News & Current Affairs

June 20, 2009

US admits Afghan airstrike errors

Filed under: Latest, Politics News — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 8:04 am

US admits Afghan airstrike errors

A child in hospital after Farah strikes,09/05

A row has been rumbling since the strikes in early May

Failure by US forces to follow their own rules was the “likely” cause of civilian deaths in Afghan airstrikes last month, a US military report says.

US officials investigated seven strikes on Taliban targets in Farah province on 4 May, and concluded that three had not complied with military guidelines.

The report accepts that at least 26 civilians died, but acknowledges that the real figure could be much higher.

The Afghan government has said 140 civilians were killed in the strikes.

Washington and Kabul have been at loggerheads for weeks over the number of civilians killed in the incident.

James Coomarasamy
James Coomarasamy

The report’s conclusions are couched in caveats, but by releasing it late on a Friday afternoon the Pentagon has underlined its embarrassment at what may be the worst case of civilian deaths since coalition forces entered the country in 2001.

As well as acknowledging that there was a failure to follow strict military guidelines, the report recommends unspecified steps to be taken to refine that guidance and urges a greater engagement in the public relations battle.
It states that the coalition should be “first with the truth”.

Yet the report also calls into question whether the true number of civilian deaths, in this incident, will ever be known.

It sticks with the US military’s initial estimate of 26, but describes a report by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, which speaks of at least 86 civilian casualties, as “balanced” and “thorough”.

The US report defends the Farah operation, saying the use of force “was an appropriate means to destroy that enemy threat”.

“However, the inability to discern the presence of civilians and avoid and/or minimise accompanying collateral damage resulted in the unintended consequence of civilian casualties,” the report says.

It says the final three strikes of the engagement, which took place after dark, did not adhere to “specific guidance” in the controlling directive.

“Not applying all of that guidance likely resulted in civilian casualties,” the report says.

It concedes that the precise number of civilians killed in the attack may never be known because many victims were buried before the investigation started.

The document makes a number of recommendations to reduce the likelihood of civilian deaths.

It says lines of communication must be improved, new guidelines should be introduced and personnel need to be retrained.

Gen Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan, is currently reviewing US rules in relation to airstrikes.

He said last month that US forces should use them only if the lives of Nato personnel or American troops were clearly at risk.

Both Nato and US have have insisted that avoiding civilian casualties is their priority in all battles.


September 3, 2008

Federer edges through in thriller

Federer edges through in thriller

Roger Federer

Federer last lost at the US Open against David Nalbandian in 2003

Roger Federer came through a desperately tense five-set encounter with Igor Andreev to keep his bid for a fifth straight US Open title alive.

The champion showed the frailty that has dogged him all year as he was taken to a fifth set but raised his game to win 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 3-6 6-3.

Andreev took the first set and had seven break points at the start of the second but Federer managed to hang on.

He will face Gilles Muller of Luxembourg in the quarter-finals.

Muller, a qualifier, stunned Russian fifth seed Nikolay Davydenko 6-4 4-6 6-3 7-6 (12-10) in a dramatic match.

Federer had looked superb in his third-round win over Radek Stepanek, but his recent frailties were in evidence throughout against Andreev on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

He broke me so easily at the beginning and I was struggling to get in a groove from the baseline
Roger Federer

He made 60 unforced errors and faced 15 break points, and his survival was largely due to the fact that Andreev converted just two of them.The Russian broke at the first attempt and should have taken the set from there, but he allowed Federer back in at 5-5 before edging the tie-break.

A nervous Federer then framed a smash to slip 15-40 down early in the second but Andreev failed to capitalize on five break points, and a further two in the next game.

Still the world number two struggled with his form, missing two set points in the second set tie-break before Andreev handed him the set with a wayward forehand.

That gave Federer a temporary boost and when he cracked away a cross-court forehand to break for 3-1 in the third, the game appeared up for Andreev.

But at the same stage in the fourth set Andreev benefited from a hugely fortuitous net cord and confidently served out to take it to a decider.

At last, Federer reminded everyone of why he has won 12 Grand Slams as he stepped up a gear, moving 3-0 clear after winning an epic rally to break.It was hardly downhill all the way after that as the Swiss fought off four break-back points at 4-2, but his fighting spirit saw him through to a meeting with Muller,the world number 130.

“He was playing well,” Federer said of Andreev. “He broke me so easily at the beginning and I was struggling to get in a groove from the baseline.

“The second set was key for me to get back in the match. I served well but it was a tough match.”

Davydenko could not cope with Muller’s serve-volleying and a barrage of 20 aces on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Muller pulled out his best shots when it mattered, serving an ace to save a set point at 4-5 in the fourth set and saving another with a big serve at 6-7 down in the tie-break before getting a net-cord on match point.

“I think it’s not about that last point,” said Davydenko. “It’s about many points. I had so many chances.”

In the same half of the draw, third seed Novak Djokovic edged out Tommy Robredo 4-6 6-2 6-3 5-7 6-3.

The Serbian will play American Andy Roddick in the last eight after the 2003 champion thrashed Fernando Gonzalez 6-2 6-4 6-1.

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