Monday, July 9, 2007

Military activity in Afghanistan: updated to 7th July

The post about military activity in Afghanistan (and the maps) has been updated, now it covers until 7th July (lacks some days).

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Civilian deaths on NATO-ISAF operation (Haidarabad, Afghanistan)

NATO-ISAF airstrikes in Haidarabad village (Haydarabad, Ḩeydarābād, Hyderabad, Heydarabad, Khaidarabad) left at least 30 civilians killed or wounded on Friday June-29.

Haidarabad is at Gereshk district (Helmand province). Follow this link to see the map of Haidarabad.

Taliban forces tried to ambush an US-Afghan military convoy in
Gereshk district, and then they ran to the nearby village for cover. Then, NATO-ISAF attacked the village with airstrikes, said Dur Ali Shah, the mayor of Gereshk.

NATO-ISAF spokesman stated that a dozen of Taliban were killed in two engagements, but they weren't aware of civilian casualties.

Local sources stated that there have been intense fighting in the area, and there would be about 100 people killed.

This incident is one more in a long list. Last week, president Karzai criticized the ISAF "extreme" use of force.

Read more here:
- About the incident at Haidarabad: [Afgha News] [Yahoo News] [] [BBC News] [El Mundo] [New York Times] .
- A local investigation reported that
62 insurgents and 45 civilians were killed in the operations [Yahoo News, Sunday 1st July].
- NATO-ISAF operations with civilian deaths : Civilian deaths and friendly fire on ISAF operations (Afghanistan) [updated] , Civilians killed by NATO at Afghanistan : the case of Zerkoh Valley (Shindand, Herat) .

Friday, June 22, 2007

Afghanistan: military activity on June 20 2007

The latest news about military activity in Afghanistan state that:

  • There have been fierce fighting in Chora district (Uruzgan). NATO and Afghan forces recovered the district after 3 days battle, leaving about 100 people dead including civilians. [Aljazeera] [BBC].
  • Afghan police recovered the Myanesin (or Myanishen or Mian Nisheen) district (Kandahar) on Tuesday 19-June, after the Taliban took it on Monday 18-June [Rferl] [Bassirat] [BBC] [Bassirat].
  • Taliban took the Ghorak district (Kandahar) on Monday 18-June, and it is still in their control [BBC] [Bassirat].
The following map show the position of the places:

Afghan authorities said that Ghorak district is not strategic, we must see that is neighbor to the strategic Kajaki dam and to the conflictive Sangin valley. The mountains at Ghorak dominate these places.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Civilian deaths and friendly fire on ISAF operations (Afghanistan) [updated]

NEW: 23-June. President Karzai strongly criticized ISAF tactics that lead to civilian deaths.
Karzai criticized the ISAF "extreme" use of force and stated that
"Innocent people are becoming victims of reckless operations". This statement comes after several incidents at Uruzgan and Helmand (see below) [BBC News 23-June] [Le Monde 23-June] [AfghaNews 23-June].

Karzai also said that "Afghan life is not cheap and it should not be treated as such" and "Several times in the last year, the Afghan government tried to prevent civilian casualties, but our innocent people are becoming victims of careless operations of NATO and international forces,".
"We want to cooperate with the international community. We are thankful for their help to Afghanistan," Karzai said. "But that does not mean that Afghan lives have no value." [Yahoo News] [Afgha News 23-June] .

ISAF spokesman Nick Lunt responded that: "President Karzai has a right to be disappointed and angry over the scale of civilian casualties in the last few days," "We need to do better than we have been doing so far." [Yahoo News].


NATO-ISAF military operations have lead to repetitive incidents of civilian deaths and friendly fire casualties. This situation is undermining the support of afghan population to the government and the NATO-ISAF.

In the last months there have been several serious incidents of different nature: NATO soldiers shooting to civilians after explosive device attacks, NATO aircraft attacks to civilian areas, and NATO forces attacked afghan police.

The main incidents have been the following:

- March 4 2007: US Marine Special Forces opened fire on civilians while fleeing an ambush in the busy Jalalabad-Pakistan highway. This lead to 16 people killed and 34 wounded. At the beginning the Afghan and U.S. reports on firefight differed. Afghan authorities confirmed the incident [AfghaNews 4-March]. And, finally, the US command recognized the incident and a US colonel 'deeply ashamed' over Afghan civilian deaths.

- April 29 2007: Air strikes and attacks at Zerkoh valley (Herat Province), in clashes between US forces and local population. This lead to about 50 people dead and important damages. The case is detailed in Civilians killed by NATO at Afghanistan : the case of Zerkoh Valley (Shindand, Herat).

- May 8 2007: Air strikes at Sangin (Helmand Province) killed at least 21 civilians including women and children [AfghaNews 9-May] [AfghaNews 10-May] [AfghaNews 11-May] .

- June 11 2007: US forces killed afghan 7 policeman at a checkpoint in Nangarhar Province. It seems that the police checkpoint thought that the US forces were the enemy, so police opened fire, and then the coalition thought that the enemies were firing on them, so they returned fire back [AfghaNews 12-June]. The afghan police didn't know about the US forces operation.

- June 16 2007: Shooting at Kabul after the suicide bombing. A US soldier opened fire afterward, and killed one civilian [AfghaNews 16-June].

- June 17 2007: Air strike to a madrassa at Zarghon Shah District (Paktika Province) killed 7 children [AfghaNews 18-June] [GlobalSecurity 18-June].

- June 18 2007: Combats at Uruzgan province may have lead to about 30-60 civilians dead [Bassirat 19-June] [Aljazeera 19-June] . According to [Yahoo News], 52 civilians died when artillery was fired to the town of Chora. Concerning this case, President Karzai said that "You do not fight terrorists by firing a field gun 20 miles into a target,". "That is definitely surely bound to cause civilian casualties.

- June 22 2007: Air strike to the village of Adam Khan at Gershk district (Helmand province) killed 25 civils (including 9 women and 3 childs). The strike was confirmed by ISAF. [Bassirat 22-June]

The reasons or the incidents seem to be a mix of: inaccurate intelligence information, prevent own (NATO) casualties, lack of confidence on afghan partners, and lack of concern about afghan civilian lives.

These incidents have generated multiple reactions.

President Karzai strongly criticized ISAF tactics, and claimed for respecting afghan civilian lives (see above).

On NATO side, there are concerns about the political consequences as well as it image. [IHT] . In addition, goodwill toward foreign forces is eroding across Afghanistan because airstrikes, an umbrella group for aid agencies said Tuesday. [AfghaNews 19-June].
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that "concrete measures" must be taken by NATO to reduce civilian casualties [NATO Focuses On Reducing Civilian Casualties].

The International Committee of the Red Cross has also criticized NATO because of killing dozens of civilians with air strikes against insurgents carried out without enough precaution for nearby civilians.

In [Analysis: Hearts, Minds, and Afghan Body Counts], Lionel Beehner (Council on Foreign Relations), the Western "battle for Afghans’ hearts and minds may be suffering from large-scale collateral damage". The scores of civilians killed by coalition forces ( in recent months, is resulting in growing anti-Americanism among Afghans.

Ahmed Rashid, in an interview, stated that if OTAN proceeds on with the politics of air strikes during all 2007, it will loose the war against the Talibans [Bassirat 31-May].

RAWA publishes a "
Summary of Civilian Deaths Resulting from US/NATO Military Actions in Afghanistan".

Monday, June 18, 2007

Kajaki Dam: is still a fighting area

Kajaki dam, a key facility at southern Afghanistan, is still a fighting place between ISAF and Taliban.

Kajaki dam is is one of the major hydroelectric power dams of Helmand province, and also serves to irrigate 1800 km² of land. The dam is 100m high and 270m long, and has a capacity of 1.2 km2 of water. Then, this dam is a key facility for the development plans of the Afghan government and its allies.

The pictures [Wikipedia] show the dam and the powerhouse.

The dam was built in 1953. In 1975, USAID supported the installation of two generators of 16.5 MW. In October 2001, the powerhouse was bombed by US Air Force.

Now, one generating unit is working and produces 16.5 MW. A second one is scheduled to return to service in 2007. And a third one (18.5 MW) is has been contacted China Machine Building International Corporation, and it is planned to be completed in 2007.

Kajaki dam has been a fighting place between ISAF and insurgents. In December 2006, Britan's commander stated that the area were fully controlled by ISAF. But the claim showed to be premature in February, when Taliban seized several towns. During February 2007, ISAF forces executed Operations Kryptonite and Volcano. These operations focused on some villages at the north-west of the dam, which were occupied by Talibans. The main battles occurred at Barikju, Chinah and Shomali Ghulbah.

The map below shows the main places in the area.

After the operations of February, the situation seemed to be under ISAF control. But recent military actions show that the area is still in middle of fighting.
In the last two weeks there have been several air strikes or similar operations.

  • 31-May. A-10 dropped a general-purpose 500-pound bomb on a compound near the Kajaki dam area.
  • 4-June. B-1B Lancer performed a show of presence over a coalition route in Kajaki Dam.
  • 5-June. RAF GR-9 Harrier monitored coalition forces in direct contact with insurgents in Kajaki Dam. Also, F-15Es dropped munitions on buildings within an insurgent compound. The aircrew also strafed the areas around the compound with cannon rounds.
  • 10-June. RAF GR-9 Harrier dropped 500- and 540-pound bombs on buildings in Kajaki Dam. After this, ISAF forces still received fire from the buildings. This finished after a second drop. F-15Es dropped GBU-38s on a compound in Kajaki Sofla.
  • 11-June. RAF GR-7 Harriers fired rockets at insurgents in Kajaki Sofla after coalition forces received heavy fire from the area.
This military activity shows that the area is still not fully controlled by ISAF.

Moreover, an article of Ron Synovitz [RFE/RL, Global Security] states that the area is not still safe enough to complete the repairs on the hydroelectric facility.

US and British military officers told district elders that construction projects will not proceed as long as locals continue to support Talibans. Each offensive of ISAF has forced the Taliban out of the area. But the main problem is to avoid the Taliban to came back.

The situation around Kajaki dam involves several aspects, from purely military, to the relationship between local Pashtun population, and also the relationship with the drug local economy.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Military activity in Afghanistan: (29th May - 7th July 2007).

This post presents the military events in Afghanistan in the period 29th May to 7th July, and places them in the map.

The US Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF), reports the following air activity:

The geographic distribution shows a concentration of activity in the South West (Helmand, Kandahar, Farah Provinces), but also activities in the East and North. The places were occurred more air strikes are Garmsir, Sangin, Tarin Kowt, and Kandahar. Clashes have been concentrated on north Helmand, north Kandahar and south Oruzgan.

It is important to note that there is still fighting at Kajaki Dam. This is a strategic point, and the ISAF forces couldn't completely control since some months ago. Although the Operation Kryptonite (February 2007) cleared the area from Talibans, they have been carrying out a permanent guerrilla which destabilizes the area.

Other new fact is the clash at Kalāt-i-Nazar Khān, a remote Afghan-Iranian border post (the 17th June). In the fighting were killed 8 Taliban and 2 policemen.

Suicide bombers attacked the 16th June in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif. Both attacks were centered in military-civilian convoys.

The involved planes were: B-1B Lancer, F-15E Strike Eagle, A-10 Thunderbolt II, Royal Air Force GR-9 Harrier, and MIRAGE 2000. The bombs were: GBU-31 and GBU-38.

Other news sources are [Bassirat] and [AfghanNews].

Friday, May 25, 2007

Military Air Bases at Central Asia

Here is a map with military air bases at Central Asia (Afghanistan, China, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan). Use the right frame to find the bases.

Central Asia has always been a strategic region, due to different factors in different history periods. The main current factors are related with the routes for oil pipelines (from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan), narcotics production which is currently one of the main economic activities (mainly in Afghanistan), the neighboring of emerging and existing powers (China, India, Russia) which join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), regional conflicts (Kashmir, Afghan civil war), and the presence of highly militarized and unstable countries and societies.

In this context, the main actors have been installing military bases, where two of the main actors (USA and Russia) use the bases of other countries (Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan).