The US-led coalition against Islamic State has carried out more than 100 new air strikes targeting the militant group's remaining strongholds in Syria's Deir Ezzor province, killing at least 80 civilians -- including dozens of women and children -- in recent weeks. US-led bombing resumed on October 24 following a particularly deadly period in which scores of Syrian men, women and children were killed in strikes on homes and mosques in and around the village of al-Sousa.
US Airstrikes Have Killed
Hundreds of Syrians Civilians in 2018
Since the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in August 1945, the US military has killed more innocent civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.
Latest US-Led Air Strikes
Kill At Least 80 Syrian Civilians Brett Wilkins / BrettWilkins.com & AntiWar.com
(November 9, 2018) -- The US-led coalition against Islamic State has carried out more than 100 new air strikes targeting the militant group's remaining strongholds in Syria's Deir Ezzor province, killing at least 80 civilians -- including dozens of women and children -- in recent weeks.
US-led bombing resumed on October 24 following a particularly deadly period in which scores of Syrian men, women and children were killed in strikes on homes and mosques in and around the village of al-Sousa.
On October 24, the UK-based monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported 16 civilians died in an air strike on the Al-Zawiya mosque in Hajin, the fourth coalition bombing of a mosque in less than a week. Local media and monitor groups said dozens more were wounded in the attack. Hajin magazine reported IS was using the mosque as a "headquarters."
On October 27, SOHR and local media reported that a family of five civilians -- a man, his wife and their three children -- were killed when their home in Al Boubadran village was bombed. The following day, Baladi News reported 20 civilians, mostly women and children, died in a US-led strike on the town of Al Shaafa. As many as 24 others were wounded in the attack.
Several sources including Baladi News and Free Deir Ezzor Radio reported a total of 17 civilians, including four women and three children, died in an October 30 strike on al-Kushma. Step News Agency reported the victims were the families of IS members.
That same day, local media and monitor groups said another four civilians, all from the same family, were killed by a US-led strike on Al Shafaa. A woman and a child were reportedly rescued from beneath the rubble.
On November 3, Smart News Agency and other media and monitors reported that between 14 and 21 civilians, mostly women and children, died when US-led warplanes bombed a house near Khalid bin Walid mosque in Hajin.
That same day, Al Shaafa was bombed again, with Al Jazeera and other media and monitors reporting that three young children -- identified as siblings Zaid, Ziyad and Aisha I'mad Mahmoud Al-Haj Al-Hussein -- died when their home was hit. Another five to 10 civilians were reportedly wounded in the attack.
The US-led anti-IS coalition acknowledged carrying out over 100 air strikes in Syria between October 28 and November 3.
The UK-based journalistic monitor group Airwars estimates at least 6,716 and perhaps as many as more than 10,000 civilians have likely died in more than 30,000 air strikes in Syria and Iraq since former president Barack Obama launched the anti-IS campaign in 2014. Civilian casualties have soared during the administration of President Donald Trump, who promised to "bomb the shit out of" IS and kill their families.
Trump loosened rules of engagement meant to protect civilians and in May 2017 Defense Secretary James "Mad Dog" Mattis announced that the US was shifting from a war of attrition to one of "annihilation" in Syria and Iraq. Mattis raised eyebrows and ire by adding that "civilian casualties are a fact of life" that cannot be avoided in such a war.
In the wider US-led war against terrorism, at least hundreds of thousands and likely more than a million men, women and children have died in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria since October 2001. Since the nuclear war waged against Japan in August 1945, US forces have killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.
Brett Wilkins is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and journalist, as well as editor-at-large for US news at Digital Journal. His work, which focuses on issues of war and peace and human rights, is archived at www.brettwilkins.com.
(October 24, 2018) -- US-led air strikes targeting one of the last Islamic State strongholds in Syria have killed more than 60 civilians, local and international media and monitors report.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) initially reported that 41 civilians, including 10 children, were killed in strikes on a mosque and houses in al-Sousa village in Deir Ezzor province, eastern Syria on Thursday and Friday. However, on Monday SOHR reported the civilian death toll had risen to 63. The monitor group also said 22 IS militants died in the raid. The Syrian Foreign Ministry claimed 62 civilians were killed in the attack and called on the United Nations to "punish the aggressors."
Although last week's air strikes have been widely reported by the international media, al-Sousa has been the target of at least dozens of coalition bombings during the anti-IS campaign.
In one particularly deadly period in mid-July 2018, at least 60 and as many as 100 men, women and children were killed in attacks in and around the village, including as many as 58 civilians who died on July 12 when US warplanes bombed an ice factory being used as a shelter and at least two dozen more who were killed while attempting to flee the area on July 21.
A spokesman for the US-led coalition acknowledged bombing the mosque last week, claiming it was being used as a headquarters by IS fighters.
"Such Daesh misuse of the mosque is another example of their violation of the law of war and made the mosque a valid military target," US Army Col. Sean Ryan told reporters, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State. Ryan said 12 people, all of them militants, were killed in the strike and that the coalition investigates "all credible allegations of civilian casualties."
However, many credible reports of civilian deaths are never investigated, and when investigations are conducted they often rely upon remote drone footage or pilot observations rather than the type of on-the-ground probe needed to glean adequate information.
US officials often deny, dismiss or deflect blame for civilian deaths, which number in at least the hundreds thousands -- and likely well over one million according to some credible estimates -- after over 17 years of nonstop war against Islamist militants in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Libya and, since 2014, Syria.
In the anti-IS campaign in Syria and Iraq, the UK-based monitor group Airwars says at least 6,575 and as many as nearly 10,000 civilians are likely to have died in coalition actions.
A December 2017 Associated Press investigation of civilian casualties in the battle to liberate Mosul, Iraq from IS control found that the city's civilian death toll was 27 times higher than the figure acknowledged by US military officials, with 9,000 to 11,000 civilians dying in Mosul alone.
Civilian casualties have soared during the administration of Donald Trump, who campaigned for president on promises to "bomb the shit out of" IS militants and kill their innocent families.
Once in office, Trump loosened rules of engagement meant to protect civilians and in May 2017 Defense Secretary James "Mad Dog" Mattis announced that the US was shifting from a war of attrition to one of "annihilation" in Syria and Iraq. Mattis raised eyebrows and ire by adding that "civilian casualties are a fact of life" that cannot be avoided in such a war. Recent US-led Air Strikes Kill at Least 73 Syrian Civilians Brett Wilkins / AntiWar.com
(July 25, 2018) -- US-led coalition air strikes targeting Islamic State militants have killed at least 73 Syrian civilians during the month of July, with most of these deaths occurring in two strikes in Deir Ezzor province, according to monitor and media organizations.
The UK-based journalistic monitor group Airwars reports the deadliest of the recent US bombings blasted an ice processing plant between the towns of Al-Bagouz Al-Fawqani and Al-Sousse in Deir Ezzor, where many civilians had gathered to collect ice on July 12.
Step News Agency reported US-led warplanes launched five successive strikes, killing 35 civilians and wounding 25 others. Smart News reported 28 civilians were killed, along with 26 IS fighters, with scores of civilians including women and children injured. Other local media sources reported as many as 58 civilians died in the attacks.
According to monitor and local media organizations, at least 24 and as many as 30 civilians, including women and children, died when US-led air strikes targeted several Deir Ezzor locations between Al-Sousse and Al-Dahra. Local media including Baladi News reported most of the dead were refugees fleeing from areas still controlled by IS.
Shortly after dawn on July 16, between 10 and 13 civilians, reportedly almost all of them women and children from a single family, died in a US-led bombing in Al-Baghouz. Step News Agency said the number of casualties was expected to rise as many victims were trapped beneath rubble after the attack.
Also on July 16, at least eight and as many as 13 civilians, including a displaced Iraqi couple and their daughter, were reportedly killed when US-led warplanes bombed at least two homes in Al-Sousse. According to Baladi News, jets bombed the home of Abdullah Hamid al-Ali, killing him and four relatives, while eight more civilians died in a neighboring home. Several other civilians were critically wounded in the attack.
Three brothers were also reportedly killed in a July 2 US-led air strike on a road near the town of Tal al-Shayer in southern Hassaka province. Step News Agency reported the men were traveling in a car on the road when it was struck by the bombing. A fourth brother was seriously injured in the strike and had his leg amputated.
The Trump administration has not publicly commented about the sharp spike in civilian deaths in the war against IS since Donald Trump became commander-in-chief. On the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016, Trump vowed to "bomb the shit" out of IS militants and "take out their families," a war crime. Once in office, Trump loosened rules of engagement meant to protect innocent life, and in May 2017 Defense Secretary James "Mad Dog" Mattisannounced that the US was shifting from a war of attrition to one of "annihilation" in Syria and Iraq.
Airwars estimates a minimum of 6,488 men, women and children have been killed by US-led coalition air and artillery strikes since August 2014, when former US president Barack Obama entered the Syrian civil war to fight IS. In the wider war against Islamist terrorism, which is now in its 17th year with no end in sight, credible estimates of the number of civilians killed range from the hundreds of thousands to over 1.3 million. Since the nuclear war waged against Japan in 1945, the United States has killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far. US-led Strikes Kill 100 Syrian Civilians
As Amnesty Reports Potential War Crimes in Raqqa Brett Wilkins / CounterPunch
(June 8, 2018) -- US and coalition warplanes over the past several weeks have been pounding areas of Syria's Deir Ezzor and al-Hasaka provinces still controlled by Islamic State militants, reportedly killing around 100 civilians, including more than 30 children, in the process. This, as the human rights group Amnesty International released a scathing report on Tuesday accusing the United States of possible war crimes during the battle to capture the de facto IS capital of Raqqa last year.
The deadliest recent air strike killed at least 24 civilians, including as many as 14 children, while they slept in their homes in the village of al-Qasr on May 1. Local and international media reported the victims, who included children as young as five months old, were from two families. Both the US-led coalition and Iraq have been blamed for the killings; both reported conducting air strikes in the area that day.
The town of Baghouz in Deir Ezzor was repeatedly bombed throughout May and June, with the UK-based monitor group Airwars and local media reporting 12 civilians killed in a May 10 US-led attack, another nine residents, including three children, killed in a May 31 strike and three more people killed on June 4, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
Hadaj, in al-Hasaka province, reportedly lost 22 residents in three US-led coalition bombings in recent weeks. Airwars and local media reported five women and four children died in a May 12 strike, while Al Jazeera and other media and monitor groups said at least eight members of a single family, including four children, died in a May 31 US-led strike. SOHR reported a man and his wife were killed by coalition bombing on June 2, with Euphrates Post reporting that two of the couple's children also died in the strike.
Airwars and other monitor and media sources reported 10 civilians killed in five separate bombing raids on al-Soussa, in Deir Ezzor, between May 16 and June 3.
In al-Hasaka province, monitor groups and local media reported eight civilians including a pregnant woman and three children reportedly died when warplanes belonging to either the US-led coalition or Iraq bombed their house in al-Hammadi village on May 11. As many as 14 civilians, five of them children, died in what local media reports claimed were attacks with internationally banned cluster bombs on al-Jazza village on June 4.
These latest reports of civilian air strike casualties come as Amnesty International released a report titled "'War of Annihilation': Devastating Toll on Civilians, Raqqa -- Syria" detailing what the human rights group calls "potential war crimes," including "disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks" committed by US-led forces that "killed and injured thousands of civilians" during the 2017 battle to capture Raqqa from IS militants.
The report's title is a reference to an announcement last May by Defense Secretary James "Mad Dog" Mattis that the US was escalating from a war of "attrition" to one of "annihilation." Mattis brushed off concerns about innocent Syrians trapped between coalition bombs and IS snipers and landmines, stating that in such a fight, "civilian casualties are a fact of life."
Mattis' declaration was in line with earlier campaign promises by Donald Trump to "bomb the shit out of" IS fighters and "take out their families" -- a war crime.
After taking office, President Trump loosened rules of engagement meant to protect civilian life, with disastrous results in not only Syria and Iraq but also in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen.
On June 6, 2017, just a week after Mattis' announcement, US and allied local and international forces launched the fifth and final phase of the campaign to drive IS from Raqqa.
As usual, US officials said they were fighting "the most precise air campaign in history," a claim repeated verbatim during the concurrent destruction of Mosul, Iraq, where more than 9,000 civilians died as US and coalition forces bombed and shelled their way to victory. However, the reality on the ground told a completely different story.
"The coalition's claims that its precision air campaign allowed it to bomb IS out of Raqqa while causing very few civilian casualties do not stand up to scrutiny," the new Amnesty report states. "On the ground in Raqqa we witnessed a level of destruction comparable to anything we've seen in decades of covering the impact of wars." It continued: "What leveled the city and killed and injured so many civilians was the US-led coalition's repeated use of explosive weapons in populated areas where they knew civilians were trapped. Even precision weapons are only as precise as their choice of targets."
The report looks at four Raqqa families that lost 90 members, including 39 from one family, to US-led air strikes and artillery attacks. The Pentagon said some 30,000 artillery rounds, which can have a margin of error of over 100 meters (330 feet), were fired during the battle. In densely populated urban areas, the results were devastating.
"Those who stayed died and those who tried to run away died… we were trapped," recalled air strike survivor Munira Hashish, who finally managed to escape with her children by carefully walking over the blood of people who were blown up by IS mines as they fled ahead of her.
One of the most scathing parts of the new report blasts US, Syrian Democratic Forces and other allied fighters for wiping out entire families during the final hours of the battle, shortly before granting IS fighters safe passage out of the city.
According to the local monitor group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, the final coalition assault on Raqqa left 1,873 civilians dead and thousands more wounded.
The group said some 450,000 residents were displaced as coalition forces destroyed around 90 percent of the city, including thousands of homes, eight hospitals, more than 40 schools and nearly 30 mosques. United Nations war crimes investigators last June condemned the "staggering" loss of innocent life caused by "excessive" US air strikes.
Airwars estimates a minimum of 6,321 Syrian and Iraqi civilians are likely to have been killed by US and coalition bombing and shelling since the anti-IS campaign began in September 2014.
Estimates of the number of civilians killed during the more than 16 years of the US-led war against terrorism range from the low hundreds of thousands to over 1.3 million [according to "Body Count: Casualty Figures in the 'War on Terror'," Physicians for Social Responsibility, March 2015 -- EAW].
Since the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in August 1945, the US military has killed more innocent civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.
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