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

Monday, August 11, 2008

War News for Monday, August 11, 2008

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a soldier in a suicide bombing in Tarmiyah, Iraq on Sunday, August 10th. Two other soldiers and an interpreter were wounded in the attack.

NATO is reporting the death of an ISAF soldier from an non-combat injury in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, August 10th. No other details were released. We assume this to be an American soldier.

Aug. 9 airpower summary:

Pentagon using more troops for combat:

Some 57 percent of active-duty soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors were deployed to the combat zones in June, compared with 50 percent of the Pentagon's troops in June 2006, USA Today reported Monday.

Iraqis suspend military operations in Diyala:

Reported Security incidents:

#1: Sunday Police found three unidentified bodies in Baghdad including a female body. The bodies were found in Ni’ariyah (the female body), Palestine Street and Shoala.

#2: A pipe bomb attached to a car killed its driver in New Baghdad district of eastern Baghdad, police said.

#3: Two Iraqis were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded by a U.S. military patrol near Beirut Square in eastern Baghdad, police said.

#4: Five persons, including a policeman, were wounded in an explosive charge attack that ripped through downtown Baghdad, an Iraqi police source said on Monday."An improvised explosive device (IED) went off near the concrete wall surrounding the shrine of Sheikh Abdelqadir al-Kilani in Bab al-Sheikh area, central Baghdad," the source, who preferred to remain unnamed, told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq.

A roadside bomb wounded eight people including four traffic policemen in Bab al-Sheikh district of central Baghdad, police said.

#6: A Katyusha rocket fell on a civilian house in Shaab neighbourhood, northern Baghdad at around 1 a.m. Monday injuring three civilians.

#7: A roadside bomb targeted a Traffic Police car near al-Gailani shrine in central Baghdad injuring eight people, four policemen and four civilians.

#8: Two unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad by Iraqi Police today; the first in New Baghdad and the other in al-Shurta al-Khamisa.

Diyala Prv:
#1: One of the attacks was carried out by a female suicide bomber, who killed an Iraqi police officer and injured 17 other people when she blew herself up at a market in the provincial capital Baquba, hospital and police officials said. The woman activated the explosives at the entrance to a police post inside the market when a police officer wanted to search her, officials said. The policeman was killed while another 12 policemen and five civilians were injured, according to Omar al-Dulaimi, a doctor at the hospital in Baquba.

A female suicide bomber targeted al-Sharqi Police Station in central Baquba killing one policeman, injuring seventeen people including thirteen policemen and four civilians one of whom was a child.

#1: Eight people were killed Monday when a roadside bomb exploded near the Iraqi city of Baquba, north-east of Baghdad, a security source in Diyala province said. The bomb hit a public transport vehicle in the Wajihiya area of Muqdadiya district, some 45 kilometres northeast of Baquba, killing five women and three men, according to the source.

#1: A roadside bomb targeted a police checkpoint in Abu al-Khaseeb area, 20 km to the south of the city of Basra injuring two policemen.

#1: Two civilians were wounded on Monday when a car rigged with explosives went off near a fuel station in the eastern part of Mosul city, a security source in Ninewa police said. "A car bomb parked near the al-Shohadaa fuel station in al-Ta'meem neighborhood, eastern Mosul, went off today, leaving two civilians wounded," the source, who did not want his name published, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

#2: A sticky IED emplaced inside a civilian vehicle owned by a civil servant working for al-Jumhuri Hospital went off on Sunday night in the area of al-Rashidiya, northern Mosul, killing him instantly," the source, who asked for anonymity, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

#3: Meanwhile, the same source said, an IED went off on Sunday near the area of Sheikh Fatahi Tomb, western Mosul, wounding a boy.

#4: Gunmen killed one policeman when they attacked his house in eastern Mosul, police said. One gunman was killed in the attack.

#5: A policeman and a gunman were killed on Monday during clashes erupted after an attack by gunmen on a policeman's house in eastern Mosul, a police source said. "Four gunmen attacked a policeman's house in al-Karama neighborhood in eastern Mosul, where a shootout then flared up," the source told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq on condition of anonymity. "The cop killed one of the attackers before they injured him and later died as a result of his injures," he explained.

#1: Militants ambushed the coalition and Afghan troops along a road in the southern province of Uruzgan on Sunday, triggering gunbattles during which militants moved into a compound and took 11 civilians hostage, the statement said. "Coalition troops called in close-air support to engage the militants hiding in the structure. They did not have knowledge of noncombatants in the buildings at that time," the coalition statement said. As a result, eight civilians were killed and three were wounded, the coalition said. The wounded civilians were taken to a coalition base for treatment. U.S. 1st Lt. Nathan Perry, a coalition spokesman, said three civilian hostages survived the airstrike in Khas Uruzgan district, including an infant, a man in his 40s and a woman in her 20s. Juma Gul Himat, the provincial police chief, said six civilians — one child and five men — were killed and three others were wounded in the strike. He could not immediately explain why the coalition said eight civilians were killed.

#2: In the northwestern Faryab province, a roadside blast struck a NATO convoy Monday, wounding 14 people, including two foreign soldiers and 12 civilians, said Khalil Andarabi, the provincial police chief. The convoy was passing through the center of the provincial capital at the time of the explosion, Andarabi said. The bomb was placed on a motorbike on the side of the road and was remotely detonated, he said. NATO did not have an immediate comment. Many of the alliance's troops in Faryab are Norwegian.

Meanwhile, a motorcycle packed with explosives was detonated in Maimana city, the capital of the province northern Faryab, by remote control as a convoy of NATO-led soldiers was passing, Mohammad Khalil Andarabi, the province's police chief told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. The explosion, which took place Monday afternoon, wounded two Norwegian soldiers and 12 Afghan civilians, Andarabi said, adding that several shops were also damaged in the attack.

#3: Separately, militants on Monday ambushed a convoy of vehicles belonging to a demining company in the southern Zabul province, killing two Afghan guards and wounding seven others, said Jalani Khan, a police official.

#4: Taliban militants attacked two Pakistani security posts in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan today, sparking fierce clashes in which 20 rebels were killed, officials said. “The Taliban launched a big attack on Tor Ghundi fort and Iskandro post. Security forces responded and 20 militants were killed,” a paramilitary official said. There was no immediate information about casualties to security forces.Residents said the fighting erupted at 1am today and bodies were scattered across farmland 20 kilometres east of Khar, the main town in Bajaur. Army helicopter gunships and jets pounded militant positions, they said.

#5: Separately in Bajaur, militants kidnapped two men and dumped their headless bodies yesterday with a note accusing them of “spying on Taliban activities”, residents and officials said.
#6: Also yesterday, militants shot dead a tribal elder who supported the government in South Waziristan, another restive tribal district, local administration official Muwaz Khan said.

#7: A suicide blast Monday killed three people and injured 12 others, all civilians, in eastern part of Afghan capital Kabul, a local radio reported.

A roadside bomb in Afghanistan's capital Kabul killed a policeman and wounded two others. The policeman was killed and his colleagues wounded when their vehicle was blown up by a remote-controlled roadside bomb in the eastern outskirts of Kabul Monday afternoon, said Zemarai Bashary, an interior ministry spokesman.

#8: A roadside bomb in another part of Kabul killed a senior police officer and two of his guards, police said.

#9: Two Australian soldiers have been injured when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the Oruzgan province of Afhganistan. The Defence Department says one officer was seriously injured and they are both getting specialist medical care. The first attempt to fly them out of the region ended with a helicopter being damaged on landing and a soldier on board suffering slight injuries. A second medical helicopter could not take-off due to bad weather, but a third helicopter succesfully took the men to a nearby medical centre.

An official in Turkey says a roadside bomb has killed eight soldiers and wounded three in eastern Turkey. There was no claim of responsibility, but the blast occurred in an area where Kurdish rebels are fighting Turkish soldiers and often use roadside bombs in their attacks. Gov. Ali Gungor says the bomb went off on a road near the town of Kemah, in Erzincan province, as a military vehicle was passing by.

Four people were killed and close to 130,000 fled their homes as fighting between government troops and Muslim secessionist rebels intensified in the southern Philippines, a senior military official said Monday. Lieutenant General Rodrigo Maclang, armed forces deputy chief of staff, said one army soldier and two Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels were killed in the fighting that flared Sunday in North Cotabato province, 930 kilometres south of Manila. Ten soldiers were also wounded in the clashes in North Cotabato, which raged for the second day on Monday, he said.

Russian airstrikes hit the international airport and a military factory in the capital Tbilisi Sunday evening, as well as Georgian-held positions in Abkhazia

Russian warships were reported to be blockading a Black Sea port and to have sunk a Georgian gunboat.

Russia also claimed to have sunk a Georgian boat that tried to attack Russian vessels in the Black Sea.

Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said that Russian ships deployed to Georgia's Black Sea coast on Sunday sank one of four Georgian patrol boats which dangerously approached them and refused to stop, turning the others back. Georgian Coast Guard chief David Golua dismissed the Russian claim.

According to Lomaia, at least 7,000 Russian troops, backed by combat aircraft and heavy weapons, attacked Tskhinvali, bloodying Georgia's forces in and around the city. Georgian officials acknowledged that their troops were routed and quickly retreated early Sunday.

Very many military servicemen were killed, probably in the hundreds,” said Lomaia, speaking Georgian causalities in the Sunday night offensive. Hundreds of wounded were transported to hospitals in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, according to doctors at one hospital.

Two journalists working for the Russian edition of Newsweek were killed near the city after approaching it from the Georgian side. Polish journalists who ventured toward the city came under fire.

Russian jets hit communications facilities just west of Tbilisi early Monday and also targeted the Black Sea port of Poti, said Georgia's Interior Ministry spokesman, Shota Utiashvili. He said that Russian raids inflicted no casualties.

A Russian general said Georgian forces directed heavy fire at positions around Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, early Monday even though Georgia had claimed to be withdrawing from the shattered city and called for a cease-fire. "Active fighting has been going on in several zones," the Interfax news agency quoted Maj. Gen. Marat Kulakhmetov as saying. He is commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent that has been in South Ossetia since 1992.

A reporter for The New York Times saw artillery being fired from Russian-controlled areas into Georgian territory near the villages of Eredvy and Prisi, about two miles from Tskhinvali. Grassy fields were burning in the villages and clouds of dust rose with the impact of the shells.

Utiashvili, the Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman, said Russian tanks tried to cross from South Ossetia into the territory of Georgia proper, but were turned back by Georgian forces. He said the tanks apparently were trying to approach Gori, but did not fire on the city of about 50,000, which sits on Georgia's only significant east-west highway.

There was no evidence of bombing in civilian areas of Gori, a major military installation and transportation hub in Georgia, but from high ground plumes of white smoke and clouds on the outskirts were visible. It was unclear whether the explosions were caused by air strikes or by shelling.

Georgian officials expressed alarm on Sunday that Russia might be aiming to take Gori, about a 45-minute drive south from Tskhinvali. Gori, a major staging area for the Georgian military, sits in a valley that is the main route connecting the east and west halves of Georgia. Shota Utiashvili, an official in the Georgian Interior Ministry, said the Russians had moved tanks and troops to within a few kilometers of Gori and were “trying to cut the country in half.”

Sunday evening, artillery and tank fire could be heard from the outskirts of Gori. During a pause in the fighting, Georgian military personnel appeared to be flowing into the city. Georgian officials said they would defend it. Ambulances with flashing red and blue lights roared back and forth on the highway between Gori and Tbilisi, along with troop transports. Families fled Gori in cars and donkey carts.

Russia is preparing to deploy 9000 troops to bolster its forces inside the separatist Georgian region of Abkhazia, Interfax news agency reported, citing a military spokesman. "The group is based on a subdivision of paratroopers. It consists of more than 9000 troops and more than 350 armoured vehicles,'' Alexander Novitsky, a spokesman for Russia's peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia, was quoted as saying. The Georgian city of Gori is under "massive" attack from Russian artillery and planes and ground forces are preparing for an assault, a Georgian interior ministry spokesman said today. "There was massive bombing of Gori all evening and now we are getting reports of an imminent attack by Russian tanks," said spokesman Shota Utiashvili. "Gori is being bombed massively from the air and from artillery as well."

A Russian commander said 9,000 additional Russian troops and 350 armored vehicles had arrived in Abkhazia.

Saakashvili claimed that Georgian troops had downed "18 or 19" Russian warplanes, killed hundreds of Russian troops and repelled a Russian assault on the Georgian city of Gori. A Russian defense ministry spokesman denied that Russian troops had entered Georgian territory outside of the breakaway regions and that only four planes had been lost.

The skies over the breakaway regions and Georgia belonged to the Russians, he said, as the Georgian air force was not flying. They had "inflicted damage on operational systems, troops and military facilities of Georgia," but Nogovitsyn denied Russian bombers had attacked a civilian radar installation at the Tbilisi International Airport.

A Georgian Foreign Ministry statement said "several dozen Russian bombers" were over Georgian Monday afternoon "intensively bombing Tbilisi, Poti, villages in Adjara, and elsewhere." "Overnight, as many as 50 Russian bombers were reported operating simultaneously over Georgia, targeting civilian populations in cities and villages, as well as radio and telecommunications sites," the statement said.

Russia has sent 20,000 troops and 500 tanks into Georgia _ with some troops getting within three miles of Gori, located just outside South Ossetia, before being repulsed Sunday.

The Georgian president said Russian warplanes were bombing roads and bridges, destroying radar systems Monday and targeting Tbilisi's civilian airport Sunday night. One Russian bombing raid struck the Tbilisi airport area just a half-hour before the EU envoys arrived, he said.

Russia issued an ultimatum to Georgian forces on Monday to surrender completely in and around the western pro-Russian separatist enclave of Abkhazia, in a sign that fighting could escalate on a second front in the west of Georgia. The ultimatum called for Georgian forces to surrender in the Zugdidi district along the border of Abkhazia. A Georgian official close to the president, Giga Bokaria, said the ultimatum raised alarms that Russian troops would now push into Georgian territory in the west unchallenged by Georgian troops, which have been tied up in fighting further east near the other pro-Russian separatist enclave of South Ossetia.

Abkhaz forces blocked the gorge, where Georgian special forces have been battling Russian forces, and proposed the formation of a humanitarian corridor to safely allow Georgian troops and civilians to leave, the Abkhaz Defense Minister Mirab Kishmariya told the Russian news agency Interfax. "If the Georgian troops don’t take advantage of this opportunity, then an operation to eliminate them will begin," the minister said.

Russian officials told Russian news agencies late Sunday night that Georgian troops were attacking Tskhinvali. There were no independent observers with either country’s forces, and verifying claims about military activity was not immediately possible.

Georgia's Defense Ministry says Russian armored vehicles seized a military base in western Georgia near a second breakaway province. The ministry's spokeswoman, Nana Intskerveli, says Russian armored vehicles on Monday rolled into a Georgia military base in the town of Senaki, about 20 miles inland from the Black Sea port of Poti. The statement appears to indicate that Russian troops have invaded into Georgia proper from the separatist province of Abkhazia while most of the Georgian military forces are locked up in fighting around another breakaway region of South Ossetia.

The Russian military advanced into Georgia on two fronts Monday, entering cities outside the breakaway provinces that have been the centers of fighting. From the flashpoint South Ossetia, the Russian military moved south into the central Georgia city of Gori. Russian troops were also in Senaki, in western Georgia, having advanced from Abkhazia, Russian and Georgian officials said. A CNN crew in Gori saw Georgian forces piling into trucks and leaving the city at high speed.

Russia's Interfax news agency cited an official with the Russian Defense Ministry saying troops were in Senaki to "prevent attacks by Georgian military units against South Ossetia." Senaki is home to a Georgian military base. Georgia's interior ministry said Russia had also seized control of Zugdidi -- a city on the route between Abkhazia and Senaki.

A U.S. military official told CNN that Russian attacks on Georgia -- including radars and communication systems -- have devastated the country's command and control system to the point where Georgian leaders may not have a clear idea of the situation on the ground.

A Georgian Foreign Ministry statement said "several dozen Russian bombers" were over Georgia Monday afternoon "intensively bombing Tbilisi, Poti, villages in Adjara, and elsewhere."

Colonel-General Nogovitsyn repeated an earlier charge that Georgian troops were engaged in genocide against civilians in South Ossetia, which he said he could "prove to the media." "During their mop-up operations in South Ossetia, Georgian commandos have thrown hand grenades into the basements where civilians were hiding," he said. "That's what we call genocide."

An AP reporter saw a small group of Georgian fighters open fire on a column of Russian and Ossetian military vehicles outside Tskhinvali, triggering a 30-minute battle. The Russians later said all the Georgians were killed.

Another AP reporter in the village of Tkviavi, 12 kilometers (7 1/2 miles) south of Tskhinvali inside Georgia, where a Russian Sukhoi bomber plane hit a house. The walls of neighboring buildings fell as screaming residents ran for cover. Eighteen people were wounded, six of them seriously. Georgian artillery fire was heard coming from fields about 200 meters (yards) away from the village, perhaps the bomber's target.