Khosrow Sofla

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Khosrow Sofla was a village in the Arghandab District of Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan that was demolished by the United States Army in October and November 2010. After experiencing high casualties resulting from firefights and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) outside the village, Lieutenant Colonel David S. Flynn of the American 1-320th field artillery, a part of the 101st Airborne Division, ordered villagers to evacuate Khosrow Sofla, Khosrow Ulya, Tarok Kolache, and Lower Babur and used aerial bombardment to partially or wholly destroy the villages.

Background[edit]

Fruit farmer in Arghandab District, near Khosrow Sofla

In 2010, American President Barack Obama's policy of "troop surge" brought an additional 30,000 American soldiers to Afghanistan, and led to a more than two-fold increase in airstrikes, predator drone strikes, insurgent casualties, and a six-fold increase in special forces operations.[1][2][3][4] American military officials decided to follow their widely publicized offensive in Marja, Helmand Province, with an effort to seize territories in adjacent Kandahar Province.[5] American forces dubbed their offensive "Operation Dragon Strike," and referred to Kandahar as "The Heart of Darkness" because of resistance to American and NATO presence there.[5]

Following substantial military engagements between U.S. Army and Afghan Taliban forces outside Khosrow Sofla in the summer and fall of 2010, villagers were ordered by American military officials to diffuse IEDs in the village before 28 October, or have the village destroyed.[6] American military commanders maintained that villagers in Khosrow sofla knew the locations of IEDs.[6]

During interviews after the destruction of the Khosrow Sofla and other villages, villagers stated that they had agreed with local Taliban upon what paths and hours of the day would be safe for travel.[7]

Destruction[edit]

In mid-November 2010, Arghandab District governor Shah Muhammed Ahmadi reported that every one of Khosrow Sofla's 40 homes had been destroyed by 25 missiles.[8] Ahmadi also said that the destruction of 120-130 homes in his district had been agreed upon by their occupants, and listed 6 other villages that were destroyed "to make them safe."[8] The New York Times reported that hundreds or thousands of homes and farms throughout Kandahar were destroyed in late 2010 "using armored bulldozers, high explosives, missiles and even airstrikes."[9] The Zhari and Panjwayi Districts in Kandahar were also the site of home demolitions, where American forces often built roads through houses and farms in order to bypass IEDs.[9][10] According to journalists embedded with the American army, American forces have used an "impressive"[8] array of methods to "not only to demolish homes, but also to eliminate tree lines where insurgents could hide, blow up outbuildings, flatten agricultural walls, and carve new "military roads."[8]

Mine-clearing line charges and HIMARS artillery rocket systems were also used extensively to destroy houses.[8]

Reactions and Controversy[edit]

The offensive in Kandahar and associated home and farm demolitions were opposed by local leaders, and caused resentment among Afghans who fled the offensive or remained in their villages.[7][10] Other tactics causing anger among local people included night raids and mass arrests in villages from which American forces received small arms fire.[10] Brigadier General Nick Carter, British commander of US-NATO troops in southern Afghanistan, supported the demolitions policy, as did American Lt. Gen. James L. Terry and general David Petraeus, who argued that the policy was forced on NATO by the Taliban.[11]

The scale of destruction in Khosrow Sofla has been contested, with one article from The New York Times reporting that "only 10 compounds and orchards were damaged."[12] The New York Times has also maintained that most houses and compounds destroyed were previously abandoned.[8][9] These claims have been contested by other journalists,[11][13][14] photographs,[15][16] villagers,[7] and by reports of evictions prior to, and damage claims following village demolitions.[6][17][18]

Villagers interviewed by Inter Press Service stated that they had left their homes anticipating the American offensive, but returned to tend to them regularly in coordination with the Taliban.[7] Villagers also rejected claims by the American military and some American media services that their villages were saturated with IEDs.[7]

Spencer Ackerman of Wired Magazine reported that the local leader or malek of Khosrow Sofla was assassinated by the Taliban after the village's destruction.[14]

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Miller, Greg (September 20, 2009). "CIA expanding presence in Afghanistan". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 9, 2010. 
  2. ^ Tony Capaccio (January 31, 2011). "U.S. Said to Reduce Civilian Deaths After Increasing CIA Pakistan Strikes". Bloomberg. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  3. ^ Eric Schmitt (December 26, 2010). "Taliban Fighters Appear Blunted in Afghanistan". The New York Times (Washington). Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  4. ^ Adam Levine (October 15, 2010). "What the numbers say about progress in Afghanistan". The Guardian (Washington). Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Hastings, Deborah, "Operation Dragon Strike: Battle for Kandahar Begins, AOL News, 27 September 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Wiseman, Jamie and Richard Pendlebury: Dicing with death in the devil's playground: In a heartstopping dispatch, the Mail's Richard Pendlebury joins troops clearing roadside bombs in the Afghan valley where every step could be your last. Mail Online, 25 October 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d e Noori, Shah and Gareth Porter, "Kabul: Afghan villagers dispute U.S. Rationale for bombing." The Madison Times, 2 March 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Norland, Rod and Taimoor Shah: NATO is Razing Booby-Trapped Afghan Homes. The New York Times, 16 November 2010.
  9. ^ a b c New York Times photographic display, Destroying to Save Lives, by Christoph Bangert.
  10. ^ a b c Porter, Gareth: Kandahar gains come with "brutal" tactics. Asia Times, 21 December 2010.
  11. ^ a b Ackerman, Spencer: Petaeus Team: Taliban Made Us Wipe Village Out, Wired Magazine, 20 January 2011.
  12. ^ Gall, Carlotta and Ruhullah Khapalwak: Winning Hearts While Flattening Vineyards Is Rather Tricky. The New York Times, 11 March 2011.
  13. ^ Faust, Joshua: Paula Broadwell’s Dishonest Portrayal of Tarok Kolache, Registan, 19 February 2011.
  14. ^ a b Ackerman, Spencer: ‘Why I Flattened Three Afghan Villages’. Wired Magazine, 1 February 2011.
  15. ^ Strong, Bob, "Workers begin construction on a new home in Khosrow Sofla in the Arghandab valley, north of Kandahar. The village was destroyed by U.S. aircraft in October, after U.S. Army commanders determined it was being used as a base of operations by Taliban fighters. The U.S. government is paying for the rebuilding of this village and two others hit by airstrikes." Reuters and The Washington Post, 15 April 2011.
  16. ^ Strong, Bob, "Piles of rubble remain after last year's U.S. bomb strike on the village of Khosrow Sofla in the Arghandab Valley, north of Kandahar April 11, 2011. After determining that the village was being used as a Taliban base for producing homemade explosive materials and was devoid of civilian population, U.S. war planes destroyed most of the buildings in Khosrow Sofla on October 6, 2010, a U.S. Army official said." Reuters and Salem News Network, 11 April 2011.
  17. ^ King, Laura: United States Rebuilds Where It Destroyed. Los Angeles Times, 6 March 2011.
  18. ^ Becker, Brian: Pentagon blows up thousands of homes in Afghanistan Repeating the horrors of the Vietnam War. Uruknet, 19 November 2010.

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