Friday, December 19, 2008

Afghan NATO Role in Human Toll

Left: British soldiers in Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan. A British soldier was killed in fighting in troubled southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, the sixth fatality among British forces in the past week, the defence ministry said in a statement.
(AFP/John D McHugh)


A British soldier was killed in fighting in occupied southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, the sixth fatality among British forces in the past week, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The soldier from 1st Battalion The Rifles was killed by enemy fire in an area north west of Lashkar Gah in southern Helmand province while fighting in the district of Nad-e-Ali, the ministry in London said.

He was treated at the scene before being taken to the military hospital at Camp Bastion by helicopter, but later died of his wounds.

His death follows that of a soldier from 29 Commando Royal Artillery in Helmand on Monday, and those of four marines in the province on Friday.

Left: While State funerals and designations of heroism, which feature awarding medals instill and confirm the culture of war nevertheless, families are destroyed as a matter of course.

It brings to 134 the total number of British service personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001, when US-led forces ousted the Taliban in the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

"The death of this soldier has left everyone in Task Force Helmand deeply saddened," army spokeswoman Commander Paula Rowe said.

"Whilst words cannot ease their devastating loss, our heartfelt condolences go to his family, friends and colleagues at this time."

Britain has around 8,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). They are largely based in Helmand, where they are battling Taliban insurgents.

Left: Another life lost in the on-going occupation of Afghanistan, Stuart Nash, whose job in the British forces was a rifleman in the 1st Battalion.

A British Army soldier killed in Afghanistan has been named as Rifleman Stuart Nash.

Rifleman Nash, from the 1st Battalion The Rifles, died after he was hit by enemy fire while covering comrades from a rooftop in southern Helmand on Thursday.

An Australian national, he was born in Sydney and only joined the regiment in March this year.

His parents, Bill and Amanda Nash, said: "We are shattered, of course, by the news but Stuart was doing what he most wanted to do in life, having harboured a wish for a military career since joining the cadets at the age of 13.

"He went to the UK to join up to get a better opportunity to do real soldiering, which he has done, if only briefly.

"He was a willing volunteer. Our soldiers have chosen their profession and we are, and will remain, proud of their willingness to make these sacrifices for the security of all of us who remain at home."

Rifleman Nash is the 134th British serviceman to die in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001.

Earlier, the bodies of five soldiers also killed fighting the Taliban were repatriated at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.

Up to 1,000 people watched a cortege of hearses make its way through the high street of nearby Wootton Bassett and pause at the local war memorial for a minute's silence.

Sergeant John Manuel, 38, from Gateshead, Corporal Marc Birch, 26, from Kingsthorpe, Northamptonshire, and 27-year-old Marine Damian Davies, from Telford - all Royal Marines - were killed by a 13-year-old suicide bomber in Helmand Province on Friday.

Earlier that day, Lance Corporal Steven Fellows, 28, of 45 Commando died from injuries suffered when an explosion hit his vehicle while on patrol in Sangin.

The fifth man, Lieutenant Aaron Lewis, 26, of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery was fatally wounded on Monday when the gun position he was commanding in the Gereshk area of Helmand Province came under attack.

Crowds of Royal British Legion members, shopkeepers, ex-servicemen and their families have gathered spontaneously along the route ever since the first bodies began coming home last year.

Left: Mourners carry the coffin of a civilian victim of the war in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Allauddin Khan/AP)

On the other side of the human cost ledger, Human Rights Watch has detailed the expanding civilian casualties of the occupation of Afghanistan. The continued bombings have at times decimated entire Afghan families. The report analyzes the use of airstrikes by US and NATO forces and resulting civilian casualties, particularly when used to make up for the lack of ground troops and during emergency situations. Human Rights Watch found few civilian deaths resulted from planned airstrikes, while almost all deaths occurred in unplanned airstrikes.

United Nations Humanitarian affairs figures reveal a 62% rise in Afghan civilian deaths for the year 2008. The number of civilians killed in Afghanistan has risen by almost two-thirds in the first half of the year compared with 2007.

The figures, which reveal that almost 700 civilians have died, show that the instability and violence afflicting the country are taking an increasing toll on ordinary Afghans. The projected deaths for the entire year may amount to nearly 1500 civilians especially, in light of the intensification of fighting on both sides of the occupation.

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