TALIBAN PROPAGANDA WATCH: Shooting at Medical Choppers

I guess the Taliban can be happy now – they’ve reportedly shot down a helicopter in Kandahar Province:

“Mujahideeen of the Islamic Emirate shot down an American military helicopter at Chinar naw area of Shah Wali Kut district. As Mujshideen closed Kandahar –Uruzgan highway, the enemy tried to open the highway but faced resistance from Mujahideen. Severe fighting erupted which continued for three hours. Shells of mortars destroyed two tanks of the enemy while two tanks were destroyed by mine explosion. All the crew of the tanks has been killed. The report adds, the crashed helicopter is still in the area.”

A .pdf version of the statement is also viewable at a non-jihadi page here.

What Taliban mouthpiece Q.Y. Ahmadi DOESN’T mention is that they were shooting at a medical helicopter – this, from ISAF:

“Earlier this afternoon, an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) convoy, in southern Afghanistan, struck an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) resulting in the wounding of soldiers. When helicopters arrived to evacuate the wounded soldiers the insurgents opened fire on the medical evacuation operation, damaging one of the helicopters.

An attack on clearly marked evacuation aircraft is in clear violation of international accords for the protection of medical personnel.

One helicopter left the scene with all the wounded personnel whilst the damaged helicopter remains on the ground.”

A .pdf version of ISAF’s statement is available here.

It’s always possible the Taliban will say the ISAF statement is a lie, but this posting from Frostnipped Elf at Army.ca indicates the chopper would have been clearly marked:

“Medevac choppers are the only military platform that still use the Red Cross emblem outside the wire.  The ground ambulances ceased having Red Cross panels facing out several years ago because they were found to be too attractive as a target. “

Maybe the meaning of the Red Cross didn’t make it into their new manual?  In the same post, Frostnipped Elf also brings up another interesting point:

“I (the medical evacuation chain and the helo squadron commander) would be more concerned that an evacuation chopper was directed to and attempted to land in a non-secure helicopter landing site.”

Good point (although I could imagine situations where, potentially, it’s safe one minute, and not so much the next).

A few comments:

1)  I guess the Taliban High Command’ll be all over the troops on this one – after all, they have a new code of conduct, right?

2)  I’m sure the Taliban will also issue an update said code of conduct to expain  what the Red Cross (or Red Crescent or Red Diamond) mean.

3)  I await with interest media coverage of this transgression of “international accords for the protection of medical personnel” (as well as the fact that the Taliban are not signatories to said accords).

I’m not holding my breath.

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