According to the BBC, NATO has admitted that 12 civilians were killed when two rockets fired by its troops at ‘militant targets’ missed and hit a house in Marjah. General Stanley McChrystal immediately respondend by declaring: “We deeply regret this tragic loss of life.” This single incident has killed more Afghan civilians than ‘Taliban militants’ so far in the operation in which 15000 troops are taking part. Ten of the killed were from the same family sheltering in their house.
A spokeswoman for the British Defence Ministry said the rockets were a “US responsibility”. The Red Cross said medics at a first aid post in Marjah had treated 30 people, although its spokesman could not give a breakdown between civilian and military casualties.
And the international forces aim to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people?
On the battle front, the main body of guerrillas appears to have moved to other parts of Afghanistan, leaving a small number around Marjah to harass the international forces, in a tactic very similar to that used by the US armed and financed Mujahideen against the Soviets in the 1980s.
Le Monde diplomatique has an article by Chris Sands entitled ‘In Jalalabad, hope is fading’, which is instructive of the overall situation. According to Sands, “Even in the more stable parts of the country, discontent is now growing and there is a suffocating sense that Afghanistan is getting smaller and smaller as more areas fall into chaos and insecurity.”