Massive civilian death toll in Mosul

While all the US media attention last week was focused on Donald Trump and Paul Ryan’s spectacular failure to have their health care bill pass in the House of Representatives, there was deadly violence in Iraq on March 17 that resulted in an estimated 150 civilian deaths. There are reports that an airstrike by the US-led coalition hit a residential building in a crowded part of Mosul and collapsed it, causing the deaths of many residents.

The usual pattern has been followed in the aftermath of these atrocities. The US did not accept responsibility while the Iraqi government denied that the coalition actions caused the deaths and suggested that ISIS may have booby-trapped the building or that a truck bomb nearby may have caused it to collapse. But the US did not immediately deny responsibility either, allowing them, after media attention has shifted elsewhere, to later slowly acknowledge that they were behind the attack.

In its statement on Saturday [March 25th, more than a week after the attack-MS], the US Central Command said “an initial review of strike data” indicated that an air strike on 17 March was carried out in west Mosul “at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties”.

The coalition “takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and a formal Civilian Casualty Credibility Assessment has been opened to determine the facts surrounding the strike”, it went on.

Then two days ago, the US military edged grudgingly towards accepting that they were responsible, though still leaving open the possibility that others were to blame.

A US army general has said coalition forces “probably” played a role in the 17 March air strike on west Mosul which may have killed more than 100 people

Lt Gen Stephen Townsend said the US had carried out air strikes in that part of Iraq on that day.
He said there was “at least a fair chance” the US was responsible, in “an unintentional accident of war.”

But he said it was also possible that so-called Islamic State (IS) had rigged the building with explosives.

Amnesty International said that the residents of Mosul had no warning and in fact were told not to leave the area before the strike and that there has been a lack of concern for civilian casualties.

Amnesty International has accused the coalition of failing to take adequate precautions to prevent civilian deaths.

The human rights group reported earlier on Tuesday that it had found evidence on the ground in Mosul pointing to an “alarming pattern” of air strikes that had “destroyed whole houses with entire families inside”.

Coalition officials have so far not commented on the Amnesty report, but they have previously insisted they take all reasonable precautions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians.

Glenn Greenwald says that the recent upsurge in civilian deaths in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen may signal that Donald Trump cares even less about civilian deaths than his predecessor Barack Obama and that this and other actions show that he is carrying out his promise to be barbaric and savage.

The most recent atrocity was the killing of as many as 200 Iraqi civilians from U.S. airstrikes this week in Mosul. That was preceded a few days earlier by the killing of dozens of Syrian civilians in Raqqa Province when the U.S. targeted a school where people had taken refuge, which itself was preceded the week earlier by the U.S. destruction of a mosque near Aleppo that also killed dozens. And one of Trump’s first military actions was what can only be described as a massacre carried out by Navy SEALS in which 30 Yemenis were killed; among the children killed was an 8-year-old American girl (whose 16-year-old American brother was killed by a drone under Obama).

In sum: although precise numbers are difficult to obtain, there seems little question that the number of civilians being killed by the U.S. in Iraq and Syria – already quite high under Obama – has increased precipitously during the first two months of the Trump administration. Data compiled by the site Airwars tells the story: the number of civilians killed in Syria and Iraq began increasing in October under Obama, but has now skyrocketed in March under Trump:

What’s particularly notable is that the number of airstrikes actually decreased in March (with a week left), even as civilian deaths rose – strongly suggesting that the U.S. military has become even more reckless about civilian deaths under Trump than they were under Obama:

Meanwhile US ally Saudi Arabia continues it murderous assaults in Yemen using US military hardware, this time killing Somali refugees who were carrying UN documents..

At least 42 Somali refugees were killed off the coast of Yemen late on Thursday when a helicopter reportedly attacked the boat they were travelling in.

Coastguard Mohamed al-Alay said the refugees, carrying official UN refugee agency (UNHCR) documents, were travelling from Yemen to Sudan when they were attacked by an Apache helicopter near the Bab el-Mandeb strait.

Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition in the war in Yemen, has US-built Apache A-64 Longbow attack helicopters.

Maj Gen Ahmed Assiri, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, dismissed the accusation saying that the force had not been involved in fighting in Hodeida.

Images from the aftermath showed Yemeni officials in Hudaydah examining some of the recovered bodies at the city’s port including men, women and children. Al-Hassan Ghaleb Mohammed told AP the Somalis on board had been trying to escape from war-torn Yemen and cross the Red Sea to get to Sudan in Africa.

This is so-called modern warfare, where civilians and refugees are the main victims.


  1. says

    When the US starts claiming that the enemy is “using human shields” that’s code for “they aren’t standing out in a field for our artillery” and it almost always presages some ‘accidental’ area bombing.

    One thing that’s pretty disgusting about the current situation is the US keeps talking about some mythical “coalition” that is doing the bombing. That’s bullshit: it’s the US Air Force flying air strikes for the Iraqi ‘army’ -- which means that there are US soldiers on the ground calling in the strikes while some Iraqi liaison points and says “there! bomb over there!” That’s the plausible deniability -- the US’ arguments, in order, were:
    1) Yes, we were flying strikes but under Iraqi designation
    2) Besides, they are using “human shields”
    3) OK we did bomb those buildings repeatedly
    4) But ISIS have been known to store explosives in buildings so maybe it was their explosives going off not ours
    5) I mean, when you drop a 1,000lb bomb on a building, it really goes BOOM
    6) Some of that BOOM may have been caused by ISIS
    7) OK we may have killed ‘some folks’
    8) We have to look forward, move on, don’t rehash the past

    That’s basically the same line the US has been using since it bombed the hospitals in Hanoi. And Afghanistan. Only the names of the dead change.

    Maybe in 20 years the US will just say, “Sure we blew it up. We thought it was a hospital.” like the Russians.

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