The Guardian: Taliban's Civilian Casualties Are Petraeus's Problem

08/12/2010 08:38 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"The killing fields of Afghanistan." NATO will surely be blamed by Afghans for rising civilian casualties, even if those casualties were largely the Taliban's doing, the Guardian's editorial board writes. These casualties, which the UN says have risen by over 30% in the past year, are, the Guardian argues, proof that "the escalation of the campaign ordered by Barack Obama last year has only spread the zone of conflict, not doused it." [Guardian]

VIDEO: Embedded with the Taliban.

This segment follows Afghan insurgents in Kunar Province as they plan and carry out attacks on NATO forces, and pass time by playing with their children and organizing a rock-throwing competition. It was filmed in mid-October by Paul Refsdal, a Norwegian cameraman who reported on the mujahedeen's war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. [NYT]

U.S., Afghan soldiers build trust in remote Afghan district. The New York Times' James Dao follows the First Battalion, 87th Infantry, on a joint patrol with the Afghan army in Chahar Darreh district. Both parties have reason not to trust each other—late last year, an Afghan police officer killed five British soldiers, while in April, German soldiers fired on a truck carrying Afghan soldiers, killing six.

The patrol's results are mixed: villagers seemed willing to work with U.S. forces, but the U.S. convoy inadvertently cut power to the district when one of its trucks knocked over a power line on its way back to base. Nonetheless, Dao writes, U.S. forces were pleased that Afghan forces stayed with them throughout the patrol—their effort to build trust between the two forces had succeeded. [NYT]

Spy Talk: Why aren't the Taliban using missiles? Though classified documents released by WikiLeaks claim North Korea supplied the Taliban with ground-to-air missiles, these weapons are rarely used against NATO forces. Former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer thinks the North Korea report was fabricated to distract attention from other possible Taliban suppliers, like Iran and Pakistan. He adds Taliban fighters may be stockpiling, rather than using, missiles they bought from these countries because they are convinced they don't need them to beat NATO forces. [WaPo]

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