Do they really need reminding?

CBC news reports that  a recent NATO air strike killed at least 4 civilians in a small village north of Kandahar. While Canadian troops were not directly involved in the incident, the news speaks to a larger debate on the increasingly blurry line between civilian and combatant.

Afghan officials have criticized the mission’s bombing campaign and the large number of civilian deaths. The effect of which has resulted in a lack of support for international forces, an outcome that should not take anyone by surprise.

According to a CBC report, “earlier in the month U.S army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, issued a directive to troops to cut down on civilian casualties.”

It seems strange that a NATO mission or any military operation would need to be reminded to avoid civilian deaths. Everyone knows that, don’t they?

But, a review of military history would show that in times of war civilians are often collateral damage.

If supporting the war in Afghanistan means accepting that civilians may unfortunately perish, perhaps Canadians should think long and hard before jumping on that bandwagon…

NATO air strike blamed for civilian deaths in Kandahar
Last Updated: Friday, July 17, 2009 CBC News

Residents of a small village north of Kandahar in Afghanistan say a NATO air strike Wednesday night killed at least four civilians.

The people were killed in Shah Wali Kot, a village about 30 kilometres north of Kandahar and an area where Taliban insurgents have been operating for months.

“There were some casualties. There was a total number of 17. Four were dead,” Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa said Friday.

“Thirteen were wounded people. That includes, unfortunately, very young kids like one-year-old, three-year-old and six years old.”

Wesa said Friday he’s dispatched a delegation to Shah Wali Kot to investigate the reports.

Canadian military officials said Canadian troops were not involved in the operation. NATO officials would not say whether a bombardment took place.

“They are saying any lives that may have been lost could have been caused by small gun forces and they don’t know whether that would be their force or the Taliban,” the CBC’s James Murray reported from Kandahar.

Afghan leaders have repeatedly criticized the mission’s bombing campaign and called on NATO and U.S. forces to reduce the civilian death toll from their operations, since it erodes support for the international presence in the war-torn country.

Earlier this month, U.S. army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, issued a directive to troops to cut down on civilian casualties.

With files from The Associated Press

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