US Bombs Killing Record Numbers of Civilians in Afghanistan and Syria
November 15, 2018
Niall McCarthy / Forbes & Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
Since Donald Trump announced a new Afghan strategy and committed more troops to the country, the number of bombs dropped by the US coalition has surged dramatically while a change in the rules of engagement has led to more civilian deaths. Meanwhile, in Syria, Trump's threat to "target the families" of rebel forces has lead to the deaths of at least 41 civilians in the town of Hajin while US airstrikes killed another 28 in neighboring al-Shaafa. At least nine children were killed in these US airstrikes.
The US Never Dropped As Many Bombs
On Afghanistan As It Did In 2018
Niall McCarthy / Forbes
(November 13, 2018) -- 17 years after US forces and the Northern Alliance captured Kabul, half of Afghanistan has been retaken by the Taliban and the war is dragging on. ISIS have also become increasingly active in the country and approximately 14,000 US troops are still serving there in an attempt to contain a growing wave of extremism.
Even though the conflict has been making fewer headlines in recent years, the US has never dropped as many bombs on Afghanistan as it did this year. According to US Air Forces Central Command data, manned and unmanned aircraft released 5,213 weapons between January and the end of September 2018.
Previously, 2010 held the record for weapons dropped on Afghanistan with 5,101 releases recorded in total. That was a deadly year, which saw 711 ISAF troops and 1,271 civilians killed.
Towards the end of Obama's presidency, the number of bombs dropped declined with 947 instances in 2015 and 1,337 in 2016. Since President Trump announced a new Afghan strategy last August and committed more troops to the country, the number of bombs dropped by the US coalition has surged dramatically.
The increase is primarily due to a change in the rules of engagement which allows coalition forces to open fire on the enemy without being in contact with them. That change was orchestrated by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis who wants to remove such restrictions to employ air power more effectively. Unfortunately, the change in the rules combined with a higher pace of airstrikes by the Afghan Air Force (not included on the following infographic) has also led to more civilian deaths.
Last month, the UN announced that the number of civilian casualties in the first nine months of 2018 is higher than in any year since it started documenting them in 2009.
US Airstrikes Kill 28, Mostly Civilians, in Eastern Syria
Nine children reportedly slain in
strikes targeting 'ISIS families'
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(November 13, 2018) -- Over the weekend, US airstrikes killed at least 41 civilians in the Eastern Syrian town of Hajin. On Tuesday, US strikes killed another 28 in the neighboring town of al-Shaafa, another of the towns under ISIS control.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the US attacks were targeting the family members of ISIS fighters. Of the 28 slain, at least 22 have already been identified as civilians, with six others yet to be identified. Nine children were among the slain.
As the Kurdish YPG tries to take these towns away from ISIS, they have carried out multiple offensives in the area. The US has tried to offer air support for the YPG, and as has so often been the case, this seems to be killing vastly more civilians than anything else.
Though the YPG had briefly had to back off the offensive against the ISIS towns, which are on the Iraqi border, to react to Turkish attacks further north, those attacks have quieted down, and the focus is back on ISIS. Even when YPG forces have been attacking, they've faced stiff resistance, as ISIS has ambushed them repeatedly.
US Airstrikes Kill at Least 41 Civilians in Eastern Syria
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(November 11, 2018) -- Aiming to support a struggling Kurdish invasion of the area, a flurry of US-led airstrikes against the ISIS-held town of Hajin, in eastern Syria, killed at least 41 civilians, including 17 children over the past several days.
The death toll was reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who warned it was likely that the toll would further rise because of the number of wounded. The US has yet to comment on the attacks.
That's become increasingly common. US officials have been less and less transparent about their overseas operations, and nowhere is this more glaring than in Syria. In recent months, despite very well established US strikes, the Pentagon has claimed virtually no casualties in Syria.
Syria's Foreign Ministry responded to this most recent report by calling on the UN to start an independent international investigation into the US-led coalition's airstrikes, saying the world needs to punish those responsible.
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