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Oct 5th, 2008

British Commander in Afghanistan Says Decisive Military Victory Impossible

October 5, 2008

LONDON — Decisive military victory in Afghanistan is impossible and the Taliban may well be part of a long-term solution for the country, the senior British commander in Afghanistan was quoted as saying Sunday.

The Sunday Times newspaper quoted Brig. Mark Carleton-Smith as saying that “we’re not going to win this war.”

“It’s about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that’s not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army,” he was quoted as saying. “We may well leave with there still being a low but steady ebb of rural insurgency.” …

“If the Taliban were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that’s precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this,” Carleton-Smith was quoted as saying. …

‘An acceptable dictator’

On Saturday, the British government denied a claim that the U.K. believes the military campaign in Afghanistan is doomed to failure, after a French newspaper reported that London’s ambassador to Kabul had said foreign troops added to the country’s woes.

France’s weekly Le Canard Enchaine published on Wednesday what it said was a leaked French diplomatic cable recounting talks between Britain’s Ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles and a French official.

The newspaper said the French cable reported that Cowper-Coles had said Afghanistan might best be “governed by an acceptable dictator” and that the cable quoted him as saying foreign troops were adding to the country’s problems by helping shore up a failing government in Kabul.

Cowper-Coles was quoted as saying that “the American strategy is destined to fail” and that the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan was “part of the problem, not the solution.” …

U.S. candidates criticized

The newspaper, a weekly publication known for its investigative stories, published excerpts of the cable, including a passage that quoted the British ambassador as criticizing both U.S. presidential candidates over pledges to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

“It is the American presidential candidates who must be dissuaded from getting further bogged down in Afghanistan,” an extract of the cable published by the newspaper quoted Cowper-Coles as saying. …


Taliban Said to be Furious over U.S. Strike

Image: Activists in Pakistan
Activists of civil society Fundamental Rights Commission chant slogans behind a burning U.S. flag during a rally to condemn the U.S. missile strikes in Pakistani tribal areas Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008 in Hyderabad, Pakistan. (Photo credit: Pervez Masih / AP)

October 5, 2008

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — The Taliban are furious about the latest apparent U.S. missile strike in Pakistan, indicating a senior militant may be among two dozen people killed, officials and residents said Sunday.

The attack Friday on the North Waziristan tribal region was believed to have killed several Arab fighters but government officials have been notably quiet. …

The U.S. has ramped up cross-border strikes that target alleged al-Qaida and Taliban hideouts in Pakistan’s tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. Pakistani leaders have condemned the attacks as violations of their country’s sovereignty. …

Extremists based in Pakistan’s border regions have been blamed for attacks on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan and for violence inside Pakistan. Al-Qaida leaders including Osama bin Laden are believed to be hiding somewhere in the lawless tribal regions along the border. …

Pakistan’s fledgling civilian government has tried to convince the population it cannot duck the fight against militancy. But leaders also warn that American attacks in Pakistan inflame public opinion against the West and undermine the fight against terrorism. …



Two U.S. Helicopters Collide in Iraq

October 5, 2008

BAGHDAD — Two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters collided while landing at an American combat outpost in northern Baghdad on Saturday, the U.S. military said.

One Iraqi soldier was killed and two American and two Iraqi soldiers were injured, military spokesman Lieutenant Patrick Evans said in an e-mail to Reuters. …

A Reuters television cameraman in the Sha’ab district of northern Baghdad, near Adhamiya, said he saw two helicopters circling overhead. The engine of one of them made a thudding sound as it lost altitude and crashed. The cameraman said he heard an explosion after the impact, followed by the sound of shooting. …

The incident was the second major U.S. military helicopter crash in Iraq in weeks. Last month, seven U.S. soldiers were killed when a transport helicopter crashed in southern Iraq in an incident the military blamed on mechanical failure.


Related story: The Associated Press reports that at least 70 U.S. helicopters have gone down in the Iraq theater since the war started in March 2003. Of those, 36 were confirmed to have been shot down.


U.S. Military Attacked in Mosul; 11 Civilians Killed

October 5, 2008

BAGHDAD — Eleven people, including women and children, were killed Sunday after U.S. forces came under attack by gunfire and a suicide bomber during a raid in Mosul, the military said. There were no casualties among American forces.

Elsewhere in the northern city, gunmen opened fire on mourners in a funeral tent, killing four people and wounding three others, according to Iraqi officials. …

In the Mosul raid, American troops came under heavy gunfire after entering a house believed to be holding a suspected insurgent, and a man inside detonated a suicide vest, the military said in a statement.

Five “terrorists” as well as three women and three children were killed, according to the statement. It did not specify how the people died.

Two other children, including one who was injured, were found near the building and moved to safety, the military said. A weapons cache was later found inside. …

Iraqi police officials in Mosul, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information, said the 11 people killed were all family members, including a 7-year-old boy. …

In other violence, a bomb targeted a convoy carrying Western contractors in the southern city of Basra, officials said. One Iraqi was wounded, but no one in the convoy was harmed. …

Also Sunday, the U.S. military raised the number of people injured in a helicopter crash in Baghdad the previous night from four to five. It said three were Americans. …


Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq this weekend, as reported by Reuters.

MOSUL – Eleven Iraqis, including three women and three children, were killed during a U.S. raid on a house in Mosul during which a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest, the U.S. military said. A U.S. military spokesman said it was not clear how many had died as a result of the blast and how many as a result of the shooting that preceded it.

MOSUL – Gunmen killed a butcher and wounded his son inside their shop in central Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – Gunmen stormed a mourning ceremony, killing four people and wounding three others in western Mosul, police said.

MOSUL – One gunman was killed and two policemen wounded in clashes which erupted on Saturday in western Mosul, police said.

NEAR RAMADI – Gunmen attacked a police station, killing two policemen on Saturday just east of Ramadi, police said. Ramadi is 60 miles west of Baghdad.

MOSUL – Gunmen entered a Christian-owned shop in central Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, and shot the owner dead, police said.

MOSUL – A roadside bomb killed two policemen and wounded another on Friday in central Mosul, police said.

BAGHDAD – U.S. forces killed a senior al Qaeda militant, along with one woman, on Friday in the Adhamiya district of northern Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

MOSUL – The bodies of two people who had been kidnapped were found on Friday, bearing gunshot wounds, in southeastern Mosul, police said. Another body was found in western Mosul.

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