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US Drones and Bombs Kills136 Civilians -- From Afghanistan to Yemen


April 9, 2016
AntiWar.com & The New York Times & The Defense Security Cooperation Agency

In Afghanistan, a series of US drone strikes has killed at least 17 civilians. The US is often late to acknowledge civilian deaths. A US Brig. Gen. insisted there was "no evidence" that any of the slain were civilians. On March 15, Saudi warplanes attacked a crowded marketplace in the Yemeni Shi'ite town of Mastaba, killing 119 civilians. The attack was among the deadliest Saudi strikes on Yemen's civilians since the war began. More than 3,000 civilian bystanders have been killed.

http://news.antiwar.com/2016/04/07/governor-us-drone-strikes-kill-17-civilians-in-afghanistan/

US Drone Strikes Kill 17 Civilians in Afghanistan
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(April 7, 2016) -- Governor Shaista Khan Akhtarzada of Afghanistan's Gomal District, in Paktika Province, has announced an investigation into a series of US drone strikes in the district confirmed at least 17 civilians were killed in a series of incidents.

Former Senator Haji Mohammad Hasan also confirmed the incident, saying there were three strikes in the district, and that one had killed a high-profile tribal figure, Haji Rozuddin, who was trying to mediate a land dispute.

US Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland confirmed only two of the three strikes, and insisted that there was "no evidence" that any of the slain were civilians, despite the comments from top local officials, including the district governor.

The US is often late to acknowledge civilian deaths in strikes in Afghanistan, though the Afghan Defense Ministry also claimed that they believed that the attacks in Gomal had killed Taliban.

While it's unclear how the attacks were launched, this could suggest the defense ministry was involved in the targeting, which would explain their reluctance to consider reports of civilian casualties.



At Least 17 Civilians Killed in
US Airstrikes, Afghan Officials Say

The New York Times

KHOST, Afghanistan (April 7, 2016) -- American airstrikes in the southeastern Afghan province of Paktika killed at least 17 civilians, local officials and elders said on Thursday, differing from official American and Afghan claims that only militants had been killed.

Hajji Muhammad Hasan, a former senator from the Gomal District, said that three drone strikes hit the area of Nematabad on Wednesday. He said that the first strike hit a pickup truck carrying Hajji Rozuddin, a local elder on his way to mediate a land dispute in the Kakarzai tribe. Also in the truck were four of Mr. Rozuddin's bodyguards and seven other people.

A second strike soon after killed two people who had come to pick up the bodies, Mr. Hasan said. A third strike killed three others who had climbed a small hill to try to see what had happened and why the previous two men had not returned already. (There is rarely any phone signal in Gomal, in rugged terrain along the Pakistani border.)

"Hajji Rozuddin was strongly anti-Taliban -- he carried bodyguards because the Taliban were trying to kill him," Mr. Hasan said. "The car was completely destroyed, and there was little of the bodies left."

Shaista Khan Akhtarzada, the district governor of Gomal, said an investigation team had determined that "the people killed were civilians."

But the chief of police in Paktika Province, Gen. Zorawar Zahid, insisted that only Taliban had been killed in the strikes. In a differing account, the Afghan Defense Ministry said in a statement that operatives for Al Qaeda had been killed in Gomal.

A spokesman for the United States military in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Charles H. Cleveland, said: "We can confirm that the US conducted two counterterrorism strikes in Paktika on Wednesday afternoon. There was no evidence to indicate that there were any civilian casualties at all."

Officials and residents said that such airstrikes have been relatively rare in Paktika in recent months, even as the United States has intensified its air operations elsewhere in the country.

Besides training and assisting the Afghan forces, who have struggled as they have taken over combat against the Taliban, some of the United States military presence here, numbered at about 9,800 troops over all, is focused on conducting counterterrorism operations.

In addition to targeting Al Qaeda, which continues to have a foothold in Pakistan and Afghanistan, President Obama in January authorized American forces to go after militants in Afghanistan who have claimed loyalty to the Islamic State.

The United States Air Force's public data on strikes in Afghanistan suggests 242 "weapons released" in January and February, compared with 76 in the same period last year.

General Cleveland said that most of the "just under a hundred" American counterterrorism strikes in Afghanistan from Jan. 1 to March 31 were focused on Islamic State militants in eastern Nangarhar Province. (Each reported strike may involve more than one weapon.) He added that a few of those strikes had targeted Al Qaeda elsewhere in the country.

Farooq Jan Mangal reported from Khost, Afghanistan, and Mujib Mashal from Kabul.


US-Made Bomb Killed 119 Civilians
In Saudi Airstrike Against Yemen

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(April 7, 2016) -- On March 15, Saudi warplanes attacked a crowded marketplace in the northern Yemeni Shi'ite town of Mastaba, killing 119 civilians. The attack was among the deadliest Saudi strikes on civilians in Yemen since the war began last year, a conflict which has killed in excess of 3,000 civilian bystanders, mostly in airstrikes.

Human Rights Watch, which investigated the incident, has found evidence that the deaths were caused by a US-made bomb, a GBU-31 satellite-guided bomb. US sales to Saudi Arabia in November included 400 such bombs. [See story below. -- EAW]

Human rights groups have been increasingly critical of the US and other Western nations for massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia, noting the huge number of civilians they've been killing, and UN reports have accused the Saudis of deliberately targeting civilians in many cases.

The EU has even gone so far as to pass a non-binding resolution urging its members to stop sales to the Saudis, though by and large this hasn't happened yet. The US has been heavily involved in arming the Saudis, and has also participated in the war on Yemen, refueling Saudi bombers and providing ships to take part in the naval blockade.


The Government of Saudi Arabia --
Air-to-Ground Munitions

Defense Security Cooperation Agency

WASHINGTON (Nov ember16, 2015) -- The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Saudi Arabia for air-to-ground munitions and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $1.29 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on November 13, 2015.

The Government of Saudi Arabia requested approval to procure the following:

Major Defense Equipment (MDE) includes:
* One thousand (1000) GBU-10 Paveway II Laser Guided Bombs (LGBs)
* Two thousand, three hundred (2,300) BLU-117/MK-84 2000lb General Purpose (GP) Bombs
* Four thousand twenty (4,020) GBU-12 Paveway II LGBs
* Eight thousand twenty (8,020) BLU-111/MK-82 500lb GP Bombs
* One thousand, one hundred (1,100) GBU-24 Paveway III LGBs
* One thousand, five hundred (1,500) BLU-109 2000lb Penetrator Warheads
* Four hundred (400) GBU-31(V1) KMU-556 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) tail kits
* One thousand (1,000) GBU-31(V3) KMU-557 JDAM tail kits
* Three thousand (3,000) GBU-38 KMU-572 JDAM tail kits
* Two thousand (2,000) GBU-48 Enhanced Paveway II, dual mode Global Positioning System
(GPS)/LGB with the MXU-667 Airfoil and the MAU-169L/B * Computer Control Group (CCG) Dual
mode
* Two thousand (2,000) BLU-110/MK-83 1000lb GP Bombs
* Five hundred (500) GBU-54 KMU-572 Laser JDAM tail kits, dual mode GPS/LGB with the MXU-667
Airfoil and the MAU-169L/B CCG Dual mode
* Three hundred (300) GBU-56 KMU 556 Laser JDAM tail kits, dual mode GPS/LGB with the MXU-667
Airfoil and the MAU-169L/B CCG Dual mode
* Ten thousand two hundred (10,200) FMU-152 Fuzes

This request also includes the following Non-MDE items and services: procurement of bomb equipment components such as adaptors, nose plugs, fusing mechanisms, swivels, support links and connections; associated support equipment; publications, such as technical orders, and system manuals; training; engineering and technical support; transportation (to include special airlift support); program management; and other administrative support and related services.

The total estimated MDE value is $1.10 billion, and the estimated total overall value is $1.29 billion.

The purchase replenishes the Royal Saudi Air Force's (RSAF) current weapons supplies, which are becoming depleted due to the high operational tempo in multiple counter-terrorism operations. The purchase of these munitions rebuilds war reserves and provides options for future contingencies.

The RSAF will have no issues fielding, supporting, and employing these munitions.

The proposed sale augments Saudi Arabia's capability to meet current and future threats from potential adversaries during combat operations. Providing these defense articles supports Saudi Arabian defense missions and promotes stability in the region.

This acquisition will help sustain strong military-to-military relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, improve operational interoperability with the United States, and enable Saudi Arabia to meet regional threats and safeguard the world's largest oil reserves.

This acquisition contributes to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by increasing the security of an important partner that continues to be a significant force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.

Sustaining Saudi military capabilities deters hostile actors, increases US-Saudi military interoperability, and has a positive impact on the stability of the global economy. This acquisition also directly conveys US commitment to the RSAF's current and future ability to sustain combat operations.

The prime contractor will be determined by competition. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

There is no adverse impact on US defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

All questions regarding this proposed Foreign Military Sale should be directed to the State Department's Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, pm-cpa@state.gov.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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