Oscar Winning, Nobel Prize-Nominated White Helmets Graduate to Beheadings

Oscar Winning, Nobel Prize-Nominated White Helmets Graduate to Beheadings

What are Syria’s UK-funded White Helmets doing when they’re not proclaiming solidarity with London firefighters and staging fake chemical attacks to provoke a US bombing campaign of their own country?

If you answered “assisting beheadings”, congratulations. You were correct. Unfortunately.

Behold:

A video has hit the internet showing rebels in the southern Dara’a province unloading Syrian army dead from a pick up truck and dumping them at a garbage dump. Some of the soldiers have been beheaded, and the rebels are sure to dangle one of the severed heads for the camera.

To top it all off, one of the rebels can clearly be seen sporting a White Helmets t-shirt.

We don’t actually recommend watching the video — we wish we hadn’t — but if you must here is the link. (The logo is clearly visible at 0:17 when the White Helmet climbs onto the truck.)

Apparently this is a thing for the White Helmets. In a video released last month they assist a public execution, where an alleged criminal is shot to the back of the head: link.

Job well done? Afghan Opium Production 40 Times Higher Since US-NATO Invasion

Afghan Opium Production 40 Times Higher Since US-NATO Invasion

Source: teleSUR

Since the U.S.-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the production of opium in the country has increased by 40 times according to Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service, or FSKN, fueling organized crime and widespread death.

The head of the FSKN, Viktor Ivanov, explained the staggering trend at a March U.N. conference on drugs in Afghanistan. Opium growth in Afghanistan increased 18 percent from 131, 000 hectares to 154, 000, according to Ivanov’s estimates.

“Afghan heroin has killed more than one million people worldwide since the ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ began and over a trillion dollars has been invested into transnational organized crime from drug sales,” said Ivanov according to Counter Current News.

Prior to the invasion of Afghanistan, opium production was banned by the Taliban, although it still managed to exist. The U.S. and its allies have been accused of encouraging and aiding in the opium production and the ongoing drug trafficking within the region. Ivanov claimed that only around 1 percent of the total opium yield in Afghanistan was destroyed and that the “international community has failed to curb heroin production in Afghanistan since the start of NATO’s operation.”

Afghanistan is thought to produce more than 90 percent of the world’s supply of opium, which is then used to make heroin and other dangerous drugs that are shipped in large quantities all over the world. Opium production provides many Afghan communities with an income, in an otherwise impoverished and war-torn country. The opium trade contributed around $US2.3 billion or around 19 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP in 2009 according to the U.N.

Around 43 percent of drugs produced in Afghanistan are moved through Pakistan, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The Islamic State Group is reported to have recently taken over opium production and trafficking. In November, the extremist group was estimated to be earning over $US 1 billion from the opium trade. Profits also go to international drug cartels and money-laundering banks

US Massacring Civilians in Syria While Pretending to Combat ISIS

US Massacring Civilians in Syria While Pretending to Combat ISIS

US Massacring Civilians in Syria While Pretending to Combat ISIS by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman) Civilians suffer most in all wars. In post-9/11 US conflicts, millions perished, were wounded or maimed for life, tens of millions more displaced. For most, their welfare and futures were destroyed on the phony pretext of combating terrorism Washington created and supports. Terror-bombing Iraq, Syria and other countries has nothing to do with liberating them from ISIS and likeminded groups – everything to do with imperial dominance, resource plunder and exploiting the people of ravaged nations. Media scoundrels glorify them in the name of peace – supporting what demands condemnation.

Opposing them is considered unpatriotic, the human toll of no consequence in all US wars. Mass slaughter and destruction reflect strategic decisions taken in waging them. America pretends to be combating ISIS in Syria while providing support.

Russia demands a clear explanation in detail about the US downing of a Syrian Su-22 aircraft. All that’s forthcoming will be Washington claiming the right of self-defense while pursuing naked aggression. Moscow continues to believe accommodation with America can be found – despite consistent betrayal numerous times before. Deals it agrees to are flagrantly breaching virtually always – proving it can never be trusted. Chances for cooperation between Washington and Moscow are nil. Believing otherwise is foolhardy. RT Arabic interviewed former Raqqa resident Abu Abdullah. In fleeing the city, a US-led airstrike killed his daughter, he explained, saying: “Coalition planes struck the district of Dariya. I was with my daughter at the time, and just like that, she perished in the blast.” “I lost my leg. More often than not, US planes hit civilians, not” ISIS as claimed. T

he cold, hard true about US aggression is that “mostly civilians (are dying) in the Dariya district, (including) the agricultural university, the Al-Hal market, (and) hospitals. All these buildings suffer from coalition bombings. No place is safe.” The only way out of the Raqqa cauldron is by paying hundreds of dollars to smugglers, he said – likely also true in Mosul, US terror-bombing massacring civilians there as well. Media scoundrels report none of this, suppressing the dark side of all US imperial wars – most Americans none the wiser. VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net

American Air Force FOR ISIS And Al-Nusra

American Air Force FOR ISIS And Al-Nusra

By Stephen Lendman
stephenlendman.org
6-21-17

 

All wars have dirty secrets, including why they’re launched, their true objectives, and how they fit into the aggressor’s grand scheme of things.

America operates like a global Mafia hit squad with nukes, waging wars for power, profits and regime change. All its wars are flagrant acts of aggression against nations threatening no one ­ the highest of high crimes.

Justifications offered are Big Lies. Media scoundrels support what demands condemnation, pretending the rape and destruction of one nation after another by America is a noble cause ­ glorifying wars in the name of peace, ignoring the human toll.

Imperial wars are called liberating ones. Plunder is called economic development. US dominance over ravaged nations is called democracy building ­ a notion Washington abhors, tolerating it nowhere at home or abroad.
.

Might justifies right. Nations are destroyed to free them. Monied interests alone benefit. The horrors of war are kept out of public view.

Patriotism means going along unquestionably. Terrorism is what they do, not us. Possible nuclear war risks humanity’s survival, yet it’s never mentioned in public discourse.

Benjamin Franklin was right, saying “(t)here is no such thing as a good war or a bad peace” ­ his advice never heeded.

Big Lies launch wars. Truth-telling could prevent them. Propaganda convinces most people to accept what demands opposition ­ or at least not protest publicly en masse.

ISIS, al-Nusra and likeminded terrorist groups exist and flourish because of foreign support ­ notably from America, NATO, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel and their rogue allies.

Washington pretends to be waging war on these groups while covertly providing them with weapons, munitions, other material support and aerial cover, operating as their air force ­ destroying vital infrastructure, downing a Syrian aircraft and drones, attacking government and allied ground forces.

Incidents too numerous to ignore suggest possible greater US escalation of war ahead than already.

The Afghan war was lost years ago, but continues endlessly. War on Iraq, including genocidal sanctions, was waged directly or indirectly by six US presidents.

Syria is Obama’s war, now Trump’s, escalating US aggression in all its conflict theaters after promising to be non-interventionist ­ threatening possible war on Iran and North Korea, risking direct confrontation with Russia and China.

Throughout America’s war on Syria, naked aggression, not civil conflict as falsely portrayed, it’s used ISIS, al-Nusra and other terrorist groups as imperial foot soldiers ­ US-led so-called coalition warplanes serving as their air force.

Media scoundrels pretend not to notice. Russia calls the presence of US and allied forces in Syria illegal.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov bluntly said America’s downing of a Syrian aircraft and drones in their own airspace is “open complicity with (ISIS and other) terrorists operating in” the country.

On Tuesday, Sergey Lavrov said Russia’s Defense Ministry “expect(s) to have a detailed explanation” on why Washington is waging phony war on terrorism in Syria ­ specifically why it downed a Syrian aircraft and why it’s not targeting al-Nusra fighters, adding:

“I don’t want to make guesses that someone might not be happy over that and that incidents with strikes on government forces give away plans to wreck the effectiveness of the anti-terrorist efforts.”

“But we cannot but recall that over the entire period of the crisis there has been an impression that Jabhat al-Nusra has been exempt from strikes.”

US-led aerial operations aided the movement of ISIS field commanders from Raqqa to al-Mayadin in Deir Ezzor province ­ while pretending the Raqqa battle aims to destroy its area fighters.

Instead, a corridor was opened for many to escape, the same thing done months earlier in Mosul ­ shifting thousands of ISIS fighters to Raqqa.

One of the dirtiest secrets of US involvement in Syria is pretending to combat terrorism while actively supporting it ­ including ISIS, al-Nusra and other anti-government forces.

No so-called “moderate rebels” exist. All fighters engaged in combat, except for government and allied forces, are US-supported terrorists.

American and Russian objectives in Syria are world’s apart. Anything US officials agree to isn’t worth the paper it’s written on ­ deals of convenience made to be breached.

Chances for mutual Moscow/Washington cooperation to resolve the Syrian conflict are nil.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home ­ Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

– See more at: http://stephenlendman.org/2017/06/america-air-force-isis-al-nusra/#sthash.PNlHvmgw.dpuf

The Reason Behind the US Government’s Secret Hatred of Europeans

The Reason Behind the US Government’s Secret Hatred of Europeans

The Reason Behind the US Government’s Secret Hatred of Europeans

The reason for the US government’s hostility — at least since 4 February 2014 —toward Europeans, has been a mystery, until now.

This hostility wasn’t even publicly recognized at all, until it leaked out, on that date, from a tapped phone-line of arguably the most powerful person at the US State Department, the person whom American President Barack Obama had personally entrusted with running his Administration’s most geostrategically sensitive secret foreign operations (and she did it actually throughout almost the entirety of Obama’s eight years in office, regardless of whom the official US Secretary of State happened to be at the time): Victoria Nuland.

Her official title was «Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs» and she was appointed to that post by the President himself, but nominally she reported to him through the Deputy Secretary of State William Joseph Burns, who reported to the Secretary of State, who, in turn, reported to the President.

She ran policies specifically on Ukraine (and, more broadly, against Russia). In the famous leaked phone call that she made on 4 February 2014 to the US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, she instructed him to place in charge of Ukraine’s government, once America’s coup in Ukraine would be completed (which then occurred 18 days later and overthrew the democratically elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, entirely in violation of Ukraine’s own Constitution), «Yats» or Arseniy Yatsenyuk. He did, immediately after the coup was completed, receive this crucial appointment — basically, the power to control all other top appointments in the new Ukrainian government. With this appointment, the coup, which had started by no later than 2011 to be planned inside the US State Department, was effectively completed.

In this phone call, Nuland said «F—k the EU!» and no one, at the time, paid much attention to what this outburst was all about, but only that it sounded shockingly undiplomatic. Finally, however, clear evidence has now emerged, concerning what it was actually about. 

This crucial evidence consists of a refusal (at long last) by both Germany and Austria, to ratchet-up further, as the US regime now demands, economic sanctions against Russia, sanctions that are a key part of America’s plan ultimately to conquer Russia — a plan that’s been carried out consistently by all US federal governments since the moment, on the night of 24 February 1990, when US President George Herbert Walker Bush himself secretly announced it to West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and afterward to other US vassal-heads-of-state — that, though the Soviet Union was already irrevocably in the process of ending the Cold War against the US and its allies, the US and its allies would secretly continue that war, henceforth, against Russia, until Russia itself would be conquered. He was implicitly informing them, there, that the Cold War, on the US side, wasn’t really about ideology (capitalist versus communist), but instead, was actually a long war for conquest, of the entire world (now it would be to strip Russia of its allies, and then to go in for the kill), by the US aristocracy and its vassal aristocracies (whom those European leaders represented).

On 15 June 2017, the Associated Press headlined «Germany, Austria slam US sanctions against Russia», and reported that both of those US vassal-nations, while paying obeisance to the imperial master, were not going to proceed further all the way to destruction of their own major oil and gas companies, in order to please that master:

In a joint statement, Austria’s Chancellor Christian Kern and Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said it was important for Europe and the United States to form a united front on the issue of Ukraine, where Russian-based separatists have been fighting government forces since 2014.

«However, we can’t accept the threat of illegal and extraterritorial sanctions against European companies», the two officials said, citing a section of the bill that calls for the United States to continue to oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would pump Russian gas to Germany beneath the Baltic Sea. Half of the cost of the new pipeline is being paid for by Russian gas giant Gazprom, while the other half is being shouldered by a group including Anglo-Dutch group Royal Dutch Shell, French provider Engie, OMV of Austria and Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall. Some Eastern European countries, including Poland and Ukraine, fear the loss of transit revenue if Russian gas supplies don’t pass through their territory anymore once the new pipeline is built.

Gabriel and Kern accuse the US of trying to help American natural gas suppliers at the expense of their Russian rivals. They said the possibility of fining European companies participating in the Nord Stream 2 project «introduces a completely new, very negative dimension into European-American relations».

Currently, and for a very long time, the leading energy-supplier to the EU has been Russia, in the forms of oil and, especially, natural gas, both of which are transported into the EU via an extensive network of pipelines, most of which travel through Ukraine, which is a major reason why the US rulers wanted to take over Ukraine — in order to stop that, or at least to cause a necessity for Russia to build alternative pipelines (which the US regime would likewise do everything to block from happening) — but now both Germany and Austria are saying no to this US effort.

The US regime wants fracked US natural gas to fill an increasing portion of Europe’s needs, and for natural gas from US-allied fundamentalist Sunni royal regimes to fill as much of the rest as possible, so as to squeeze-out the existing top supplier, Russia. (Until recently, the plan was for US ally Qatar, owned by the Thani royal family, to become Europe’s main supplier, via pipelines which would traverse through Syria, for which reason Syria needs to be conquered (so that those pipelines through Syria can be built, perhaps even by American firms). However, the Sauds, who usually run US foreign relations — often with assistance from the Israeli regime, which is far more popular in the United States and also in Europe (and thus serves as the Sauds’ agents in the US and Europe) — have now blockaded Qatar because of Qatar’s insufficient compliance with the Sauds’ demand for total international isolation of Iran and of any other nation where Shia are or might become dominant. (For example, the Sauds bomb Yemen to impose fundamentalist Sunni leadership there and kill the Shia population.) And, so, now, after the break between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, even more than before, the main beneficiaries of cutting off Russian gas-supplies to the EU would be US fracking companies.

However, the big European oil and gas corporations would then play a smaller role in the European market, because those firms have mutual commitments with Gazprom and other Russian giants. The only big winners, now, of increased sanctions against Russia, would thus be US firms.

«Europe’s energy supply is a matter for Europe, and not for the United States of America», Kern and Gabriel said.

Europe already has suffered considerable economic harm from complying with the US on taking over Ukraine, and from absorbing millions of destitute and alien refugees from Syria, Libya, and other countries where the US CIA, and other agencies, fomented the «Arab Spring» to unlock, in those countries, the oil and gas pipeline potential, which, if controlled by the US, would go to US oilfield-services firms such as Halliburton, and not to European ones such as Schlumberger.

Kern and Gabriel — and the local national aristocracies (respectively Austrian, and German) whom they represent — are now speaking publicly about the limits beyond which they will not go in order to obey their US masters.

Consequently, back in February 2014, when the European aristocracies complied with the US aristocracy’s coup in Ukraine even though knowing full well that it was a barbaric and very bloody coup and nothing ‘democratic’ such as the US-manufactured story-line alleged it to have been, those aristocracies accepted the heist because they thought and expected to be cut in on enough of the looting of Ukraine so as to come out ahead on it. But that’s no longer the case. Because of the Sauds’ campaign against the Thanis (the owners of Qatar), the gang are starting to break up. The US gangsters are no longer clearly in control, but are being forced to choose between the Sauds and the Thanis, and have apparently chosen the Sauds. The Sauds financed the 9/11 attacks in the United States, but are the largest foreign purchasers of US-made weapons.

The US aristocracy hate Europeans because the US aristocracy are determined to conquer Russia, and because Europeans aren’t fully cooperating with that overriding US government goal — many EU billionaires want deals with Russia, but America’s billionaires are determined instead to take over Russia, and so the US (and the Sauds) might be losing its traditional support from the EU.

International affairs — US, Russia, Sauds, Thanis, Iran, Germany, UK, etc. — are in unpredictable flux. But Europe seems gradually to be drifting away from the US

And resistant European aristocrats seem to be digging in their heels on this. Here is a translation of a report dated June 17th from the most reliable source of news regarding international relations, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, or «German Economic News»:

Eastern Committee: US sanctions against Russia are a threat to Europe

German Economic News | Released:17.06.17 00:36 Clock

The Eastern Committee of the German economy is indignant at the new US sanctions against Russia.

The German companies have sharply criticized the US sanctions against Russia. «The sanctions plans of the US Senate are deeply alarming and, in principle, a threat to the European and German economy», said Klaus Schäfer, Deputy Chairman of the Eastern Committee of the German Economy, on Friday evening in Berlin. «America first is a new dimension to open up international markets to US providers at the expense of European jobs. Furthermore, we consider an extraterritorial application of economic initiatives generally wrong, «he said. In the Eastern Committee, the German companies active in Eastern Europe are organized. The federal government had also clearly criticized the sanction decision.

«Every further turn at the sanctioning screw increases the danger of new trade wars and the uncertainty of the world economy», warned Schäfer. The solution of the Ukraine conflict is not a step closer. A de-escalation on all sides was necessary. He pointed out that the US-Russia trade represented only one-tenth of the EU-Russia trade. «We pay the price of sanctions to Europeans», he criticized. «Implementation of the planned sanctions would make Europe more difficult to provide with favorable energy and inevitably lead to higher prices».

The most remarkable thing about this intensification of economic aggression by the US aristocracy against some of the European aristocracies, is that instead of the aggression being spearheaded this time by the US President, it’s being spearheaded by an almost unanimous US Senate: 97 out of the 100 US Senators voted for this bill. One cannot, this time around, reasonably blame «Donald Trump» for this ‘nationalism’ — it is instead clearly a Cold War, this time, by the US aristocracy (who are represented by the US government), against some European aristocracies, which are paying insufficient obeisance to the demands by the imperial aristocracy: the US gang.

Whereas, at the time of the US coup in Ukraine, the EU swallowed in silence their shock at how brutal and bloody it had been, and stayed with the Americans because the Americans claimed that the takeover would benefit European aristocracies too (‘expand the EU’), the lie about that is now clear to all (and Ukraine has been too wrecked by America, to be of much use to anyone but the Americans as a staging base for their missiles against Moscow), and therefore «the Western Alliance» might finally be breaking up.

The vassal-governments have put up with a lot from the US aristocracy, such as when German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone was revealed to be tapped by America’s NSA, and the case was quietly dropped because, «Prosecutors say they can find no actionable evidence to support claims German chancellor’s mobile phone was tapped by US National Security Agency» even though everyone knew that the refusal by Germany’s prosecutors was based upon a lie, and that Germany «remains heavily reliant on the US», and that the US government’s knowing everything that German politicians do, provides against those politicians a blackmail-potential against themselves, that cannot be taken lightly. On the other hand, perhaps there now exists a countervailing force that can outweigh even considerations such as that. Maybe Germany’s billionaires have, somehow, finally become able to turn the tide on this.

Raqqa: US-Led Coalition Offensive Killing ‘Staggering’ Number of Civilians, Say UN War Crimes Investigators

Raqqa offensive: US-led coalition air strikes killing ‘staggering’ number of civilians 

UN warns defeat of Isis must not come at ‘expense of civilians’ trapped under group’s control

US-led air strikes against Isis in Syria are causing “staggering” numbers of civilian deaths, a UN war crimes investigator has warned as the Raqqa offensive intensifies.

Ground forces in the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition are advancing on Isis’s largest remaining stronghold under a hail of bombardment including incendiary weapons.

After months of pushes through surrounding countryside and villages, fighting is now hitting densely populated areas where jihadis are holding hundreds of thousands of men, women and children as human shields

Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told the UN Human Rights Council the imperative to fight terrorism must not come “at the expense of civilians who unwillingly find themselves living in areas where Isis is present”.

“We are gravely concerned with the mounting number of civilians who perish during air strikes,” he said.

“We note in particular that the intensification of air strikes, which have paved the ground for an SDF advance in Raqqa, has resulted not only in staggering loss of civilian life, but has also led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced.”

Mr Pinheiro said all warring parties must abide by international humanitarian law, which requires them to properly distinguish between fighters and civilians, take precautions against the unnecessary loss of life and act “proportionately”.

Families escaping Raqqa have told of being caught under fire from both sides, with Isis using megaphones to order them not to leave and shooting anyone caught trying to flee, setting fire to their cars.

Residents said fighters had been mining streets, booby trapping houses and digging tunnels between civilian homes in preparation for the battle ahead.

Rows of flat blocks have been flattened along Seif al-Dawla street, a man road into Raqqa, while at least three mosques were reported to have been hit.

Hassan Kirfou, one of more than 10,000 residents arriving at a camp for displaced people in nearby Ain Issa, said an air strike hit the mosque where he works just a few hours after he closed it for the night

“I saw three dead teenagers on top of each other outside the Nour mosque,” he added.

“I don’t know why they shot these areas. As far as I know there were only a few Daesh [Isis] snipers left there.”€.

Theresa May refuses three times to say if she would join US in a strike against Syria

Abu Hamoud, another man escaping Raqqa city, said: “The coalition strikes destroyed a four-storey apartment building.

“I saw 10 people trapped underneath. They used phosphorus.”

Human Rights Watch expressed concern over the use of the incendiary weapon by the US-led coalition, saying it “raises serious questions about the protection of civilians” and should never be used in populated areas.

“No matter how white phosphorus is used, it poses a high risk of horrific and long-lasting harm in crowded cities like Raqqa and Mosul and any other areas with concentrations of civilians,” said Steve Goose, arms director at HRW.

“US-led forces should take all feasible precautions to minimise civilian harm when using white phosphorus in Iraq and Syria.”

The material can also be used for signalling and marking, or as a smokescreen for advancing troops or fleeing civilians, but humanitarian groups said its use in densely populated Mosul and Raqqa was “unclear”.

A video allegedly shot in Raqqa on 8 June shows the use of ground-fired missiles containing white phosphorus, with Isis propaganda channels sharing footage of several other alleged incidents of its use.

If it comes into contact with the skin, white phosphorus can also burn people to the bone, reactivating on re-exposure to oxygen, and can enter the bloodstream to cause multiple organ failure.

raqqa.jpg

SDF fighters on their way to Raqqa earlier this month (Reuters)

UN war crimes investigators said the air campaign in Raqqa has killed at least 300 civilians so far in the city, which was captured by Isis in 2014 and became its de-facto capital.

The US-led coalition’s official toll of civilian deaths from its almost three-year-long operations in Iraq and Syria stands at 484, although several incidents are under investigation.

The figure spiked after the start of the advance on Isis’s main Iraqi stronghold of Mosul, and humanitarian groups have long been warning of the carnage being repeated in Raqqa.

US Central Command (CentCom) insisted it “takes extraordinary efforts to strike military targets in a manner that minimises the risk of civilian casualties” and in accordance with international law, but claimed: “In some incidents casualties are unavoidable.”

Independent monitoring group Airwars found the US-led coalition killed between 348 and 521 civilians in May alone, a rise of almost 20 per cent on the previous month.

The group said that as Russian air strikes in Syria declined in number, America and its allies were killing two and a half times more civilians than Moscow according to its count.

The vast majority of incidents recorded by Airwars last month occurred in and around Raqqa, prompting warnings that “alarm bells should be ringing”.

The coalition estimates that 3,000-4,000 Isis fighters are holed up in the city, although residents warned that some militants were hiding among civilians to flee

Mr Pinheiro said operations against the terror group had caused it to lose territory rapidly, freeing civilians including Yazidi sex slaves from its oppressive and genocidal rule, but added: “As the operation is gaining pace very rapidly, civilians are caught up in the city under the oppressive rule of Isis, while facing extreme danger associated with movement due to excessive air strikes.”

Elsewhere in Syria, he said a “de-escalation zones” agreement guaranteed by President Bashar al-Assad’s allies Russia, Turkey and Iran had resulted in a “discernible” reduction in violence in Idlib and western Aleppo provinces.

Mr Pinheiro said that initiative and UN-facilitated talks were a “step in the right direction” but the bloodshed in areas including Homs, Damascus and Daraa continues, including air strikes on residential areas, chemical attacks, the targeting of hospitals, suicide bombings and terror attacks.

In what remains of Syria’s cities and towns, the UN estimates 600,000 people remain under siege by mainly pro-government forces, being denied humanitarian aid and facing starvation as infrastructure is decimated.

“Ultimately, the only way to end civilian suffering is to end this war,” Mr Pinheiro said.

“Time and time again, warring parties and influential states have failed to capitalise on the opportunities presented by respites from hostilities.

“And time and again, Syrian men, women and children pay the price for the continuation of the war.”

To bring lasting peace, he called for war crimes investigations leading to “meaningful accountability for the catalogue of horrors” documented by the UN

Unworthy Victims: Western Wars Have Killed Four Million Muslims Since 1990

Unworthy Victims: Western Wars Have Killed Four Million Muslims Since 1990

Landmark research proves that the US-led ‘war on terror’ has killed as many as 2 million people

MuslimLives564

‘In Iraq alone, the US-led war from 1991 to 2003 killed 1.9 million Iraqis’


Last month, the Washington DC-based Physicians for Social Responsibility (PRS) released a landmark study concluding that the death toll from 10 years of the “War on Terror” since the 9/11 attacks is at least 1.3 million, and could be as high as 2 million.

The 97-page report by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning doctors’ group is the first to tally up the total number of civilian casualties from US-led counter-terrorism interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The PSR report is authored by an interdisciplinary team of leading public health experts, including Dr. Robert Gould, director of health professional outreach and education at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, and Professor Tim Takaro of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.

Yet it has been almost completely blacked out by the English-language media, despite being the first effort by a world-leading public health organisation to produce a scientifically robust calculation of the number of people killed by the US-UK-led “war on terror”.

Mind the gaps

The PSR report is described by Dr Hans von Sponeck, former UN assistant secretary-general, as “a significant contribution to narrowing the gap between reliable estimates of victims of war, especially civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and tendentious, manipulated or even fraudulent accounts”.

The report conducts a critical review of previous death toll estimates of “war on terror” casualties. It is heavily critical of the figure most widely cited by mainstream media as authoritative, namely, the Iraq Body Count (IBC) estimate of 110,000 dead. That figure is derived from collating media reports of civilian killings, but the PSR report identifies serious gaps and methodological problems in this approach.

For instance, although 40,000 corpses had been buried in Najaf since the launch of the war, IBC recorded only 1,354 deaths in Najaf for the same period. That example shows how wide the gap is between IBC’s Najaf figure and the actual death toll – in this case, by a factor of over 30.

Such gaps are replete throughout IBC’s database. In another instance, IBC recorded just three airstrikes in a period in 2005, when the number of air attacks had in fact increased from 25 to 120 that year. Again, the gap here is by a factor of 40.

According to the PSR study, the much-disputed Lancet study that estimated 655,000 Iraq deaths up to 2006 (and over a million until today by extrapolation) was likely to be far more accurate than IBC’s figures. In fact, the report confirms a virtual consensus among epidemiologists on the reliability of the Lancet study.

Despite some legitimate criticisms, the statistical methodology it applied is the universally recognised standard to determine deaths from conflict zones, used by international agencies and governments.

Politicised denial

PSR also reviewed the methodology and design of other studies showing a lower death toll, such as a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, which had a range of serious limitations.

That paper ignored the areas subject to the heaviest violence, namely Baghdad, Anbar and Nineveh, relying on flawed IBC data to extrapolate for those regions. It also imposed “politically-motivated restrictions” on collection and analysis of the data – interviews were conducted by the Iraqi Ministry of Health, which was “totally dependent on the occupying power” and had refused to release data on Iraqi registered deaths under US pressure.

In particular, PSR assessed the claims of Michael Spaget, John Sloboda and others who questioned the Lancet study data collection methods as potentially fraudulent. All such claims, PSR found, were spurious.

The few “justified criticisms,” PSR concludes, “do not call into question the results of the Lancet studies as a whole. These figures still represent the best estimates that are currently available”. The Lancet findings are also corroborated by the data from a new study in PLOS Medicine, finding 500,000 Iraqi deaths from the war. Overall, PSR concludes that the most likely number for the civilian death toll in Iraq since 2003 to date is about 1 million.

To this, the PSR study adds at least 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, killed as the direct or indirect consequence of US-led war: a “conservative” total of 1.3 million. The real figure could easily be “in excess of 2 million”.

Yet even the PSR study suffers from limitations. Firstly, the post-9/11 “war on terror” was not new, but merely extended previous interventionist policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Secondly, the huge paucity of data on Afghanistan meant the PSR study probably underestimated the Afghan death toll.

Iraq

The war on Iraq did not begin in 2003, but in 1991 with the first Gulf War, which was followed by the UN sanctions regime.

An early PSR study by Beth Daponte, then a US government Census Bureau demographer, found that Iraq deaths caused by the direct and indirect impact of the first Gulf War amounted to around 200,000 Iraqis, mostly civilians. Meanwhile, her internal government study was suppressed.

After US-led forces pulled out, the war on Iraq continued in economic form through the US-UK imposed UN sanctions regime, on the pretext of denying Saddam Hussein the materials necessary to make weapons of mass destruction. Items banned from Iraq under this rationale included a vast number of items needed for everyday life.

Undisputed UN figures show that 1.7 million Iraqi civilians died due to the West’s brutal sanctions regime, half of whom were children.

The mass death was seemingly intended. Among items banned by the UN sanctions were chemicals and equipment essential for Iraq’s national water treatment system. A secret US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) document discovered by Professor Thomas Nagy of the School of Business at George Washington University amounted, he said, to “an early blueprint for genocide against the people of Iraq”.

In his paper for the Association of Genocide Scholars at the University of Manitoba, Professor Nagi explained that the DIA document revealed “minute details of a fully workable method to ‘fully degrade the water treatment system’ of an entire nation” over a period of a decade. The sanctions policy would create “the conditions for widespread disease, including full scale epidemics,” thus “liquidating a significant portion of the population of Iraq”.

This means that in Iraq alone, the US-led war from 1991 to 2003 killed 1.9 million Iraqis; then from 2003 onwards around 1 million: totalling just under 3 million Iraqis dead over two decades.

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, PSR’s estimate of overall casualties could also be very conservative. Six months after the 2001 bombing campaign, The Guardian’s Jonathan Steele revealed that anywhere between 1,300 and 8,000 Afghans were killed directly, and as many as a further 50,000 people died avoidably as an indirect result of the war.

In his book, Body Count: Global Avoidable Mortality Since 1950 (2007), Professor Gideon Polya applied the same methodology used by The Guardian to UN Population Division annual mortality data to calculate plausible figures for excess deaths. A retired biochemist at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Polya concludes that total avoidable Afghan deaths since 2001 under ongoing war and occupation-imposed deprivation amount to around 3 million people, about 900,000 of whom are infants under five.

Although Professor Polya’s findings are not published in an academic journal, his 2007 Body Count study has been recommended by California State University sociologist Professor Jacqueline Carrigan as “a data-rich profile of the global mortality situation” in a review published by the Routledge journal, Socialism and Democracy.

As with Iraq, US intervention in Afghanistan began long before 9/11 in the form of covert military, logistical and financial aid to the Taliban from around 1992 onwards. This US assistance propelled the Taliban’s violent conquest of nearly 90 percent of Afghan territory.

In a 2001 National Academy of Sciences report, Forced Migration and Mortality, leading epidemiologist Steven Hansch, a director of Relief International, noted that total excess mortality in Afghanistan due to the indirect impacts of war through the 1990s could be anywhere between 200,000 and 2 million. The Soviet Union, of course, also bore responsibility for its role in devastating civilian infrastructure, thus paving the way for these deaths.

Altogether, this suggests that the total Afghan death toll due to the direct and indirect impacts of US-led intervention since the early nineties until now could be as high 3-5 million.

Denial

According to the figures explored here, total deaths from Western interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan since the 1990s – from direct killings and the longer-term impact of war-imposed deprivation – likely constitute around 4 million (2 million in Iraq from 1991-2003, plus 2 million from the “war on terror”), and could be as high as 6-8 million people when accounting for higher avoidable death estimates in Afghanistan.

Such figures could well be too high, but will never know for sure. US and UK armed forces, as a matter of policy, refuse to keep track of the civilian death toll of military operations – they are an irrelevant inconvenience.

Due to the severe lack of data in Iraq, almost complete non-existence of records in Afghanistan, and the indifference of Western governments to civilian deaths, it is literally impossible to determine the true extent of loss of life.

In the absence of even the possibility of corroboration, these figures provide plausible estimates based on applying standard statistical methodology to the best, if scarce, evidence available. They give an indication of the scale of the destruction, if not the precise detail.

Much of this death has been justified in the context of fighting tyranny and terrorism. Yet thanks to the silence of the wider media, most people have no idea of the true scale of protracted terror wrought in their name by US and UK tyranny in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Source: Middle East Eye

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