Entries in Airstrike (18)


Israel Assassinates Hamas Commander in Aerial Barrage

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images(TEL AVIV) -- The Israeli military said Wednesday its Air Force targeted and killed the top military commander of the Palestinian militant group Hamas in an airstrike that was part of a larger military operation in the Gaza Strip.

Ahmed Jabari, the chief of staff of the Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades and de facto leader of the military wing of Hamas, was killed in what the Israeli military called a "surgical operation" Wednesday  afternoon. Video from the scene showed the charred wreckage of Jabari's vehicle, and Hamas sources later confirmed the leader's death.

Israel accused Jabari of "executing terror attacks" from Gaza against Israel and said he was at the top of their most wanted list. He had previously escaped other assassination attempts.

"The purpose of this operation was to severely impair the command and control chain of the Hamas leadership, as well as its terrorist infrastructure," the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. "This was a surgical operation in cooperation with the Israeli Security Agency, that was implemented on the basis of concrete intelligence and using advanced capabilities."

The killing comes after days of Israeli air strikes on Gaza and rocket fire into southern Israel from the Palestinian enclave. A ceasefire had been brokered by Egypt and peace seemed to return on Tuesday, but the assassination of Jabari raises the specter of renewed violence between Israel and Gaza.

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) officials told ABC News that in Wednesday's strikes, known as Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF also targeted Hamas' Fajar rockets, longer range Iranian rockets that could reach Tel Aviv from Gaza. The Qatar-based news outlet al Jazeera showed video from the Gaza Strip reportedly of Israeli bombs being dropped on multiple targets.

"This blows a significant blow to the terror organization's underground rocket launching capabilities and munitions warehouses owned by Hamas and other terror organizations," the IDF said in a statement.

"The Gaza strip, has turned it into a frontal base for Iran firing rockets and carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. The IDF will continue to target terrorist sites that are used to carry out terror attacks against Israeli citizens."

Hamas and the militant group Islamic Jihad have announced they will retaliate forcefully against Israel, with Hamas’ Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades announcing Israel has "opened the gates of hell."

Before his death Jabari played a key role in the negotiations surrounding the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held for almost six years by Hamas. Around 1,000 Hamas soldiers were released from Israeli prisons in exchanged for Shalit who was handed over to intermediary Egypt by Jabari himself last October.

This is the first time such a senior Hamas commander was killed since Israel's Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and early 2009, during which around 1,400 Palestinians died along with 13 Israelis.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gen. John Allen Apologizes for NATO Airstrike That Killed 18 Afghans

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, flew to Logar province Friday morning, to personally apologize for a NATO airstrike that killed as many as 18 civilians, including women and children, earlier this week.

The incident happened Wednesday in the province's Baraki Barak district during an operation where Afghan and NATO forces thought they were targeting an insurgent, but instead bombed a wedding party.  

After the attack, Afghan President Hamid Karzai canceled his trip to China to return home, saying the strike was unacceptable.  

Earlier this year, Gen. Allen also apologized after U.S. troops inadvertently burned Qurans at a military base near Kabul.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Airstrike, Suicide Bombings Leave Dozens Dead in Afghanistan

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- A NATO airstrike and twin suicide bombing in Afghanistan Wednesday have reportedly left more than 40 dead and 50 wounded. 

Afghan officials say 21 civilians, including women and children, were killed when coalition forces bombed a house in the Baraki Barak district of Logar province.  A wedding party was being held there at the time.

The International Security Assistance Force has disputed those numbers, saying the attack targeted and killed only militants, and that two civilians -- both women -- suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were treated at a NATO base.

Meanwhile in Kandahar, the Taliban have claimed responsibility for a twin suicide bombing that killed 22 civilians and sent 50 more to the hospital.  It happened while NATO supply trucks were lined up, waiting to enter the nearby air base.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Leader Linked to USS Cole Attack Killed in Airstrike in Yemen

FBI(WASHINGTON) -- The government of Yemen says an airstrike has killed a top al Qaeda leader who was on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list because of his role in the attack on the USS Cole.  The October 2000 bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer killed 17 American sailors and injured 39.

The Embassy of Yemen in Washington issued a press release on Sunday saying Fahd al Quso, 37, was killed in an “airstrike” in Rafth, in the southern province of Shabwa.

The release described him as “a leading figure in the terrorist organization: al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).”  It also said “Al Quso was one of Yemen’s most wanted terrorist(s).  He was also indicted for his role in the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden.”

A U.S. official described al Quso to ABC News as a “senior terrorist operative” of AQAP who was “deeply involved in ongoing terrorist plotting against Yemeni and U.S. interests at the time of his death.”  He also described him as being “involved in numerous attacks over many years that murdered Americans as well as Yemeni men, women, and children.”

There was no mention of who conducted the airstrike, but in the past a non-attribution airstrike usually implies that it was conducted by the either the CIA or the U.S. military. 

The CIA and the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command both conduct Predator drone strikes in Yemen targeting AQAP operatives.  U.S. officials say the majority of the recent strikes have been conducted by the CIA.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


ISAF Apologizes for Airstrike That Killed Eight in Afghanistan

NATO(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- It’s pretty rare for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to admit that it's made a mistake and it’s especially rare to do so in a press conference. Still, that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday when two brigadier general-level officers said ISAF bombs killed seven children and a young adult in eastern Afghanistan.

Gen. Lew Boone and Air Commodore Mike Wigston sent condolences to the family of those killed on Feb. 8, when French troops called in aircraft to attack “the group that we believed to be an imminent threat to our people,” Boone said.  "Despite all tactical directives being followed precisely, we now know the unfortunate result of this engagement.  In the end, eight young Afghans lost their lives in this very sad event."

Civilian casualties are detrimental to the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, and this was one of the most widely-publicized incidents in months.  On Monday, the Afghan committee that investigated the attack accused the ISAF of neglecting Afghans’ human rights.  The head of the committee held up photos of boys whose faces were bloody and ripped apart and said, “I call on human rights community and the world community: who will speak up for the rights of these children?”

Locals from the village have told reporters the children had walked to a grazing area and made a small fire when the bombing took place.

Pressed repeatedly, the two ISAF officers declined to say whether they knew for certain that the group was armed.  Still, they seemed determined to try and win over the village, promising to build a much-needed road.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Takes Some Blame in Deadly Pakistan Friendly Fire Incident

Photos [dot] com/George Doyle/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- A United States military investigation has accepted some blame for the deadliest friendly-fire incident of the Afghan war, but ultimately concluded the airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last month were justified -- findings expected to infuriate an already angry Pakistani public and military.

The highly anticipated results released Thursday admit the U.S. provided "incorrect mapping information" that led to a, "misunderstanding about the true location of Pakistani military units."  But a senior U.S. official says there will be no apology for an attack that sparked massive protests across Pakistan and led Pakistan's government to cut off NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.

The Pakistani military declined to comment until it has the time to review the official report.  But in interviews with Pakistani military and government officials before the release, they made clear that the anger in Pakistan with the U.S. over the incident was so high, that anything short of a formal apology could permanently imperil the NATO supply line, bilateral cooperation on intelligence and the future of Afghanistan.

The U.S. investigation found that in the early hours of Nov. 26, an American special operation forces team and their Afghan counterparts were fired upon from inside Pakistan, according to defense officials.  They believed that militants had targeted them, and called in air support.

"U.S. forces, given what information they had available to them at the time, acted in self defense and with appropriate force after being fired upon,” according to a Pentagon statement.

Pakistan never told NATO that it had set up the two small outposts that were attacked, according to the U.S. account, and therefore the air support felt free to shoot.

"There were mistakes made by both sides," a defense official told ABC News, adding that no decisions had been made about whether to hold any service member accountable.

"We have accepted responsibility for our mistakes," Department of Defense spokesman Capt. John Kirby told ABC News. "We have expressed condolences and regrets.”

But the U.S. narrative differs fundamentally to that provided by Pakistani military officers in both Washington and Islamabad.

Before the attack began, according to the Pakistani military accounts, a U.S. soldier at a Border Coordination Center handed over coordinates to his Pakistani colleagues from which he said the U.S./Afghan team was taking fire.  Those coordinates were 10 miles north of base Volcano, according to the Pakistani military.  Just as the Pakistani officers were reviewing the coordinates, the attack began.

Moments later, a NATO officer, "apologized for sending incorrect coordinates and confirmed that NATO helicopters had actually attacked" Volcano, according to a written account provided to Congress by Pakistan's lobbying firm in Washington, Locke Lord Strategies.

During the attack, according to the Pakistani account, soldiers from nearby base Boulder fired illuminating rounds as a way to signal to the NATO helicopters -- not the mortar and artillery the U.S. claims. The NATO helicopters then begun to attack Boulder.

"Any allegation that the NATO troops thought that they were firing on insurgents when they attacked the Volcano and Boulder observation posts is baseless," reads the Pakistani document.  "NATO was aware that the bases were there when they fired on them. NATO troops are also well aware that terrorists seeking refuge in mountainous areas install themselves in ravines and deep valleys which provide cover from aerial attacks -- not in plain sight on the top of a mountain."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Vacates Pakistani Air Base Following Deadly NATO Airstrike

The Pakistani Military(ISLAMABAD) -- U.S. forces vacated an air base inside Pakistan on Sunday -- the deadline imposed by Pakistan as part of the country’s angry response to a NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The Pakistani Army issued a statement on Sunday saying, “Last flight carrying leftover U.S. personnel and equipment departed Shamsi Base today and the base has been complete vacated.  The control of the base has been taken over by the army.”

Pakistan had ordered the U.S. to vacate Shamsi, which had been used by American forces, including the CIA, to launch unmanned drone attacks against the Taliban and terrorist militants hiding along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

Pakistan’s response to the deadly NATO airstrike also included the closing of a major route inside Pakistan that had been used to deliver vital supplies to NATO forces inside Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Drone Attack Kills at Least Six Afghan Militants in Pakistan

Stocktrek Images/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- A CIA drone attack, targeting Afghan militants killed at least six people and injured four others in northwest Pakistan Thursday.

The strike, the third in the same area in just the last few weeks, took place in Azam Warsak in the Birmal area of South Waziristan. Multiple missiles were fired at a vehicle, destroying it, and along with it, reportedly the brother of a top Taliban commander.

The attack was aimed at a group of Afghan militants who target U.S. troops from safehavens in Pakistan, and have an unwritten deal with the Pakistani military not to attack inside the country. 

The Afghan group is led by Maulvi Nazir, who has been the target of drone strikes before. Thursday's strike reportedly killed Nazir’s brother Hazrat Umar and one of his senior-most commanders, Khan Mohammad, according to a resident of the area.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Insurgents behind Afghan Helicopter Attack Reportedly Killed in Airstrike

Staff Sgt. William Tremblay/ISAF/NATO (file photo)(KABUL, Afghanistan ) -- The commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan announced Wednesday that the Taliban insurgents responsible for the helicopter attack that left 30 American servicemembers dead this past weekend have been killed.

Speaking to Pentagon reporters in a videoconference from Kabul, Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen said the insurgents were tracked down and killed early Monday morning.

"At approximately midnight on Aug. 8, coalition forces killed the Taliban insurgents responsible for this attack against the helicopter -- which we assess was an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] round," Allen told reporters.

He added, "We tracked them, as we would in the aftermath of any operation -- and we dealt with them with a kinetic strike -- and in the aftermath of that we have achieved certainty that they, in fact, were killed in that strike."

The general did not say precisely how the insurgents were positively ID'd as the ones responsible for the attack, how they were located, or how many of them were killed in the F-16 airstrike.

On Tuesday, the remains of the fallen soldiers -- 22 of whom were Navy SEALs -- arrived at Delaware's Dover Air Force Base.  President Obama was on hand to pay his respects to the 30 servicemembers, who have not yet been identified.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NATO Kills Haqqani Leader Allegedly Connected to Afghan Hotel Attack

U.S. State Department(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- NATO announced Thursday that it has killed the deputy leader of the Haqqani terror network inside Afghanistan. Ismail Jan, who is “suspected of providing material support” to the nine suicide bombers who rampaged through Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel late Tuesday night, was killed in an airstrike.

The military alliance's public declaration that the Haqqani network was behind the attack may put more pressure on Pakistan to crack down on the group, which is run out of the Pakistani tribal area North Waziristan.

According to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the airstrike that killed Jan also killed other Haqqani fighters in Gardez, the provincial capital of Paktiya, in eastern Afghanistan. The ISAF says the intelligence for the operation was received from Afghan government officials, Afghan citizens and “disenfranchised insurgents.”

The ISAF says it has captured or killed more than 80 Haqqani leaders this year.  But despite major pressure on the Pakistani-based group, it is still the most deadly insurgent group in the country, and its ability to attack does not appear to have been significantly downgraded.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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