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US Troops Cleared In Afghan Civilian Deaths During November Fight In Kunduz
The U.S. military acknowledged Thursday that 33 Afghan civilians were killed and 27 others wounded in a battle in northern Afghanistan in November involving U.S. and Afghan forces.
The deaths occurred as U.S. warplanes launched airstrikes during an operation aimed at capturing Taliban commanders in Kunduz province, the military said in a statement announcing the findings of a two-month investigation.
During the joint U.S.-Afghan operation that began Nov. 2 in Boz-e Kandahari village, Taliban fighters opened fire from inside civilian buildings, prompting U.S. warplanes to carry out airstrikes to protect the soldiers, the investigation found.
The military said its forces acted in self-defense.
“The civilians who were wounded or killed were likely inside the buildings from which the Taliban were firing,” the military said in a statement. “In addition, a Taliban ammunition cache was struck and exploded, which also destroyed multiple civilian buildings and may also have killed civilians.”
The military said its investigation determined that U.S. forces “used the minimum amount of force required” to protect the ground troops.
Two U.S. soldiers and three Afghan army commandos were killed in the operation, along with 26 Taliban militants, including three commanders, the military said. Several other U.S. and Afghan soldiers were wounded.
“Regardless of the circumstances, I deeply regret the loss of innocent lives,” said Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Nicholson said he wanted to assure the Afghan government “that we will take all possible measures to protect Afghan civilians.”
The operation came as the U.S. military stepped up efforts to help Afghan troops secure the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan’s fifth largest and the capital of Kunduz province. The Taliban had briefly seized it in the fall of 2015 and has threatened to recapture it in recent months.
In October 2015, a U.S. airstrike in the provincial capital hit a hospital belonging to the Doctors Without Borders medical charity, killing 42 people. The Pentagon later disciplined 16 soldiers for mistakes that led to the airstrike, though none faced criminal charges.
Thursday’s announcement did not assuage the anger of victims’ families. Reza Taimory, a 29-year-old farmer whose house was destroyed, lost seven members of his family in the attack, he said.
“Why did the Americans target civilians?” Taimory asked. “If there’s justice, then I want them to be followed and punished.”
©2017 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Editor's note: A combat wounded veteran, Ryan served in the U.S. Army as an armor officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment. While deployed to Iraq in 2005, his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device buried in the road. He works as the Wounded Warrior Project's national Combat Stress Recovery Program director.
On Nov. 29, 2005, my life changed forever. I was a 24-year-old U.S. Army armor captain deployed to Taji, Iraq, when my vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. On that day, I lost two of my soldiers, Sgts. Jerry Mills and Donald Hasse, and I lost my right arm and left leg.
Fatal training accidents are on the rise. Now the families of the fallen are pushing lawmakers to do something about it
CAMP PENDLETON — Susan and Michael McDowell attended a memorial in June for their son, 1st Lt. Conor McDowell. Kathleen Isabel Bourque, the love of Conor's life, joined them. None of them had anticipated what they would be going through.
Conor, the McDowells' only child, was killed during a vehicle rollover accident in the Las Pulgas area of Camp Pendleton during routine Marine training on May 9. He was 24.
Just weeks before that emotional ceremony, Alexandrina Braica, her husband and five children attended a similar memorial at the same military base, this to honor Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica, a member of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion who also was killed in a rollover accident, April 13, at age 29.
Braica, of Sacramento, was married and had a 4 1/2-month-old son.
"To see the love they had for Josh and to see the respect and appreciation was very emotional," Alexandrina Braica said of the battalion. "They spoke very highly of him and what a great leader he was. One of his commanders said, 'He was already the man he was because of the way he was raised.' As parents, we were given some credit."
While the tributes helped the McDowells and Braicas process their grief, the families remain unclear about what caused the training fatalities. They expected their sons eventually would deploy and put their lives at risk, but they didn't expect either would die while training on base.
"We're all still in denial, 'Did this really happen? Is he really gone?' Braica said. "When I got the phone call, Josh was not on my mind. That's why we were at peace. He was always in training and I never felt that it would happen at Camp Pendleton."
North Korea threatens to resume nuclear weapons and ICBM tests if US-South Korea military exercises proceed
SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States looks set to break a promise not to hold military exercises with South Korea, putting talks aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons at risk, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
The United States' pattern of "unilaterally reneging on its commitments" is leading Pyongyang to reconsider its own commitments to discontinue tests of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the ministry said in a pair of statements released through state news agency KCNA.
Customs and Border Patrol denied a Marine vet entry into the US for his a scheduled citizenship interview
A deported Marine Corps veteran who has been unable to come back to the U.S. for more than a decade was denied entry to the country Monday morning when he asked to be let in for a scheduled citizenship interview.
Roman Sabal, 58, originally from Belize, came to the San Ysidro Port of Entry around 7:30 on Monday morning with an attorney to ask for "parole" to attend his naturalization interview scheduled for a little before noon in downtown San Diego. Border officials have the authority to temporarily allow people into the country on parole for "humanitarian or significant public benefit" reasons.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.
Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.