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She Kills People From 7,850 Miles Away

Drone killersAnne, an Air Force staff sergeant, was—and still is—a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) sensor operator or “sensor.” At Creech, she is assigned to a reconnaissance squadron flying missions over Iraq and Afghanistan. Few weapons in the American arsenal are more relentless than the RPA fleet, often called drones.

For more than a decade, the United States has flown RPAs over Afghanistan and Iraq, providing forces on the ground with an eye in the sky to spot terrorists and insurgents, and in most cases the firepower to destroy them.


US analysts knew Afghan site was hospital

afghan hospitalAmerican special operations analysts were gathering intelligence on an Afghan hospital days before it was destroyed by a U.S. military attack because they believed it was being used by a Pakistani operative to coordinate Taliban activity, The Associated Press has learned.

It's unclear whether commanders who unleashed the AC-130 gunship on the hospital — killing at least 22 patients and hospital staff — were aware that the site was a hospital or knew about the allegations of possible enemy activity. The Pentagon initially said the attack was to protect U.S. troops engaged in a firefight and has since said it was a mistake.


The Intercept publishes secret military documents on drone killings

Drone Secrets: The InterceptSecret military documents published Thursday by The Intercept detail the extent to which the White House uses its drone program, citing an unnamed source who said he wanted to make the information available so that the public will know how the decisions to make the strikes happen.

Among the findings of the investigation: The Pentagon's Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance unit circulated a paper in 2013 that found that the drone strikes, or targeted killings, often rely upon shaky intelligence and when executed, often compromise further gathering of intelligence.


Obama to put brakes on Afghan troop withdrawal in policy U-turn

Troops to remain in AfghanistanPresident Barack Obama will announce Thursday a reversal of policy in Afghanistan, slowing plans to draw down U.S. troops and instead maintain a force of 9,800 through most of 2016, senior administration officials said.

His decision prolongs the U.S. role in that country's 14-year-old war and ensures he hands the conflict over to the next U.S. president, due to be elected in November 2016 and to take office in January 2017.


Top general on Afghan hospital raid: US brass behind decision to strike

US General blames US for hospital hitThe top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Campbell, accepted the United States’ responsibility Tuesday for deadly airstrikes on an Afghan hospital in which 22 people were killed, stating that the attack was a “mistake” but that the ultimate decision to shell the facility was made by the U.S. chain of command.

“To be clear, the decision to provide aerial fire was a U.S. decision made within the U.S. chain of command,” he told a Senate committee on Tuesday. It came a day after the U.S. announced that the hospital was hit after a request from local forces, who claimed they were under fire from Taliban fighters at the medical center in the strategic northern city of Kunduz.


Medical charity says up tp 20 dead in air strike on northern Afghan hospital, including 3 children

Hopsital hit by US in AfghanistanThe United States has been condemned for launching an airstrike on a Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) hospital in Afghanistan that is believed to have killed up to 20 people.

The hospital was hit during an aerial bombardment on Saturday morning in the besieged city of Kunduz, destroying a large portion of the facility. An MSF source told the Guardian that up to 20 Afghan members of staff and patients were killed and dozens more injured. They said the death toll could rise further. Among the killed were nine MSF staff and seven patients from the intensive care unit, including three children.


U.N.: Civilian casualties in Afghanistan reach record levels

Afghanistan civilian casualtiesThe number of women and children killed or injured through the year in Afghanistan increased by 23 percent and 13 percent, respectively, as overall casualties reached record levels.

There have been 4,921 civilian casualties -- 1,592 civilians killed and 3,329 wounded -- in Afghanistan from January until June, a one percent increase over last year's record, according to a report by the United Nations released Wednesday.


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