August 06, 2007

About those "300 dead women and children" .......

Remember the 200 -300 civilians that were allegedly killed by a U.S. airstrike against top Taliban leaders? The Taliban claimed that what the U.S. really bombed was a busy market. Upon hearing claims of heavy civilian casualties, NATO investigated. Number of actual civilians killed: ZERO.

It's not so much that the Taliban makes these claims that bothers me, it's that the Western press actually reports them.

ISAF:

KABUL, Afghanistan – Coalition forces, in support of ISAF, struck a large group of Taliban extremists meeting in a remote area of Helmand province Aug. 2. In response to allegations that the strike may have caused civilian casualties, ISAF sent a task force to conduct an assessment.

“All Allegations are treated seriously,” said Lt Col Claudia Foss, ISAF spokesperson. “This one is no different. ”

Several media reports quoted the Taliban extremist who claimed up to 300 civilians were killed during this operation. In addition, Taliban claimed civilian casualties were taken to Mizani district, Zabul province.

“For these individuals to receive treatment in a Zabul hospital, the injured civilians would have had to be moved over 180 kilometers of extremely rough roads in mountainous terrain through the provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul,” said Lt. Col. Bridget Rose, Regional Command South spokesperson.

After checking local hospitals in the general vicinity, Task Force Helmand officials found no civilians admitted for treatment.

Over 100 kilometers away, they found a total of 19 adult males and one 8-year-old child wounded in Lashkar Gah hospital. Over night, three of the adult males died. And in Kandahar hospital, they found wounded 14 adult males and three 10-11 year old males. There were never any women admitted with injuries, and none are reported injured or killed at Lashkar Gah hospital or any other local hospitals in the area.

“If there were actually a large number of civilian casualties as claimed by the Taliban extremist, it would be highly unusual that only fighting age males showed up for treatment at the local hospital over 100 kilometers away from the operation site,” Rose said.

There is no evidence of civilian casualties caused by the above mentioned operation. It appears that the current Taliban extremist statements are just another example of their overall disinformation campaign.

“Over the past weeks,” added Foss, “Several media have reported erroneous information on numbers of casualties from ISAF operations following Taliban extremist propaganda. But rushing to deny causalities is not the way ISAF communicates. We refer to confirmed facts, not hear-say and that obviously takes time. Unlike the Taliban extremists, we value the truth and our credibility.”

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 10:49 AM | Comments |