Sunday, June 5, 2011

...and counting...

(Occasional sobering thoughts.) It has been 11 weeks since, as we then posted, the United States and other countries intervened militarily against the government of Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya. Intervention continues, albeit now under the auspices of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Having earlier this week extended its mission for another 3 months, NATO appears to have stepped up its attacks on Tripoli. And a permanent member that had abstained from voting on U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 -- Russia -- now has joined a chorus calling for Qaddafi to go.
In Geneva tomorrow, discussion is scheduled of the report that the 3-member Libya inquiry commission (prior post) released last week and available here. The commission, appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council, found the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity by government and rebel troops alike.
Casualty numbers in this conflict are hard to come by. Best estimate found is a month old: from 2,000 to 10,000 persons killed between March 2 and May 3. (credit for above right Associated Press photo, by Darko Bandic, of a woman who attended a "funeral for nine of 11 clerics allegedly killed in a NATO airstrike in Tripoli" on May 14)
► As for Afghanistan, conflict now is nearing its 10th anniversary. May was the deadliest month for servicemembers in Afghanistan this year. Meanwhile, civilian deaths continue to provoke complaint. Last Tuesday -- days after "a weekend airstrike in Helmand province that Afghan officials said killed 14 civilians, 11 of them children" -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai insisted

'that NATO refrain from airstrikes on residential compounds, marking a sharp escalation in his long-running feud with Western commanders over the issue of civilian casualties.'

Yesterday, Robert Gates, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, envisioned negotiations; that is, he said

there could be political talks with the Afghan Taliban by the end of this year if NATO made more military advances and put pressure on the insurgents.

credit for 2008 Associated Press photo above left, by Alauddin Khan, of funeral of victim of suicide bombing in Kandahar, Afghanistan)

The U.S. Department of Defense reports that in Afghanistan, coalition military casualties stand at 1,605 Americans, 369 Britons, and 535 other coalition servicemembers. That's an increase of 100, 9, and 28 casualties, respectively, in the last 11 weeks. The total coalition casualty count in the Afghanistan conflict is 2,509 service women and men.
► Drone attacks continue on both sides of the AfPak line. Save for occasional announcements like that yesterday respecting the drone-attack killing of an al Qaeda leader in Pakistan, no casualty figures available respecting that side of the border.
► Iraq Body Count reports that between 101,121 and 110,454 Iraqi women, children, and men have died in the conflict in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. That represents an increase of between 1,070 and 1,136 persons in the last 11 weeks. According to the U.S. Defense Department, 4,454 American servicemembers have been killed in Iraq, representing 14 servicemember deaths in the last 11 weeks. (As posted, U.S. troops are the only foreign forces remaining in Iraq.)

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