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B-1 Video Shows Taliban ‘Human Sacrifice,’ Military Claims

mlauzonmlauzon Member UncommonPosts: 767

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Earlier this month, a series of American airstrikes on a village in western Afghanistan killed dozens and dozens of people -- including at least 25 civilians. Now, U.S. forces are weighing the release of a classified video, taken from a B-1 bomber involved in the battle. The military is convinced that the footage will justify American troops’ actions during the firefight -- and show that the Taliban committed “human sacrifice” in the village of Garani. Human rights groups say the video may only reinforce just how questionable those airstrikes really were.

“There is indeed video from a B-1 bomber,” U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus tells National Public Radio. “What it will prove is that the targets of these different strikes were the Taliban.”


What it does not prove, is that there were not civilians killed. I think we agree, actually, that there were civilians killed in this incident along -- again -- with a substantial number of Taliban. This is a very tough case because this was a very significant ambush of an Afghan force that had our advisers with it, and it was in response to that force -- literally rescuing that force at the request of Afghan political leaders as well as Afghan police and military leaders -- that our forces then moved in a very tough fight that these bombs were dropped.

Secretary of State Clinton, President Obama, and new U.S. ambassador to Kabul Karl Eikenberry have all apologized for the civilian deaths in Garani. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, those killed include “an Afghan Red Crescent volunteer and 13 members of his family who had been sheltering from fighting in a house that was bombed in an air strike.”

But U.S. military officials continue to defend their troops’ actions. According to them, at about 3pm on May 4th, a coalition “quick reaction force” arrived in the village of Garani to help a combined force of Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army that had been ambushed by hundreds of Taliban fighters. An Afghan sergeant had been shot -- and was trapped by heavy Taliban machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire.

American F/A-18 jets were sent in, to zoom up low and fast over the town. The idea was to scare off militants while coalition troops tried to rescue the sergeant. When that failed, the coalition forces began bombing. From approximately 4pm to 6pm, the fighter planes dropped four bombs 500-lb bombs on “enemy compounds.” As the battle continued, the F/A-18s made a number of strafing runs over Garani, shooting off flares and firing its 20mm guns.

After a lull, the bombing began again. American military officials won’t say what event, specifically, caused the airstrikes to restart; they do admit, however, that at least some of the Taliban force may have left Garani during this period. Locals tell Human Rights Watch that most of the fighting had died down. Nevertheless, over the course of the next three hours, the F/A-18s dropped five more 500 pound munitions on compounds and a grove where insurgents had gathered. “It was like Judgment Day,” Habibullah, a health worker, tells Human Rights Watch. “Words cannot describe how terrible it was. Who can bear to see so many killed, from a two-day-old baby to a 70-year-old woman?”

A B-1 bomber, flying far overhead, dropped four one-ton munitions onto a pair of large mud-brick compounds. Villagers say more than 160 civilians, mainly women and children, had taken shelter inside the buildings, which were near a mosque and residential compounds. According to the military, observation from forces on the ground and the video from the B-1’s weapons sight show that the buildings were on the outskirts of the village, and packed with Taliban. The video shows two groups of fully-grown adults going inside the compounds. Radio traffic confirmed the the insurgents’ presence. Additional footage shows women and children streaming into other buildings that were not bombed, the military says.

The U.S. also claims it has intelligence showing that the “Taliban’s deliberate planning to create a civilian casualty disaster for us,” Lt. Commander Christine Sidenstricker, a spokesperson for U.S. Forces Afghanistan, tells Danger Room. The militants planned to draw U.S. fire onto buildings crammed with innocents, she says. If not enough women and children were killed, the Taliban made plans to use grenades to ensure an international outcry over civilian deaths. American intelligence also shows Taliban fighters congratulating themselves on forcing survivors to lie to doctors -- and on taking American compensation money meant for the victim’s families, Sidenstricker adds. “This wasn’t collateral damage. It was human sacrifice by the Taliban. Deliberate civilian murder.”

It’s a claim U.S. officials have repeated any number of times, when civilians have been caught in firefights between coalition forces and the Taliban. Rachel Reid, Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch, finds the argument unconvincing. “The U.S. military spokespeople can be quick to blame Taliban shielding for civilian deaths, even when unproven, but this does not remove their responsibility to avoid civilian harm under the laws of war. In fact they have cried foul over Taliban shielding so many times, they ought to now be anticipating the tactic,” Reid tells Danger Room.

Yes, there’s “some evidence of Taliban shielding in Garani village. To deliberately risk the lives of civilians for military gain is a ruthless tactic of the insurgents.” But even if that’s true -- and even if the B-1 video shows exactly what Petraeus and Sidenstricker say it does -- “there are many questions that remain to be answered by the U.S.” about the Garani incident, Reid says. “Although the U.S. had intelligence that some insurgents remained, the proportionality of such a heavy air attack must still be in doubt. If they were unaware of the civilian presence, their intelligence is cast into doubt.... If they knew that civilians were still present, and dropped 8 bombs anyway, then what was the calculation of military gain versus civilian death that was made?”

Perhaps more of those questions will be answered next week, when the military hopes to show this supposedly-definitive B-1 video.

Source: Danger Room (Wired News)

--
Michael

Comments

  • ChieftanChieftan Member UncommonPosts: 1,188

    Doesn't bombing civilians violate the Geneva Convention?

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  • mlauzonmlauzon Member UncommonPosts: 767


    Originally posted by Chieftan
    Doesn't bombing civilians violate the Geneva Convention?

    Like the Americans actually care, they violated the Geneva Convention many times over since they started this war back in late '01/early '02.

    --
    Michael

  • TealaTeala Member RarePosts: 7,627
    Originally posted by Chieftan


    Doesn't bombing civilians violate the Geneva Convention?

     

    Do suicide bombers violate all kinds of laws? I know they haven't signed the Geneva Convention(the arguement you anti-US people will no doubt use), but what about all the other laws, especially the ones pretaining to 'murder"?

    Also how come you are not raising a stink about the Taliban using human shields and "killing" civilians to use for propaganda purposes?  How come you're not condemning them.

     

    You people come to this board spouting anti-US rhetoric make me sick.   I know the US is no saints, but compared to most countries - we definitely are closer than they'll ever be.

  • PrecusorPrecusor Member UncommonPosts: 3,589
    Originally posted by Chieftan


    Doesn't bombing civilians violate the Geneva Convention?

     

    Using human shields is against the Geneva conventions.

  • HYPERI0NHYPERI0N Member Posts: 3,515
    Originally posted by Teala

    Originally posted by Chieftan


    Doesn't bombing civilians violate the Geneva Convention?

     

    Do suicide bombers violate all kinds of laws? I know they haven't signed the Geneva Convention(the arguement you anti-US people will no doubt use), but what about all the other laws, especially the ones pretaining to 'murder"?

    Also how come you are not raising a stink about the Taliban using human shields and "killing" civilians to use for propaganda purposes?  How come you're not condemning them.

     

    You people come to this board spouting anti-US rhetoric make me sick.   I know the US is no saints, but compared to most countries - we definitely are closer than they'll ever be.

    I dont think that was his point his point is that the US signed the Geneva convention therefore the US is obliged to follow it. As for the Taliban and other such groups they have zero respect for any laws exept there interpritation of laws stated in the Koran, Which of course is an interpetition that any decent Muslim would not agree with.

     

    Also this human shielding thing its so common nowadays why raise a stink about it as this has already been done in the past so you should know how we feel about it [as a reminder to you we are against it]. Im sure you or someone here will find a way to trist my words into some anti american rant so ill say this now It is not an Anti American rant but a critical opinion as i do like America generally i just dont like how they tend to ignore international laws at times.

    Another great example of Moore's Law. Give people access to that much space (developers and users alike) and they'll find uses for it that you can never imagine. "640K ought to be enough for anybody" - Bill Gates 1981

  • HYPERI0NHYPERI0N Member Posts: 3,515
    Originally posted by Precusor

    Originally posted by Chieftan


    Doesn't bombing civilians violate the Geneva Convention?

     

    Using human shields is against the Geneva conventions.

     

    Yea somehow i dont think that argument neutralises Chieftan's point at all.

    Another great example of Moore's Law. Give people access to that much space (developers and users alike) and they'll find uses for it that you can never imagine. "640K ought to be enough for anybody" - Bill Gates 1981

  • PrecusorPrecusor Member UncommonPosts: 3,589

    Also the Geneva convention only applies to a uniformed and recognizable army..

  • HYPERI0NHYPERI0N Member Posts: 3,515
    Originally posted by Precusor


    Also the Geneva convention only applies to a uniformed and recognizable army..

     

    Yep i belive that one of the main reasons for the Geneva Convention was as a way to keep variouse countries armies within a set way of acting towards Civillians i.e. no raping bombing looting etc of civilians. Its an ideal basically a way of fighting war where only the warriors get hurt. At least thats the idea of course accidnets do happen in such an enviroment as a battlefield but at least there are guidlines to help guide a soldier to the right couse of action [of course this assumes his country has signed up to the geneva Convention].

     

    It is also apropriate to point out that organizations such as the Taliban Dont have a uniform and work hard to be unrecognizable i.e. that civilian you see on the street could easilly be a taliban or just as easilly be a civilian. Which of course makes a soldiers job a lot harder when it comes to identifying who is and is not a Civilian in a large groupe where say a small number of that groupe are shooting at you.

    Another great example of Moore's Law. Give people access to that much space (developers and users alike) and they'll find uses for it that you can never imagine. "640K ought to be enough for anybody" - Bill Gates 1981

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