33 Afghan Civilian Killed in NATO Air Strike
The Afghan government says at least thirty-three civilians have died in a NATO air strike in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan. The Afghanistan Council of Ministers strongly condemned the air strike, saying it was “unjustifiable.” The dead included four women and one child. The incident was not part of Operation Moshtarak, the major offensive to combat the Taliban near the town of Marjah. Over the past ten days, another nineteen Afghan civilians have been killed in Marjah. Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, said that Marjah was the opening salvo in a campaign to turn back the Taliban.Gen. David Petraeus: “This is just the initial operation of what will be a twelve- to eighteen-month campaign, as General McChrystal and his team have mapped it out.
Dutch Troops to Leave Afghanistan After Gov’t Collapses
The Dutch government collapsed on Saturday when the country’s two largest political parties failed to agree on whether to withdraw Dutch troops from Afghanistan this year as planned. The fall of the government all but guarantees that the 2,000 Dutch troops will be brought home this year. The development is seen as a major blow to the US-led NATO alliance against the Taliban. Canada has already said it will withdraw its 2,800 soldiers by the end of 2011.
German Activists Protest Against Afghan War
In Germany, over a thousand antiwar protesters rallied in Berlin on Saturday to demonstrate against Germany’s involvement in Afghanistan. Germany is planning to beef up its presence in Afghanistan, where its 4,300 troops make up the third-largest contingent after the United States and Britain. Many protesters said they did not understand why Germany was in Afghanistan in the first place.
German protester: “It’s almost too late, but we hope to convey the message that not one soldier has to be sent to Afghanistan. That’s why we are protesting here. The German people have paid enough taxes, and there are more and more taxes being squeezed out of us just to finance the American wars. We have in Germany a constitution that is still valid, that states that from German ground we will not instigate a war, but only defend ourselves. The Afghans never attacked us. So what are our soldiers doing in Afghanistan?”