The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Friday, August 8, 2008

War News for Friday, August 08, 2008

The Washington Post in reporting the death of a U.S. led coalition soldier in a roadside bombing in western Afghanistan on Friday, August 8th. No other details were released.

The International Herald Tribune is reporting the deaths of two Marines in a non-combat incident in Karmah, Iraq on Friday, August 8th. No other details were released.

Aug. 6 airpower summary:

Russia sends forces into Georgian rebel conflict:
(so much for the end of the cold war)

Georgia calls back troops from Iraq amid fighting:

Georgia's president says the country is calling home its troops from Iraq amid heavy fighting in the breakaway province of South Ossetia. Georgia has 2,000 troops serving with the coalition forces in Iraq, making it the third-largest contributor after the United States and Britain. But Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told CNN television Friday the troops would return urgently to Georgia after fighting erupted in South Ossetia.

#1: Police forces found two unknown bodies in southeastern Baghdad, a police source said on Friday. “The forces late Thursday found two unidentified decayed corpses in al-Madaen region in southeastern Baghdad,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq

#1: One member of a U.S.-backed neighbourhood patrol was killed and four were wounded during clashes with militants on Thursday in Mussayab, 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

#1: Unknown gunmen on Friday killed a Sahwa official in northwest of Hilla, an official police source said.“Unidentified gunmen opened fire on the Sahwa official in al-Fares region in Jarf al-Sakhr, northwest of Hilla, while driving his motorcycle, killing him on the spot,” the source, who wished to remain anonymous, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

#1: A roadside bomb killed a policeman and wounded two others in Iskandariya district, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

#1: Gunmen killed an Iraqi soldier when they ambushed a patrol on Thursday in western Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

#2: Three Iraqi soldiers were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in eastern Mosul on Friday, according to an army source in the city."The explosion occurred at al-Intisar neighborhood, eastern Mosul. One of the injured soldiers was in a serious condition," the source told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

Tal Afar:
#1: A car bomb in a vegetable market in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar killed 18 people and wounded 25 on Friday, police said.

#1: U.S.-led coalition forces accidentally killed four Afghan women and a child along with several militants during an operation targeting a Taliban insurgent, a U.S. military statement said on Friday. The latest deaths occurred on Thursday, when coalition forces were threatened by "several armed militants" as they approached a compound where they believed a Taliban militant known to coordinate foreign fighters was located. "The force responded with small-arms fire, killing the militants and inadvertently killing four women and a child located with them," said the statement received on Friday. "Several militants were killed and three were detained," it added. The clash occurred in the Giro district of Ghazni province, southwest of Kabul.

#2: In Helmand province's Nahr Surkh district, a joint Afghan and coalition patrol killed four Taliban insurgents caught placing a roadside bomb on Thursday, the military said.

#3: At least five militants and two soldiers were killed Friday as Pakistani security forces continued to exchange fire with suspected Taliban fighters in the Bajaur tribal district bordering Afghanistan, the military said. The clashes erupted late Wednesday when more than 200 heavily armed rebels attacked a security checkpoint in Loi Sam village of Bajaur, which is believed to be one of the sanctuaries for foreign militants. "Sporadic fighting continues in the area and both sides are using heavy weapons," a military spokesman said. Helicopter gunships also pounded militant positions on hills. The fresh casualties increased the death toll in three days of fighting to 37, which included seven government paramilitary troops. However, the militants claimed they had killed up to 65 personnel while reporting only four deaths on their side. Forty soldiers were killed when militants ambushed a security convey near Loi Sam Thursday night, Maulvi Omar, a spokesman for the local Taliban, was quoted as saying by Geo news channel. He said 17 troops were also seized during the attack. The claim was not verified by the military.

Russian news agency Interfax reported that Georgian troops had entered the besieged town of Tskhinvali after intense battles overnight. But Georgia denied the Interfax report. Interior ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said Georgian forces had not yet entered Tskhinvali, but were engaged in a battle with two convoys, carrying "mercenaries," which had entered South Ossetia from Russia and were trying to reach the town.

Georgian big guns shelled Tskhinvali, where government and separatists envoys had been due to meet for Russia-mediated peace talks later on Friday. Many houses were ablaze.
Russian peacekeepers said three of their men were wounded and their headquarters damaged during shelling of the town, Interfax news agency reported.

Ten Russian peacekeepers were killed and 30 wounded when their barracks were hit in Georgian shelling, said Russian Ground Forces spokesman Col. Igor Konashenkov. Russia has soldiers in South Ossetia as peacekeeping forces but Georgia alleges they back the separatists.

Georgia said the operation, launched after a week of clashes between separatists and the troops in which nearly 20 people were killed, was aimed at ending South Ossetia's effective independence won in a 1991-92 war.

A Vesti-24 correspondent in Tskhinvali, Andrei Chistyakov, said at least 15 civilians had been killed in the town. "These are the people whose bodies were seen in their yards and in the streets," he said by telephone.

A Reuters correspondent said the roar of warplanes and explosions of heavy shells was deafening more than three km (two miles) away from the town. Georgian National Security Council secretary Kakha Lomaia told Reuters that several Soviet-designed Su-25 planes took part in a strike on the village of Tkverneti.

About 150 Russian armored vehicles have entered South Ossetia, Saakashvili said, and Georgian forces had shot down two Russian aircraft. Earlier Friday, Russian military aircraft dropped two bombs on Georgian territory, a Georgian official said, causing no casualties. Georgian officials also report four Russian aircraft shot down.

By early evening Friday, Georgian Cabinet minister said the country's forces have taken control of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali. He spoke to Interfax news agency, which also quoted separatists denying the city was under Georgian control. Tkeshelashvili said Georgian authorities are still collecting information on casualties.

Russian armored vehicles have entered the northern edges of the capital of the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, the separatists' press service reported on its website on Friday. "Russian armored vehicles have entered the northern suburbs of Tskhinvali," the website reported, adding that Georgian troops had started to retreat.

A South Ossetia minister said more than a thousand people had died in overnight shelling by Georgian forces of their capital Tskhinvali, Russia's RIA news agency reported.

A senior Georgian security official said Russian planes had bombed the Vaziani military outside the Georgian capital Tbilisi. The Interior Ministry said later three Georgian soldiers were killed.

The international Red Cross is seeking to establish a humanitarian corridor in Georgia's breakway republic of South Ossetia to bring in ambulances and evacuate wounded civilians. ICRC spokeswoman Anna Nelson told reporters the neutral agency was in contact with both sides and was trying to secure safe access to the area where Georgian troops launched a major military offensive Friday. It has yet to provide aid in South Ossetia.

Georgia's Foreign Ministry later accused Russian aircraft of bombing two military air bases inside Georgia, inflicting some casualties and destroying several military aircraft. Rustavi 2 television said four people were killed and five wounded at the Marneuli air base.

Georgian officials later charged that Russian aircraft bombed at least three Georgian military bases, destroying some aircraft and inflicting casualties.

Yakobashvili said that one Russian plane had dropped a bomb on the Vaziani military base near the Georgian capital, but no one was hurt.

South Ossetia officials said Georgia attacked with aircraft, armor and heavy artillery. Georgian troops fired missiles at Tskhinvali, an official said, and many buildings were on fire.

Georgia's president said Russian aircraft bombed several Georgian villages and other civilian facilities.

"A full-scale aggression has been launched against Georgia," Saakashvili said in a televised statement. He also announced a full military mobilization with reservists being called into action.

Georgia's president says the country is calling home its troops from Iraq amid heavy fighting in the breakaway province of South Ossetia.

"All day today, they've been bombing Georgia from numerous warplanes and specifically targeting (the) civilian population, and we have scores of wounded and dead among (the) civilian population all around the country," President Mikhail Saakashvili told CNN in an exclusive interview.

On Friday afternoon, Georgia officials said they ordered a three-hour cease-fire so civilians and South Ossetian fighters could flee. "The separatists have been given a chance to lay down arms voluntarily," said Gigi Ugulava, the mayor of Tbilisi, the Georgian capital. But heavy gunfire quickly resumed, according to reporters in the city.

Putin also said Russia was unable to restrain the thousands of Russian paramilitary volunteers who are also reportedly crossing into South Ossetia to fight Georgia.

There were reports from Tskhinvali that civilians were huddling in cellars to shelter from the shelling. Boris Chochiyev, a minister in the South Ossetian government, which is not recognized internationally, said that shells caused extensive damage in the center of Tskhinvali. Electricity was out in much of the city and humanitarian organizations said hospitals were struggling to cope with the wounded.