Tuesday Feb 22, 201104:14 PM GMT
Petraeus blames civilians for civilian casualties
Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:15PM
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The Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan has shocked the Afghan nation by suggesting that Afghans caught up in a recent coalition attack in the northeast of the country deliberately burned their children to raise the civilian death count.

 

General David Petraeus made the remarks in a closed door meeting at Afghanistan's presidential palace on Monday, according to two participants at the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

The exact language Petraeus used in the closed-door session is not known, and neither is the precise message he meant to convey. But his remarks about the deadly U.S. military operation in Kunar province were deemed deeply offensive by some in the room.

 

They said Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, dismissed allegations by President Karzai's office and the provincial governor that civilians were killed and said residents had invented stories, or even injured their children, to pin the blame on U.S. forces and force an end to the operation.

 

"I was dizzy. My head was spinning," said one participant, referring to Petraeus' remarks. "This was shocking. Would any father do this to his children? This is really absurd." Washington Post

 

A four day NATO offensive in Afghanistan's Kunar Province has left at least 64 innocent civilians dead and several others wounded, according to both the provincial governor and the provincial police chief.

 

Gen. Ziayi, the police chief, said that of the slain, 15 were men, 20 women and 29 were children. The governor later confirmed the overall toll but reported only 26 children, with 16 men and 22 women.

 

The U.S. has a long history of making up ridiculous hypotheses that might explain away massive civilian death tolls, including the May 2009 Farah Province massacre, in which the U.S, initially claimed the Taliban had “pre-killed” a large number of civilians and stored them in buildings before tricking the U.S. into bombing them, scattering the bodies. They later admitted the claim was entirely made up. Antiwar

FACTS & FIGURES

 

Gen. Petraeus took over in July and has been lauded in America for his achievements in southern Afghanistan.

 

President Barack Obama tapped Petraeus to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal last summer after controversy swirling around critical comments the then-commander made about Obama administration officials to Rolling Stone landed him out of his post. Huffington Post

 

In 2007, anti-war critics accused Petraeus of being a White House stooge. AFP

 

A month after being named as General McChrystal's replacement, General Petraeus publicly undermined Obama's argument for a withdrawal in 2011, telling senators, "July 2011 is not the date where we race for the exits ... We have to be very careful with timelines." Freedom Syndicate

 

He also clashed with Obama in 2009 on the number of troops needed for a counter-insurgency campaign, demanding at least 40,000 reinforcements instead of the 30,000 sent. Freedom Syndicate

 

The war in Afghanistan was not authorized by the United Nations Security Council and many experts call it illegal under international law.

 

The U.S. administration has been locked into an unwinnable war in Afghanistan which according to General Petraeus will last for "the rest of our lives and probably our kids' lives." Washington Post

 

UNAMA reports that 2010 has been the bloodiest year since the war began in terms of the civilian death toll. Civilian casualties have increased by 31% since last year. The number of children killed in the war was up 55 percent from the previous year.

 

In July 2010, Wikileaks released over 91,000 classified reports covering the Afghanistan War. The secret documents reveal 144 incidents in which coalition soldiers have killed or wounded civilians.

 

The U.S. currently has 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. The total number of coalition forces in the country has reached 150,000.

 

HJ/KA/MMN

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