Entries in Airstrikes (16)


Hamid Karzai Re-Clarifies New Air Strike Ban Policy in Afghanistan

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- A major difference of opinion has developed over an agreement made by the Afghan government and NATO over ending air strikes in residential areas in order to end accidental civilian casualties.

Afghan President Hamid Karzi announced at the start of the week that he received assurances from Gen. John Allen, the commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, and U.S. Ambassador John Crocker that "attacks by NATO that cause life and property losses to civilians under no circumstances could be justified and are not acceptable."

On Monday, the Pentagon explained that all air strikes were out except in last resort cases when the lives of U.S. and coalition members were in danger.

Apparently, that was not what Karzai signed up for because he said on Tuesday NATO airstrikes in civilian areas are "absolutely banned" even when the lives of coalition forces are in jeopardy.

Repeating himself, the Afghan leader said that Afghanistan regards air strikes as a "disproportionate" and illegitimate" use of force.

The loss of civilian lives in the pursuit of the enemy has long been a bone of contention between Karzai and the international coalition, especially after the deaths of 18 civilians last week that included women and children.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US: Air Strikes on Civilian Afghan Homes Will Be on Last Resort Basis

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- NATO on Monday clarified an earlier report that said Afghan President Hamid Karzai had received assurances that the coalition would no longer conduct air strikes on areas populated by civilians.

Karzai met with Gen. John Allen, the commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker after a NATO airstrike that accidentally killed 18 civilians last week in the Baraki Barak district.  The loss of civilian lives in the pursuit of the enemy has long been a bone of contention between the Afghan government and the international coalition.

In response to Karzai's announcement,  Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said that while the rules of engagement had not changed, "air-delivered bombs will not be employed while other means are available" in residential areas where the Taliban may be hiding out.

Scaparrotti made it clear that the U.S. and NATO "still have the right of self-defense against hostile acts or intent."  He added that air strikes can be ordered when the lives of troops are in imminent danger and no other recourse is available.

This apparently is alright with Karzai, who declared Sunday, "Attacks by NATO that cause life and property losses to civilians under no circumstances could be justified and are not acceptable."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NATO Assures Karzai Airstrikes on Civilian-Populated Areas Will End

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- A NATO airstrike that accidentally killed 18 civilians last week was the last straw for Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

After meeting with Gen. John Allen, the commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Karzai received assurances over the weekend that the coalition would no longer conduct airstrikes on areas populated by civilians.

A statement from Karzai's office read that Allen "once again officially apologized for civilian casualties in Baraki Barak district" and "promised...not to carry out air strikes on public residential areas."

Even after the NATO commander explained that the airstrikes last week were spurred by coalition forces coming under fire by the Taliban, Karzai insisted, "Attacks by NATO that cause life and property losses to civilians under no circumstances could be justified and are not acceptable."

The loss of civilian lives in the pursuit of the enemy has long been a bone of contention between the Afghan government and the international coalition.  This agreement, if it holds, will prove to be a political victory for Karzai at the cost of making warfare more difficult for the U.S. and NATO.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Afghanistan Alleges NATO Attacks Killed 20 Civilians

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Afghan officials are claiming that at least 20 civilians have died in two separate NATO airstrikes since last Friday.

NATO has confirmed that at least one of the assaults by its war jets against enemy targets killed six members of a single family in the Sangin area of southern Helmand province.

A spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force issued a statement that the coalition was "deeply saddened by any civilian deaths, and particularly regret incidents where civilians are killed as a result of actions by ISAF (International Security Assistance Force)."

Meanwhile, NATO is still investigating reports of an airstrike in Bala Murghab district of northwestern Badghis province that allegedly killed 14 civilians last Sunday.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly condemned coalition attacks that result in civilian deaths with tensions running particularly high this year following the slayings of 17 people allegedly at the hands of an American Army sergeant now under custody in the U.S.

Speaking out about these latest incidents, Karzai's office issued a statement "that unilateral operations by NATO forces and bombing civilians is not only an issue of Afghan sovereignty, but it is also an issue of human life, which cannot be ignored."

He also said the deaths of civilians threaten to undermine the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed with President Obama last week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


200 Rockets Hit Israel, 23 Gazans Killed

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- The fourth consecutive day of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in the coastal enclave of Gaza saw the number of rockets landing in southern Israel climb to more than 190 and the death toll of Palestinians -- most of them militants -- to 23.

At least 40 rockets landed in Israel on Monday, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said, with the closest landing coming around 25 miles from the country’s biggest city, Tel Aviv.  Another rocket hit the city of Ashdod, which has a population of 200,000.

Five Palestinians were killed in the latest attacks, including three civilians.  An 80-year-old Israeli woman was reported wounded by shrapnel in Ashdod, but there have been no Israeli deaths.

The violence marks the worst between Israel and Gaza in over a year, and was started when the Israeli Air Force targeted the leader of the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC), one of the militant groups operating in Gaza, accusing the group of planning to attack Israel via Egypt.

The PRC and another group, Islamic Jihad, responded by firing missiles ranging from mortars to Grad rockets.

Since Friday, the IDF has carried out airstrikes in response.  The targets, the IDF said, have been militants, rocket-launching sites and a rocket storage facility.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, has not carried out any of the attacks, but Israel holds the group responsible for all militant activity.  Hamas officials have gone to Egypt and asked them to mediate a ceasefire, but the militants say they will continue until the airstrikes stop.

“The Zionist state began this aggression.  It has to stop its aggression first and then we will evaluate the situation and study the possibility of calm,” a spokesman wrote on Islamic Jihad’s website.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Monday to keep up the strikes, promising to “hit anyone who plans to harm us.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Boehner Rejects McCain’s Call for Airstrikes in Syria

Chris Maddaloni/CQ-Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday rebuffed Sen. John McCain’s call for U.S. airstrikes on Syrian forces to protect rebel forces.

“I think the situation in Syria is pretty complicated,” Boehner said. “Until there is clearer direction as to what’s happening there involving ourselves at this time would be premature.”

In a speech on the Senate floor Monday,  McCain compared the turmoil in Syria to Slobodan Milosevic’s war crimes in the Balkans during the 1990s. The former presidential candidate said the only way to protect civilians in some major population centers would be with American airstrikes on Assad’s military.

“Time is running out. Assad’s forces are on the march,” McCain said. “Providing military assistance to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups is necessary, but at this late hour, that alone will not be sufficient to stop the slaughter and save innocent lives. The only realistic way to do so is with foreign air power.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


John McCain Calls for US Airstrikes In Syria

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Arizona Sen. John McCain on Monday called for the United States to start airstrikes in Syria.

“Time is running out. Assad’s forces are on the march,” McCain said on the Senate floor. “Providing military assistance to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups is necessary, but at this late hour, that alone will not be sufficient to stop the slaughter and save innocent lives. The only realistic way to do so is with foreign airpower.”

Comparing the situation in Syria to Slobodan Milošević’s war crimes in the Balkans, or Russia’s annihilation of the Chechen city of Grozny, the senator from Arizona called on President Obama to put the nation’s “full weight of our airpower” to make sure that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will not be allowed to finish what he started.

“At the request of the Syrian National Council, the Free Syrian Army, and Local Coordinating Committees inside the country, the United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad’s forces,” McCain said. “To be clear: This will require the United States to suppress enemy air defenses in at least part of the country.”

McCain said the Obama administration is “hedging its bets,” hoping the situation on the ground will improve, while the bloodletting continues -- despite a year’s worth of diplomacy.

“Foreign capitals across the world are looking to the United States to lead, especially now that the situation in Syria has become an armed conflict,” McCain said. “But what they see is an Administration still hedging its bets – on the one hand, insisting that Assad’s fall is inevitable, but on the other, unwilling even to threaten more assertive actions that could make it so.”

“We have a clear national security interest in his defeat,” he said. “And that alone should incline us to tolerate a large degree of risk in order to see that this goal is achieved.”

McCain again called for arming the opposition and for the United States to help them organize into a “cohesive and effective force.”

“These people are our allies,” McCain said of the opposition. “They want many of the same things we do. They have expanded the boundaries of what everyone thought was possible in Syria. They have earned our respect, and now they need our support to finish what they started. The Syrian people deserve to succeed, and shame on us if we fail to help them.”

Saying there are no ideal options, McCain admitted that there are dangers, risks and uncertainties to his call for airstrikes.  But those, he said, should not keep the U.S. from acting.

“The benefit for the United States in helping to lead this effort directly is that it would allow us to better empower those Syrian groups that share our interests – those groups that reject al Qaeda and the Iranian regime, and commit to the goal of an inclusive democratic transition, as called for by the Syrian National Council. If we stand on the sidelines, others will try to pick winners, and this will not always be to our liking or in our interest.”

McCain called for the U.S. to seek the active involvement of key Arab partners.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pakistan Not Participating in Airstrikes Inquiry

NATO(WASHINGTON) -- Centcom’s investigation into the NATO airstrikes on Pakistani checkpoints is underway, but Pakistan has declined to participate in the investigation.  When Centcom’s Gen. James Mattis announced the probe on Monday he said that Afghanistan and Pakistan would be invited to attend. On Friday, Pentagon Press Secertary George Little confirmed that for now Pakistan has declined the invitation to participate in the inquiry.
In a joint Pentagon news conference with fellow spokesman Captain John Kirby, Little said, “The Pakistanis have certainly been invited to join
the investigation.  We believe their participation would be important as we look into this tragic incident.  They have elected, to date, not to participate, but we would welcome their participation.”
Little stressed how important the cooperation is between the two countries despite “the bumps in the road” of the past few months (that would be the bin Laden raid fallout and this latest incident), “but we're going to work very hard to work with our Pakistani counterparts to get over this latest bump in the road.”
Kirby said that without a doubt the border airstrikes had created a “chilling effect” in the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistani militaries.
Little reiterated again “in the strongest possible terms, that this was not in any way, shape or form an intentional attack by the United States military
on Pakistan.”
Predictably both limited their answers on the actual incident itself citing the ongoing Centcom investigation. Kirby said, “What we aren't going to do is get into fixing blame or fault right now.  There's an investigation going on.  We need to let that investigation proceed, let the facts take us where they may and, as George said, we certainly continue to invite the Pakistanis to
participate in that investigation.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US to Investigate Fatal NATO Airstrikes

NATO(TAMPA, Fla.) -- U.S. Central Command has launched an investigation into the circumstances behind this weekend’s deadly NATO airstrikes along Afghanistan’s rugged border with Pakistan that resulted in the deaths of more than two dozen Pakistani soldiers.

Centcom Commander Gen. James Mattis has appointed Brig. General Stephen Clark, from Air Force Special Operations Command, to head up the investigation into the airstrikes and directed him to provide an initial report by Dec. 23.

Mattis has directed Clark to include representatives from NATO, Pakistan and Afghanistan as part of his investigation. A Centcom press release announcing the investigation says it is the command’s intent “to include these government representatives to the maximum extent possible to determine what happened and preclude it from happening again.”

The release says the investigative team “will focus their efforts on the facts of the incident and any matters that facilitate a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding the deaths and injuries of the Pakistan forces.”

“Fog of war” is how a senior military official described this weekend’s deadly incident along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to ABC News.

The official says there are still conflicting reports about what happened, though he characterized how hard it must be for the Pakistanis to lose so many of their men to “friendly fire.” He described the Pakistani reaction as being what it must have been like “for us to lose all those Navy SEALS, but worse because it was friendly fire. ”

The official said there are still details that have to be fleshed out about the incident, but said there was "a lot of shooting going on” when the close air support was called in. He also noted there are conflicting reports about whether it was helicopters or fixed wing aircraft that killed the Pakistanis.

The official described a situation where U.S. forces thought they were looking at “someone” and it turned out to be “someone else.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Continues Airstrikes Over Yemen

AFPI/US AIR FORCE/US AIR FORCE/kb/jim/jim, mc(WADYIA, Yemen) -- A U.S. official has confirmed that there was an airstrike in southern Yemen Thursday that targeted Islamic militants.
The strike involved a mix of U.S. fighter jets and Predator drones, but it was the jets that fired missiles at the targets.
There are varying reports of the number of casualties in the strike which the Yemeni Interior Ministry says was conducted by its own aircraft. Eight militants were killed on the strike on a police station taken over by militants in Wadyia, according to a New York Times report.  
There have been a number of airstrikes over Yemen during recent weeks -- some carried out by the Yemeni Air Force and others by U.S. aircraft and drones.   The strikes began in May with a near miss of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Anwar al Awlaki.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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