The war ended for those children, but it has never ended for survivors who carry memories of them. Likewise, the effects of the U.S. bombings continue, immeasurably and indefensibly.

How many Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion 15 years ago? Some credible estimates put the number at more than one million. You can read that sentence again.

The invasion of Iraq is often spoken of in our country as a “blunder,” or even a “colossal mistake.” It was a crime.

Those who perpetrated it are still at large. Some of them have even been rehabilitated thanks to the horrors of a mostly amnesiac citizenry.

We condemned children to death, some after many days of writhing in pain on bloodstained mats, without pain relievers. Some died quickly, wasted by missing arms and legs, crushed heads. As the fluids ran out of their bodies, they appeared like withered, spoiled fruits. They could have lived, certainly should have lived – and laughed and danced, and run and played- but instead they were brutally murdered. Yes, murdered!

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War News

AP: Iraq marks anniversary of victory over Islamic State

FILE – In this Monday, April 4, 2016 file photo, smoke rises as people flee their homes during clashes between Iraqi security forces and members of the Islamic State group in Hit, Iraq, 85 miles (140 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq.Iraq on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 celebrated the anniversary of its costly victory over the Islamic State group, which has lost virtually all the territory it once held but still carries out sporadic attacks. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq on Monday celebrated the anniversary of its costly victory over the Islamic State group, which has lost virtually all the territory it once held but still carries out sporadic attacks.

The government declared victory last December after a grueling three-year war in which tens of thousands of people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Entire towns and neighborhoods were reduced to rubble in the fighting.

The government declared Monday a national holiday, and a moment of silence is planned for later in the day. Checkpoints in the capital were decorated with Iraqi flags and balloons, as security forces patrolled the streets playing patriotic music.

As part of the celebrations, authorities plan to reopen parts of Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone — home to key government offices and embassies — to the public. The move is billed as an act of transparency following protests against corruption and poor public services.

Addressing a group of Iraqi military officers, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said it was a “proud day for all of us when our brave country defeated the enemies of life, dignity, freedom and peace.”

He commended the security forces as well as Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who issued a fatwa, or religious edict, mobilizing volunteers after the armed forces collapsed in the face of the IS onslaught in 2014. Tens of thousands of volunteers joined an array of state-sanctioned militias, many of them backed by Iran.

“That fatwa will be a bright spot in the history of this country and the people, from whom the decisive response started, laying the foundations of the victory,” Abdul-Mahdi said.

He called on Iraqis to renounce their differences and to come together for a better future. “The time has come to leave behind all the past mistakes and conspiracies to open the doors of hope for our children for a better future,” he said, vowing to rebuilt the demolished areas and help displaced people to return to their homes.

The Islamic State group, which traces its roots back to the insurgency that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, swept into Iraq from neighboring Syria in the summer of 2014. It carved out a self-styled caliphate across a third of both countries, imposing a harsh form of Islamic rule and massacring its opponents. The group abducted thousands of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority and forced them into sexual slavery.

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AP: Nobel peace winners demand action against sex abuse

Nobel peace price laureates Nadia Murad, left, and Dr. Denis Mukwege look on during the press conference at the Nobelinstituttet in Oslo, Sunday Dec. 9, 2018. (Heiko Junge/NTB scanpix via AP)

OSLO, Norway (AP) — One of the winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize says the attention the prize has drawn to sexual violence against women in war zones must be followed by action against the abuses.

Dr. Denis Mukwege spoke Sunday at a news conference with Nadia Murad of Iraq, with whom he shared the 9-million Swedish kronor ($1 million) prize. Mukwege was honored for his work helping sexually abused women at the hospital he founded in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Murad, a Yazidi, won for her advocacy for sex abuse victims after being kidnapped by Islamic State militants.

“What we see during armed conflicts is that women’s bodies become battlefields and this cannot be acceptable during our time,” Mukwege said, speaking through a translator. “We cannot only denounce it, we now need to act.”

Murad, 25, was one of an estimated 3,000 girls and women from Iraq’s Yazidi minority group who were kidnapped in 2014 by IS militants and sold into sexual slavery. She was raped, beaten and tortured before managing to escape three months later. After getting treatment in Germany, she chose to speak to the world about the horrors faced by Yazidi women, despite regardless of the heavy stigma in her culture surrounding rape.

She said Sunday it was difficult “for a girl, a woman, to rise up to say that these atrocities have happened.”

Mukwege, a 63-year-old surgeon, founded a hospital in the city of Bukavu and over the past 20 years has treated countless women who were raped amid fighting between armed groups seeking to control of some the central African nation’s vast mineral wealth.

He expressed concern Sunday that new violence could be coming as Congo holds a general election this month.

“We think the conflict might blow up around this electoral period and women and children are always the first victims of such conflicts,” he said.

Along with preventing sexual violence, more effort is needed to attend to victims, Mukwege said.

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NYT: Battered ISIS Keeps Grip on Last Piece of Territory for Over a Year

BAGHDAD — The Islamic State has been stripped of nearly all the territory it ruled in Iraq and Syria and has been pummeled by nearly 30,000 airstrikes. But the extremist group has still managed to retain a small pocket of land on the Syria-Iraq border for more than a year.

The militants have even on occasion struck back with some of their former vigor from their toehold, around the Syrian town of Hajin in Deir al-Zour Province. In the last week of November, they staged a breakout from the Hajin pocket, attacking the American-allied Syrian Democratic Forces in the Syrian town of Gharanij, which those forces had captured a year earlier.

The breakout on Nov. 24 was a propaganda bonanza for the extremists, even though officials of the American-led coalition battling the Islamic State said they were quickly beaten back. Maj. Gen. Patrick Roberson, the American military commander, said the Islamic State took advantage of bad weather and sandstorms, when airstrikes were not possible.

“As we degrade their capabilities and push them into an ever smaller box, ISIS continues to employ more and more desperate measures,” General Roberson said. “These tactics won’t succeed.”……………..The American-led coalition calls the effort to finish off the extremists in Syria “Operation Roundup,” which formally began in May and continues at a quick tempo. In the week ending Dec. 5, for instance, the military said it had bombed 151 targets, nearly all of them in Syria.

On the ground, however, there have been only incremental changes in the three months of this final push. And in recent days, the Kurdish-led forces were seen digging defensive trenches around some of their positions, fearing another Islamic State advance, according to the Observatory, an independent group that monitors events in Syria using a network of volunteers.American officials say the final push against the Islamic State is so difficult because the cornered fighters have nothing left to lose — and no other refuge. Although the military estimated that ISIS has only about 2,000 to 2,500 fighters in the Hajin area, General Roberson said they had had plenty of time to build elaborate defenses, including tunnels and booby-traps.

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NYT: Afghan War Casualty Report: Nov. 30-Dec. 6

The following reports compile all significant security incidents confirmed by New York Times reporters throughout Afghanistan. It is necessarily incomplete as many local officials refuse to confirm casualty information. The toll here does not generally include claims of insurgents killed by the government, because of the difficulty of verifying such claims. Similarly, the reports do not include attacks on the government claimed by the Taliban. Both sides routinely inflate casualties of their opponents.

The death toll in Afghanistan dropped this week, with 50 deaths confirmed for pro-government forces and 14 for civilians. Offensive operations by Afghan security forces increased in the last two weeks, according to a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, and an important Taliban commander was killed. The Afghan government carried out more than 160 airstrikes against insurgents in this period.

Dec. 6 Oruzgan Province: seven security forces killed

One commando and two police officers were killed in a planned attack by the Taliban on Chinarto District center. After security forces requested air support, an American airstrike mistakenly targeted Afghan forces. The strike killed two police officers and two commandos and wounded two police officers and one commando.

Dec. 5 Herat Province: four local police killed

A group of 200 Taliban militants attacked a security outpost in Pashtun Zarghoon District. There were 15 local police officers in the outpost: four were killed, seven of them were taken prisoner and four others are missing. Security forces requested support, but reinforcements never arrived. Insurgents seized all of the weapons and equipment and destroyed the outpost.

Dec. 4 Helmand Province: one soldier killed

One soldier was killed and two police officers were wounded during a military operation in Babaje area of Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital.

Dec. 4 Kunar Province: one civilian killed

One civilian was killed when a mortar, said to have been fired from Pakistan side of the border, hit a house in Barolo village of Marawara District.

Dec. 4 Herat Province: three police officers killed

The Taliban attacked a security outpost in Shindand District, killing three police officers. The Taliban managed to escape after the attack.

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Further:

[Read the Afghan War Casualty Report from previous weeks]>>

Taliban commander Mullah Nusrat killed with his 11 fighters in Faryab

A commander of the Taliban group Mullah Nusrat was killed with his eleven fighters in northern Faryab province of Afghanistan, the Afghan military said.

According to a statement released by 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military, a clash broke out between the Afghan armed forces and Taliban militants in Hab Baza area of Dawlatbad district.

The statement further added that 12 Taliban militants, including their local commander Mullah Nusrat were killed during the clash.

According to 209th Shaheen Corps, at least fifteen others including one of their commanders Mullah Musa were wounded during the clash with the armed forces.

The Afghan forces also confiscated some weapons belonging to Taliban following the clash, the 209th Shaheen Corps said, adding that security personnel and local residents did not suffer casualties during the clash.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented regarding the report so far.

Faryab is among the relatively volatile provinces in North of Afghanistan where the Taliban militants and other groups are actively operating in some of its districts and often carry out terrorist related activities.

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Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

Recent Casualties

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Sgt. Jason Mitchell McClary, 24, from Export, Pennsylvania, died Dec. 2, 2018, in Landstuhl, Germany, as a result of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device on Nov. 27, 2018, in Andar District, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation.

McClary was assigned to 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers and one airman who were supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

The service members died Nov. 27, 2018, from injuries sustained when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Andar, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.

The soldiers were assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The airman was assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The incident is under investigation.

The deceased are:

Army Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, 29, of Lexington, Virginia.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond, 39, of Brush Prairie, Washington.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, 25, of Hookstown, Pennsylvania.

Cost of War in Iraq>>

Cost of War in Afghanistan>>

Care for Veterans:

PTSD: National Center for PTSDPTSD Care for Veterans, Military, and FamiliesSee Help for Veterans with PTSD to learn how to enroll for VA health care and get an assessment.

All VA Medical Centers provide PTSD care, as well as many VA clinics.Some VA’s have programs specializing in PTSD treatment. Use the VA PTSD Program Locator to find a PTSD program.

If you are a war Veteran, find a Vet Center to help with the transition from military to civilian life.

Call the 24/7 Veteran Combat Call Center1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk to another combat Veteran.DoD’s Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) 24/7 Outreach Center for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury provides information and helps locate resources.

Call 1-866-966-1020 or email resources@dcoeoutreach.orgMilitary OneSourceCall 24/7 for counseling and many resources 1-800-342-9647.Need further assistance? Get Help with VA PTSD Care

Tony Bransby: ABC News

Children gather whilst playing along the road leading into the Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan

Please do not forget the children.

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