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!

visit-ti-arlington.jpg

The McGlynn

War News

BBC: Yemen war: Billions in aid, but where’s it going?

The ongoing UN-sponsored peace talks are seen as a key moment in the search for an end to the war in Yemen.

They also bring a glimmer of hope that the desperate situation inside the country can be alleviated.

Images of severely malnourished children, outbreaks of cholera and warnings of whole communities on the brink of starvation have brought the urgency of finding a diplomatic solution into sharp focus.

Three-quarters of the Yemeni population is estimated to be in need of humanitarian support.

And the longer the conflict continues, the worse the situation is becoming.

That is despite very large sums pledged in aid for Yemen.

The UN appealed for close to $3bn (£2.4bn) to fund the humanitarian response in 2018. It will ask for $4bn next year.

So how much of this has been received, where is it coming from, and where is it going?…………A total of 90% of imports are food, fuel, and drugs, and the blockade is effectively choking a country heavily reliant on these goods. Aid is also subject to long inspection delays as well as in some cases being rejected altogether.

Coalition forces have also bombed bridges linking Yemen’s main port at Hudaydah with Sanaa, the capital city, which has meant trucks loaded with vital supplies are having to take other routes, adding many hours to journey times, increasing the price of delivery and, in some cases, making it impossible to deliver supplies at all to areas in desperate need.

On the other hand, local groups and warlords are also hindering the delivery of aid, and at times there is outright looting and selling on the black market.

Houthi rebels have blocked access to besieged cities such as Taiz and set up checkpoints into the capital, charging extra fees to aid agencies, who in turn have less available to spend on humanitarian aid.

Profiteers on both sides of the conflict are also intentionally creating shortages and spiking prices of certain items such as fuel and gas.

Delivering aid in an active conflict is challenging – continued fighting and air strikes make it dangerous for humanitarian workers to gain access to people in need.

In the months of June and July this year, 86% of incidents where UN staff were delayed or denied access were due to administrative restrictions on movement – activities that require permissions from the authorities. Most of the rest were delayed by military operations and hostilities impeding humanitarian operations.

Suze van Meegen, a spokeswoman for the Norwegian Refugee Council, highlighted some of the difficulties faced by its staff operating in Yemen.

“Restrictions on the movement of humanitarian goods and personnel span challenges with security and logistics, as well as complex, changing bureaucratic impediments, delayed visa processes for international staff, and threats to the safety of Yemeni humanitarian staff – the ones working at greatest personal risk to help people in need.”

However, no amount of aid can offset the economic collapse and spiking food prices that the war has produced, says Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior policy fellow at the Centre for Global Development.

Read full story »

REU: U.S.-backed fighters thrust into last big town held by Islamic State

AMMAN/BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.S.-backed Syrian forces have pushed deep into the last major urban stronghold held by Islamic State on the eastern banks of the Euphrates, a spokesman for the fighters and a former resident said on Thursday.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led militia alliance that holds roughly one quarter of Syria east of the Euphrates, had advanced into the center of Hajin, an SDF spokesman said. “The battles continue,” Mustafa Bali said.

Backed by U.S.-led air strikes, the SDF has been attempting for several months to take Islamic State’s last pocket of territory near the Iraqi border.

Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, said: “The SDF has progressed into (Hajin), and the advancement is going well”. But it was too early to say the entire city had been captured.

A video posted on FuratPost newsportal showed SDF fighters walking in the market place of the town near a mosque where damage was extensive. Gunfire was heard in the background.

A former resident, Abdullah Baker, who had been in touch with relatives who recently fled the city, said most of the remaining militants, who numbered in the hundreds, had fled to the nearby villages that are still under Islamic State control.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and former residents of the area have reported heavy civilian casualties in U.S.-led coalition air strikes during the campaign to capture Hajin and nearby areas.

The coalition says it takes great measures to identify Islamic State targets to avoid civilian casualties and that looks into the credibility of reports of civilian casualties.

Read full story »

REU: 21 Islamic State militants escape Iraqi jail, most recaptured

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Twenty one prisoners, most of them members of Islamic State jailed on terrorism charges, broke out of a prison in northern Iraq but 15 of them have been recaptured, Kurdish security officials said on Thursday.

The fortified jail of Sosa is located near the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya and include mainly militants of the hardline Islamist group who were captured during the fight against Islamic State which started in 2014.

Kurdish security officials launched manhunt operations after the break-out late on Wednesday and 15 of the 21 were recaptured, two security officials said. The whereabouts of the other six remains unknown.

Although Sosa jail is located in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, the federal government has full control over the prison.

“Almost all of the convicted inmates who escaped are from Daesh,” said one Kurdish security source. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

Read full story »

REU: Defying Trump, U.S. Senate advances measure to end support for Saudis in Yemen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a rare break with President Donald Trump, the Senate voted on Wednesday to move ahead with a resolution to end U.S. military support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in the war in Yemen and lawmakers vowed to push for sanctions against the kingdom in the new year.

Eleven of Trump’s fellow Republicans joined Democrats to provide the 60 votes needed to advance the war powers resolution in the Republican-led chamber. The vote paved the way for debate and a vote on U.S. involvement in a conflict that has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians, many of them young children and left millions more at risk of starvation and death by disease.

The nearly unprecedented break the 11 Republicans made from Trump was largely symbolic because the House of Representatives is not expected to take the matter up this year. Trump has threatened a veto.

But backers of the resolution said it sent an important message that lawmakers are unhappy with the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, and angry about the lack of a strong U.S. response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers also vowed to keep pushing after the new Congress take office in January for further tough action against Saudi Arabia, including legislation to impose human rights sanctions and opposition to weapons sales.

“If you want to buy our weapons, there are certain things you have to accept. How you use them matters,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told a news conference.

“The individual, the crown prince, is so toxic, so tainted, so flawed, that I can’t ever see myself doing business with Saudi Arabia unless there’s a change there,” said Graham, generally a close Trump ally in the Senate.

Read full story »

REU: U.N. chief joins Yemen peace talks as pressure builds for port deal

RIMBO, Sweden (Reuters) – The United Nations’ chief will join the final day of peace talks on Thursday between Yemen’s warring parties that have brought agreement on reopening Sanaa airport and restarting oil exports but no deal on a strategic Red Sea port.

Western nations are pressing the Iran-aligned Houthi group and the Saudi-backed government to agree confidence-building steps for a political process to end the war that has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed Yemen toward famine.

The parties have not agreed on the status of the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions, which is the thorniest issue along with a transitional governing body.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived late on Wednesday in talks host Sweden. He and special envoy Martin Griffiths are to announce results of the U.N.-sponsored talks, the first in over two years, and a date for new consultations.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said the outcome would be conveyed to the U.N. Security Council on Friday. The talks, from last week near Stockholm, took place in “positive spirit and good faith”, she told Reuters by telephone.

The Houthis control most population centers, including Hodeidah and the capital Sanaa, from where the group ousted the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2014, leading a Sunni Muslim Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia to intervene in 2015.

Both sides received from the United Nations a “final package” of agreements on the status of Hodeidah, Sanaa airport, supporting the impoverished country’s central bank and a political framework.

Read full story »

AP: Amnesty says Islamic State group decimated rural Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Islamic State group’s deliberate destruction of agriculture in northern Iraq has hindered the return of hundreds of thousands of residents, Amnesty International said in a report released Thursday.

The New York-based rights group said IS fighters burnt or chopped down orchards and sabotaged wells by filling them with rubble, oil or other materials. The militants also stole or destroyed pumps, cables, generators, transformers and vital electricity lines.

Amnesty called on the Iraqi government to repair rural infrastructure and compensate the displaced so they can return to their homes.

IS seized control of much of northern Iraq in the summer of 2014. U.S.-backed Iraqi forces gradually drove the militants from all the territory under their control, declaring victory a year ago after a costly campaign that destroyed entire neighborhoods and towns.

“The damage to Iraq’s countryside is as far-reaching as the urban destruction, but the consequences of the conflict on Iraq’s rural residents are being largely forgotten,” said Richard Pearshouse, senior crisis adviser at Amnesty.

He said the report focuses on the “deliberate, wanton destruction” around the area of Sinjar, where the extremists massacred and enslaved thousands of members of the Yazidi religious minority. About half of Sinjar’s residents have returned, with many others saying they have nothing to go back to.

Beyond Sinjar, Amnesty’s report gave sobering figures for all of Iraq.

“The conflict against IS eviscerated Iraq’s agricultural production, now an estimated 40 percent lower than 2014 levels,” it said. “Before IS, around two-thirds of Iraq’s farmers had access to irrigation — only three years later, this had fallen to 20 percent. Around 75 percent of livestock was lost, spiking to 95 percent in some areas.”

Syrian and Iraqi forces have gradually driven IS out of nearly all the territory it once held. But the group still maintains a presence in the Syrian desert and remote areas along the border. Many have warned it could stage a comeback if economic grievances are not addressed.

“Unless there is urgent government assistance, the long-term damage inflicted on Iraq’s rural environment will reverberate for years to come,” Pearshouse said. “When IS tore through Iraq in 2014, it thrived off rural poverty and resentments, so Iraq’s government should be concerned that something similar could happen again.”

Read full story »

NYT: Afghan Forces Abandon District After Taliban Pressure

HERAT, Afghanistan — Afghan forces abandoned a remote district in the west of the country, leaving the area to Taliban insurgents after the government failed to resupply dozens of troops stationed there, provincial officials said on Wednesday.

Local officials said the Shebkoh district of Farah province, bordering Iran, has been under Taliban siege for months, making it difficult for the government to send reinforcements.

Mosa Nazari, deputy governor of Farah, said Afghanistan’s military leadership faced difficulty supplying and reinforcing the troops in Shebkoh district and it had been decided to withdraw in order to avoid casualties.

“The plan to leave the district was there for months and it was finally decided,” Nazari told Reuters, adding that the forces withdrew all ammunition and vehicles to the provincial capital of Farah.

U.S. military advisers have regularly pressed Afghan commanders to concentrate their forces and avoid exposed outposts that are difficult to defend and supply.

The Taliban, fighting to drive out foreign forces and re-impose its version of strict Islamic Law, said in a statement the Afghan government abandoned the district after a heavy firefight overnight, and the group seized an amount of ammunition.

A sparsely populated province, Farah has been the scene of intense fighting since the beginning of the year. Afghan forces have suffered heavy losses, including the killings of dozens of well-armed elite special forces there.

Read full story »

Drone strikes leave at least 15 militants dead in Ghazni and Paktika

The U.S. forces have carried out a series of airstrikes in southeastern Ghazni and Paktika provinces of the country, leaving at least 15 militants dead.

The203rd Thunder Corps of the Afghan Military in the Southeast in a statement said the U.S. forces carried out airstrikes using unmanned aerial vehicles in Gomar district of Paktika province.

The statement further added that the airstrikes were carried out in SyedKhel, Chahar Baran, and Zuhda areas of the district, leaving at least 12 militants dead.

Similarly,the U.S. forces carried out airstrikes in Andar district of Ghazni province which left at least 3 militants dead.

According to 203rd Thunder Corps, a motorcycle and a Ak-47 rifle of the militants were also destroyed in the airstrikes.

Both Ghazni and Paktika provinces are among the relatively volatile provinces in Southeast of Afghanistan where Taliban militants and other groups are active in some of its districts and often carry out terrorist related activities

Read full story »

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

 

A young amputee practices walking with her prosthetic legs at an International Committee of the Red Cross hospital for war victims and the disabled in the city of Mazar-i-Shari

Please do not forget the children.

The McGlynn