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

NYT: A Tragedy in Yemen, Made in America

Tracing an airstrike halfway around the world back to an American bomb factory.

Just before midnight, a businessman named Rabee’a was on the phone, trying to calm his friend down. Rabee’a owned a drill rig, and his friend had heard stories from elsewhere in Yemen about jets bombing well sites. It was Sept. 10, 2016, a year and a half into the war between the Saudis and the Houthi rebels. But to Rabee’a, it was a war happening over the horizon, out of sight. He was unbothered. That kind of thing wouldn’t happen in a poor place like this one, a district called Arhab that, though deep in rebel territory, was home to nothing and no one of interest to a fighter jet.

Besides, things like airstrikes didn’t happen to people like him. Rabee’a was a charitable man from a privileged family — a little self-satisfied, perhaps, but he had enjoyed good fortune for much of his life, and that wasn’t about to change. Despite a mischievous grin, he was a godly man, a good man, and finding water in poor places for poor people had become his calling; he even forgave debts when his customers couldn’t pay. His big heart, he was certain, had locked in his good luck. “I’m doing a good, legitimate business!” he said. “Those jets have no quarrel with a man on the road to God!”

He hung up. It was a peaceful night. There was electricity in the air. Behind him, people were celebrating, and they were celebrating him, really.

Arhab had been running low on water. Villagers didn’t have enough to drink or to irrigate new fields. They needed a well, but no government entity was capable of undertaking such a public-works project; no bank was available to extend a line of credit. None of the villagers in the district, most of whom farmed plots five or 10 meters square, had anywhere near the kind of capital it would take to finance the dig………………

In carrying out the campaign in Yemen, the Saudis have been drawing on help from other Persian Gulf states, like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait, as well as nearby African countries, like Sudan and Egypt. But its most important source of material support is one faraway ally: America. In 2015, the United States sent an aircraft carrier, a guided-missile cruiser and seven other warships to help the Saudis enforce the blockade. As the Saudis began running sorties into Yemen, United States Central Command began flying American Stratotankers on refueling missions every day, until last month, allowing Saudi jets to loiter in the sky for longer in search of targets, rather than having to plan strikes in advance. Perhaps most crucial, America has sold the Saudis billions of dollars’ worth of high-tech weapons to help them counter Iranian influence to their south.

It wasn’t so long ago that Iran was the prime beneficiary of the American arms trade. According to William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, Iran was a favored customer of Presidents Richard M. Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, back when it was considered a stalwart of modernization and order in the Middle East. But after the revolution in 1979 that put the ayatollah in power, Saudi Arabia came to look like a model of stability in the region. And soon the Sunni kingdom became one of the most reliable patrons of the American defense industry.

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Guard: ‘Yemenis are left so poor they kill themselves before the hunger does’

By Various

Yemenis inspect the debris of a housing block allegedly destroyed by a Saudi-led military coalition airstrike in Sana’a. Photograph: Yahya Arhab/EPA

As peace talks to end war in Yemen continue, three local aid workers from the Norwegian Refugee Council describe its devastating impact

More than 10,000 people in Yemen have been killed and 3 million forced to flee their homes as a result of almost four years of fighting. An estimated 22 million people are now in need of aid and up to 13 million face starvation. As talks to end the conflict continue in Sweden, three Yemeni aid workers from the Norwegian Refugee Council talk of the physical and emotional destruction the fighting has brought to their country.

Marwan Al-Sabri, 32, water and sanitation officer in Taiz

Bomb damage in Al Sabri’s neighbourhood, December 2018

I was young when the war started, aspirational and ambitious. I could never have imagined the power war has to trash our dreams.

I have already lost friends and relatives in this brutality. Some that have died and others I have been cut off from. I don’t know where they are now; whether they are alive or dead.

We have lost the right to live safely and with dignity

If you haven’t seen Taiz, it is impossible to imagine what war has done to this city. The damage hits in every way. The missiles have torn apart buildings and the siege has torn apart families. Movement from the north to the south of the city can take six hours, using dangerous roads and tunnels. Before the war, it took 10 minutes.

War brings out the worst in a society. People are subjected to extortion, threats and detention at checkpoints. The violence has destroyed our social fabric and created smaller conflicts. It has eroded us materially and morally, we have lost the right to live safely and with dignity.

Marwan Al Sabri

Marwan Al-Sabri: ‘The damage hits in every way.’ Photograph: NRC

I already live in this war, but humanitarian work exposes you to the very worst of it, to the sadness and tragedy of people suffering the most. We already know that the shelling kills people, but I am seeing what a broken economy does too. People have been left so desperately poor that they kill themselves before the hunger does.

Our work is important, but it is also horrifying.

There used to be at least 20 young people from my village enrolling in university every year, most of them to study medicine or engineering. No one considered joining the army or even thought of carrying weapons. But almost no one can afford university now. Jobs are scarce, prices are high, joining an armed group is one of the only ways to earn a living. Young, untrained men are going to the frontlines because they have no other choice.

Some of the stories break me. I met recently a 55-year-old man named Mohammad Mahioub Ahmed Saif who told me that his daughter, Taybeh, had stepped on a landmine the week before her wedding. It blew off one of her legs and badly damaged the other, leaving her bedridden and entirely dependent. Mohammad’s village is literally a minefield. He sold everything he could and brought his family to the house of a family member, where they are sharing a half-built room with no doors and no windows.

Mohammad cried when he told me his story and I cried too.

Hadil Al-Senwi, 27, education officer in Sana’a

Yemeni women walk through the debris of a housing block allegedly destroyed by previous Saudi-led airstrikes, in Sana?a, Yemen, 29 September 2017

Four years of war makes me miss the old days, even if they were not ideal. I realise now that there is nothing more important in life than safety. That’s something this war has taken from us.

With its bombs and missiles, this war has brought immense fear to our lives. We live under constant threat, we are socially unstable, our chance of education is dead, and our country is politically insecure and economically broken.

We are never free of anxiety.

Every person in Yemen has had their life radically changed by his war. People seem empty to me now; we do whatever we have to each day to let time pass and try to forget about the situation.

Hadil Alsenwi

Hadil Al-Senwi: ‘Children now carry the burden of stress and labour like adults.’ Photograph: Becky Bakr Abdullah/NRC

We hide our inner beliefs because we know that silence is a safer option than saying anything that could upset people in power and cause us more problems.

The idea of childhood that I knew has disappeared and children now carry the burden of stress and labour like adults. An Italian friend said to me that Yemeni children have facial features of people far older.

I feel desperately sorry that our children have tasted nothing but the bitterness of war.

The education that should be their right has instead become a dream. Parents whose salaries are not paid or [whose] jobs are lost cannot provide for the basic needs of their children and education is, as usual, the first casualty.

We used to have dreams but now we live in a nightmare. We are so eager to hear the sound of peace and to rebuild our country. We deserve better than this.

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REU: Yemen’s warring parties exchange prisoner lists, talks focus on Hodeidah

RIMBO, Sweden (Reuters) – Yemen’s Houthi movement and the Saudi-backed government on Tuesday exchanged lists of some 15,000 prisoners for a swap agreed as a confidence-building measure at the start of U.N.-sponsored peace talks.

Both parties at the consultations in Sweden, set to last until Dec. 13, have yet to settle major sticking points, including a ceasefire in the port of Hodeidah, reopening of Sanaa airport and shoring up of the central bank.

The talks are being held as Western allies press Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, leaders of a military coalition backing the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to end a war that has pushed Yemen to the verge of famine.

Delegates said the prisoner swap would be conducted via Houthi-held Sanaa airport in north Yemen and government-held Sayun airport in the south – a process overseen by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“We have exchanged more than 7,000 names from each side, including some 200 high-ranking officers,” said Ghaleb Mutlaq, a delegate for the Iran-aligned Houthis.

Hadi’s foreign minister tweeted that the government had submitted a list of 8,576 prisoners, including activists and journalists.

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Area that has been home to foreign embassies and key ministries has been inaccessible to most Iraqis since 2003 US-led invasion

Iraq has begun removing cement walls from areas surrounding its capital’s most fortified enclave, opening parts of the so-called Green Zone to traffic in a symbolic move coinciding with nationwide celebrations to mark the anniversary of the country’s costly victory over Islamic State.

The partial reopening of parts of the high-security area is intended to portray increased confidence in the country’s overall security situation and has also been billed as an act of transparency following protests against corruption and poor public services.

The enclave on the west bank of the Tigris became home to foreign embassies and key government buildings after the US-led invasion of 2003 and has since then been surrounded by blast walls and barbed wire, inaccessible to most Iraqis.

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REU: 250,000 Syrian refugees could return home next year: UNHCR

GENEVA (Reuters) – Up to a 250,000 Syrian refugees could return to their devastated homeland in 2019, while many others face problems with documentation and property that the Damascus government must help resolve, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Syrian refugee women stand in front of their homes at Azraq refugee camp, near Al Azraq city, Jordan, December 8, 2018. REUTERS/Muhammad Ham

Some 5.6 million Syrian refugees remain in neighboring countries – Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq – Amin Awad, UNHCR director for the Middle East and North Africa, said.

They include 1 million Syrian children born abroad whose foreign birth certificates the Assad government has agreed to recognize, he said.

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AP: Suicide bomber kills 4 security forces near Afghan capital

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan official says a suicide car bomber has struck a security convoy on the outskirts of Kabul, killing four security forces.

Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said six other forces were wounded in Tuesday’s attack.

No one immediately claimed responsibility, but the Taliban and an Islamic State affiliate have both carried out attacks in the capital.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, the Taliban attacked a checkpoint in the southern Kandahar province late Monday, killing eight police.

Aziz Ahmad Azizi, the spokesman for the provincial governor, said 11 insurgents were killed in the battle.

The Taliban control nearly half of Afghanistan and carry out daily attacks that mainly target security forces.

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6 killed, 6 wounded in Kabul explosion

An explosion took place in the vicinity of Paghman district of Kabul earlier today, leaving at least 12 dead or wounded.

The security officials confirm that an explosion has taken place in the vicinity of Bala Chinar area of Paghman district.

The Ministry of Interior spokesman Najib Danish says at least four security personnel have lost their lives in the explosion.

Deputy interior ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi, had earlier said a convoy of the security forces have been targeted in the blast.

In the meantime, officials in the Ministry of Public Health are saying at least six people have lost their lives in today’s attack and at least six others have sustained injuries.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility behind the explosion.

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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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