Joint US-Afghan Strike Kills 40 Civilians at Wedding
(September 23, 2019) — For the second time in a week, a US military operation in Afghanistan has ended with a large number of civilians dead, and US officials offering very dubious arguments as to why it wasn’t their fault.
The Sunday night attack saw US and Afghan commandos raid a house in Helmand Province, and ultimately launch airstrikes. The attack killed at least 40 civilians, including a number of children.
Instead of the Taliban building they thought they were raiding, it turns out the airstrike pounded an ongoing wedding reception. The Afghan government has already admitted to what happened, saying they are “saddened” by the deaths and want to take extra caution in the future.
Because the US is on one of those kicks where they don’t take responsibility for anything, the US statement confirmed the airstrike but denied killing civilians. They claimed the attack targeted al-Qaeda, and suggested any civilians “died from al-Qaeda weapons,” and not from the US dropping bombs on them.
This all comes just days after an incident in Nangarhar Province, where the US attacked and killed scores of civilian farm laborers who were fired for a pine nut harvest. This attack was launched even though the village in question specifically informed everyone weeks in advance that the harvest was happening ,and got assurances they wouldn’t be attacked.
The US attacked, of course, killing 32 civilians, including children. The US went on to claim everyone was pretending to be harvesting pine nuts, and that it was secretly all ISIS people.
The Pentagon’s priorities on Afghanistan have changed repeatedly throughout the war, sometimes admitting to and apologizing for civilian casualties, while other times they deny everything. Either way, the end result is to sweep it under the rug with no policy changes, and the number of civilian deaths continues apace.
Strike Targeting Taliban Kills 40 Civilians at a Wedding Next Door
(September 23, 2019) — At least 40 civilians attending a wedding were killed Sunday night when Afghan military forces struck against a Taliban hideout in the building adjacent to the ceremony.
The attack by the Afghan National Security Forces took place in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province, according to a statement from the Ministry of Defense.
“We are saddened and devastated to hear that civilians have lost their lives in an incident in Helmand despite President (Ashraf) Ghani’s repeated call for extra cautions in conducting military operations,” Sediq Sediqqi, the President’s spokesman, said on Twitter.
Omar Zwak, Helmand provincial spokesman, said the government has sent a delegation to investigate the incident. The Ministry of Defense said it would share the findings with media.
Local residents said all civilians killed and injured during the operation were from the wedding party, according to the Ministry of Defense statement.
According to the ministry, 22 foreign members of the Taliban were killed and 14 arrested in the operation. The arrested include five Pakistani nationals and one Bangladeshi.
A large warehouse of the group’s supplies and equipment was also demolished during the attack, the statement said.
Attacks are intensifying as the country prepares for its presidential election September 28. The Taliban has said it will target election campaigns as well as polling stations and warned Afghans not to vote.
At least 89 people have been killed in several suicide attacks last week.
In Parwan province, north of Kabul, a Taliban suicide bomber targeted an election campaign rally Tuesday where Ghani was set to speak, killing 26 people and wounding 42. In a separate incident hours later, a suicide bomb attack near the US Embassy in central Kabul killed 22 people.
A suicide attack in Jalalabad city in eastern Afghanistan killed four people Wednesday. And 37 people were killed Thursday in a bombing in the city of Qalat in Zabul province.
A drone strike carried out by US forces in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday killed 16 civilians, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province said Thursday.
The strike was targeting ISIS militants, the spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, told CNN. But human rights organization Amnesty International said the incident suggested a “shocking disregard for civilian life.” Amnesty said civilians “bear the brunt” of the violence between armed groups, the Afghan government, and the US military.
The US Just Killed 30 Innocent People in Afghanistan. Let’s Pretend It Was London.
(September 24, 2019) — A US official in the UK has indicated that he is “working with local authorities” and “examining the intelligence” that led to a drone strike late last week that took the lives of 30 customers at a restaurant in central London. It appears that the intended target of the strike was a gathering of IS leaders, and that the group attacked — at an Italian restaurant celebrating the 70th birthday of one of the confirmed dead — was mistaken for the IS cell. In addition to the dead were over 40 wounded, many with life-threatening injuries. A number of children were among the 70 casualties.
While the US government has so far refused to confirm responsibility for the strike, a State Department spokesperson has said that, should in transpire that the US is responsible for the deaths, “collateral damage, while extremely rare, is a regrettable consequence of the ongoing efforts of the US to combat international terrorism,” and that, “citizens of London should be well aware by now that there are certain areas in the city that should be avoided.” The State Department spokesperson also noted that all strikes are conducted with the “utmost care,” and that it is not unusual for civilian death tolls to be “significantly exaggerated” by authorities in the UK.
Residents of the UK have been active on social media condemning the attack, noting that the international media show little or no interest in reporting on mass civilian casualties of US drone strikes in predominantly Christian nations. “Basically, the media might report that some people were killed in an attack and that’s it. No follow-up. No discussion of guilt. It’s like the lives of white Christian bankers in London count for less than nothing,” said UKJames on Twitter.
Another Twitter user asked, “How can it be that the US is allowed to attack who and where they want in England, killing civilians, without any consequences? These were innocent people eating dinner. Where’s the outrage?”
Many of the posts on Facebook and Twitter also pointed out the how the “War on Terror” deaths of wealthier Christians in Europe are ignored by the media, while poorer Muslims, killed in places like Afghanistan and Yemen, get disproportionate coverage and attention from major news outlets.
Not all comments on social media, however, were sympathetic to the victims in London. “If these people in don’t want to get killed, why do they even live in England? Move somewhere else. Just not here!” tweeted EagleUSA1990. Others were quick to note that there was no evidence that those killed in the restaurant were not, in fact, members of IS, and that, “If you take your children out at night in a place like London it’s your fault of they get killed. What kind of people are these? They shouldn’t even have kids.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has expressed outrage over the deaths, saying that a full investigation into the attack must take place, including criminal charges of negligent homicide against those responsible — this, despite the fact that the US has indicated it will not recognize any legal decision made outside of a US court. Khan noted that this is the fourth US drone attack in the UK in recent months: attacks that have claimed over 1,000 innocent lives in the UK in the last decade.
One of these included a strike in July of this year that hit a wedding on the outskirts of the city of Manchester killing 44 participants, including the bride and her entire family. As the wedding took place in an “area of interest” to the US government, however, an internal investigation resulted in a finding of “no culpability” on the part of the United States.
Despite the US government refusal to claim responsibility, families of the Manchester victims were nevertheless offered $500 compensation each by US authorities, “in memory of the dead, and as a sign of goodwill on the part of the United States of America.”
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