VIDEO: Ukraine and Europe bans truth about MH17

Two and a half years ago, Ukrainian antiaircraft missiles brought down a Boeing 777 above Donbass. Many foreign citizens, who are fed up with recently announced fetched outcome of the investigation, are attempting to still know the truth. But Europe is not ready for the truth. Dutch police arrested two journalists who conducted an independent investigation at the crash site of the Malaysian Boeing.

Stefan Beck and Michel Spekkers spent eight days in Donbass. Over this time they made several interviews with the beholders of Boeing’s crash. They also collected plane fragments that were left in the area of the plane’s crash. However, having returned home, they were arrested in Amsterdam’s airport. All data storage devices were taken out.

“We had not only information about MH-17, but also many interviews of people who didn’t want to show their faces on the TV because they have reasons to worry. That’s why we’re concerned that this information will be given to the wrong places,” said Stefan Beck, independent Dutch journalist.

The journalist worries that the data collected will be shared with Ukrainian security service, which will use this witnessing to prosecute people who agreed to talk to the journalists.

In turn, Dutch police quickly justified their actions: “We had an impression that journalists were not going to deliberately give into government’s hands all the pieces relation to the investigation. That’s why their baggage was restrained and boarded at the airport.”

We recall that the crash of Boeing 777 took place on July 17, 2014. However, still nobody has been accused of it. There’s little information about it.

“MH-17 flight crush is the result of reentry vehicle’s explosion, which happened outside the plane.  The missile was fired from an area of 320 sq km in the east of Ukraine,” said  Tjibbe Joustra, the Chairman of the Dutch Safety Board.

Now investigators have a list of a hundred of suspects connected with the crash. Meanwhile, the time of investigation is limited to January 1, 2018.


US-led Coalition Airstrike On Assad’s Forces Was Not Accidental

On May 18, the moving convoy of the Syrian pro-government forces consisted of militias was hit by a massive airstrike of the U.S.-led international coalition. The accident occurred at the Syrian-Jordanian border near the settlement of At-Tanfa.

As reported by the official representative of the U.S. Central command Josh Jakes, the Pentagon did not have any information about the number of casualties as a result of the airstrike.

It is worth noting that the U.S. has previously hit the pro-government forces in Syria. For example, during Obama’s presidency the Syrian army positions in Deir ez-Zor were attacked by ISIS terrorists right after the United States had launched their own airstrike. According to the US officials that attack was a mistake caused by “the human factor”.

In April the U.S. Navy has already bombed Syria’s Shayrat Air Base, in response allegedly to the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack.

So, what’s the true reason of such aggressive actions of the US-led international coalition this time? A number of Syrian military analysts believe that the U.S. Air Force main task was to hamper Syrian pro-government forces and to slow down their further advance towards Deir ez-Zor rather than to ‘protect’ U.S. ‘partners’.

Their actions are motivated by the fact that the Syrian military command is ready for a large-scale military operation to liberate the city from ISIS. Damascus sees the complete liberation of Deir ez-Zor province from the blockade as the restoration of the control over the largest oil fields. This may significantly improve the economic situation in the country.

This Syrian city is also a tasty little deal for the coalition forces. The overwhelming desire of the West to plunge the country into a state of constant chaos is the main reason for the planned seizure of oil rigs.

The Syrian city was samely a kind of dainty bit for the US-led coalition. The irresistible impulse of the West to drive the country into the permanent chaos is the primary reason for the oil derricks seizure.

Furthermore, the air strike was performed amid the ongoing Syrian talks in Geneva. A show of power like that may have targeted at making the talks even more difficult and troublesome as they are.

Apparently, the US-led coalition’s regular strikes on the pro-government troops in Syria testify that Washington intends to continue its double-standard policy towards the Syrian conflict. We remember how they supported the establishing “de-escalation” zones but now their actions indicate the opposite. It is sheer cynicism to strike against those who really fight ISIS terrorists. But this doesn’t come as a surprise either in Syria or in the world.


Al-Jazeera & White Helmets stage fake ‘chemical attack’ – new details

According to the information confirmed by several channels on May 1, aided by Al-Jazeera’s professional crew including cameraman Samir Samarin, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants and the so-called ‘White Helmets’ have recently filmed a staged, fake movie of an alleged chemical attack against civilians by the Syrian Army in Saraqeb village not far from Idlib. Around 30 fire-trucks and ambulances, as well as local residents with children from an Idlib-based refugee camp were engaged in the filming of the movie.

According to FARS News, the White Helmets in Idlib are paid around 1,000 Syrian pounds per clip. For better trustworthiness, the filming crew burned tires to produce thick smoke. The shooting was conducted from two spots (near the oil factory and a TV tower) from different angles using a drone. Such filmings took place in Arihah and Jisr al-Shughour towns. The footages will be published in 15 days after a provocative shelling of the SAA positions aimed at causing retaliatory measures.


INVESTIGATION: Route of Bulgarian Weapon Deliveries to Syrian Islamists Exposed

An Investigation has being conducted  to expose a U.S.-backed of weapon supplies to the al-Qaeda group in Syria.
The suppliers list starts with U.S. companies Chemring and its affiliate Chemring Ordinance which previous year signed a contract with the American government and received $47 million in accordance with the Non-Standard Equipment and Weapons Procurement Program. Orbital ATK, another U.S. company was granted $50 million within the program.
The Bulgarian newspaper Trud which initiated a journalistic investigation sent an official request to both companies to clarify what the received money was spent on. Chemring responded some ammunition for the U.S. and its allies’ armies was purchased from Vazovski Mashinostroitelni Zavodi (VMZ-Sopot). It included 122mm rockets for the Grad MLRS, 73mm anti-tank shells and 40mm ammo for rocket launchers. The other company, Orbital ATK, simply ignored the request.

Vazovski Mashinostroitelni Zavodi (VMZ-Sopot)

Ammo of these types is not in service in the U.S. army. The company refused to disclose which U.S. allies it was intended for referring to the confidentiality of the supply contract. To be mentioned is that earlier Inside Syria Media Group wrote a piece on military vehicle deliveries carried out by the Liberty Passion ship via the port of Aqaba in Jordan on the pretext of tackling ISIS. In this case, the Bulgarian weapon supplies to al-Qaeda are transported via the largest Saudi port of Jeddah.
First, the munitions produced by VMZ-Sopot and purchased by the U.S. are delivered to the Bulgarian port of Burgas to be loaded on the Marianne Danica contracting carrier. This carrier has already traded twice in the route from Burgas to Jeddah.

The munitions are loaded on the Marianne Danica contracting carrier. Source: Bernd Wüstneck

To be noted is that the carrier makes no calls at any ports while spending on average 8 hours in Burgas and Jeddah – a minimum time required for fueling and cargo-handling operations, according to the tracking website Marinetraffic.com.

Cargo ship’s tracking data, Source: Marinetraffic.com.

At the same time, Marianne Danica officially declares that it transports extremely dangerous cargo. According to automated Identification System (AIS) type, the cargo is Hazard A (Major) which is the class for explosives and weapons. However, this cargo is evidently not intended for Saudi Arabia as its army is equipped with the armament provided by Western states only.
Neither the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Bulgaria nor the owner of the ship H. Folmer & Co have officially provided the information on the transported cargo along the route Burgas-Jeddah and the Bulgarian weapons’ recipient country.

H. Folmer & Co-owned Marianne Danica carrier at a port. Source: Marinetraffic.com

Moreover, Amnesty International declares this company and carrier had already been involved into a scandal while carrying tear-gas and riot control weapons including arms to Egypt in 2011. Then, the US State Department spokesperson had to admit it pointing out that H. Folmer & Co had allegedly been granted a license to transport armaments.

Col. Malik al-Kurdi

The fact of Bulgarian weapons deliveries to terrorists is confirmed by the FSA deputy commander Col. Malik al-Kurdi. In an interview to the Trud newspaper, he claimed that “an HQ has been set up in Turkey and Jordan to ensure cooperation between the special services of 15 states. We warned the U.S. and the EU that the weapons delivered in this HQ gets directly in the hands of the terror organizations.

It looks like a double game. I can say with certainty that these countries’ special services arm and finance al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, this is happening in Syria. They accuse anyone of terrorism pursuing the goals of their policies”.

As VMZ-Sopot announced its hiring and adopted continuous shift working, new American administration is up to conclude new contracts.
The recipient of the Bulgarian weapon purchased by the U.S. became evident in December 2016 when two million shells and four thousand rockets for the Grad were found at depos in the eastern districts of liberated Aleppo. The depos belonged to Jabhat al-Nusra.

Ammo for the U.S. army? Source: almasdarnews.com

In connection with this, it would be great to ask what ordinary American people, the relatives of 2,977 people killed in the 9/11 attack conducted by al-Qaeda, think about it.
In 16 years, the U.S. government has not avenged the victims nor eliminated al-Qaeda but instead keeps supplying it with the money of American tax payers.

Data related to investigation credit : Bulgarian Trud.


ESCALATION IN SYRIA: Erdogan I – The Phantom Menace of NATO

Deputy Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, Mark Toner, during a regular briefing on April 25 said that the U.S. expresses serious concern over Turkey’s aggression in Syria and Iraq.
It should be mentioned that in the morning, April 25 the Turkish Air Force struck the positions of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the Karachok mountain region in north-eastern Syria. They also attacked the positions of the Kurdish militia near the town of Sinjar. Turkish warplanes killed more than 20 fighters of Kurdish Peshmerga. Eight more soldiers were wounded. The targets hit by the Turkish Air Force in Syria also include local television and a YPG broadcasting media station. On April 27, the Turkish army continued its massacre of Kurds on the ground in the province of Aleppo.

Such active military actions on the part of the Turkish leadership against the only armed formation in the northeast of Syria that is capable to resist ISIS have been heavily criticized by the international community including Turkey’s main NATO partners.
Turkey which is well-known for its inconsistent policy carried out air strikes in northern Syria and Iraq once again without proper coordination with the U.S. and NATO. Moreover they acted without any approval of the U.S.-led coalition.
Under these circumstances concerns of the United States and other NATO member countries are understandable. The U.S. leadership has been playing the Kurdish card for a long time. The U.S. wish to use Kurdish units in their own interests is not surprising. Americans provide these groups with weapons, ammo and even air support, to say nothing of special task forces involvement.
At the moment YPG continues to advance the strategically important city of Al-Tabqa 35 miles to the south-west of Raqqa. It is considered the fourth phase of the Wrath of Euphrates operation carried out under the U.S.-led coalition command. However, Ankara’s latest stab in the back may force the Kurdish headquarters to stop their offensive towards ISIS because of the need to repulse Turkish and Syrian Free Army’s attacks in the north of the Aleppo province.
Kurds reacted immediately. According to France Press News Agency they called on the international coalition to stop Turkey’s air strikes against them. It seems that the U.S.-led coalition will be forced to respond as it is Kurd’s key partner in their fight against ISIS.
Turkey has repeatedly irritated NATO with such actions. Instead of becoming a pillar of international security in fighting terrorism the country, judging by its actions, is trying to prevent the Kurds from liberating Raqqa. Erdogan obliterates and bombs Kurds who are the only combat unit capable to resist terrorism. Military sources also reports of dozens victims on the eve of Turkish attack on Firfik settlement. American military instructors who are often engaged in the training process of military units in Syria and Iraq might have died as well because of such irresponsible actions.
The Turkish president strongly contributes to ISIS strengthening, he contradicts the NATO basic principles of fight against terrorism and do not coordinate his actions with the leadership of NATO. Turkey’s attacks on Kurds in Iraq and Syria are inherently criminal as they violate the international law.
It seems that Turkey’s attempts occupy some Syrian territories and to change the alignment of forces in the Middle East do not please the USA and other key stakeholders in the region. Apparently there is no point to keep Turkey in NATO whereas the leadership of the country is absolutely unpredictable. In a situation when the war against terrorism in Iraq and Syria is far from being over such aggressive actions definitely do not contribute to the consolidation of anti-terrorist efforts but intensify the already tense situation.


LafargeHolcim’ CEO Can be Resigned Because of Cooperation with ISIS in Syria

The French-Swiss world’s biggest cement company LafargeHolcim Ltd., previously was accused  of being involved into financing ISIS armed groups in Syria, announce the resignation of the company’s Chief Executive Officer Eric Olsen.

Olsen is leaving on July 15, with Chairman Beat Hess named interim CEO during the search for a successor, the Jona, Switzerland-based company said in a statement Monday. Olsen called his departure a bid to appease “strong tensions” arising from the Syria case. The company doesn’t hold him responsible, saying his role and possible implication “has been a point of attention.”
The source close to company states it’s not fully agreed what are the conditions under which the head of the company Erik Olsen is to leave the office. The company does not comment on this information too.
Le Monde and Bloomberg reported earlier the leadership of one of the company’s plants located to the northeast of Syria had financed ISIS armed formations in 2012-2014 in order to ensure the safety of the company’s employees and continue its activity. The company’s management paid taxes to IS fighters who had occupied neighboring cities and roads near the enterprise.

About LafargeHolcim

LafargeHolcim is the leading global building materials and solutions company serving masons, builders, architects and engineers all over the world. Group operations produce cement, aggregates and ready-mix concrete which are used in building projects ranging from affordable housing and small, local projects to the biggest, most technically and architecturally challenging infrastructure projects. LafargeHolcim employs around 90,000 employees in more than 80 countries.

About LafargeHolcim in Syria

Due to the nature of the product and its manufacture, cement plants are located in or near the markets they serve. In some locations, this presents distinct challenges. Syria is one such place. Lafarge built a cement plant in Syria which required almost 3 years to build at a cost of approximately $680 million. It started production in May, 2010, providing cement for homes, businesses, roads and the like for various communities throughout Syria. Almost from its opening, the political situation in Syria was rapidly deteriorating and posed very difficult challenges for the security and operations of the plant and our employees. Circumstances around the plant became increasingly worse and were ultimately untenable forcing LafargeHolcim to abandon it in September, 2014.


Donald Trump’s War Crimes

Just two and a half months into his presidency, Donald Trump has already distinguished himself as a war criminal. His administration is killing unusually large numbers of civilians, in violation of U.S. and international law.

The Trump administration began to kill civilians over inaugural weekend, with two drone strikes in Yemen that claimed 10 lives. One drone struck three people on a motorcycle. The other hit seven people riding in a car. Neither Trump nor Defense Secretary James Mattis admits to having approved the strikes. It is not clear who authorized them.

One week after his inauguration, Trump bemoaned the death of a U.S. Navy Seal in a botched raid he personally ordered in southern Yemen. Trump made no mention of the 30 people, including at least 10 women and children, killed by the U.S. bombers. The attack badly damaged a health facility, a school and a mosque.

Over the past month, the U.S.-led coalition has killed an inordinate number of civilians.

“Almost 1,000 non-combatant deaths have already been alleged from coalition actions across Iraq and Syria in March ― a record claim,” according to Airwars, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that monitors civilian casualties from airstrikes in the Middle East. “These reported casualty levels are comparable with some of the worst periods of Russian activity in Syria.”

Airwars says that U.S. aircraft have inflicted most of the casualties in the coalition strikes.

Indeed, so many civilians have died from coalition airstrikes since Trump took office, Airwars is reducing its work on “alleged Russian actions in Syria ― so as best to focus our limited resources on continuing to properly monitor and assess reported casualties from the US and its allies.”

During the last part of March alone:

― U.S. drones bombed a mosque in Aleppo, Syria, claiming at least 47 civilian lives.

― U.S. aircraft bombed homes, a school and a hospital in Tabqah, Syria, killing 20 or more civilians.

― A U.S.-led coalition airstrike on a school that was housing 50 families displaced by the fighting near Raqqa, Syria, killed at least 33 civilians.

― A U.S. airstrike in Mosul, Iraq, may have killed as many as 200 people, causing the largest loss of civilian life since the United States began bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq in 2014. The attack was approved somewhere in the Middle East, according to U.S. defense officials, probably by a one-star general or a team working under her or him.

Abu Ayman, who lives in Mosul, told Reuters he saw several flattened houses and severed limbs scattered around. “I ran to my next-door neighbor’s house and with others we managed to rescue three people, but at least 27 others in the same house were killed, including women and children of relatives who fled from other districts,” he said. “We pulled some out of the rubble, using hammers and shovels to remove debris. We couldn’t do anything to help others as they were completely buried under the collapsed roof.”

Another Mosul resident said, “Now it feels like the coalition is killing more people than ISIS.”

Chris Woods, director of Airwars, told the Washington Post, “Casualty numbers from western Mosul are absolutely shocking. In Syria it’s a car here, a family there. It happens every day.”

The coalition forces’ use of white phosphorous, a chemical weapon that burns to the bone, has been documented in Mosul. And the U.S. Central Command has confirmed that it has used depleted uranium, arguably a war crime, against ISIS in Syria.

Coalition Airstrikes Violate U.S. Law

The Trump administration, like its two immediate predecessors, justifies the use of armed drones and other forms of targeted killing with reference to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that Congress passed just days after the September 11, 2001, attacks. In the AUMF, Congress authorized the president to use force against groups and countries that had supported the terrorist strikes. But Congress rejected the Bush administration’s request for open-ended military authority “to deter and preempt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States.” Deterrence and preemption are exactly what Trump is purportedly trying to accomplish by sending robots to kill “suspected militants” or those who happen to be present in an area where suspicious activity has taken place.

In 2013, the Obama administration promulgated a Presidential Policy Guidance for targeted killing “outside areas of active hostilities.”

The guidance allows the targeting of a person who poses a “continuing, imminent threat” not just to “U.S. persons” but also to “another country’s persons.” A 2011 Department of Justice white paper, leaked in 2013, said a US citizen could be killed even when there is no “clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.” This makes a mockery of the “imminent threat” requirement. There is presumably an even lower bar for noncitizens.

In addition, the guidance requires “near certainty that an identified HVT [high-value target] or other lawful terrorist target” is present before using lethal force against him. Yet, like the Obama administration, the Trump regime probably mounts “signature strikes” that don’t necessarily target individuals, but rather all males of military age present in an area of suspicious activity.

And the guidance says there must be “near certainty that non-combatants [civilians] will not be injured or killed.” Given the large number of civilian casualties from drone strikes and other targeted killings, the Trump administration does not appear to be complying with this requirement.

Now, the Pentagon is proposing to expand “the battlefield” beyond Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, so that other designated countries won’t be considered “outside areas of active hostilities.” The threshold for protecting civilians would thus be lowered from “near certainty” that civilians won’t be injured or killed to a “reasonable certainty.” This will invariably result in even more civilian casualties.

Trump has designated three areas in Yemen, and will soon designate Somalia, “areas of active hostilities,” or “temporary battlefields.”

Moreover, the National Security Council is contemplating whether to rescind the Obama guidance altogether, eliminating the “continuing and imminent threat” requirement. It’s possible that it could modify the “near certainty” standard to apply only to women and children, but not to men of military age.

Trump has granted broad power to the CIA to conduct lethal drone attacks. Obama had largely limited that power to the Defense Department’s Joint Special Operations Command. The CIA, unlike the Pentagon, doesn’t have to report how many people it kills during a strike.

In mid-March, 37 former government officials and national security experts from across the political spectrum sent a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis, warning the administration to proceed cautiously when reviewing the targeted killing guidance. The letter said, “Even small numbers of unintentional civilian deaths or injuries … can cause significant setbacks.”

Regardless of the guidance, however, the coalition is still constrained by international humanitarian law.

“Self-defense,” under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, is a narrow exception to the Charter’s prohibition of the use of force. Countries may engage in individual or collective self-defense only in the face of an armed attack. To the extent the United States claims the right to kill suspected terrorists or their allies before they act, there must exist “a necessity of self-defense, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation,” under the well-established Caroline Case. Trump’s targeted killings do not meet this standard.

Drone attacks off the battlefield violate well-established principles of international law. Targeted or political assassinations ― sometimes known as extra-judicial executions ― run afoul of the Geneva Conventions, which include willful killing as a grave breach. Grave breaches of Geneva are punishable as war crimes under the U.S. War Crimes Act.

The United States has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states: “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.” The Covenant also guarantees those accused of a crime the rights to be presumed innocent and to a fair trial by an impartial tribunal. Targeted killings abrogate these rights.

There is also a legal obligation to comply with the requirements of proportionality and distinction, two bedrock principles of international humanitarian law, as delineated in the First Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions.

Proportionality means an attack cannot be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage sought. The administration is using drones to take out convoys and is killing large numbers of civilians, compared with the number of “militants” it is targeting.

Distinction requires that the attack be directed only at a legitimate military target. The coalition has been targeting sites with no clear military purpose, including hospitals, schools, mosques and passenger ferries. And if the Trump administration is continuing Obama’s policy of launching signature strikes, bombs are being dropped on unidentified people located in an area of “suspicious” activity.

The Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court defines the following as war crimes: willful killing; willfully causing great suffering or serious injury; intentional attacks against civilians or civilian objects; and intentionally launching unjustified attacks, knowing they will kill or injure civilians.

U.S.-led coalition bombings of schools, hospitals, homes and mosques, resulting in high numbers of civilian casualties, constitute war crimes.

Mosul Eye, a monitoring organization, warned Iraqi troops that civilians were trapped in homes days before the U.S. airstrike, even sending the coordinates. Amnesty International concluded that the U.S.-led coalition should have known its airstrikes would cause many civilian casualties because the government had told people to remain in their homes.

Amnesty International said the coalition was not using sufficient precautions to avoid civilian casualties in Mosul, calling it a “flagrant violation” of international humanitarian law. “Disproportionate attacks and indiscriminate attacks violate international humanitarian law and can constitute war crimes,” Amnesty International noted.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is planning to deploy an additional 1,000 troops to northern Syria. There are roughly 500 U.S. Special Operations forces there already, as well as 200 Marines and 250 Rangers.

The administration reportedly plans to lift the troop caps of 5,000 in Iraq and 500 in Syria that were established by the Obama administration.

Trump is asking Congress to add $54 billion annually to the military budget for what he refers to as his “public safety and national security budget.”

Disturbingly, Trump has not ruled out the use of nuclear weapons as he prosecutes his “war on terror.” In an interview on MSNBC, he wondered, “Somebody hits us within ISIS [also known as Daesh], you wouldn’t fight back with a nuke?”

And Trump made the troubling assertion that he would consider killing innocent families of suspected terrorists, declaring, “When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families.” Targeting civilians violates the Geneva Conventions.

The Trump administration will likely relax the rules of engagement for targeted killing, resulting in the deaths of increasingly large numbers of civilians, in violation of U.S. and international law.

Under the doctrine of command responsibility, commanders ― all the way up the chain of command to the Commander-in-Chief ― can be liable for war crimes if they knew or should have known their subordinates would commit them and did nothing to stop or prevent them. Command responsibility is enshrined in Supreme Court case law and the U.S. Army Field Manual.

Trump and other high officials in his administration should be held accountable for war crimes.


VIDEO: US airstrike on mosque near Aleppo in Syria kills 42 civilians

At least 42 people were killed and dozens more wounded on Thursday in airstrikes on a village mosque in northern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“The raids by unidentified warplanes targeted a mosque in Aleppo province during evening prayers, killing 42 people, most of them civilians,” said the head of the Britain-based Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman.

“More than 100 people were wounded,” he said, adding that many were still trapped under the collapsed mosque in the village of Al-Jineh, just over 30km west of Aleppo.


The Victims of US War Crimes Must Pay “War Reparations”: Cambodia owed the US $500 million “War Debt”

Cambodian officials and commentators reacted angrily over the recurring demand by the US government through its ambassador in Phnom Penh to repay what Washington calls “war debt” granted to the US-backed Khmer Republic of General Lon Nol which existed between 1970 and 1975.

The US Department of Agriculture financed $274 million in purchases of US-produced cotton, rice, maize and flour between 1972 and 1974 to the Khmer Republic which was seen as an ally in the fight against of communism in Southeast Asia at that time.

The deliveries were made to avoid any public uprising in Cambodia and quell hunger riots which began as early as 1972. The food situation was desperate by 1973 that malnutrition was common among children particularly in the cities.

But at the same time, US forces bombed Cambodia in an effort to disrupt supply lines of the Vietcong and the upcoming Khmer Rouge. It is estimated that US B-52 bombers dropped more than 500,000 tonnes of explosives on Cambodia’s countryside, half of them in 1973 alone.

The pilots flew at great heights and were incapable of differentiating between a Cambodian village and their targets, North Vietnamese supply lines, the so-called the Ho Chi Minh trail. It is believed that half a million Cambodians died from the bomb attacks at that time.

However, just recently, US ambassador to Cambodia William Heidt claimed that Cambodia owed the US something in the region of $500 million for “assistance” given to Cambodia’s Lon Nol government during the war, money which he says represent the 1970s loans plus interest over four decades.

Cambodia’s government said through a spokesman “it is not pleased” by Heidt’s remarks.

“They destroyed us and demand us to pay the debt for it,” spokesman Sok Eysan said.

Records of the loans were annihilated after the Red Khmer took over in 1975, and when the country was restored after the Vietnamese occupation in 1993, Cambodia’s national assembly declared the Khmer Republic and its actions illegal.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen argues that Phnom Penh is not obliged to pay the money back.

“The US created problems in my country and is demanding money from us,” he said, adding that “we also don’t demand that the US pay for the damage and destruction caused by the war. We just want the US to be responsible for the problem of the debt.”

Hun Sen since has lobbied with both US presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump to write off the debt, but Washington said it could not be canceled as this was beyond the powers of the President and would take legislation from US Congress.

Former war correspondent James Pringle, who was bureau chief for Reuters in Ho Chi Minh City in the 1970s, covering the invasion of Cambodia and the fighting in Vietnam, in an angry comment for Cambodia Daily on March 8 said that the US should rather be quiet about this debt.

“Cambodia does not owe even a brass farthing to the US for help in destroying its people, its wild animals, its rice fields and forest cover,” he wrote, rhetorically asking “what will they give in return? Will they resurrect the children and others who died under that terrible US pounding from the air over the years?”

Hun Sen pointed out that craters still dot the Cambodian countryside and villagers are still unearthing bombs, forcing mass evacuations until they can be deactivated.

“There are a lot of grenades and bombs left. That’s why so often Cambodian children are killed because they don’t know that they are unexploded ordnance,” he said. “And who did it? It’s America’s bombs and grenades.”


Judge’s warning to drunk women ‘will stop reporting of rape’

A female judge who told women they were at greater risk of being raped if they got drunk has been accused of victim-blaming by a police commissioner.

During her sentencing of a rapist in Manchester, Lindsey Kushner said there was “absolutely no excuse” for sex attacks, but that men gravitated towards vulnerable women.

In her final case before retiring, the judge said women were entitled to “drink themselves into the ground”, but their disinhibited behaviour could put them in danger and they were less likely to be believed than a sober victim.

The Northumbria police and crime commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, said the comments were “victim-blaming” and would stop victims coming forward.

The former solicitor-general told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “When somebody is raped they feel guilt and shame and they find it very hard to report it.

“If a judge has just said to them ‘well, if you drank you are more likely to get raped, we are not likely to believe you and you have been disinhibited so you’ve rather brought it on yourself’ then that guilt is just going to get worse.”

The former Labour MP said the judge should have given advice to help women stay safe instead of implying “it’s your fault for having attracted him in the first place”.

“She does say ‘yes, you can drink yourself daft and you can use your body how you want, but if you do you are more likely to get raped’. Now, I’m sorry, but that is putting responsibility on it.”