BBC News & Press TV – 2010-07-26 00:39:03
‘Hidden US Afghan War Details’ Revealed by Wikileaks
The White House says the records refer to a period before the current US strategy came into effect
(July 26,2010) — More than 90,000 leaked US military records have been published on the website Wikileaks, reportedly revealing hidden details of the Afghanistan war. Three major news publications which have been shown the documents say they include unreported killings of Afghan civilians.
The huge cache of classified papers is described as one of the biggest leaks in US military history. The White House has condemned the leaks as “irresponsible”.
Reports by the UK daily The Guardian, the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel say the leaked papers reveal NATO concerns that neighboring Pakistan and Iran are helping Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. The Pakistani ambassador in Washington said the “unprocessed” reports did “not reflect the current onground realities.”
“The United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan are strategic partners and are jointly endeavoring to defeat Al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies militarily and politically,” said Husain Haqqani.
The reports also suggest:
* The Taliban has had access to portable heat-seeking missiles to shoot at aircraft.
* A secret US unit of army and navy special forces has been engaged on missions to “capture or kill” top insurgents.
* Many civilian casualties have gone unreported, both as a result of Taliban roadside bombs and NATO missions that went wrong.
The BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall says that although the documents reveal no dramatic new insights, they show the difficulties of the war and the civilan death toll. The reports offer an unvarnished and grim picture of the Afghan war, she adds.
In a statement, US National Security Adviser Gen James Jones said such classified information “could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security”.
He said the documents covered the period from 2004 to 2009, before President Obama “announced a new strategy with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan”.
Another US official said that Wikileaks — which specialises in making public untraceable material from whistleblowers – was not an objective news outlet and described it as an organisation that opposes US policy in Afghanistan.
But the head of the Foreign Relations Committee in the US Senate said that “however illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan”.
“Those policies are at a critical stage and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent,” said Democrat Senator John Kerry.
Wikileaks is releasing the set of documents under the title Afghan War Diary. It says is has delayed the release of about 15,000 reports from the archive as part of a “harm minimisation process demanded by our source”.
The Guardian and the New York Times say they had no contact with the original source of the leak, but spent weeks crosschecking the information.
The reports come as NATO says it is investigating reports that as many as 45 civilians died in an air strike in Helmand province on Friday. Although an initial NATO investigation found no evidence, a BBC journalist visiting Regey village spoke to several people who said they had witnessed the incident. They said the attack had come in daylight as dozens sheltered from fighting in nearby Joshani.
A NATO spokesman said international forces went to great measures to avoid civilian casualties. “The safety of the Afghan people is very important to the International Security Assistance Forces,” Lt Col Chris Hughes added.
Report: Afghan Civilian Deaths Hidden
TEHRAN (July 26, 2010) — Newly leaked US military secret documents show how US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan have killed or wounded hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents. The documents leaked by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks allege some of the casualties are caused by airstrikes, but a large number is the result of troops shooting unarmed drivers or motorcyclists in an effort to protect themselves.
The documents disclosed by The New York Times, Guardian newspaper and the German weekly Der Spiegel also detail many other disputed incidents involving civilian deaths that have been omitted from daily military reports. The secret documents also link Pakistan to the militancy in Afghanistan. They detail links between the Taliban and Pakistan’s military and spy agency, the ISI.
According to some 90,000 leaked reports released by WikiLeaks, Pakistan “allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.”
Meanwhile, White House National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones denounced the leak as destructive for the US soldiers’ morale in the fight against the Taliban.
Jones hailed the “counter-terrorism cooperation” between US and Pakistan, adding the documents date back to a period from January 2004 to December 2009, during the administration of former US President George W. Bush.
‘US-led Attack Killed 45 Afghan Civilians’
TEHRAN (July 25, 2010) — As many as 45 civilians have reportedly been killed during a US-led helicopter strike in Helmand province, forcing NATO to launch a probe into the incident.
On Friday, an air strike claimed dozens of lives including children in the Regey village in southern Helmand province, witnesses say.
A BBC journalist visiting Regey village spoke to several people who said they had seen the incident. At the time, dozens were sheltering in the village from nearby fighting.
The report comes amid public outcry over a significant increase in the number of civilian casualties as the result of attacks by the US-led forces in the war-ravaged country of Afghanistan.
International forces in Afghanistan say they are urgently investigating report.
According to several witnesses, clashes in nearby Joshani had forced many civilians to take shelter in the Regey village, while helicopters buzzed over the sky and pounded the village with rockets.
“I heard the sound of the rocket land on our house. I rushed in screaming with my father and saw bodies lying in the dustâ€¦ I found I was even standing on a dead body,” according to a witness who spoke to the BBC journalist.
The incident comes despite earlier promises by the new commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, that protecting civilian lives would top his agenda concerning his war strategies in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the NATO, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Hughes said on Sunday that the international forces will probe into the deadly attack.
He said that preliminary investigation by ISAF and the provincial governor “gives no indication of a mass casualty incident cause by the coalition forces in Sangin” in Helmand province.
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