Xinhua News & MSN & NBC News – 2018-12-03 22:52:22
206 Civilians Killed by Airstrikes in Eastern Syria in November
“We are sinless people. How could this happen to us?”
— A Syrian mother
DAMASCUS (December 2, 2018) — At least 206 civilians were killed in November this year by US-led airstrikes on areas controlled by the Islamic State (IS) in eastern Syria, a war monitor reported Saturday.
As many as 77 children and 57 women were among those killed by the strikes on the last IS-held pocket in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The US-led coalition has intensified its airstrikes in recent weeks in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is pushing to dislodge IS from its last stronghold on the eastern bank of Euphrates River.
The SDF has been trying to defeat IS in that part of the country near the Iraqi border since Sept. 10.
However, the IS counter-offensives and suicide bombing have rendered all efforts flat as the SDF are preparing for another round of battles against IS in eastern Deir al-Zour. The US-backed SDF has also been trying to achieve progress on the political level.
A day earlier, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), which is the political wing of the SDF, concluded a conference in the city of Ayn Issa in northern Syria with the participation of opposition figures.
The conference ended with a final statement that stressed the political solution is the right approach that guarantees the participation of all Syrians in the political process.
The statement also noted that the formation of the constitutional committee shouldn’t exclude any side, in an apparent desire by the Kurdish forces to be represented in the constitutional committee that is being discussed currently. The conference also underlined the importance of a broad dialogue that would gather opposition and government representatives.
The Kurdish forces have been enjoying a sort of autonomy in northeastern Syria since the early time of the Syrian war.
The Syrian government has stressed that all Syrian areas should return under its control in reference to the Kurdish-controlled areas among others. The SDC has already held discussions with government representatives and both sides agreed to form negotiation committees to continue the dialogues.
Airstrike Kills 10 Civilians in Eastern Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan (December 2, 2018) — Afghan officials say an airstrike has killed at least 10 civilians in the eastern Paktia province bordering Pakistan.
Shausta Jan Ahady, a former provincial council member, says women and children were among those killed late Saturday. He says local residents displayed the bodies and protested on Sunday.
Provincial government spokesman Abdullah Hsrat says the airstrike killed four insurgents and that an investigation has been launched into the allegations of civilian casualties.
In a separate incident in the southern Helmand province, an airstrike killed the Taliban’s shadow governor and two of his guards, according to provincial government spokesman Omar Zwak. There was no immediate comment from the Taliban, who control nearly half the country and run a parallel administration. It was not immediately clear who carried out either airstrike.
Most of this Afghan Family Was
Killed or Injured in a US Airstrike
Hedayat, 4, cries in a hospital in Helmand Province. Injured in an airstrike, he wasn’t allowed to eat solid food after surgery and begged to be given a cookie.
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan (December 2, 2018) — Ehsanullah, 14, was missing parts of his face and skull when he was rushed into the emergency room.
His left eyeball was crushed, his right eye missing, his forehead an open wound.
He cried out as a doctor pressed gauze over his head, the material quickly turning dark red.
“They wanted to hit the Taliban, but they bombed us instead,” said the boy’s mother, Qarara, who like many in Afghanistan goes by one name. “We are sinless people. How could this happen to us?”
Most members of Qarara’s extended family were killed or wounded on Nov. 24 when at least one airstrike called in by American forces slammed into their home in Nad-e-Ali, a village in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. Her husband, Obaidullah, and one of Ehsanullah’s older brothers, Esmatullah, died, she said. Thirteen others were injured.
They are among the latest on a growing list of casualties amid an intensifying US air operation aimed at forcing Taliban militants to agree to a peace deal and end America’s longest war.
Qarara was hit by shrapnel and debris. Shortly after she arrived in the emergency room, doctors rolled in an ultrasound scanner to check that her unborn baby’s heart was still beating. It was.
From a hospital bed, Qarara despairingly described how her family became swept up in the latest wave of violence. Near her home, Taliban militants fired at warplanes, then ran inside the house.
“My husband told them to get out,” Qarara said, but a few of the fighters remained as the airstrikes hit, then fled.
NBC News could not confirm Qarara’s account.
Sgt. 1st Class Debra Richardson, spokesperson for Resolute Support, the American-led NATO coalition in Afghanistan, said in a statement that the airstrike that killed and wounded members of the family was called in as self-defense, and that the Taliban had used civilians as human shields.
“It is often difficult to discern the presence of noncombatants inside structures when the Taliban are shooting from those locations, but we take every precaution possible,” Richardson said. “We have the duty to be precise.”
Resolute Support did not say exactly what was being done to avoid causing harm to civilians. Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense did not reply to inquiries. In May, Human Rights Watch criticized the US and Afghan governments for not adequately investigating the civilian toll of the airstrikes.
In the first 10 months of 2018, US military aircraft dropped 5,982 munitions on the country, surpassing the total for 2017, which stood at 4,361,according to US Central Command data.
Meanwhile during the first nine months of 2018, the UN recorded 2,798 civilian deaths and 5,252 injured, a total of 8,050 casualties, the highest number in four years.
More civilians die at the hands of militants than in any otherattacks. Aerial operations, such as the one that devastated the family in Helmand, have accounted for less than 10 percent of the total casualties this year. That figure is a sharp 39 percent increase from 2017, a recent U.N. report found.
The war has also claimed thousands of American and Afghan security forces.
Close to 2,400 Americans have died since 2001 when the US helped topple the Taliban government after it sheltered the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden.
Since 2015, more than 28,000 Afghan security forces have been killed, President Ashraf Ghani recently said.
President Donald Trump’s envoy to Afghanistan is reaching out to many top Taliban figures as he tries to launch peace talks and end the war before the president can pull the plug and order US troops home, foreign diplomats have told NBC News.
‘What will be his future?’
Survivors of the Nov. 24 airstrike were sprawled in the hospital run by Emergency, an Italian nongovernmental agency that treats those wounded in the war in Helmand’s capital, Lashkar Gah.
Ehsanullah’s brother, Hedayat, 4, lay covered in brown dust and blood on a stretcher. He stared blankly at the medical staff as they cut off his clothes to look at his body, which was riddled with shrapnel. His mouth curled down.
Nearby, the boys’ nine-year-old sister sat in a wheelchair, a dried smear of blood staining her face. Alone and silent, she gazed distantly across the room. An older cousin told the nurses her name was Parwana.
A nurse guided Parwana on stiff, bent legs into a bathroom where the child was undressed and hosed down. The floor turned brown with dust and blood. There Parwana sat shivering on the edge of a toilet, a green towel over her shoulders. The nurse shaved Parwana’s hair, revealing a bloody gash. Still the child said nothing.
Later in the evening, the girl lay with a white bandage around her head and gazed into the X-ray machine above her. She finally spoke in a whisper: “I want to go home.”
Dr. Ibrahim Khushal, a senior trauma surgeon, cleaned Ehsanullah’s head before wrapping a large bandage around it. After a two-hour operation, the doctor sat barefoot and cross-legged on a sofa, waiting for the next child to be brought in for surgery. He rubbed his eyes: It had been five hours since the family arrived at the hospital.
“What makes us tired is not the work. It’s the thought of what will happen to the patients afterward,” Khushal said. “What life will they return to? This is what makes us tired.”
He added: “I am sad. A young boy with such big injuries. No eyes, brain out. What will be his future?”
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