Usually when militaries change their official story about killing civilians it is designed to explain away innocent deaths as an accident. Today, however, NATO took the exact opposite approach with Sunday’s Marjah killings, revising their story to insist the killings were not an equipment error, but were part of a deliberate US targeting of a house full of civilians.
The initial story on Sunday was that the US troops tried to fire the rockets at suspected militants resisting the US-led invasion of the town. NATO claimed the rocket malfunctioned and veered 300 meters off course, destroying a house full of women and children.
The claims led to NATO announcing that the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HiMARS) responsible for firing the missiles would be suspended from use pending further review.
The review didn’t take long, however, as NATO announced today that the HiMARS did not malfunction, and the missile hit the house deliberately. Officials are now suggesting that there may have been militants in or near the house, though there appears to be no evidence of that and only civilians were killed in the house’s destruction.
NATO has promised to curb the number of air strikes against houses in Marjah in an attempt to reduce the number of civilians it kills in the invasion. Readers will recall that NATO urged civilians not to flee before the invasion. Three more civilians were reported killed today around Marjah, however, suggesting that as the offensive drags on civilians will continue to face danger.