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Ex-Trump Adviser: Taliban Doesn’t Care About Killing Civilians, So Neither Should We

Ex-Trump Adviser: Taliban Doesn’t Care About Killing Civilians, So Neither Should WeDuring a Monday morning Fox News appearance, former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland reacted to the Trump administration’s scuttled peace talks with the Taliban by suggesting the United States shouldn’t be concerned with “civilian deaths” in Afghanistan in the future, calling for a large-scale bombing campaign if any Americans are killed “anywhere in the world.”Asked by Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer to give her take on Trump canceling a planned Camp David meeting with the Taliban just days before the anniversary of 9/11, McFarland first said that it was a “great place to announce it” as they were “hoping they would have a deal.”“But now that they don’t have a deal, I think it’s important that they canceled it,” she noted. “You don’t want the Taliban to think they have the upper hand.”McFarland, a former Fox News contributor, went on to say that the Taliban needs to “look at what life is going to be like when America leaves” as there will be no American aid or assistance, adding that they “can go ahead and kill each other until the end of time.”After further stating that since there was no deal it would have been a “travesty” to have the meeting at Camp David so close to 9/11, McFarland was asked to respond to Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar’s pointed criticism of the canceled meeting.“I think she is absolutely wrong,” McFarland said of the Minnesota senator’s complaint that President Trump was treating foreign policy like a “game show.”McFarland then said the administration should tell both Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban that American troops will leave under the condition that “you don’t kill Americans, you don’t kill Americans in Afghanistan, you don’t kill Americans anywhere in the world and you sure as heck don’t kill Americans in the American homeland.”“If you do, you won’t get another dollar of American aid any place, anytime, anywhere, and secondly, we’ll come back here and we’ll find who helped assist attacks on the American homeland and we will bomb them,” she continued. “We will bomb the training camps, we will bomb the bases and since you don’t care about civilian deaths, we aren’t going to either.”McFarland’s desire to see Afghanistan civilian deaths comes on the heels of Fox News contributor Joey Jones calling for the execution of detainees any time an American soldier is killed overseas.“The first thing I would do today, is every time one of our soldiers dies overseas during these talks, I would go down to Guantanamo and I would execute a Taliban captive,” he said during a Fox & Friends appearance on Saturday. “We have to show them that we’re not just looking for an exit strategy.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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The U.S. in Afghanistan, Talking Peace and Waging War, Doesn’t Count All The Civilians It Slaughters

The U.S. in Afghanistan, Talking Peace and Waging War, Doesn’t Count All The Civilians It SlaughtersWAKIL KOHSARLOY MANDA, Afghanistan–Bloodied and broken, 13 members of an extended family were lifted, one by one, from a minibus and placed in wheelchairs and on hospital beds with clean white sheets. The out patient department at Emergency Hospital in Helmand’s capital Lashkar Gah was soon beyond capacity. Nurses from throughout the building rushed to assist. The victims ranged in age from four to fifty. They’d been at home on the afternoon of November 24, 2018, when two Taliban fighters entered their compound in the village of Loy Manda, in Helmand’s Nad-i Ali District. Obaidullah, the patriarch of the family, pleaded with the fighters to leave, but before they did, they fired over a wall at a passing Afghan and American military convoy. In response, an American warplane—an A-10 ”Warthog”—made two strafing runs over the house. Hundreds of rounds of ammunition—bullets the size of large carrots—fired by a weapon designed to disable armoured tanks, poured out of the plane’s Gatling gun. The two Taliban fighters had fled. Instead, Obaidullah and his 15-year-old son Esmatullah were killed; 13 others suffered broken bones and shrapnel injuries from head to toe. One boy, 14-year-old Ehsanullah, lost both his eyes. In May this year, The U.S. Department of Defense released its Annual Report on Civilian Casualties. In table format, an entry for Helmand on the same date states: “Operation Type: Air. Killed: 0. Injured: 4.” * * *DEATH BY THE NUMBERS* * *The war in Afghanistan will soon enter its 19th year. In Qatar, U.S. and Taliban representatives have been hashing out a preliminary agreement that would see a withdrawal timeline for international troops in return for a Taliban guarantee that it would disavow terrorist groups with transnational aspirations seeking to use Afghanistan as a base.The Taliban Scoff at Trump’s Afghan Peace Talks BluffIn contrast, on the battlefield, both sides are ramping up their military campaigns in an effort to strengthen their negotiating positions. As a result, the number of civilians caught in the crossfire is increasing, too. In its latest report on civilian casualties, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) found that this year, for the first time since it began counting, pro-government forces, including international forces, were responsible for more civilian deaths than the Taliban and the so-called Islamic State’s Afghanistan branch combined. The primary reason for this is an escalation of the U.S. air war in Afghanistan.In a conflict that has been unpopular with the American public—and now its president—for years now, the downplaying of the number of Afghan civilians killed in the crossfire is one way the U.S. military—which one senses is more committed to Afghanistan than its political leaders—can mitigate opposition at home. Today, the rented house Obaidullah’s family was in when it was struck by the warplane last November, is empty. During the day, columns of sunlight pour through a dozen watermelon-sized holes in the roof: evidence of the missile-like bullets that also tore holes through its inhabitants. After they were discharged from hospital, Obaidullah’s two wives and their surviving children moved to the village of Shawal, which is under Taliban control, further north in the same district, with Obaidullah’s brothers. Day to day security in most rural parts of Afghanistan isn’t so much dictated by who controls the area as by how far it is from the front line. Nor does the side of a front line one chooses to live on necessarily indicate sympathy for one faction or the other.Loy Manda, where the family lived when their house was struck, was the front line. They hoped moving farther from it, even though that meant going deep into Taliban territory, would be safer. The escalation of the air war, however, means that calculation is no longer a reliable measure of safety.* * *‘TENDENTIOUS PRONOUNCEMENTS’* * *Ehsanullah was 14 when he was brought into the emergency hospital last November. His face was a mess of raw flesh and dried, rusty blood. He had already lost one eye; the other was ruptured and would later be removed by surgeons. The rest of his body was bruised, broken, burned and punctured by debris thrown out as the rounds impacted around him.Without sight, his hearing has become increasingly sensitized, and the sound of aircraft terrifies him. Air strikes are even more common in Shawal now than they were in Loy Manda. “I’m always scared of the aircraft now,” he says. “I’m scared they’re going to target us again.”Ehsanullah, 14, has two ruptured eyes and several leg and abdominal injuries. His uncle, Sardar Wali, sits with him in the garden at Emergency hospital for the war wounded in Lashkar Gah, Helmand. Sardar Wali wept at times while crouching beside his nephew. 13 members from two families, including his, were admitted on November 24, 2018 at around 4:30PM.\n\n13 in total were admitted to Emergency hospital for the war wounded in Lashkar Gah, Helmand, on the evening of November 24, 2018, after an airstrike on their home in the village of Loy Manda in Nad-i Ali District. Obaidullah, the patriarch of the family, and another of his sons, Esmatullah, were killed in the strike. In total, 12 women and children were injured and brought to Emergency, including a pregnant mother, Qarara, and an elderly man, all of whom had suffered shrapnel injuries to various parts of their bodies. \n\nFamily members explained that Taliban fighters had sought shelter from military aircraft in their home despite the residents pleading for them to leave. The next thing they knew their compound, home to two families, was being \"bombed\" by an aircraft which they identified, after I showed some family members video footage of one, an American A-10 \"Warthog\" warplane. \n\nA spokesperson for the International Resolute Support military mission in Kabul, SFC Debra Richardson provided me with a statement in response to my enquiries that read as follows: \"We are still looking into the details. We know U.S. forces, accompanying their Afghan security partners, called in self-defense air support against a building from which the Taliban were shooting. Too often the Taliban use civilians as hostages and human shields. It is often difficult to discern the presence of non-combatants inside structures when the Taliban are shooting from those locations. Enough violence, the Taliban should seriously engage in talks for a political solution instead of engaging in more pointless fighting. We have the duty to be precise. We own every munition we fire–the bullets from our rifles as well as the rockets on each strike. We are the most precise force in the history of warfare, ever, but this is not enough for us–we seek to improve and match higher standards every day.Andrew QuiltyOn top of this, Ehsanullah requires help with even the simplest of tasks. “Now I can’t do anything; I can’t even find my way,” he says. “Even when I want to move I need the help of someone.” That job has fallen to his younger brother, Rahmatullah, who never leaves his brother’s side. Rahmatullah himself arrived in the emergency room that day with his intestines resting on his stomach.The U.S.-led Resolute Support military mission in Afghanistan refused to respond to several recent enquiries about the incident and the DOD’s accounting of civilian victims. The U.S. military maintains that it makes condolence payments to civilian victims of its operations, but a Resolute Support spokesperson was unable to confirm whether such a payment had been made to Obaidullah’s family. The family says they received nothing. The DoD report states its “assessments seek to incorporate all available information… DoD updates existing assessments if new information becomes available, including new information received from NGOs or other outside organizations.” The details of this and The Daily Beast’s January report were both supplied to Resolute Support’s public affairs office, which again refused to address the issue. How U.S. Bombs Tore One Family to Shreds in AfghanistanUNAMA, which has sparred with both Resolute Support and the Taliban over methodologies concerning the assessment of civilian casualty figures, issued an unusually biting statement in an August 3 press release: “… all parties to the conflict have a poor track record on investigating, publicly reporting their findings and taking appropriate follow-up measures to address incidents in which civilians are killed or injured.” The statement continued: “UNAMA recognizes that in the context of the war in Afghanistan, all parties are prone to issue tendentious pronouncements.” Andrew J. Bacevich, professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University told The Daily Beast, “The U.S. military is deeply invested in a self-image that is undermined by evidence that it has caused civilian casualties. U.S. forces want to be seen as using violence with great precision–killing only those they intend to kill.  Evidence to the contrary damages the prestige of the armed services and can undercut their standing in the eyes of the American people. In that sense, the issues here go well beyond Afghanistan per se.”This isn’t an isolated case.When Obaidullah’s family moved to Shawal after leaving the hospital, in the very same village was another family who had also been bombed. On October 10 last year, six weeks before the Loy Manda strike, Abdul Ahad was at home with his family in the farming village of Shawal when the sounds of fighting began nearby. Shawal was on the northern—Taliban-controlled—side of a wide irrigation canal that still marks the front line in Nad-i Ali district today, so while airstrikes were common, ground engagements like this were rare. He told the story under the shade of a tree outside Shawal recently; it was so hot that steam didn’t rise from his cup of boiling green tea. The jet engines of American bombers could be heard wavering on the wind miles above. L to R: Qarara and her son Hedayat 94) recover in the female and children's ward at Emergency Hospital for the war wounded in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province. They were admitted on November 24, 2018, after Taliban fighters had used their house to fire on a passing American and Afghan Army convoy in Loy Manda, Nad-i Ali District, Helmand Province and the Americans called in an airstrike. Two family members were killed, the husband and father, Obaidullah, and his son Esmatullah, while 13 in total were injured. The soldiers provided first aid for the wounded before they were brought by Loy Manda locals to Emergency in Lashkar Gah.\n\nIn a statement by a spokesperson for the International Resolute Support military mission provided to me after alerting them to the incident, said:\n\n\"We are still looking into the details. We know U.S. forces, accompanying their Afghan security partners, called in self-defense air support against a building from which the Taliban were shooting. Too often the Taliban use civilians as hostages and human shields. It is often difficult to discern the presence of non-combatants inside structures when the Taliban are shooting from those locations. Enough violence, the Taliban should seriously engage in talks for a political solution instead of engaging in more pointless fighting. We have the duty to be precise. We own every munition we fire–the bullets from our rifles as well as the rockets on each strike. We are the most precise force in the history of warfare, ever, but this is not enough for us–we seek to improve and match higher standards every day.Andrew QuiltyAhad’s house was one point of a triangle, with American and Afghan special forces on a second point and Taliban fighters on a third. Both groups were shooting across, but not toward his house. The soldiers were a quarter mile away, the Taliban, he said, about twice that distance. Some 70-80 yards away was another large compound, inside which four families lived in separate houses. Haji Salaam was in one of them with two of his brothers and their wives and children. When he sensed the fighting getting close he told everyone to stay inside.  Out of nowhere, Abdul Ahad felt the thump of two almost simultaneous explosions. But the airstrikes hadn’t hit the compound from which the Taliban were firing. They’d struck Haji Salaam’s house, where he and his family had been sheltering, and it was now engulfed in a cloud of smoke and dust. Ahad waited until the fighting finished and then made his way quickly across the field to his neighbor’s compound. The outer walls were still intact but once inside he saw that at least one of the houses had been completely levelled. Afghan and American soldiers arrived in more than a dozen armoured vehicles within minutes, as did other neighbors. Haji Salaam had survived. “When they came to the house,” he says, “they claimed there was Taliban in the house firing at us. I told them we are not Taliban, we are all civilians.”The Americans and their Afghan counterparts stayed for almost an hour. Some helped while others stood guard in case of a Taliban ambush. By the time they’d left, 11 dead bodies had been pulled from the rubble. Seven of them were less than nine years of age. Five under the age of 15 were injured but survived. According to the DOD report, no one was injured in the strike, and only one civilian was killed. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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Taliban blast kills US soldier, several civilians in Kabul

Taliban blast kills US soldier, several civilians in KabulA Taliban car bomb exploded and killed U.S. and Romanian service members and 10 civilians in a busy diplomatic area near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Thursday, the second major attack this week as the Afghan government warned that a U.S.-Taliban deal on ending America’s longest war was moving at dangerous speed. U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, under pressure after announcing earlier in the week that “on principle” he and the Taliban had reached an agreement, returned abruptly to Qatar, site of the talks, later Thursday, officials close to the negotiations said. The American service member was the fourth killed in the past two weeks in Afghanistan.



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More than 50 Syrian civilians killed in Idlib 'by Russian and Assad regime strikes'

More than 50 Syrian civilians killed in Idlib 'by Russian and Assad regime strikes'Regime and Russian air strikes killed 50 people in northwest Syria on Monday, most of them in a crowded market, a war monitor said, in the latest violence to plague the opposition bastion. In the town of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province, men covered in blood were carried away from the market by residents and rescue workers, who used mattresses as makeshift stretchers, an AFP photographer said. He saw the corpse of one man sprawled on the ground near a motorcycle, rubble surrounding his lifeless body. With his eyes closed and his face covered in dust, another man clutched the arms of two people helping him out of the bombed area, the photographer added. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air strikes on the vegetable market and surrounding areas in Maaret al-Numan killed 36 civilians and two unidentified persons. A member of the Syrian civil defence, known as the White Helmets, rests atop an excavator after participating in a search for victims under the rubble of buildings Credit: ABDULAZIZ KETAZ/AFP/Getty Images The Britain-based monitor said Russian aircraft carried out the air raids, but Moscow denied it was responsible. "The Russian air force was not carrying out any missions in this part of Syria," said a defence ministry statement. More than 100 other people were wounded, according to the monitor, which said many of those injured were in a critical condition and people remained trapped under the rubble. The head of the local hospital, Radwan Shardub, described his horror at seeing "burnt and carbonised bodies, and body parts". "It's boundless criminality to shameful international silence," he said. The White Helmets rescue group said one of its volunteers was killed during the raids, raising the number of rescue workers killed since April to at least 6. A member of the Syrian civil defence, known as the White Helmets, helps an injured Syrian child after pulling him out from under the rubble  Credit: OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images The jihadist-run Idlib region, home to some three million people, is supposed to be protected by a months-old international truce deal, but it has come under increased bombardment by the Syrian regime and its ally Russia since late April. The spike in violence has killed more than 690 civilians, and damaged or knocked out of service two dozen health facilities in jihadist-held territory. More than 330,000 people have fled violence in the area over the past three months, according to the United Nations.



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UPDATE 4-Syrian state media: Israeli missile strike kills four civilians

UPDATE 4-Syrian state media: Israeli missile strike kills four civiliansCAIRO/BEIRUT, June 30 (Reuters) – Israeli warplanes fired missiles targeting Syrian military positions in Homs and the Damascus outskirts in an attack that killed at least four civilians and wounded another 21, Syrian state media said. The Syrian military said Syrian air defences had confronted the attack, which was launched from Lebanese airspace. SANA also reported that Syrian air defences had brought down a number of the missiles.



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US urges Sudan army to bring civilians into government

US urges Sudan army to bring civilians into governmentThe United States on Thursday urged Sudan’s army to bring civilians into government after ousting veteran leader Omar al-Bashir, saying an announced two-year timeline was too long. Washington calls “on transitional authorities to exercise restraint and to allow space for civilian participation within the government,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters. “The Sudanese people should determine who leads them and their future and the Sudanese people have been clear and are demanding a civilian-led transition,” Palladino said.



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More civilians leave Islamic State's Syria enclave, delaying final assault

More civilians leave Islamic State's Syria enclave, delaying final assaultThousands of people – many of them the wives of IS fighters and their children – have been streaming out of besieged enclave at Baghouz for weeks, forcing the SDF to delay the assault to wipe out the last vestige of the jihadists’ territorial rule. The SDF has said it wants to make sure all civilians are out of the enclave before launching its final assault. Hundreds of IS fighters have also surrendered, but the SDF believes the most hardened foreign jihadists are still inside.



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Final battle to liberate last Islamic State village begins after civilians evacuated

Final battle to liberate last Islamic State village begins after civilians evacuatedWestern-backed forces say they plan to crush the Islamic State terror group within two days after launching an operation to clear out the group's final stronghold. The Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led group that has been the US-led coalition’s main ally against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) in Syria, commenced their final assault on the village of Baghuz just after sunset on Friday night. “After evacuation of thousands of civilians and our comrades who were held hostage in Baghouz, the operation to clear the last remaining pocket of Isil started at 18:00 this evening,” Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the SDF said. Mr Bali told The Daily Telegraph that said the operation is expected to last two days, but may take a week to complete as hardened jihadists fight back with heavy weapons and suicide car bombs. Isil, which once ruled over eight million people in a proto-state covering large swathes of Syria and Iraq, now controls a patch of land about 700 metres across on the banks of the Euphrates river. The demise of ISIL in Syria and Iraq The operation follows three weeks of evacuations of civilians from the tiny pocket. About 17,000 people, mostly women and children, have left in the past 16 days. SDF commanders estimate there are around 1,000 Isil fighters remaining in the pocket, along with an unknown number of non-combatants.   They may include John Cantlie, a British journalist who was kidnapped in 2012. Ben Wallace, the UK Security Minister, said last month that there was reason to believe Mr Cantlie is still alive. Photo Dispatch: Syria's fight against ISIL Although the fall of Baghuz would mark the end of the group’s pretensions to a caliphate, SDF officials have warned it will continue to present a security threat.   Sleeper cells using guerrilla tactics continue to carry out drive-by shootings and suicide bombings in liberated areas. Some fighters still hold some desolate territory in a remote area west of the Euphrates River. “All the remaining fighters are experienced and professional. They the true radicals and jihadist fighters. Therefore they will fight to the end,” Mr Bali said. “We do not expect any to surrender.”



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Mine blast kills more than 20 civilians in Syria

Mine blast kills more than 20 civilians in SyriaMore than 20 civilians were killed Sunday in central Syria when a landmine left behind by jihadists exploded under a van, the state news agency SANA said. The ordnance left behind by the Islamic State group in the town of Salamiyeh killed farmworkers who were heading to a region in the Hama province to pick truffles, SANA said, citing local police. It was the second such incident since February 8 when a landmine that had been planted by IS in rural Hama exploded killing seven civilians, SANA said.



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Truckloads of civilians leave Islamic State enclave in Syria

Truckloads of civilians leave Islamic State enclave in SyriaTrucks loaded with civilians left the last Islamic State enclave in eastern Syria on Friday, as U.S.-backed forces waited to inflict final defeat on the surrounded jihadists. Reporters near the front line at Baghouz saw dozens of trucks driving out with civilians inside them, but it was not clear if more remained in the tiny pocket. The village is all that remains for Islamic State in the Euphrates valley region that became its final populated stronghold in Iraq and Syria after it lost the major cities of Mosul and Raqqa in 2017.



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