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#Afghan War

From TheJournal.ie British Museum says smuggled Iraqi and Afghan artefacts will be returned Afghan War

British Museum says smuggled Iraqi and Afghan artefacts will be returned

Some of the works were discovered in 2002 after two badly made wooden crates sent from Pakistan caught the attention of British authorities at Heathrow Airport.

From TheJournal.ie US Medal of Honour recipient asks to re-enlist in the Army Afghan War

US Medal of Honour recipient asks to re-enlist in the Army

In a rare, if not unprecedented move, William D Swenson has asked US Army officials to allow him return to active service.

From TheJournal.ie Watch: Obama calls for a fairer economy in State of the Union address SOTU This post contains videos

Watch: Obama calls for a fairer economy in State of the Union address

The US president called for higher taxes on the wealthy in a speech which has set the tone for his re-election battle in the autumn.

From TheJournal.ie Suicide bomber kills six at US and NATO air field in Afghanistan Afghanistan

Suicide bomber kills six at US and NATO air field in Afghanistan

It was the second suicide bombing in as many days in southern Afghanistan, which is the birthplace of the Taliban insurgency.

From TheJournal.ie US vows full probe into Pakistan border incident Afghan War

US vows full probe into Pakistan border incident

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered America’s deepest condolences for the loss of 25 Pakistani soldiers.

From TheJournal.ie US 'will not abandon Afghanistan' Afghanistan

US 'will not abandon Afghanistan'

Meeting Afghan leaders in an unannounced trip to Kabul, Hillary Clinton urged Karzai to continue engaging in peace talks with the Tablian.

From TheJournal.ie In numbers: Ten years of the Afghan War Afghan War

In numbers: Ten years of the Afghan War

Check out TheJournal.ie’s overview of the decade that has passed since the US invasion of Afghanistan.

From TheJournal.ie Ten years on US still doesn't know how to end Afghan conflict, says top commander Afghan War

Ten years on US still doesn't know how to end Afghan conflict, says top commander

The former commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan says that the Iraq invasion complicated the Afghan conflict by turning public opinion.

From TheJournal.ie In numbers: the US military campaign in Afghanistan In Numbers

In numbers: the US military campaign in Afghanistan

An overview of the facts and figures from the US decade-long campaign in Afghanistan.

From TheJournal.ie The exit begins: 10,000 US troops to leave Afghanistan within a year Afghanistan

The exit begins: 10,000 US troops to leave Afghanistan within a year

A decade on, the US president is expected to announce this evening that thousands of American troops will be pulled out of the Afghan war by summer 2012.

From TheJournal.ie Helicopter crash makes 2010 worst year in Afghan War Afghanistan

Helicopter crash makes 2010 worst year in Afghan War

Elections could help coalition forces determine how much longer they’ll keep troops in Afghanistan as death toll mounts.

From TheJournal.ie Al-Qaeda, Taliban security threat exaggerated: report Afghanistan

Al-Qaeda, Taliban security threat exaggerated: report

International body says a new plan is needed for Afghanistan as current focus is out of proportion.

From TheJournal.ie Karzai warns US pullout deadline could be a boost for Taliban Afghan War

Karzai warns US pullout deadline could be a boost for Taliban

The Afghan leader says that setting a deadline for US withdrawal simply gives the Taliban a date to work towards.

A TEAM OF INTERNATIONAL AID workers who were murdered by the Taliban had given one of their killers a lift.

The sole survivor of the attack, an Afghan man who was driving one of the aid team’s vehicles, has spoken to AP of the moments leading to their deaths. Six Americans, three Afghans, one German and one British woman were shot dead and robbed by the militants.

Saffiullah said the team stopped to give a lift to three men who were hitching on the side of the road. When the team stopped by a swollen river, two of the hitchhikers continued on their way, but the third man disappeared then returned among a group of 10 who attacked the team.

The medics, their cook and a guard were shot and killed by a grenade. Saffiullah said he had pleaded with the gunmen and quoted the Quran in an attempt to save his life. The militants forced him to carry weapons and baggage and accompany them on a walk for several hours.

The driver said the men appeared to be organised for the attack:

They had leadership. They were well-organized. They were militants.

The International Assistance Mission said the aid workers were not missionaries, as claimed by the Taliban, but were an eye care team working in Nuristan on the invitation of local communities. The agency says it is awaiting the results of an Afghan investigation into the killings, but said:

Our own research suggests that the murders were not a robbery as initially reported in the press. We are now working on the assumption that the attack was an opportunistic ambush by a group of non-local fighters.

CIVILIAN DEATHS AND injuries in Afghanistan have jumped by almost a third for the first half of this year, according to the latest UN figures.

The UN reports that 1,271 Afghans died and 1,997 others were injured between January and the end of June.

This represents a 31% increase in casualties. The Afghan Rights Monitor estimates that six Afghans were killed and eight wounded each day within the period.

The UN blamed the Taliban and other anti-government groups for the increase, and said that casualties from these sources had risen 53% from 2009. Civilian deaths and injuries from Afghan security and international forces has fallen 30%.

The UN’s special representative in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura said that the conflict is bring brought increasingly into the homes of Afghans:

Afghan children and women are increasingly bearing the brunt of this conflict. They are being killed and injured in their homes and communities in greater numbers than ever before.

The UN has recommended that the Taliban rescind messages calling for the killing of civilians, and that international forces make their investigations into civilian casualties more transparent. The organisation said that international humanitarian law concerning proportionality and precaution in a conflict apply to all parties involved.

On Friday, the Taliban killed 10 people including eight foreign aid workers who were part of a medical team operating in Nuristan in the northeast of the country.

Their deaths have brought the security of aid agencies in the country into question. The Guardian reports that aid agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to staff their Afghan bases, which limits their ability to provide assistance.

THE TALIBAN HAS claimed responsibility for the murders of eight foreign aid workers and two Afghans killed in remote part of the country. It claimed they were “Christian missionaries”. A third Afghan man survived the attack.

The International Assistance Mission has released a statement saying that the aid workers are likely to be members of their eye camp team which had been invited to provide medical assistance by communities based in Nuristan, in the north of Afghanistan.

The foreign victims are believed to be US and German citizens, although their identities have not been confirmed. Passports and possessions were taken by their attackers.

A spokesman for the militants said that bibles and maps had been discovered on the group. He said they were lost and were killed as they tried to escape from their killers.

The Taliban recently released a new code of conduct aimed at improving the group’s approval rating among Afghan civilians, but re-affirmed its intentions to target people it considered agents of international forces. The Afghan government and its supporters are also targeted by the Taliban.

THE TALIBAN HAS released a new code of conduct which urges its fighters to take more care with civilians. Taliban militants are advised to avoid killing civilians, and to desist from seizing their weapons and money.

The updated code is understood to be part of the Taliban’s efforts to win the Afghan population over to their cause.

However, Taliban fighters are still encouraged to target anyone believed to be working for the Afghan government or international forces.

NATO’s top commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, has also issued new guidelines for troops which aim to reduce civilian casualties. The updated “Tactical Directive” for soldiers provides guidance on balancing self-defence and protection against the protection of Afghans.

Earlier this year, the UN blamed the Taliban for most civilian deaths in Afghanistan through suicide attacks and roadside bombings. Forty per cent more civilians were killed last year than in 2008.

AMERICAN authorities investigating the source of the WikiLeaks Afghan war diaries – containing over 92,000 pages of secret logs taken by coalition forces and detailing the occupation of Afghanistan – have found “concrete evidence” linking Pfc. Bradley Manning with the leak.

AT LEAST 25 people have been killed and dozens more injured after their bus struck a roadside bomb in southwestern Afghanistan. The explosion occurred at around 7am local time. Local authorities said they believed the bomb was intended to strike a Nato convoy due in the area this morning.

THE BLEAK REALITY of the war in Afghanistan has been brought into sharp relief following what has been called “the biggest leak of military documents in intelligence history.”

Over 92,000 previously classified military documents from US forces, know as The War Logs, were obtained by Wikileaks and published on Sunday.

Wikileaks, a whistle-blowing organisation originally based in Sweden, obtained the documents from an unidentified source and forwarded them to three publications: The Guardian, The New York Times , and Der Spiegel.

The founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, said:

The nearest analogue is the Pentagon papers, which were released in the early 70′s. That exposed how the United States was prosecuting the war in Vietnam, that was about 10,000 pages… This situation is different, in that it’s not just more material and being pushed to a bigger audience and much sooner -  but rather people can give back; so people around the world who are reading this are able to comment on it and put it in context and understand the full situation. That is not something that has previously occurred and that is something that can only be brought about as a result of the internet.

The contents of the reports show that the situation in Afghanistan (on which the United States has spent almost $300bn to date) is far graver than official accounts portray. It also outlines that the threat from insurgents, most notably the Taliban, are formidable.

The reporting has been damned by US military. The New York Times quotes General James L. Jones, the White House national security adviser, as saying that he “strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security.”

The incident comes hot on the heels of a recent blow to US war confidence following the sacking of Nato commander General Stanley McChrystal after he made disparaging remarks about the US government’s handling of the situation in Rolling Stone magazine.

Some of the more alarming mistakes recorded in the log, which covers the war from the periods of January 2004 to December 2009, include details of how:

  • French troops opened fire a bus full of children in 2008, wounding eight
  • Up to 15 people died when a US patrol machine-gunned a bus
  • Polish troops mortared a village, killing a wedding party including a pregnant woman, in a suspected revenge attack in 2007
  • UK troops were involved in four civilian shootings  in Kabul in the space of a month in October-November 2007, which led to in the death of the son of an Afghan general

More general points about how the war is being run also became clear in the report:

The Taliban are gaining strength

The Taliban are said to be at their strongest since 2001. They have also begun to use portable heat-seeking missiles against allied aircraft – which were very successfully used by the Afghan mujahideen against Soviet forces in the 1980′s.

Secret “capture to kill” missions have led to civilian deaths

Task Force 373, a secret US unit of army and navy special forces, has been engaged on missions to “capture or kill” about 70 top insurgents. Mistakes made during these missions have resulted in some civilian deaths. Targets who have been captured were interned without trial.

Increased drone aircraft deployment

“Reaper” drone aircraft, described by a former US Air Force commander as having “a true hunter-killer role”, are increasingly being used.

Unmanned aircraft, controlled by army forces in Nevada, can display notoriously crude target capabilities – which have resulted in civilian deaths.

CIA have expanded paramilitary operations

Increased paramilitary operations inside Afghanistan include ambushes, airstrikes and night raids by the CIA.

Civilian casualties caused by Taliban and Nato forces have gone unreported

Taliban forces have escalated the scale of deadly roadside bombing campaigns, many of which have gone unreported. Nato mistakes have also led to deaths of innocent bystanders.

More than 2,000 civilians to date have been killed in such attacks.

Pakistan and Iran are suspected of fuelling the insurgency

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency is suspected by the US as having armed, trained and financed the Taliban since 2004. Iran is also suspected of having involvement in the training and financing of Taliban insurgents, however US forces appear to be unclear about whether the possible assistance would be coming from the Iranian government or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Who are Wikileaks?

Wikileaks, the whistle-blowing site responsible for releasing the information, was launched in 2006. Wikileaks says that it was established by Chinese dissidents, journalists, and mathematicians.

The report is available here.

Watch Julian Assange speaking at a press conference here.