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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wanted the recent Geneva II peace conference to focus on terrorism. He says terrorism is the main problem a...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

212 Syrian civilians killed in US air strikes as GOP calls for crushing ISIS

The area around Manbij, Syria, including Tokhar and Hoshariyeh, is a Daesh stronghold. There is currently a military campaign to clear Daesh, also called the Islamic State, ISIS or ISIL, out of this area. With air support from a US-led coalition, Kurdish and Arab ground forces from Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] are mounting this campaign. Given the current political climate in the wake of so many ISIS claimed terrorist attacks, the pressure to be seen as making gains in the war against ISIS is enormous.

One of the big problems this US coalition has, especially with regards to the effective use of their overwhelming air supremacy is that the area is still filled with civilians and Daesh is using them as human shields - not allowing them to leave. Apparently, the solution to this dilemma chosen by the US coalition is now "damn the civilians, full speed ahead."  We've seen this before in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, and this has always been the approach of the Syrian and Russian war planes bombing Syria, and now we are seeing the United States making major contribution to the civilian carnage even as they are looking forward to greater cooperation between American and Russian pilots in bombing Syria.

Initial reports on Tuesday's air strikes around Manbij put the bodycount at 56 or more, including 11 children in Tokhar. Ten others, including 4 children were killed by a US air strike on nearby Hamira. Residents say that over 200 civilians were killed in recent air strikes. Little of this is being reported in the US media, which is filled with accounts of ISIS atrocities and demands that something be done about them. As a result, it is likely more civilians were killed by US war planes over Syria yesterday than were killed by NATO war planes over Libya in that 8 month campaign. NY Times, HRW and UN studies put that number at ~75.

NATO's Libya campaign was led by the Europeans and they showed how to use careful planning, smart bombs almost exclusively, and a willingness to abort missions if things weren't right, to carry out a devastating air campaign against a military target while minimizing civilian casualties. Until nations no longer wage war from the skies or until there is a better example, I think NATO's Libya campaign is the new standard by which all others must be judged.

The current US air campaign over Syria does not meet that standard.

During Operation Unified Protector, NATO planes "dropped ordinance", which is to say actually attacked something, on less than 20% of their "strike missions." If they didn't have a clear shot at a target that really did minimize civilian causalities, they didn't take it. That is probably the main reason they were able to help overthrow Gaddafi while killing less civilians than they did yesterday.
“As of today, and since 31 March, the U.S. has flown a total of 3,475 sorties in support of OUP. Of those, 801 were strike sorties, 132 of which actually dropped ordnance.”
            - AFRICOM spokeswoman Nicole Dalrymple in a statement issued 29 June 2011
Recently I've heard a number of Fox News military analysts, and their ilk, complaining that in the current US war against ISIS that Obama wasn't being tough enough, that, for example, US war planes were sometimes returning from missions without having actually bombed anything! "How are you going to defeat ISIS that way?" they complain.

Then this happens.

Like the people in Paris or Brussels, these civilians were trying to get on with their lives as best they could when bombs suddenly started exploding around them. These people are also victims of terrorism, delivered from above by American, Russian and Syrian bombers.

And for the benefit of those that couldn't care less for Arab lives, I would also like to point out that Daesh can never be defeated by killing Arabs from the air.


Aljazeera is reporting:
Syria: Coalition bombing kills at least 56 civilians

Mostly women and children reportedly killed in coalition air strikes on ISIL-held northern Syrian town.
19 July 2016
At least 56 civilians, including 11 children, have been killed in US-led air strikes against areas in Syria held by the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS), a monitoring group said.

Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washinton, said that at least one town near the city of Manbij was allegedly hit by a coalition strike and that many of the casualties were reportedly women and children.

"The US central command has confirmed to Al Jazeera that it was conducting air strikes in the area and says it needs to investigate allegations of whether civilians were injured or killed in this incident."

Director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel-Rahman told DPA news agency: "We believe that the raids which were carried out Tuesday were by US [or] allied planes, but it was by mistake."

Residents in the area say the death told could be upwards of 200.

"It seems that the Syrian Democratic Forces under the leadership of the International coalition which is in charge of planning have decided to adopt a scorched earth policy," Hasan al-Nifi, a community leader in Mabij, told Al Jazeera.

"Manbij is full of residents, a quarter of a million residents, used by ISIL as human shields. Yesterday the coalition struck Al Zahuna neighbourhood, where more than 23 people were killed. Then it struck the western gate of the city, killing 6 people."

"Today the residents of Toka woke to a horrific massacre. The death toll rose to 212 and the numbers are rising."
More...



The New York Times is reporting:
Dozens of Civilians Reported Dead in U.S.-Led Syria Airstrike

By Reuters
19 July 2016
At least 56 civilians were reported killed on Tuesday in airstrikes north of the besieged Islamic State-held city of Manbij in northern Syria, and residents said they believed the attack was carried out by aircraft from the United States-led coalition, a monitoring group said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the dead included 11 children, and that dozens more people were wounded. More...

Unlike Daesh, which has a record of collaboration with the Assad Regime. al Nusra, while still an extremist al-Qaeda affiliated group, has been a starch opponent and often joined alliances with others in the Syrian opposition. That is why US air strikes against this group are seen as particularly treacherous. As with Daesh, these air strikes are having the opposite of the intended effect. Now Media is reporting:
Al-Qaeda on the rise in Syria

After alienating many host communities, Nusra is once again gaining support due its military exploits and the prospect of a US-Russian air coalition against the group
Haid Haid
19 July 2016
There is a general assumption that the Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra is weakening in the face of the regime of Bashar al-Assad’s recent militarily achievements and international led airstrikes against the group. The increase in the number of anti-Nusra demonstrations this year, especially in Idlib, is usually cited as evidence to support this assumption. Yet, according to sources close to the group, Nusra has accepted more than 3,000 Syrians from Idlib and southern Aleppo into its ranks since February alone. While Nusra is experiencing this extraordinary rate of recruitment, other Western-backed groups in these areas are losing local support and manpower. It is therefore important to look at the reasons behind this significant increase in Nusra’s recruitment rate and what it portends for the future. More...
Is it too much to hope that the US anti-war movement will soon start to protest the slaughter of civilians that the Iranians and Russians have been doing for some time, now that the Americans are starting to join it in earnest?

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

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