US Bombs Hospital and Prison in Syria; Kills 18 Women and Children in Afghanistan
December 1, 2018
AntiWar.com & BBC World News & Reuters
The UN has confirmed that a US attack in Afghanistan's Helmand Province killed 23 civilians -- including eight women and 10 children -- adding to the number of Afghan civilians killed by the US. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reports US attacks are killing many civilians and non-combatants. US strikes against al-Shafa targeted a hospital, a prison, and several homes. The toll of noncombatants is expected to rise as more bodies are found in the rubble.
UN Confirms US
Airstrike in Helmand Killed 23 Civilians
10 children are among the slain
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(November 30, 2018) -- US helicopter attacks against the Helmand Province were reported to have killed dozens of civilians. NATO shrugged this report off, saying that the US hit a building that was "a fighting position."
The UN confirmed on Friday that the US attack indeed killed 23 civilians, including eight women and 10 children. They also cited a local who said that the building in question was near some Taliban fighters, but this could not be confirmed.
This only adds to the number of civilians killed by the US in attacks against populated areas. In the Helmand Province, the Taliban controls much of the territory, though the US-backed still controls the provincial capital.
The US has greatly escalated the number of airstrikes against Taliban targets across the country, and it is unsurprising that the record number of strikes also means a precipitous rise in the number of civilians being killed.
Afghanistan War: US Strike in
Helmand Killed 23 Civilians, UN Says
BBC World News
(November 30, 2018) -- A US airstrike in Afghanistan on Tuesday killed as many as 23 civilians, with most victims women and children, the UN says.
The strike on a compound in Helmand province was called in during a joint operation between Afghan and US forces. Investigators said up to 10 children and eight women may have been killed. US forces say they are investigating.
Civilian casualties from aerial attacks have surged since the US announced a new Afghan strategy last year.
President Trump committed more troops to America's longest war and significantly boosted the number of strikes targeting Taliban and Islamic State group positions in August 2017. The rules of engagement were also loosened, allowing more bombings.
The US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan said that Tuesday's helicopter strike took place amid a firefight between US-advised Afghan special forces and Taliban fighters in Garmser district.
NATO said the Taliban had been using the building that was hit "as a fighting position", and accused the militants of continuously using civilians as human shields.
A local resident who did not want to be named for fear of retaliation told the BBC that Taliban fighters were indeed near the building that was hit by the US strike. He said the youngest victim was about six years old, but this could not be verified.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan recorded 649 civilians casualties (dead and injured) as a result of aerial attacks in the first nine months of this year, the highest number in any year since systematic recording began in 2009.
In April, an attack by the Afghan Air Force -- which is trained and equipped by the US -- killed 30 children in northeastern Kunduz province at a graduation ceremony.
The US Air Force released nearly 6,000 weapons in the first 10 months of this year, compared to 4,361 in all of 2017 and 1,337 in all of 2016.
Most civilian casualties in Afghanistan are however still caused by anti-government groups like the Taliban and the Islamic State group (IS).
The Taliban are gaining ground across Afghanistan, as US officials pursue a peace deal that would bring an end to the 17-year war. The militants attended a landmark international meeting earlier this month in Moscow and a delegation from the group has also recently held meetings with US envoys in Qatar.
Related BBC News
Counting the cost of Trump's air war in Afghanistan
Why Afghanistan is more dangerous than ever
Taliban 'threaten 70% of Afghanistan'
Afghan Taliban attend landmark talks
US Airstrikes Kill Dozens in Eastern Syria
US strikes targeted a hospital and a prison
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(November 30, 2018) -- Aiming to support Kurdish offensives against the last few ISIS towns in Eastern Syria, the US has been conducting heavy airstrikes against those towns near the Iraqi border. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, this is killing a lot of civilians and non-combatants.
In addition to ISIS fighters, the observatory reported that Wednesday US strikes against al-Shafa also targeted a hospital, a prison, and several civilian homes. They reported 40 killed in those strikes, mainly prisoners, with the toll continuing to rise as more bodies are found in the rubble.
Further US airstrikes on al-Shafa on Friday were reported by Syrian state media, who put the death toll on those strikes at 30, including some civilians and combatants. The exact split, as is so often the case, was unclear.
This has been a recurring problem with strikes against these towns. ISIS has a lot of fighters within, but the US has little information on where they are, and are often striking despite cloud cover, hitting virtually random parts of the cities, and killing a lot more civilians than ISIS.
War Monitor, Syrian Media Say
Anti-IS Coalition Air Strikes Kill Dozens
Lisa Barrington / Reuters
BEIRUT (November 30, 2018) -- The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air strikes by the US-led coalition against Islamic State in eastern Syria this week killed dozens of people in the jihadist group's last major foothold.
The coalition could not immediately be reached for comment on the report. Syrian state media also reported dozens of deaths this week.
The Observatory said strikes beginning overnight on Wednesday in and around al-Shafa in the Deir al-Zor countryside had targeted a hospital, prison and houses used by jihadists in their pocket on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river near the Iraqi border.
The Observatory said around 40 prisoners, civilians and fighters had been killed in strikes with more wounded. The toll rose as bodies were pulled from the rubble.
Syrian state news agency SANA, citing local sources, said new air strikes on Friday on al-Shafa killed around 30, bringing the total killed this week in strikes on the Islamic State pocket to around 45.
The Syrian government has written to the United Nations a number of times protesting casualties caused by air strikes by the US-led coalition against Islamic State.
The US-led coalition, now in a push to defeat the final remnants of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has previously said it investigates reports of civilian casualties and does all it can to avoid them.
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