Germany, Sweden helping US with ‘kill decisions’ in Afghanistan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US commander Gen. John Campbell during a ceremony in Kabul on Dec. 28, 2014, which signified the end the US-led combat mission in Afghanistan. ©AFP

The United States' military allies Germany and Sweden have been “directly participating” in the so-called “kill decisions” against militants in Afghanistan despite constitutional rules barring the move, officials said.

The two countries believed to be illicitly involved in approving the strike decisions, however, insisted that only the US military was engaged in actual targeting of suspected Afghan militants, the New York Times reported Friday citing two senior Western officials with knowledge of the operations.

The allegations concern US-led aerial attacks, mostly by assassination drones, that top American officials have justified as part of a persisting “counterterrorism” mission which Washington claims is approved by the Kabul government. However, some of the strikes have been slammed as “far more aggressive than the security deal allows,” the report added.

According to the report, decision-making for the deadly airstrikes in Afghanistan “takes place in a room in the coalition headquarters in Kabul known as the Combined Joint Operations Center, or CJOC,” where video screens monitor the targeting of people described as “enemies who fall within the United States military’s authority to conduct counterterrorism strikes, and are supposed to keep civilians from being hit.”

US army soldiers walk as a NATO helicopter flies overhead at the coalition forces' Forward Operating Base (FOB) Connelly in the Khogyani district in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar on August 13, 2015. ©AFP

“They go around the table and say, ‘If you see any women or children, raise your hand,’ and that includes German and Swedish officers who are not supposed to be involved in counterterrorism,” said one of the senior officials, who has direct knowledge of the operation, the report added.

However, the official further explained that the issue, which has not been publicly revealed previously, has been fueling tensions between the American military and its allies saying, “A lot of NATO officials are pretty upset about it.”

The revelations will likely spark a controversy in Germany, where constitutional rules forbid offensive military operations in most cases and where rights groups have joined lawsuits alleging that Germany indirectly contributed to American drone attacks, according to the two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the “classified nature” of the processing targeting militants.

This June 13, 2010 photo shows a US Predator drone armed with a missile on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport in Afghanistan. ©AFP

“This is the last thing NATO wanted to be involved in, but the Americans seemed to want everyone in on it. I guess they felt it gave them political cover,” according to the official.

“They were sitting around there giving thumbs up or down, like gladiators in a stadium,” he added.

Germany is the second largest troop contributor to the current US-led force in Afghanistan with nearly 850 service members as of May 31.

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