U.S. killed “64 civilians,” that’s just tip of the iceberg

November 14, 2021 - 18:40

TEHRAN - The United States military covered up, what most legal experts will view as war crimes, by killing at least 64 women and children during two back-to-back airstrikes in Syria. That’s according to an investigation just released by the New York Times.

The paper says it has managed, over the space of several months, to access, collect and scrutinize details of the strikes in the Eastern Syrian town of Baghuz, Deir al-Zowr province. These include confidential documents and descriptions of classified reports, as well as interviews with military personnel directly involved, and officials with top secret security clearances who discussed the incident on the condition they remain anonymous. 

A U.S. drone had circled overhead and only saw a large crowd of women and children gathered next to a river bank. An American F-15 warplane then flew over the drone and dropped a 500-pound bomb on the women and children. As the smoke cleared, some of the civilians stumbled away in search of cover, when an American warplane struck again, this time dropping a 2,000-pound bomb, killing the survivors.

It’s actually a similar method that has been used by Daesh and other terrorist groups over the past two decades. They detonate a bomb where civilians are located and then blow up rescuers trying to save the injured with a follow up second bomb. 

This attack occurred on March 18, 2019 when, according to the NYT report, uniformed personnel at the U.S. military’s Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, viewing the live drone footage stream watched on with “stunned disbelief. On the records of a secure chat system that was used by those monitoring the live drone footage, a confused military personal typed “who dropped that?”  Another responded “we just dropped on 50 women and children.”

The initial battle damage assessment quickly found out the number of dead was actually about 70.

The Baghuz strike has never been publicly acknowledged by the U.S., despite the fact that the investigation shows that American military officials were immediately aware of the death toll. 

The report also notes a legal officer flagging the strike as a possible war crime that required an investigation. But the military made moves that concealed the lethal attack with the the death toll downplayed, reports delayed, sanitized and kept secret. 

U.S. forces even went to the extent of bulldozing the site of the explosions. 

An inquiry by the U.S. Defense Department’s independent inspector general was stalled and meddled with leading to no mention of the strike.

The investigation cites Gene Tate, an evaluator who worked on the case for the inspector general’s office and agreed to discuss the aspects that “were not classified.” He says, “Leadership just seemed so set on burying this. No one wanted anything to do with it. It makes you lose faith in the system when people are trying to do what’s right but no one in positions of leadership wants to hear it.”

Tate, a former Navy officer, worked for years as an analyst with U.S. intelligence agencies before moving to the inspector general’s office, says he denounced the lack of action and was eventually forced out of his job.

The investigation found that the airstrikes had been requested by a secret American special operations unit, called Task Force 9, operating in Syria. Task Force 9 is said to have operated with so much secrecy that it did not even inform its own military partners of its actions. In the case of the Baghuz bombing, an officer who served at the command center claims the American Air Force command in Qatar had absolutely no idea the strike was coming. 

Drone footage of the aftermath just showed what one would imagine of the apocalypse.In the minutes after the strike, an Air Force lawyer ordered the F-15 squadron and the drone crew to safe guard all video and other evidence. He reported the strike to his chain of command, saying the attack was a possible war crime which meant a thorough, independent investigation was required. However, that never happened. 

The New York Times says it has sent its findings to U.S. Central Command which acknowledged the strikes for the first time and added that 80 people were killed but justified the airstrikes by making a claim that the bombs allegedly killed some 18 fighters and four civilians. As for the other 60 people killed, the statement received by the newspaper claims it was not clear whether they were civilians. 

The terrorist attack in Baghuz that killed at least 68 civilians is nothing new or rare. 

The attack is just the tip of the iceberg. 

The reality is the United States has conducted tens of thousands of airstrikes in its alleged war against Daesh in Iraq and Syria without any transparency on civilian casualties. 

For instance, in 2017 residents and security sources in the Iraqi city of Mosul said American airstrikes in the neighborhood of Jidideh killed some 200 civilians after U.S. warplanes bombed a residential area and flattened family homes. 

But the fact of the matter is America did not flatten family homes in Mosul’s Jidideh neighborhood. America flattened all the neighborhoods in Mosul. America carpet-bombed Mosul and leveled Iraq’s second largest city to the ground. 

Nobody knows the precise figure of civilian fatalities in Iraq or Syria. It could number in the hundreds, it could be thousands, it could be tens of thousands and it could be hundreds of thousands. No probe has been conducted. No internal American investigation has been carried out and no international investigation ever took place. 

Drone footage of the aftermath following the bombing campaign in Mosul just showed what one would imagine the apocalypse will kind of look like. 

The same goes for the Syrian city of Raqqah. Again, an entire city flattened to the ground by American warplanes. No details on the exact number of civilian deaths by those airstrikes. 

The U.S. acknowledges it carried out around 35,000 airstrikes in its alleged war against Daesh in Iraq and Syria. Monitoring groups say the number is much higher. 

The number of civilian fatalities in Iraq and Syria grew after former U.S. President Donald Trump took office. Trump was so eager to ensure Daesh was defeated during his tenure that he loosened the rules of engagement by allowing personnel with much lower military ranks to authorize airstrikes. For example, In March 2017, the Syrian Network for Human Rights reported that U.S. airstrikes killed more civilians than the number of civilians killed by Daesh terrorists. 

That change in strategy by Trump did not lead to the defeat of Daesh. It has been well documented by military experts that terror groups cannot be defeated by airstrikes. For territorial gains or the liberation of territory ground troops must be present; and for two countries (Iraq and Syria) they must be present in large numbers. On the battlefield itself in Syria, the Syrian army and its allies Russia, Iranian military advisers and Hezbollah forces took on Daesh in street battles that significantly limited the damage to a city’s infrastructure or the death of civilians. Airstrikes were called in only after the safe passage of civilians away from the battle. 

In Iraq, the Popular Mobilization Units, formed in the summer of 2017 by volunteers, after the U.S. trained Iraqi army collapsed, spearheaded the battle against Daesh. Again, civilian deaths and infrastructure was very limited in comparison with American airstrikes. For example, in the battle for Tikrit, the Popular Mobilization Units spearheaded the battle and liberated the city with officials saying 3% of Tikrit’s infrastructure had been damaged. That allowed for the quick return of civilians to their homes. In Mosul, civilians are still internally displaced waiting for their neighborhoods to be repaired. 

One of the most tragic casualties of U.S. airstrikes in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia or anywhere else in the Muslim world is that they tend to kill civilians and destroy family lives. This is one of the fastest methods to turn ordinary people into extremist elements that go on to pose a security threat to their own country and even internationally. 

It would be daft for Washington not to have realized this pattern. But critics would argue maybe that’s what the Pentagon wants.


 

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