By Maxim Nikolenko.
What if this was the headline of the article on CNN, the New York Times, or Washington Post? Such title would probably bring about a conservation; perhaps, it could even kick-start a debate about the usefulness and productivity of the ongoing U.S-led bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq. More voices will emerge protesting the bombing, investigating its impact on the targeted countries, and pressing to keep the U.S. Air Forces Central Command transparent about its actions.
Thus, there are no headlines of such kind found on CNN, the New York Times, Washington Post, and other corporate media conglomerates.
A well-established silence, however, does not undervalue validity of the fact that 5075 bombs were dropped on the two countries as part of the U.S-led operation Inherent Resolve, with data available on the official website of (USAFCENT), updated the second week of each month under the column of “airpower summaries.”
“The figures do not account for coalition aircraft, so they are not a full representation of the total bombing raids”, pointed Jack Moore in his article for Newsweek titled: “Trump really is ‘bombing the shit’ out of ISIS just like he promised.” This is one of the few pieces I managed to find in the corporate press reporting on the subject.
Since the U.S-led coalition launched its campaign against Daesh (ISIS) in August 2014, the Syrians and Iraqis have experienced the full might of 98,532 American bombs, hence, with an unknown number of bombs rained by other coalition members. Furthermore, this August has been a record month, with more bombs released than in any previous month of Inherent Resolve. So far this year, 32,801 bombs fell on Iraq and Syria. This is also a record.
These multi-pound explosives are also “bombing the shit” out of civilians. No one knows how many innocent people have perished under “fire and fury” of coalition sorties, though the death toll is certainly higher than it is presented in the article on Newsweek, where the author designated only 5 sentences to express concern about the excessive use of air strikes in the fight against Daesh, by reminding readers about the massacre which occurred in Mosul’s al-Jadida neighborhood, where over 200 civilians died after their homes collapsed following a barrage of coalition air strikes in March 2017. In the article, the maximum death toll was reported at 140.
The tragedy in al-Jadida echoes a wider massacre which occurred in Mosul. At least 40,000 men, women and children died in almost 9 months of siege and fighting, with indiscriminate coalition air strikes being responsible for a sizable percentage of civilian deaths. The city of Mosul was flattened by thousands of American bombs. Such an aggressive bombing campaign was described by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, as a shift in approach from attrition to “annihilation tactics.”
Indeed, tens of thousands of civilians were ‘annihilated’.
Today, similar “annihilation tactics” are being applied in Syrian Raqqa, resulting in another massacre, a replica of Mosul.
At least 278 civilians were killed in the air strikes on Raqqa in the period from July 26 to August 29, according to the 6 media reports I managed to collect in the mentioned stretch of time. Most of these incidents had gone unnoticed in the Western media, though the presented figure from a stack of news reports is certainly an underestimate.
These 278 civilians are the victims of hundreds of bombs which rained the city, representing a fraction of the 5075 explosives released in August.
In 100 days of the battle, the magnitude of destruction in Raqqa is shocking, yet the prediction is that it will take months to fully recapture the city.
The Unproductive War Against Fostered Terrorists
In the wider region of Syria and Iraq, over 3 years of the U.S-led air strikes have achieved a marginal success in the fight against Daesh. Indeed, the massacres in Mosul and Raqqa are not the best examples of success. It is laughable to weight these ‘successes’ with those achieved by Russian airpower that supports the government forces in Syria.
Russia too is dropping thousands of bombs on Syria, targeting Jihadists, and killing thousands of civilians in the process. Nonetheless, the partnership of Damascus and Moscow have achieved a remarkable turnaround in the Syrian conflict.
According to the latest statement by the Russian Ministry of Defense, the SAA (Syrian Arab Army) has liberated 85% of Syria, a victory which was unthinkable just two years prior when Damascus maintained its authority of no more than a quarter of country’s land. Just recently, on September 5, the Tiger Forces, a special unit of the Syrian Arab Army, had successfully stormed the positions of Daesh near the besieged eastern city of Deir ez-Zor. Supported by Russian air strikes, they managed to lift a blockade of the city, bringing to an end over 1000 days of hell endured by its 93,000 remaining residents and the few division of pro-government troops who had heroically prevented the city from collapsing into hands of some of the world’s most atrocious fanatics.
Indeed, this is a victory, a symbolic triumph for the Syrian people against the darkness of Western-sponsored terror syndicates, who aimed to balkanize and destroy their secular multinational state.
The ‘smoking gun” about weapons of mass destruction and the “crusade” for democracy and human rights, still facade the pursuit of Washington and its client states to either oust the government of Bashar al-Assad or balkanize his country into pieces. For that mission, the CIA spent over $1 billion providing anti-Assad “rebels” with training and arms. Many of these “rebels” are Islamist affiliates of Al Qaeda, and thousands of their fighters had rebranded themselves in 2014, to declare the Islamist State of Syria and Iraq.
These days, after President Trump forced to end the covert CIA program, the Pentagon has stepped in to help, pumping millions of dollars into Syria, supporting the ‘moderate fanatics’ while practicing “annihilation tactics” against those it no longer classify as moderates.
These no-longer moderate fanatics (Daesh) are the targets of coalition jets.
Civilians are also the target, though they are unmentioned as such.
In July, for instance, while achieving absolutely no apparent progress against Daesh in Deri ez-Zor countryside, the U.S. planes have managed to annihilate 95 civilian lives in 4 separate massacres which occurred from July 24 to July 29. These tragedies had also gone unnoticed in the Western media.
Thousands of Civilians Killed
There are no reliant figures available on the number of civilians killed by the campaign of ‘annihilation’. “The UN estimates that an average of 27 people are being killed in Raqqa every day”, stated the UN Deputy Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien on August 31. Thus, it is plausible that 2322 civilians have died since the start of the Raqqa offensive on June 6.
On September 7, the Business Standard reported 978 civilians killed by the U.S-led air strikes within 3 months of the battle, reflecting the findings of the Syrian Observation for Human Rights.
In the wider region, the Airwars monitoring group has compiled reports of at least 5343 civilian deaths in 1134 days of the bombing. Of course, this figure represents a significant understatement, amplifying a minimum estimate the monitoring group was able to conclude under its methodology.
The evaluation process applied fragments the overall casualty figure by the quality of reports Airwars receives from local news sources and monitoring organizations. Thus, the casualties from the reports categorized as “fair” and “confirmed”, are premised to contain the most accuracy. In overall, however, the number of civilian deaths is estimated at 14,192, after the reports of high accuracy are combined with those classified as “contested, weak, or disproved.” In the final report, most of the 14,192 civilian deaths are “contested.”
These findings of Airwars were challenged by a journalist and writer, Nicolas J S Davies, who argues in his article on Consortium news that reliance on “passive” reports “captured between 5 percent and 20 percent of the actual civilian war deaths revealed by comprehensive mortality studies.” Davies went further stating: “a serious estimate of the number of civilians killed by the U.S.-led bombing campaign since 2014 would by now have to be somewhere between 25,000 and 190,000.”
This is what “killing terrorists” looks like in practice.
So far, American jets have conducted 17,558 air strikes in Syria and Iraq, with 4483 more being conducted by the coalition countries.
A silent massacre, a disaster of an unprecedented scale was created by this unproductive bombing campaign against the no-longer “moderate” medievalists.
At the time this article is written, dozens more coalition air strikes have been conducted. The Airwars monitoring groups has compiled reports of 235 civilian killing so far this month.
Before the next update of the airpower summaries on October 11, the Empire will most likely drop thousands more bombs on the targeted countries.
Can we afford to be silent about it?