US 'ends war' in Afghanistan —not!

Well, the supposed NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan was formally announced Dec. 28. A quiet ceremony in Kabul was arranged in secret due to increasing Taliban strikes in the area, including suicide bombings and gun-battles. On Jan. 1 the US-led International Security Assistance Force is to be replaced by a NATO "training and support" mission—with nearly 12,500 foreign troops to stay in Afghanistan, the big majority supplied by the US. Officially, they are not to participate in direct fighting. The Pentagon's "Operation Enduring Freedom" is now to be replaced by "Operation Freedom's Sentinel," in turn part of NATO's new "Operation Resolute Support." (Jurist, DoD) The AP story, as presented on HuffPo, headlines: "US Formally Ends War In Afghanistan" Emphasis on the "formally," eh? Reads the lead: "The war in Afghanistan, fought for 13 bloody years and still raging, came to a formal end Sunday with a quiet flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul that marked the transition of the fighting from US-led combat troops to the country's own security forces." How can a war that is "still raging" come to an "end"? Similar absurd claims marked the US "withdrawal" from Iraq in 2011. Is Iraq at "peace" now? We utterly reject this stupid, arrogant US-centrism that universally infects left, right and center in the United States. The war in Afghanistan is not over, and the US has no power to "end" it!

NATO air-strikes have sure continued up to the very last minute. Five civilians were killed and as many wounded in a NATO strike in Baraki Barak district of central Logar province, the town’s administrative chief said on Dec. 26. The air-strike came amid an ongoing offensive by Afghan security forces in the area. (RAWA) On Dec. 30—after the "withdrawal" ceremony—a presumed US drone strike killed at least four Taliban militants in Qarabagh district of eastern Ghazni province. (Khaama Press) Civilian casualties in Afghanistan increased by nearly 20% in 2014 compared to the previous year and are expected to rise to a figure over 10,000 by end of December—a record since the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began keeping records in 2008. (RAWA)

Rocket kills 20 at Afghan wedding

At least 20 were killed and twice as many wounded when a "stray" rocket hit a wedding party in Sangin district Dec. 30, Helmand. Most of the casualties were women and children. It was the last official day of the US/NATO combat mission in Afghanistan, BBC News notes. Reuters suggests the wedding was hit by Afghan army mortar. It adds that the total count for civilians killed in Afghanistan in 2014 reached 3,188.

Afghanistan: 2014 civilian casualties break record

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan topped 10,000 in 2014, a 22 per cent increase compared to the past year, reflecting increased ground battles between armed groups and the Government, and a drastic drawdown of Western troop presence in the country, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said Feb. 18.

A total of 3,699 civilians were killed and 6,849 injured in 2014. The figures, released today in the Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflictand prepared in coordination with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, are the highest number of civilian casualties recorded in a single year since the UN started keeping track in 2007. (UN News Centre)