they have already swung into action in that regard. But we are there to provide security for the population.”
He told the BBC Today programme: “This operation … is not about battling the Taliban, it is about protecting the local population, and you don’t protect them when you kill them. It is always damaging, but of course in any conflict situation accidents happen and we must remember that most of the civilian casualties are not caused by Isaf [the international security assistance force] — they are caused by the Taliban.”
He said it was crucial that people “perceive the Afghan national security forces as protecting them, as providing them with security, and therefore we have to do all we can to eliminate civilian casualties”.
The defence minister, Bill Rammell, expressed regret over the incident, as did the Nato commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, who has suspended use of the missile system involved in the mistake.
Speaking on GMTV, Rammell said: “I regret the loss of a British soldier but also the loss of civilian lives. This incident involved American troops. General McChrystal has rightly suspended the use of this particular rocket system pending an investigation, because we are determined to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties to win the hearts and minds of the local population.”
The Afghan interior minister, Mohammad Atmar, said nine civilians and two or three insurgents were among those killed, suggesting insurgents may have been firing at troops from a civilian compound. “The reality is this … the enemy did capture some civilians in their house and they were firing at our forces from this house. Unfortunately our forces didn’t know that civilians were living in that house,” he said at a press conference at Lashkar Gah.
Snipers have been holding up attempts to clear the town of Taliban fighters, the US marines said.
The civilian deaths in the last 24 hours have overshadowed reports of early successes against the Taliban in Operation Moshtarak — the biggest offensive undertaken by western and Afghan forces in the nine-year war.
The operation involves 15,000 troops, mostly US, British and Afghan. The first US marines arrived in Marjah — a major hub of insurgents and drug smugglers — by helicopter before dawn on Saturday morning, while British forces are sweeping through Nad Ali. One British soldier has been killed in the operation. He was named as Lance Sergeant Dave Greenhalgh, 25, from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
Taliban fighters — estimated at between 400 and 1,000 — have heavily mined the area. The operation’s US commander, Brigadier General Larry Nicholson, predicted it could take 30 days to clear out all militants and explosives, but said he was “cautiously optimistic” the job could be completed sooner.
Nato heavily telegraphed its intention to invade Marjah and Nad Ali, hoping to minimise civilian casualties. The civilian deaths added to tensions with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who ordered an immediate investigation. High rates of casualties help Taliban recruitment in war-torn areas and stir public anger that has eroded support for the fragile Afghan government.
A British soldier from 36 Engineer Regiment died this afternoon as a result of an explosion in Helmand province, the MoD said. Next of kin have been informed. Two more British soldiers also died yesterday. One, from 2nd battalion the Duke of Lancaster’s regiment, was shot in a gun battle in the Musa Qala area of southern Afghanistan, and the other, from 6 Rifles, serving as part of 3 Rifles Battle Group, died in an explosion while on foot patrol to the north-east of Sangin. The deaths were unconnected with Operation Moshtarak.
Source | See Also under Afghanistan: NATO’s novel battle tactic spawns opposite effects as 12 civilians killed | NATO, Afghan troops launch largest air assault of Afghan war | Blackwater accused of defrauding US government, billing for hooker under ‘morale’ | Marjah, Afghanistan: Countdown To A Battle | Omar Khadr’s rights were violated: Ruling sees top court clash with Tories | Military probes beating of Afghan prisoner | Afghanistan conference agrees on exit timetable, Taliban bailout | British and US troops to launch new Afghanistan offensive | General McChrystal indicates talks with Taliban to be discussed | Killer of CIA agents in Afghanistan called for revenge for Baitullah Mehsud | Ex-Blackwater contractors charged with Afghan killings | Claims troops mistreated prisoners unfounded: military police | Peter MacKay, Red Cross discussed detainees in 2006 | Canada’s troops investigated for Afghan abuse | Colvin disputes witnesses’ detainee testimony | Tories sabotage Afghan committee meeting | Canada ‘defended’ torturer | Ottawa won’t release Afghan torture documents | US Air Force confirms new ‘Beast of Kandahar’ drone | Top general’s Afghan detainee reversal hikes pressure for public inquiry | Another 7,000 NATO troops going to Afghanistan | Afghans rejected Canadian-captured prisoners for ‘insufficient evidence’ | Torture claims unreliable, officials say, despite having found evidence of torture | Obama sends 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan | MPs vote public inquiry into Afghan detainees, Tories ignore majority motion | Torture claims weren’t probed, official testified | U.S. ‘missed chance’ to capture bin Laden in 2001 | Harper government changes tune on Afghan prisoner issue | Colvin’s testimony true: former Afghan MP | David Mulroney testifies war confused issue of torture | German army chief resigns over Afghanistan air strike | Nato will send 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan, says Brown | Hillier says he saw no credible reports of torture | Afghan torture emails reached MacKay’s office | Opposition wants documentation prior to government torture rebuttal, PM cries foul | US pours millions into anti-Taliban militias in Afghanistan | Canadian officials discussed torture in 2006 | Canada shamed on Afghan prisoner torture | Canada ignored torture warnings: Diplomat | Afghanistan announces latest ‘corruption crackdown’ | British PM says 5,000 more NATO troops may be deployed in Afghanistan | UK ‘backs Taliban reintegration’ | Omar Khadr to face Military Commission trial in US | How the US Funds the Taliban | Nobel Peace Laureate Obama Will Send 40K More Troops To War | Forces begin planning for Afghan withdrawal | Military lawyer stonewalls on Afghan torture claims | Ex-diplomat says Afghanistan in ‘civil war,’ calls for US withdrawal | Karzai ‘wins’ as Afghan run-off cancelled | Ethnic hostility is a big, maybe the biggest, part of the Afghan war | Occupiers involved in drug trade: Afghan minister | Afghan challenger drops out of election | The universality of war propaganda | Omar Khadr ‘innocent’ in death of U.S. soldier | Afghan leader’s corrupt brother paid by CIA, U.S. officials say | No way to escape Afghan combat post-2011, Hillier says | Afghan probe voids thousands of Karzai votes | Afghan election appears headed to a second round | French troops were killed after Italy hushed up ‘bribes’ to Taleban | Ottawa was warned Afghan detainees might be tortured | UK to send more troops to Afghanistan, hints Obama to follow suit | Troops get non-combat role in Afghanistan after 2011 | Military stress injuries on rise | Military commission suspends torture hearings, gags witness | Kuebler dropped as Omar Khadr’s lawyer | Obama rules out Afghanistan troop cuts | I was ordered to cover up President Karzai election fraud, sacked UN envoy says | Torture probe delayed; Tories deny gagging witness | Conservatives claim ‘no decision’ made on leaving some troops in Afghanistan past 2011 | Obama considers new strategies for Afghanistan and Pakistan | US braced for surge of protest over war in Afghanistan | Federal court limits Afghan detainee torture probe | U.S. commander warns of failure in Afghanistan, calls for more troops | Canada, at war, to urge peace for everyone else during Olympics | Body of 130th soldier killed in Afghanistan comes home | EU observers say a third of Karzai’s votes might be suspect due to fraud | ‘Regrettable’ if Canada quits Afghanistan: Chertoff | Top US commander signals troop increase in Afghanistan | Canada sees worsening security in Afghanistan | Canadian media watched closely in Afghanistan | In wake of 9/11, ‘War on Terror’ spawned more terrorism | NATO pledges probe of deadly Afghan air strike; civilians killed | Supreme Court to hear government’s appeal of Khadr case | UK: Brown defends Afghan campaign in wake of aide’s resignation | Obama’s effort in Afghanistan ‘just beginning’: U.S. defence secretary | Afghanistan Drug Raid Snares Border Police Commander | Afghanistan’s Hidden Heroin Addicts | Afghan vote called ‘mockery’ | Olympics push army to edge | Ottawa to appeal Khadr ruling to top court | Accusations over Afghan vote rigging | Selling Canada on Afghanistan | Canada should stay in Afghanistan: NATO head | Has Karzai overstayed his welcome? | U.S. military seeks ’second surge’ for Afghan mission | A Sibel Edmonds Bombshell — Bin Laden Worked for U.S. Until 9/11 | Britain and US prepared to open talks with the Taliban | UK PM Gordon Brown plans troop surge in Afghanistan | Military to get $5B for armoured vehicles | Taliban flee new U.S. drive in Afghanistan | Afghan Airstrike Video Goes Down the Memory Hole | New Afghan mission commander vows to protect civilians | Homing chips are CIA’s latest weapon against ‘al-Qaida’ targets hiding in Pakistan’s tribal belt | Skepticism greets launch of Afghan detainee inquiry | Supreme Court of Canada won’t hear Afghan detainee torture case | US arms sent to Afghan forces ‘in Taliban hands’ | MacKay to discuss security concerns with Pakistan | New US brigade ‘bringing in plenty of firepower’ to Afghanistan | Canadian Forces: Worries about child abuse by Afghan allies ‘unfounded’ | CIA: Our Drones are Killing Terrorists. Promise. | US air strikes kill dozens of Afghan civilians | Afghan President Karzai registers for re-election, picks warlord as running mate | U.S. troops will have big impact on Afghan mission: Canadian commander | PM must press U.S. for Khadr’s return from Guantanamo, court rules | Afghan front lines take mental toll on military and RCMP | NATO denies air strike killed Afghan civilians | Khadr’s military lawyer reinstated | NATO agrees to Afghan troop increase | Pentagon fires Omar Khadr’s lawyer | Afghan rape law spurs anger | Obama adds another brigade to Afghanistan troop surge | UK Anti-war MP banned from Canada | Afghanistan needs 4,000 extra soldiers for elections: NATO | Supporters defy law, buy plane ticket for Montrealer stuck in Sudan | Canada, allies will never defeat Taliban, PM says | Cost of Afghan mission jumps to $11.3-billion | Afghanistan victory unlikely, says DND manual | Obama backs Bush: No rights for Bagram prisoners | New Canadian commander in Afghanistan welcomes U.S. troop influx | Canadian troops could soon target Afghan drug trade: top soldier | Tories seek extra $331-million for Afghan mission | Obama eyes 3 more brigades for Afghanistan | United States’ short-term goals hurt Afghanistan mission: report | ‘Abusive’ coalition raids stoking anger in Afghanistan: report | Canada ‘not onboard’ with U.S. plan to arm Afghan militias | Top U.S. general boosts troop pledge to Afghanistan | Reports reveal concerns over drug use among Canadian military | Brown: British military to withdraw from Iraq, to ’share burden’ in Afghanistan | Canadian Junior Hockey team gets ‘military training’ | Khadr, interred in rubble, couldn’t have thrown grenade in firefight: Evidence | Afghan war boosts recruiting | 3 new deaths in Afghanistan push Canadian toll to 101 | CFR-Brookings to Dominate Obama Strategy | Afghan government sacks Kandahar governor | Obama’s planned troop surge in Afghanistan could lead to more violence: ISAF | Military to probe response to sex charges | US General David Petraeus to take CENTCOM helm for Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan | ‘Reconstruction’ efforts in Khandahar not apparent to Afghanis | Peace activists demand Canada leave Afghanistan | NATO to let troops fight Afghan drug lords | US faces downward spiral in Afghan war, says leaked intelligence report | Afghan mission cost: up to $18B | Delta Force Officer: We Weren’t Allowed to Kill Osama Bin Laden | Victory impossible in Afghanistan: senior British commander | Defiant military watchdog widens detainee hearings | ‘Some’ Troops to stay in Afghanistan past 2011: McKay | CSIS faces review in Khadr case | Blackwater-linked firm to train Canadian troops | Canadian troops continue gearing up, to receive US counter-insurgency training | Asia’s new ‘great game’ is all about pipelines | MacKay dismisses Taliban threat as ‘propaganda’ | Controversial Kandahar governor replaced | America to assume command in Afghanistan | Canadian military acquiring new helicopters, drones | Low Level Driver Convicted Of Terror Charges While Bin Laden’s Senior Body Guard Was Let Go | Afghani Narco-state Continues to Blossom under Puppet President | Protesters push for Omar Khadr’s release | Obama promises 10,000 more troops for Afghanistan | Afghanistan suggests Pakistan responsible for embassy bombing | Canadian, NATO forces stood down during Afghan jailbreak | Canadian military silent on Afghan civilian deaths: UN investigator | US Counterinsurgency Manual Leaked, Calls for False Flag Operations, Suspension of Human Rights | Report: U.S. Gave Green Light For Taliban Prison Attack | Don’t look, don’t tell, troops told in response to Afghani child abuse | Post-traumatic stress disorder’s hidden scars | Over 100 complaints about access to govt. info on Afghan mission: report | Canada sets up new military spy unit | Bid to Block Afghan Detainee Inquiry Slammed | Army begins using $150,000 artillery shells | FBI documents contradict 9/11 Commission report | Truth or Terrorism? The Real Story Behind Five Years of High Alerts | 9/11 widows call for new investigation after revelations of White House, commission ties | Director of 9/11 commission “secretly spoke with Rove, White House” | Eight U.S. State Department Veterans Challenge the Official Account of 9/11 | Twenty-five U.S. Military Officers Challenge Official Account of 9/11 | Ex-Italian President: Intel Agencies Know 9/11 An Inside Job | Afghan poll not as clear as it seems | 9/11 — the big cover-up? | New Bin Laden Video: 100% Forgery | What Ottawa doesn’t want you to know: Government was told detainees faced ‘extrajudicial executions, disappearances, torture and detention without trial’ | The Lies that Led to War | U.S. Government Caught Red-Handed Releasing Staged Al-Qaeda Videos | US Allowed Taliban, Al-Qaeda Airlift Evacuation