MARJA, AFGHANISTAN -- U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers encountered pockets of stiff resistance and extensive minefields as they sought to press into this Taliban sanctuary in southern Afghanistan on Saturday. Numerous gunfights with insurgents and painstaking efforts to clear roads of makeshift bombs slowed the advance of many coalition units and delayed them from reaching some key destinations in this farming area of 80,000 people. The operation was further complicated by the challenge of fording irrigation canals that ring the area and traversing a landscape covered in knee-deep mud.
More international troops die as they launch a major operation against Taliban. As thousands of US-led forces have launched an operation in southern Afghanistan, the number of those foreign troops killed in the assault is rising. According to the latest statement by NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), seven troopers were killed on Saturday.
The controversial American security company Blackwater is facing new allegations of gross misconduct after two former employees said that it had repeatedly defrauded the US Government, including charging it for the use of a Filipina prostitute in Afghanistan.
As US and British troops prepare to attack the town of Marjah in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, military commanders and the media are openly comparing the operation to the siege of Fallujah, one of the bloodiest war crimes of the Iraq war.
A new investigation by journalist Anand Gopal reveals harrowing details about US secret prisons in Afghanistan, under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Gopal interviewed Afghans who were detained and abused at several disclosed and undisclosed sites at US and Afghan military bases across the country. He also reveals the existence of another secret prison on Bagram Air Base that even the Red Cross does not have access to. It is dubbed the Black Jail and is reportedly run by US Special Forces. AMY GOODMAN: A major UN report on secret detention policies around the world concludes the practice could reach the threshold of a crime against humanity.
By George Galloway STOP THE WAR COALITION Meeting 27 January 2010 - Speakers: Tony Benn, George Galloway MP, Kate Hudson (CND), Lindsey German (Stop the War), 7pm, Camden Centre, Bidborough Street, London WC1H 9DB
Afghanistan-based US predators carried out a record number of 12 deadly missile strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan in January 2010, of which 10 went wrong and failed to hit their targets, killing 123 innocent Pakistanis. The remaining two successful drone strikes killed three al-Qaeda leaders, wanted by the Americans.
Despite years of international military operations, hospitals in Afghanistan remain in a state of complete decay and are struggling to cope with a growing number of war victims. Facilities are inadequate and, in some areas, there are no hospitals or clinics at all. The situation is particularly bad in the southern part of the country where fighting is the heaviest.
Then one day, long after the police and village elders had abandoned their search, a courier delivered a neat handwritten note on Red Cross stationery to the family. In it, Ismatullah informed them that he was in Bagram, an American prison more than 200 miles away. US forces had picked him up while he was on his way home from the bazaar, the terse letter stated, and he didn't know when he would be freed.
In a speech to the German parliament (Bundestag) on Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) pledged to send additional German troops to back the US surge in Afghanistan ordered by President Barack Obama. The German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle (Free Democratic Party, FDP), will announce Germany's new contribution to the US-NATO war to 60 foreign ministers assembled for the London Afghanistan Conference on Thursday.
U.S. soldiers shot and killed an Afghan cleric as he drove Thursday with his young son near an American base on the eastern edge of Kabul, underscoring the dangers facing civilians despite NATO efforts to minimize casualties. The shooting occurred as Mohammad Yunus, 36, approached a four-lane highway with one of his sons, according to police and witnesses. Yunus was struck by four bullets fired at his Toyota Corolla and died on the way to the Wazir Akbar Hospital, according to his son-in-law, Abdul Qadir. His son was not injured. Yunus left two wives and 10 children, Abdul-Qadir said.
One quiet, wintry night last year in the eastern Afghan town of Khost, a young government employee named Ismatullah simply vanished. He had last been seen in the town's bazaar with a group of friends. Family members scoured Khost's dust-doused streets for days. Village elders contacted Taliban commanders in the area who were wont to kidnap government workers, but they had never heard of the young man. Even the governor got involved, ordering his police to round up nettlesome criminal gangs that sometimes preyed on young bazaar-goers for ransom.
Lawrence Cannon, Canada's foreign minister, is on his way to London for a major international conference on the future of Afghanistan, January 28. Hilary Clinton and other high level representatives from the NATO countries will be present, as will embattled Afghan President Hamid Karzai. One wonders if this major global media focus on Afghanistan was part of the Harper government’s calculation in proroguing Parliament. The torture and abuse of Afghan detainees is also an issue in several European countries, and so the less riled up the Canadian press corps is from any fresh revelations back home, the better.
A classified cable from the United States ambassador in Kabul offers a bleak accounting of the Afghan leadership and the risks of sending additional troops to Afghanistan, according to report published in The New York Times reported Tuesday. Ambassador Karl Eikenb-erry warned his government in November that President Hamid Karzai “is not an adequate strategic partner” and “continues to shun responsibility for any sovereign burden.”
Millions of dollars of aid routed through foreign troops in Afghanistan to "win hearts and minds" have not only failed to tackle poverty but put the lives of ordinary Afghans at risk, aid agencies said in a report on Wednesday Nations contributing troops in Afghanistan are estimated to have channelled up to $1.7 billion since 2001 through their military for projects such as building schools in one of the world's poorest countries. And this amount is expected to rise rapidly.
Al Jazeera has learnt that a plan is being considered to pay up to $1bn to Taliban fighters to persuade them to lay down their arms. In advance of an international conference in London to discuss Afghanistan's future on Thursday, Japan, the United States and Britain are said to be leading the proposal.
Kai Eide, UN Representative to Afghanistan confirmed the Afghan government’s investigative conclusions that US troops handcuffed and then executed eight students enrolled in grades 6 through 10 in a night raid on December 27, 2009. The US military and NATO responded the troops involved were non-official. The most likely source of para-military “non-official” troops in Afghanistan is Blackwater/Xe. President Hamid Karzai demanded arrest of the US troops engaged in the break-in and mafia-style execution of their children. The US responded to the Afghan demand of January 1 by rejecting the findings of the Afghan government and UN with a vague promise of their own self-investigation at some later date.
In response to an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, the Defense Department today released a list of the people imprisoned at the notorious Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Until today, the Defense Department had refused to make the list public. The list contains the names of 645 prisoners who were detained at Bagram in September 2009, but other vital information including their citizenship, how long they have been held, in what country they were captured and the circumstances of their capture has been redacted.
The cost to U.S. taxpayers of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 has topped $1 trillion, and President Barack Obama is expected to request another $33 billion to fund more troops this year.
Locals say troops of the US-led alliance have killed at least eight Afghan civilians at a demonstration organized to protest against the alliance forces' desecration of the Holy Quran. The mortalities were caused by fire from the alliance forces during the demonstration, which about 2,000 people attended, in the southern province of Helmand, locals said on Tuesday, the German news agency DPA reported.
It was a Christmas and New Year’s from hell for American intelligence, that $75 billion labyrinth of at least 16 major agencies and a handful of minor ones. As the old year was preparing to be rung out, so were our intelligence agencies, which managed not to connect every obvious clue to a (literally) seat-of-the-pants al-Qaeda operation. It hardly mattered that the underwear bomber’s case -- except for the placement of the bomb material -- almost exactly, even outrageously, replicated the infamous, and equally inept, “shoe bomber” plot of eight years ago.
The man on the motorcycle was going the wrong way down a one-way street, gesturing indignantly for the phalanx of traffic-clogged cars in front of him to move. "Brother, why are you angry with us?" said a passenger leaning out of one of the vehicles blocking his path. "It's you who are going the wrong way!" "I'm not angry at you, I'm angry at Afghanistan," the man cried back, waving his arm dismissively as he negotiated his bike onto a crowded sidewalk and drove off in a trail of exhaust fumes. "These are sad days."
More than 5,000 people demonstrated in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad Thursday to protest the deaths of four children and wounding of scores of others in an explosion that ripped through a crowd in a nearby village the day before. The crowd blockaded the main highway to the Pakistan border for hours, shouting "Death to America" and burning US President Barack Obama in effigy. Despite NATO denials of responsibility for the carnage and a claim by local police that the blast was caused by a police vehicle hitting a landmine, Afghans blamed the deaths on the US-led occupation. The incident took place Wednesday as a group of US soldiers were visiting a road-construction site in the village of Mazzina. The village lies south of Jalalabad, which is the capital of Nangarhar Province.
TWO US former private security contractors were arrested yesterday on murder charges. The men, employed by contractors Blackwater, have been held on charges relating to the shootings of two Afghans after a traffic accident last year Justin Cannon, 27, and Chris Drotleff, 29, face charges of second-degree murder, attempted murder and weapons charges.
“Why?” The grieving family members ask. “Why did the terrorists kill our loved ones?” The hardnosed colleagues of the four fallen CIA officers comfort the wives and children (and one husband). They shake off their sorrow, huddle together by the graves, and vow vengeance. They bathe themselves in their seething anger like it was the blood of the lamb.
In Afghanistan, hundreds have taken to the streets of Kabul and elsewhere to protest the US killing of civilians. The incident that has sparked the most outrage took place in eastern Kunar on December 27th, when ten Afghans, eight of them schoolchildren, were killed. According to the Times of London, US-led troops dragged innocent children from their beds and shot them during a nighttime raid. Afghan government investigators said the eight students were aged from eleven to seventeen, all but one of them from the same family. [includes rush transcript]
American forces inspecting an engineering project in eastern Afghanistan paused to toss candies to a clutch of curious Afghan children on Wednesday when a large explosion tore through the crowd. The blast turned a common gesture of friendship by American forces into what for Afghans has become an all too common tragedy, setting off angry recriminations and protests.
"Obama’s surge has another dimension as well: it is aimed at Pakistan hence the demand that it must deal with the Taliban as well as al-Qaeda “sheltering” in Pakistan. This is merely a pretext; America’s real aim is the dismantling of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. This explains the constant harping on the issue. The specter of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of extremists is constantly invoked. The US would like to take them out because these weapons are viewed as a potential threat to the Zionist entity...
A BRITISH soldier and four American servicemen have been killed in two separate improvised bomb explosions in southern Afghanistan. The British soldier, from the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, died in a blast while on foot patrol in the Nad-e Ali area of Helmand Province, yesterday, the Ministry of Defence said. Next of kin have been informed.
The occupied government of Afghanistan and the United Nations have both concluded that U.S.-led troops recently dragged eight sleeping children out of their beds, handcuffed some of them, and shot them all dead. While this apparently constitutes an everyday act of kindness, far less intriguing than the vicious singeing of his pubic hairs by Captain Underpants, it is at least a variation on the ordinary American technique of murdering men, women, and children by the dozens with unmanned drones...
The Taliban suicide attack that killed a group of CIA agents in Afghanistan on a base that was directing US drone aircraft used to attack Taliban leaders was big news in the US over the past week, with the airwaves and front pages filled with sympathetic stories referring to the fact that the female station chief, who was among those killed, was the “mother of three children.”
According to reports, troops were looking for high value targets among both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The one that became widely known in September 2008 was condemned as a provocation by the Pakistani government. Ethnic groups from Pakistans Belugistan province where most of the raids occurred blame the government in Islamabad for allowing these things to happen, said RT LIVE investigative journalist Webster Tarpley. He pointed out that President Obamas West point speech of December 2 is a thinly veiled declaration of war against Pakistan in the sense that it announces the intent of the US to promote the dismemberment, the partition of Pakistan along ethnic lines and in order to do that you have to create trouble on the ground. VoltaireNet: Obama Declares War on Pakistan.
Kai Eide warned against nighttime actions by coalition forces ''given that they often result in lethal outcomes for civilians." The UN representative urged US-led NATO forces to make every effort to "minimize" civilian casualties in Afghanistan. He was referring to the alleged killing of ten civilians at the hands of foreign troops on Sunday in northeast Afghanistan. The US military insists that the victims were "armed militants". PressTV: In Pakistan, more civilians fall victim to US drones. AntiWar: NATO Kills at Least Eight Afghan Civilians in Fresh Air Strike. URUKNET: Video: Afghan tensions rise amid civilian and CIA deaths.
A SUICIDE bomber has infiltrated a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least eight Americans in what is believed to be the deadliest single attack on US intelligence personnel in the eight-year-long war and one of the deadliest in the agency's history.
Just as the CLG has asserted from the get-go. Wait until Blackwater gets hold of one of Pakistan's nukes, detonates it, blames 'al-Qaeda' and plunges the US into WWIII. I am thinking the lucrative contract for Xe to 'clean up' in the aftermath of the nuclear explosion has already been drafted. Blackwater needs to be eliminated before they become as big as Goldman Sachs and Citi - 'too big' to destroy.
American-led troops were accused yesterday of dragging innocent children from their beds and shooting them during a night raid that left ten people dead. Afghan government investigators said that eight schoolchildren were killed, all but one of them from the same family. Locals said that some victims were handcuffed before being killed. PressTV: Afghan civilian death prompts anti-US rallies. + Karzai calls for US troops in Afghan custody.
CNN: Attacks kill 8 purported CIA
employees agents, 5 Canadians in Afghanistan. An attack by a suicide bomber at a military base in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday killed eight Americans believed to be CIA employees, a senior U.S. official told CNN. Also Wednesday, four Canadian soldiers and a Canadian journalist were killed when a roadside bomb hit their armored vehicle in southern Afghanistan, Canada's defense ministry said. CBC: 5 Canadians killed in Afghanistan. Belfast Telegraph: Eight Americans killed by Afghanistan bomb 'were CIA agents'. BBC: US CIA officers agents killed in Afghanistan bomb attack.
Western troops accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children. Asked if the people were shot outside their homes, the President’s spokesman Waheed Omar said: “That is our understanding.” Local elders confirmed that ten people were killed, but their accounts of raid differed. “Three of the children were killed in their bedroom,” said a local elder Jan Mohammed. “The other five had their hands bound, then they were killed." PressTV: US troops kill civilians.
The call for over 30,000 more troops to be sent to Afghanistan is a travesty for the people of that country who have already suffered eight brutal years of occupation. It is also a harsh blow to the US soldiers facing imminent deployment. As Barack Obama, the US president, gears up for a further escalation that will bring the total number of troops in Afghanistan to over 100,000, he faces a military force that has been exhausted and overextended by fighting two wars.
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