In March of 2017, the U.S led coalition stated that it would look into an airstrike that, according to the local civil defense officials, had reportedly killed around 200 civilians in the West Mosul neighbourhood of Aghawat Jadidah. U.S. Army Col. Joe Scrocca, a Baghdad-based spokesman for the coalition, at the time stated that the coalition was looking into any allegation of civilians killed, indicating that they were targeting the Islamic State. In that time, other attacks documented in the region occurred where dozens of civilians have been killed, such as the airstrike which killed around 30 civilians hit at a Syrian school, according to humanitarian groups in the region. The Pentagon stated that they would look into the incidents.
Fast forward to April of 2017, and as the death toll is reported to have been counted to up to 270 civilians killed in the Jadidah neighborhood, any investigation into these deaths appear to hardly and/or are never be looked into by the U.S coalition nor its coalition partners. A grim reality that unfortunately is commonplace, as the reports of the death toll in Iraq and Syria are in the hundreds or thousands killed by hundreds of U.S. airstrikes but rarely to never pick up investigations, despite numerous statements proclaiming to do so, and if any come into existence, the death toll reported by U.S officials is significantly lower than the recorded numbers in the regions which are much higher, documented by eyewitnesses, humanitarian groups, local media reports, etc.
For instance, in October 2016, Amnesty International stated that the U.S must come clean regarding the actual death toll of civilian casualties, to which beforehand in July of 2016, the Obama administration had to admit that 116 civilians were killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya between 2009 and 2015, but only due to pressure from human rights groups, to which later on rights groups and journalists rebuked the U.S government’s claim as “ridiculously low and unverifiable” due to lack of information detailing the dates, names of those killed, etc., a blatant contradiction to the 380 to 800 civilians killed according t0 the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism which tracked the drone strikes throughout the years, thanks to the help from reports by “local and international journalists, NGO investigators, leaked government documents, court papers and the result of field investigations.” Later on in December of 2016, the Guardian documented that the Obama administration dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016 alone. Afterwards, in January of 2017, the U.S.-led coalition and its partners like the U.K and France admitted to the “official” death toll of 188 civilians killed in Iraq and Syria since 2014 and would be “investigated” which Amnesty International stated once more that the death toll was much higher than the “official” number.
Soon after President Donald Trump’s ascension to the White House, airstrikes were carried out in Iraq and Syria in January 2017 to tackle the Islamic State, a major change to his previous stances years ago of him being against intervening in Syria without Congressional approval and his fears of Barack Obama killing innocent civilians that would make the country “look bad.” In February 2017, UN reports stated that at least 18 civilians were killed by a U.S. airstrike carried out in Afghanistan, and officials repeated once more to “look into it.”
The casualty numbers continue to rise in countries like Yemen once more, Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, and as the casualties rise, so did Trump’s popularity, with his approval rating in polls going up five points as of April 18th after Syrians were killed in airstrikes and after dropping the “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan on April 13th.
Despite the Pentagon’s insistence on the rules of engagement in Iraq and Syria not being altered, the U.S. military maintains its practice of holding back details of civilian casualties, with hands-on investigations being a rare treasure to seek out with commanders ordering a handful since the campaign against the Daesh, or the Islamic State, had started. This coalition acknowledges that it gets reports from news media and other monitoring groups like the nonprofit Airwars who state that there have been more casualties that the coalition doesn’t report. This fact, the coalition also acknowledges as “likely true.”
In the event, if any error that they bother to acknowledge is shown, nothing can be done. U.S. Army Col. Joe Scrocca states: “In certain circumstances families can request, and we may give them, an expression of our sympathy… it’s not meant to be compensation for lost loved ones. We do try to show our sorrow.”
Ah yes, the formal apologies that get dropped just as much as the bombs do. So kind! How thoughtful! Hooray! Problem solved. Everyone can forget about the blatant contradictions in the high death tolls from our beloved, trusted officials; everyone lives HAPPILY ever after.
The question begs. If the number of airstrikes rises, resulting in the number of casualties rising… when will the number of accurate investigations rise from those intervening in a foreign affair far from our shores? Why are the few that are “looked into” in the States report a lower death toll than the much higher death tolls documented in these foreign lands by journalists, rights groups, eyewitnesses, etc.? The previous administration’s reluctance to do so (and once doing so not because he wanted to out of the kindness of his sugar-coated soul, but had to, under pressure from human rights groups demanding clearance on an ongoing foreign situation that gets bloodier as time passes) leaves many questions left unanswered by the past “transparent” administration who created an even bigger chaos that he inherited from the Bush administration, and has now given unholy powers to the new administration who continues this bloody legacy that the new President swore to be against, but quickly changed tune once he got into office. Does it contradict the official narrative of “fighting for freedom” and “restoring democracy?” Why does our officials say different things to different crowds on this situation and have to be pressured to cough up any info that they denied moments ago as just being mere allegations? How many have to die for these goals of “freedom” while those in our government seek to strip us of our own freedoms and punish any who dare to expose their crimes?
Until these questions are answered, it could be too late for innocent civilians in these targeted countries who are left at the mercy of being slaughtered either by foreign bombs or at the hands of the “moderate rebels”. Or heaven forbid, whoever remains alive might come to seek vengeance for the deaths of their loved ones and attack innocent civilians on our own soil.
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