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Viewing cable 07KABUL2249, PRT URUZGAN: CHORA LEADERS SPEAK TO AFGHAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07KABUL2249 2007-07-12 14:02 2011-01-25 18:06 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Kabul
VZCZCXRO0785
OO RUEHDBU RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #2249/01 1931435
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 121435Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9105
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCCENT MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 002249 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/FO DAS GASTRIGHT, SCA/A, S/CRS, SA/PB, S/CT, 
EUR/RPM 
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG 
NSC PASS FOR AHARRIMAN 
OSD FOR SHIVERS 
CENTCOM FOR CG CJTF-...





115211
2007-07-12
07KABUL2249
Embassy Kabul
SECRET//NOFORN

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 002249 

SIPDIS 

NOFORN 
SIPDIS 

STATE FOR SCA/FO DAS GASTRIGHT, SCA/A, S/CRS, SA/PB, S/CT, 
EUR/RPM 
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG 
NSC PASS FOR AHARRIMAN 
OSD FOR SHIVERS 
CENTCOM FOR CG CJTF-82, POLAD, JICCENT 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/10/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER ASEC MARR AF IR
SUBJECT: PRT URUZGAN: CHORA LEADERS SPEAK TO AFGHAN 
INDEPENDENT HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION 


Classified By: PolCouns Sara Rosenberry for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 

------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 

1. (C) On July 6, Chora district and tribal leaders met at 
the district center with a team from the Afghan Independent 
Human Rights Commission investigating civilian losses in the 
June fight for Chora. Their message was clear and measured, 
devoid of the histrionics or exaggeration and blame for ISAF 
that have characterized statements made by Governor Monib, MP 
Abdul Khaliq Khan, and others. Chora's leaders made three 
main points. The fight took a heavy toll on civilians in the 
area but Chora leaders spoke only of total losses. Many 
ISAF-caused civilian losses resulted from the Taliban's 
tactic of fighting from positions where civilians were 
present. Dutch forces must not be withdrawn from Chora as 
this would trigger Taliban re-infiltration into the area 
which will result in the cycle of violence repeating itself. 
END SUMMARY 

Background 
---------- 

2. (SBU) PRTOFF traveled via helicopter to Chora July 6 
with a 4-member review team from the Afghan Independent Human 
Rights Commission (AIHRC). The team traveled to Uruzgan to 
investigate civilian losses during the fight for Chora June 
15-19 (along with several UNAMA representatives). UNAMA 
spoke to provincial government officials in Tarin Kowt and 
stayed at Governor Monib's compound but did not go along to 
Chora, citing security concerns. The AIHRC team and PRTOFF 
met with District Chief Mohammad Ibrahim and about 20 tribal 
leaders. We also spoke to doctors from the Chora clinic, 
select civilian victims, and the ANA deployed in Chora. The 
team had sent word they expected to also meet with District 
Chief of Police Mohammed Gul but he was not at the meeting. 

The Civilian Toll 
----------------- 

3. (SBU) The tribal leaders briefed the team on losses 
suffered by the local civilian population. They claimed 
that 87 civilians were killed and 50-60 compounds and 
approximately 2800 kg of wheat were destroyed. (Note: The 
number of civilian deaths is thought by Task Force Uruzgan 
analysts to be too high because it likely includes fighting 
age males dressed in civilian garb who were more likely 
combatants. End Note) They stated that most civilians were 
killed in houses destroyed by shelling from three sources: 
aerial bombardment from ISAF aircraft, artillery fired from 
the Dutch Panzer Howitzer in Tarin Kowt, and rockets fired by 
the Taliban's BM1 and BM12. Their stories were consistent 
with other accounts of the fighting known to PRTOFF. Local 
leaders recounted the events in a calm, matter-of-fact manner 
with little of the emotion or exaggeration that often 
accompanies shura discussions of highly charged topics. 
Their presentation stood in sharp contrast to petulant 
statements made by Governor Monib and other leaders such as 
Abdul Khaliq Khan, member of the Wolsei Jirga for Uruzgan who 
is from Chora. They accused ISAF of causing too many losses 
to local civilians with heavy-handed tactics, while 
simultaneously complaining bitterly of insufficient ISAF 
responses to defend Chora. They also want more offensive 
action against Taliban bases allegedly far removed from 
population centers. 

Taliban Tactics Put Civilians in Harms Way 
------------------------------------------ 

4. (SBU) Leaders declined to comment when asked by the team 
to say what part of the damage was caused by ISAF. Instead, 
they provided examples and spoke of locals killed by Taliban 
before and during the battle, such as the beheadings of two 

KABUL 00002249 002 OF 003 


militia members loyal to pro-GOA militia leaders in the days 
leading up to the Taliban's big attack June 16. They also 
talked vividly about Taliban tactics that purposely put 
civilians in danger of ISAF counterattacks (bombs and direct 
fire). For example, in the village of Qal'a-i-Ragh, one 
villager (Jano Aqa) said that Taliban fighting in and around 
his compound led ISAF to target the location, killing 18 
members of his family and hospitalizing Aqa. In another 
case, as local residents were leaving the district center to 
return to their homes at the urging of local leaders, Taliban 
fired an RPG at a nearby Dutch armored vehicle, reportedly 
triggering renewed ISAF fire and causing residents to once 
again seek refuge and to refuse to return to their homes. 

Dear Dutch, Please Don't Go 
--------------------------- 

5. (SBU) During the shura, the leaders expressed their 
fear that the Taliban would likely attack Chora again this 
summer. They noted that Taliban had returned to their 
sanctuaries to the north in Gizab and to the south in the 
Baluchi pass, as well as in the Darefshan Valley to regroup. 
They implored the international troops to either bring 
security to this area or tell us to leave. 

6. (C) At the end of the shura, while victims were talking 
to the human rights commission representatives, two tribal 
leaders approached PRTOFF to press the point further. They 
believed the Dutch were under pressure from President Karzai 
and Governor Monib to abandon the district center building 
(aka White Compound) where the Dutch camp out when in Chora 
and that this was the cause of Dutch plans to remove their 
troops, leaving only ANSF to maintain security. (Note: Dutch 
occupation of this USAID-funded government building has 
indeed been a bone of contention with the district chief and 
provincial governor, but the Dutch are willing to move if 
allowed to rent a nearby compound in reasonable condition for 
a reasonable price. End Note.) They argued that the ANSF 
were not yet strong enough in numbers or ability to repel the 
expected renewed Taliban push into the area. If the Dutch 
leave as they did in May, the tribal leaders assessed that 
the Taliban will inevitably try to take the district center 
once again, necessitating the Dutch to fight hard to regain 
lost ground, bombard the area and kill civilians, thus 
repeating the cycle. If the Dutch stayed, the tribal leaders 
argued, the cycle of violence remains broken and local 
residents can get back to normal life. Later in the week, 
Chora leaders reportedly sent a letter to President Karzai 
making similar arguments for retaining ISAF's presence in the 
vicinity. 

7. (S/NF) The Dutch commander indeed had stated his intent 
to withdraw from Chora by July 12. However, on Saturday, 
July 7, the TFU command staff reversed this position and 
decided to maintain a permanent presence in Chora for the 
time being. The Dutch will continue to secure Chora while 
local police are trained and more Afghan forces are sought 
for the province and the Chora area in particular. 

Iranian Training Bases in Gizab 
------------------------------- 

8. (C/REL NATO/AUS) Local leaders claimed that people 
traveling through Chora from Gizab district told them that 
Iranians were training Taliban fighters in Gizab. One person 
well known to the PRT said the training camp was in Beirai 
(phonetic), a village in a Hazara area of Gizab, but the 
tribal leaders were unable to provide more specific 
information. (Note: Gizab has been under Taliban control 
since March 2006; there is no GOA presence there, and no 
Afghan or international forces have attempted to address this 
problem to date. End Note) 

Comment 
------- 

KABUL 00002249 003 OF 003 



9. (S/NF) Chora leaders' decision to take a factual, 
pragmatic approach makes their story and pleas all the more 
credible. They seem to instinctively realize that it is not 
in their interest to complain loudly about civilian losses. 
And they are right. The political backlash this would cause 
here and in the Netherlands could force the Dutch military to 
end their current presence in the area, leaving residents 
once again vulnerable to Taliban attack. In fact, Chora 
leaders now are lobbying the Dutch to establish an 
international forward operating base in the area and have 
volunteered to provide land for the purpose. The Dutch are 
not inclined to do so, feeling that such a base would tax 
their resources beyond acceptable limits. However, they are 
beginning to consider the possibility of suggesting that the 
GOA establish an ANA base there supported by Dutch trainers. 
Regardless of what action is taken, all seem to have realized 
that local residents and international troops alike are 
better off continuing to work together in Chora to keep the 
Taliban out. 

WOOD