Deaths From US Bombings Triple In Syria, Iraq

Deaths From US Bombings Triple In Syria, Iraq
While US media promotes CIA chemical weapons claims to push for war

A report by the British monitoring group Airwars has found that the death toll from US air strikes in Iraq and Syria nearly quadrupled in the month of March as compared to the last full month before Donald Trump entered the White House. Reported civilian deaths jumped from 465 in December 2016 to 1,754 in March 2017, a rise of 277 percent.

The report was issued in the midst of the media hysteria over fabricated charges of nerve gas attacks by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, the pretext for last week’s missile strikes ordered by President Trump. It demonstrates that American bombing has killed far more innocent civilians in Iraq, including children, than reportedly died in last week’s alleged chemical attack in Syria. For that very reason, the study has gone virtually without mention in the American media.

The Airwars organization, which tabulates deaths due to air strikes in the Iraq-Syria war zone and evaluates the strength of the evidence supporting the reports, found that more civilians were reported killed during the first three months of 2017, a total of 2,826, than in all of 2016. The increases actually began in the fall of 2016, when the Iraqi Army and its US military “advisers” began their onslaught on the city of Mosul, occupied by the Sunni fundamentalist group ISIS for the past two-and-a-half years.

Amnesty International has investigated a series of mass killings due to US air strikes in the eastern half of Mosul, which was reconquered during the first phase of the assault, from October through December 2016. A report published last week found “an alarming pattern of US-led coalition air strikes which have destroyed whole houses with entire families inside.”

The group’s senior investigator in Mosul, Donatella Rovera, said, “The high civilian toll suggests that coalition forces leading the offensive in Mosul have failed to take adequate precautions to prevent civilian deaths, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.” She cited particularly the Iraqi authorities advising civilians to stay in their homes instead of fleeing, following by bombing raids that targeted homes known to be fully occupied.

Even worse is the situation in western Mosul, where the second stage of the US-Iraqi offensive began earlier this year. This comprises the older core of the city of two million, the most densely populated area, where air strikes have been routinely called in to destroy apartment buildings with snipers on their rooftops, in the process killing most of the occupants of the floors below. One such US strike on March 17 killed as many as 300 people.

Three times as many innocent people were killed by US bombs on March 17 as the death toll of the massively publicized alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, the pretext for the US missile strikes on a Syrian airbase ordered by President Trump. The total civilian death toll from US bombing during March is 20 times as great.

But there has been almost no mention of the US bombing atrocities in the American media. Certainly nothing comparable to the nonstop propaganda barrage that provided political cover for the Trump-ordered barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles against Syria.

None of the Democratic politicians who rushed to hail Trump’s first major action as US “commander-in-chief,” from Charles Schumer to Nancy Pelosi to Elizabeth Warren, have made any objections to the ongoing massacre of civilians in Mosul.

Nor did the media advocates of “human rights” imperialism, like the trio of armchair warrior-pundits for the New York Times —Nicholas Kristof, Roger Cohen and Thomas Friedman—spend so much as a column-inch on condemning the bloodbath in Mosul, or any of the other mass killings carried out by American military forces. Their sole concern is to demonize those governments and forces targeted by the CIA and Pentagon, and thus make American imperialist intervention more saleable to their upper-middle-class audience.

One major obstacle for the media campaign over the alleged Syrian nerve gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun has been the complete implausibility of the charges from the standpoint of motive. Assad heads a ruthless regime and is responsible for many crimes against his own people. But there was simply no reason to engage in such an attack under conditions where his forces have regained control of all of Syria’s major cities, and where top Trump administration officials had just conceded that Assad was likely to survive the civil war and that the US goal in Syria was to destroy ISIS, not to overthrow the Syrian leader.

There is no such difficulty in determining a motive for the mounting death toll from US bombs and missiles in Iraq and Syria. It is an indispensable part of the drive by American imperialism to maintain its dominant position in the Middle East as a whole, an effort that has now cost the lives of more than one million people, and plunged Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and other countries into bloody chaos.

The escalating bloodbath represents both a continuation of the policies of the Obama administration and an intensification of its worst features. By one calculation, carried out by Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Affairs, drone missile strikes have tripled in frequency since Trump entered the White House, from an average of one every 5.4 days to one every 1.8 days.

The rules of engagement that prescribe the terms for US bombings and missile strikes have been significantly loosened in Yemen and Somalia, in both cases by executive actions of President Trump. At least one mass killing, of 30 people in Yemen, immediately followed the change, and hundreds of US Special Forces operatives have now been deployed in Somalia in a policy change that was initiated by the Pentagon under Obama and confirmed under Trump.

For the much larger US forces engaged in Iraq and Syria, the Trump administration is in the final stages of reviewing the rules of engagement with an eye to relaxing them or abolishing them altogether. Already, decision-making has been pushed down the chain of command so that field officers, not headquarters, are calling in air strikes. The soaring death toll of the past several months will skyrocket even further as the Pentagon carries out Trump’s mandate to “take the gloves off.”

The Pentagon began this week an official investigation into the March 17 mass killing in Mosul and several other catastrophes brought about by US bombing. Pentagon spokesman Col. Joseph Scrocca conceded that these events “have a negative impact on our image at least throughout the region and the world.” But he suggested that “that’s exactly what ISIS is trying to target right now.” In other words, those who expose the crimes of American imperialism are doing the work of the terrorists!

The reports by Airwars and Amnesty International underscore the completely criminal character of US foreign policy in the Middle East. They expose all those involved in the anti-Assad and anti-Russian hysteria as propagandists for imperialism.

Patrick Martin

Syria and the israel’s WMD false flag. Takes the heat out of the USA’s current genocide in Mosul

Syria and the USrael’s WMD false flag

On Tuesday, 72 people were killed and over 200 injured in rebel occupied Syrian town of Khan Sheikhun as result of a poisonous gas attack which was immediately blamed on Syrian forces by the western Zionist-controlled media in order to prepare groundwork for American invasion of Syria. Benjamin Netanyahu and US Jewish lobbying groups have been urging the White House and lawmaker for the removal of pro-Iran Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for over a decade.

Former Congressman Ron Paul called the chemical attack on Syria being a false flag operation to sabotage Russia-Iran-Turkey efforts to resolve the six-year-old Syrian bloodshed through negotiation.

This is not the first US-Israeli chemical attack false flag pinned on president Assad. In August 2013, a similar attacked was carried out against Syrian army which then British MP George Galloway claimed was the work of anti-Assad rebels who received chemical weapons from Israel. The US used that attack to rob Syria of its only deterrent against the Zionist entity.

In 2014, John Kerry had confirmed that all chemical weapons were successfully removed from Syria. He also thanked all US allies at the UN who collaborated with Zionist agenda. Now the morons in Israel, Britain and United states want us to believe that like Saddam Hussein’ WMDs, the West failed to destroy the Syrian WMDs.

The chemical attack came at the same time as another Zionist media attack was occurring against the Syrian government, claiming that Syrian hospitals were in fact secret torture slaughterhouses.

Poison gas attacks and use of uranium-tipped bullets are favorite tactics of foreign powers which want to maintain Israel’s military superiority in the region.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump, the Zionist puppet in the White House, blamed both Assad and Obama for the latest chemical attack. “When you kill innocent children, innocent babies – babies, little babies – with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines,” Trump said.

One wonder if the moron knows that Jew soldiers have killed 2,150 Palestinian children during the last 16 years while Palestinian ‘terrorists’ were able to kill only 134 Israeli children.

Syria, Russia and Iran has rejected Washington’s lies about the incident. Putin even rebuked serial liar Netanyahu for blaming Assad for the poison-gas attack. Putin’s direct reproach to Netanyahu and its mention in the official Kremlin statement means the Russian leader refuses to buy Netanyahu’s lie that if Assad stays in power, Syria could become an Iran-Hizbullah satellite.

Interestingly, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, former chief rabbi of Israel and currently chief rabbi of Tel Aviv said on Thursday that “Syrian people are going through a Holocaust since 2011.” However, he avoided to mention that Syrian Holocaust is being committed by the descendants of the victim of the Nazi Holocaust.

In December 2011 Dr David Duke warned fellow Americans that like Iraqi invasion in 2003, wars against Syria and Iran are based on Zionist propaganda lies (listen below).

UK’s former ambassador to Syria in an interview (listen below) said that neither Syrian regime or Russia was behind the chemical attack. He said that it’s a Fake News by the powers which benefit from an anti-Iran regime change in Damascus.

The Mosul Massacres: the Banality of Evil revisited.

The Mosul Massacres: the Banality of Evil revisited.

April 01, 2017

By Anwar Khan

What is the moral difference–if any– between the intentional shooting at fleeing civilians and using them as human shields on the one hand, and the flattening of entire neighborhoods, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, on the pretext of the presence of enemy fighters there-in, on the other? The answer is that there is no moral difference. Both are high crimes under any book, and it is being perpetrated on the people of Mosul as we speak. The first is done by ISIS– the Frankenstein that crept out of the Empire’s Research and Development labs, with the sole aim of destroying Muslim societies, disparaging the name of Islam, and advancing the march towards Full Spectrum Dominance— and the second is perpetrated by the Empire’s military might in broad day light, on the pretext of annihilating the very monster that it created. In between a most vicious massacre of innocent people is being perpetrated, with an almost complete media blackout.

(Side Note: Not that the knowledge of such crimes would bother much the moral nerves of the western world, who have come to accept scenes of dead Muslims as a phenomenon as normal as cloud formation. Between slavish work to pay for what they call life, celebrity worship, and the collective immolation of the soul that takes place in the dark temples we call cinemas— mirroring very much the darkness that encompasses the modern conscience—one wonders if idle time could be spared to show moral revulsion to such crimes. Yes, candles are lit and tears shed to the unfortunate victims at home, but the Muslim lands are simply too far, too unknown, and too “other” to cause any discomfort of the conscience)

While the Syrian and Russian offensive to retake Aleppo from the terrorists saw much crocodile tears from the Empire’s media, the Mosul offensive or Inherent Resolve—where Coalition air strikes have turned the city into a heap of rubble hiding a virtual urban graveyard inside its belly— is not even mentioned in passing. The amount of suffering that the people of Mosul have faced since the operation began is difficult to compare to anything in our times, including the Syrian war theatre which is as cruel as modern warfare can be. The scenes from Mosul Jadida(New Mosul) area are reminiscent of Dresden during the Second World War.

The Guardian reported Chris Woods, the director of monitoring group Airwars, to have said: “The Jadida incident alone is the worst toll of a single [airstrike] incident that I can recall in decades. The coalition’s argument that it doesn’t target noncombatants risks being devalued when so many civilians are being killed in west Mosul.” He is referring to a coalition airstrike that killed over 200 civilians mostly children, women and elderly seeking shelter in a building. The mounting human suffering and infrastructural destruction is of such a scale that the Iraqi Army, conducting the ground offensive, had to call off its advance fearing that the operation has slid into a catastrophe, thanks to the coalition’s Make America Great Again strategy.

(Side Note: You wonder where is Hollywood and George Clooney and their crocodile tears which they shed incessantly for the people of Sudan– who we were told were going through a “genocide”– eventually leading to imperial intervention and creation of South Sudan. How courageous of these celebrities to root for imperial causes and then hide in their holes when true courage is needed?)

Those who still harbor any doubts about the Empire being beyond redemption and salvation need to see its conduct in Mosul to realize how utterly indifferent it is to human suffering, or even to public opinion, which was of some concern, purely for PR reasons, not too long ago. But when the imperial hubris has reached such proportions that it cannot be even bothered to explain why shelters housing children and women are blown into oblivion for the sake of one ISIS fighter, you surely have entered what I call the Curse Stage, a particular stage in the stagnation of empires when there is not even a veneer of moral pretense behind its conduct. It is the homestretch of the unraveling. It cannot possibly be reversed.

“Once the Heavens cast the dice of fate, it shall not be reversed, even when a million supplication intersect its path”. Hafiz Shirazi

What is also there to be witnessed is that the same western world that always held Russia to be morally inferior to the ideals of the Enlightenment, part of “the primitive and cruel East”, have fared infinitely more inhumane and cruel in its conduct of warfare under very similar circumstances. The Russian method displayed in the Aleppo offensive was one that regarded avoidance of civilian suffering as the driving factor in its formation. Humanitarian corridors were formed with aid and shelter also being provided in some areas. It took months of meticulous planning and coordination with local partners, and even with the rebels to guarantee their and their families’ safe passage. It was a diplomatic and humanitarian master class of an act. Carpet-bombing of Aleppo would have been a rather easier choice. But the “primitive and cruel” Easterner had a soul after all.

The Coalition on the other hand, forbade the creation of any human corridors which would have allowed many inhabitants to leave the city. This was proposed by the Iraqi government but refused by the Coalition. Their rationale to the Iraqi government was that “they feared ISIS will trickle out of the city with the civilians”. They were told to have faith in the Coalition’s “precision strikes”. To the media they would say “well its ISIS that is not allowing civilians to leave, not us”, which actually is not entirely true. The fact is that they wanted to send a clear message to the world with the new administration’s military strategy in the Muslim lands, featuring Trump as Krishna: Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. 

This article can go in many directions. I can begin with how Mosul fell in ISIS hands to begin with; the conduct of ISIS terrorists of systematic terror to “reform” its citizens; the role of Turkish, Gulf states and the Kurdish intelligence agencies with ISIS during its four year occupation (yes, even the “anti-ISIS” Kurdish leaders like Jalal Talabani and Masoud Barzani had intimate relationship with ISIS and often allowed them safe passages to conduct its operations. The ultimate Kurdish goal was to annex Mosul to Barzani and Talabani’s fiefdoms when the conditions were ripe). But today I have one concern only and that is the plight of the innocent civilians and the dead children under the rubble.

I am embedding a video here (with my edits and translation) that my Iraqi friends (whose families are still trapped in Mosul) sent me to watch, and help spread the word on the unspoken suffering that the people of Mosul have to persevere. I promised them to do my part, knowing well the fate of such writings when it meets the dead conscience of the modern media consumer. God forbid that the comrades here on this site have such a disposition. But the fact remains that in our times, no matter how deeply shocking an event comes to our knowledge, it does not stay long enough deep inside our conscience to bother the usual trajectory of our lives (this happens even to the most soft-hearted amongst us) But it has to be said nonetheless, whether it finds the desired place or not. That’s the least we owe to the dead children under the rubble–their little bodies still warm from the not too long ago association with life.

The Prophet of Islam is reported to have said “whosoever see an evil, let him stop it with his hand; if he is not able, then with his tongue, and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart— and that is the least of faith.” (The masculine pronoun is inclusive of the feminine, lest the more gender-sensitive raise an issue with that). I am doing the least of what the faith and humanity requires.

The video shows a government official inspecting the part of Mosul most affected by the coalition airstrikes, and gathering first-hand information on the nature of the offensive and plight of the people. Please do watch the entirety of it. I will leave you with one quote from her that sums up the Mosul offensive:

After meeting many people and hearing the reports from all sides, it has become abundantly clear to me, and I can swear to God on this, that there are no more than 6 or 5 ISIS fighters in the entire New Mosul area and they walk around freely in open streets and amazingly they are not targeted. Yet what is targeted are entire neighborhoods and houses containing shelter seeking civilians. And all this on the pretext of targeting these ISIS fighters. It is very clear that the idea is to just destroy Mosul and nothing else”. Basma Basem, President of Mosul Judiciary Council.

{From God we come and to Him shall we return}–Common Muslim statement on hearing the news of death.

Post Script: Since this article, which was first written on March 20th, there finally has been some media coverage. RT has been especially active and credit should go to them. But the scale of suffering is still far from being portrayed accurately.

Also, the subtitles could have been more viewer friendly, alas, that’s the extent of my video editing skills.

Russia Describes Pentagon’s Statements Justifying Mass Civilian Casualties of US Bombing in Iraq as Absurd

Russia Describes Pentagon’s Statements Justifying Mass Civilian Casualties of US Bombing in Iraq as Absurd

Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov

Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov

The motives behind attempts of the US-led coalition to conceal war crimes committed by the ISIL terrorists in Iraqi Mosul are unclear, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Sunday in a statement.

“What motives is the US command driven by when they hide the war crimes of terrorists from the international community behind the veil of secrecy?…Why does the US-led international coalition, with this information, using their “smart bombs” still carry out airstrikes on buildings with civilians, knowingly condemning them to a terrible death?” Konashenkov said.

The Pentagon’s absurd statements justifying mass civilian casualties of US bombing in Iraq reveal the real level of operations’ planning, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on Sunday.

“The Pentagon’s absurd statements justifying mass civilian casualties of US bombing in Iraq tell more words about the real level of planning operations and alleged superiority of the US ‘smart bombs,’” he said.

Russian Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov pointed out on Sunday differences between the Russian operation in Syria’s Aleppo and US-led coalition’s operation in Mosul, saying that Russia did not use the Aerospace Forces and focused on humanitarian issues.

“The Russian Aerospace Forces were not used in Aleppo at all. The attention focused on the work of humanitarian corridors as well as delivering and providing humanitarian aid for local residents. In Mosul, according to the coalition’s spokesman Joseph Scrocca, despite civilian casualties, the coalition is not going to retreat even when fighting becomes heavy,” Konashenkov said.

He added that it is impossible to speak about humanitarian aspects of the US-led coalition’s operation in Mosul.

Media Spin Headlines to Downplay US Responsibility for Mosul Massacre

Media Spin Headlines to Downplay US Responsibility for Mosul Massacre

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If you read the headlines of major corporate media outlets, you’d think hundreds of Iraqi civilians coincidentally died in the same location that just so happened to be hit by a US airstrike.

A March 17 US attack in the city of Mosul resulted in a massacre of civilians. The monitoring group Airwars estimated that between 130 and 230 Iraqis were killed in the incident. Iraqi media reported similar figures.

Civilian victims of the US-led bombing campaign to oust ISIS from the major northern Iraqi city, which has been terrorized by the extremist group for three years, have received little media coverage.

The Washington Post (3/28/17) noted, nevertheless, that the recent airstrike “was potentially one of the worst US-led civilian bombings in 25 years.”

Yet just a few days before the Post published this stark fact, leading news networks went out of their way to craft some of the most euphemistic headlines imaginable.

ABC News: US reviewing airstrike that corresponds to site where 200 Iraqi civilians allegedly died

ABC News (3/25/17) took the cake, giving its report the disjointed title “US Reviewing Airstrike That Corresponds to Site Where 200 Iraqi Civilians Allegedly Died.” (This story was also syndicated by Yahoo News3/25/17.)

Note that the Iraqis simply died; they weren’t killed. The airstrike was a mere temporal and geographic coincidence.

The Los Angeles Times (3/25/17‎) used similarly obfuscatory language, with the headline “US Acknowledges Airstrike in Mosul, Where More Than 200 Iraqi Civilians Died.” This article, which was republished by the Chicago Tribune (3/25/17), made it sound like 200 Iraqis have been killed in all of Mosul.

Chicago Tribune: U.S. acknowledges airstrike in Mosul, where more than 200 Iraqi civilians diedThe day before, however, the LA Times (3/24/17‎) had printed another report that provided much more context: “More Than 200 Civilians Killed in Suspected US Airstrike in Iraq.”

In a slight improvement, the Washington Post (3/25/17) at least used the word “killed”—or, rather, “Allegedly Killed”—for its story: “US Military Acknowledges Strike on Mosul Site Where More Than 100 Were Allegedly Killed.”

But it was not just American outlets that used such watered-down language. France 24 (3/25/17) wrote, underwhelmingly, “US-Led Coalition Confirms Strike on Mosul Site Where Civilians Died.”

Headlines are the most important part of news articles; they greatly influence what the public thinks about political issues. In fact, studies show that most Americans don’t read beyond headlines.

These latest whitewashed titles are remarkably reminiscent of those composed to cover (up) a previous high-profile US massacre of civilians: the October 2015 US bombing of a Doctors Without Borders–operated hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan (, 10/5/17). The New York Times published a masterpiece of propaganda with the headline “US Is Blamed After Bombs Hit Afghan Hospital.” Ambiguous language, heavy use of the passive voice and awkward wording abounded.

Some ostensible news outlets even contradicted themselves in reporting on the recent Mosul attack. Right-wing website the Daily Caller (3/27/17) published an article misleadingly headlined “Iraq: ISIS, Not US, Responsible For Killing 200 Civilians.”  Author Saagar Enjeti tried to exculpate the US for the atrocity, instead blaming ISIS. Yet in his piece, Enjeti was compelled to acknowledge that the details were murky, and that an Iraqi officer had said “the blast was caused by an airstrike called on ISIS snipers on the roof of a building.”

Later, when the commander of the US-led task force fighting ISIS tepidly admitted, “My initial assessment is that we probably had a role in these casualties [in Mosul],” slightly more direct reports slowly came trickling out. But even after the dust settled and the facts became clearer, media continued to downplay their severity.

New York Times: US Concedes It Played a Role in Iraqi Deaths

In one of the more eyebrow-raising headlines, the New York Times ran a story on the front page on March 29 with the paltry headline “US Concedes It Played a Role in Iraqi Deaths.” (It appeared online on March 28 with the “US ‘Probably Had a Role’ in Mosul Deaths, Commander Says.”)

What was that role, exactly? Well, carrying out the airstrike that killed them. But let’s not split hairs.

While major corporate media largely echoed the US government line, independent left-wing news outlets, on the other hand, were immediately much more straightforward in their reporting. “With 200+ Iraqi Civilians Feared Dead, Carnage Surging Under Trump,” wrote Common Dreams (3/26/17‎), for instance.

Little Media Attention

Given the extreme brutality of ISIS, a genocidal Salafi jihadist group that has slaughtered civilians from religious and ethnic minority groups in Iraq and Syria, it is perhaps understandable that much of the media attention is on its crimes.

But the atrocities committed by the forces fighting it cannot be ignored. Such an approach is a recipe for disaster, as the so-called Islamic State has demonstrated a tendency to exploit Western atrocities for propaganda and recruitment.

Little ink has been spilled in the US media for those victims, nonetheless. According to the monitoring group Airwars, as many as 1,000 civilians were killed by US-led coalition actions in Iraq and Syria just in the month of March (Democracy Now!, 3/27/17).

Many more civilians have been killed in the past two years (Intercept8/3/15), yet their deaths have received little attention by major corporate news networks, even when they may help fuel the very extremist group whose monstrousness was used to justify them.

In fact, the US dropped more than 12,000 bombs on Iraq (and another 12,000 on Syria) in 2016 alone, with little media scrutiny.

There was no real public discussion, let alone political debate, about whether or not US bombing ISIS would be a good idea, not to mention whether or not Western airstrikes can actually defeat a guerilla extremist group like ISIS (Extra!, 11/14). After all, it was the illegal US-led invasion and subsequent decade-long military occupation of Iraq, in addition to intervention in the war in Syria, that led to the rise of the hyper-sectarian Islamic State in the first place.

To its credit, the Washington Post (3/24/17) published another article, amid the widespread media whitewashing of the Mosul airstrike, titled “Airstrike Monitoring Group Overwhelmed by Claims of US-Caused Civilian Casualties.” The newspaper acknowledged:

In the last week, three mass casualty incidents have been attributed to US-led forces in Iraq and Syria, making March one of the most lethal months for civilians in the the two-year-old war against the Islamic State.

Defenders of corporate media might argue that news outlets had to craft carefully worded headlines as the US government was still investigating the attack. But again, this simply reflects media’s deference to power. If the government says something, there are countless journalists waiting in line to obediently echo it. Corporate media have a long, tried-and-true history of acting as stenographers to power.

The Art of Euphemism and Inconstant Skepticism

A quick look at other instances in which media employ this kind of euphemistic language is instructive. These whitewashing tools are reserved almost exclusively for reports on the crimes of those in power.

Police frequently benefit from this linguistic sleight-of-hand. When cops shoot and kill unarmed civilians, the deaths are referred to as “officer-involved shootings” (FAIR, 7/11/16).

A crutch is made out of the passive voice. Cops don’t fire their guns and shoot people; their guns are magically “discharged,” as if of their own accord.

“Alleged” is ubiquitous and abused: Police “allegedly” shot someone, media insist, even when there is video of the cops shooting them.

Guardian: Russian airstrikes in Syria killed 2,000 civilians in six months These tricks are employed even more frequently, and egregiously, in reports on atrocities committed by the US and its allies. And while media outlets invariably give the US the benefit of the doubt, Western enemies are not afforded the same luxury.

In Syria, for instance, civilian casualty estimates after airstrikes carried out by the Syrian government and Russia are reported exclusively based on the accounts of rebels and “activists,” some of whom have received extensive support from foreign countries committed to overthrowing the Syrian government (AP, 11/29/15, 4/28/16, 11/19/16; Reuters, 1/11/16; CNN, 9/26/16).

The incredulity exhibited in the reports on the US attack in Mosul starkly contrasts with the dogmatic certitude reflected in the incessant barrage of thinly sourced stories on Syria, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, China and beyond.

This is how US media operate: Staunch skepticism is reserved for reports on the crimes of the US and its allies, whereas rumors and myths are reported as facts when they shine negatively on government enemies.

Ben Norton is a journalist and writer based in New York City. You can find him on Twitter at .

More Than 1,000 Civilians Reportedly Killed by U.S.-Led Airstrikes as Trump Expands War on Terror

More Than 1,000 Civilians Reportedly Killed by U.S.-Led Airstrikes as Trump Expands War on Terror


Details are emerging about U.S.-led coalition airstrikes that are believed to have killed over 200 people in a single day in Iraq. The U.S.-led coalition has admitted launching airstrikes on March 17 targeting a crowded neighborhood in Mosul. They are among the deadliest U.S. airstrikes in the region since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. According to some reports, one of these strikes destroyed houses where hundreds of people were taking refuge amid the city’s heavy fighting. Up to 80 civilians, including women and children, may have died in one house’s basement alone. This bombing is just one of an onslaught of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that has killed as many as 1,000 civilians in March alone, according to the journalistic project Airwars. For more, we speak with Chris Woods, founder of Airwars, a nonprofit group that monitors civilian deaths from international airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The U.S.-backed Iraqi military’s ground campaign to retake west Mosul from ISIS has been halted, as details emerged over the weekend about U.S.-led coalition airstrikes that are believed to have killed over 200 people in a single day. The U.S.-led coalition has admitted launching airstrikes on March 17th that targeted a crowded neighborhood in Mosul. They are among the deadliest U.S. airstrikes in the region since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. According to reports, one of these strikes hit an explosive-filled truck, triggering a blast that destroyed nearby houses where hundreds of people were taking refuge amid the city’s heavy fighting. Up to 80 civilians, including women and children, may have died in one house’s basement alone. This is a family member of some of the civilians killed in the strike.

WITNESS: [translated] I came to the house to stay with my family, but the owner of the house told me there was no place for me. More than 100 people were inside. Half an hour later, the house was hit in an airstrike. There were neither snipers nor ISIL militants on the street. At least 15 people from this street, that links into the alleyways, have been killed.

AMY GOODMAN: This bombing is just one of an onslaught of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that’s killed as many as a thousand civilians in March alone, according to the journalistic project Airwars. Another one of these strikes occurred last week in Syria, when a U.S. Reaper drone struck a gathering in the rebel-held village near Aleppo, killing as many as 49 people. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, most of the dead were civilians who had gathered at a mosque to pray. The Pentagon acknowledged carrying out strikes on this village, but denied hitting a mosque. Pentagon officials said the gathering was a meeting of al-Qaeda. The high civilian death toll is leading many to question whether the U.S. military has loosened the rules of engagement that seek to limit civilian casualties. The Pentagon maintains the rules have not changed.

Well, for more, we’re going to London to speak to Chris Woods, founder of Airwars, the nonprofit group that monitors civilian deaths from international airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. Chris woods is also an award-winning reporter and author of Sudden Justice: America’s Secret Drone Wars.

Chris, welcome to Democracy Now!

CHRIS WOODS: Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about what you understand happened on March 17th in—in Iraq.

CHRIS WOODS: This is a very complicated event, and, in fact, the story is still changing today. We know that a devastating explosion, or sequence of explosions, took place in the al-Jadida neighborhood, the New Mosul area. And a minimum of 101 civilians died. Some claims have placed the number of dead in that immediate neighborhood at over 500. We’re talking like a really catastrophic event.

In terms of attributing responsibility, that’s proving more challenging. The coalition, as you said, has said it did conduct an airstrike in the immediate vicinity on March 17th. But what’s complicating this is that the Iraq military also appears to have conducted artillery strikes into that immediate area, and there may or may not have been ISIS booby traps or a vehicle-borne truck bomb. So it’s a very complex event. We also—with the coalition, we don’t know which coalition partners were involved in the event—the United States most probably, but there are four other nations in the coalition also bombing quite heavily at Mosul at the moment. But—

AMY GOODMAN: Those countries are?

CHRIS WOODS: —what we can absolutely say—so, these are Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium and France. All of them have said that Mosul is where most of their airstrikes are now taking place. So, a lot of—a lot of people involved here. But, of course, you know, the reality here is that more than a hundred civilians certainly are dead, Washington Post saying this morning that they’ve been speaking to civil defense in Baghdad—in Mosul, and a minimum of 101 bodies so far removed from the scene, and perhaps many more—many more bodies there. And this is what leads to this report of this is possibly one of the highest-ever reported civilian casualty events that the coalition or the U.S. may have been involved in.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Chris, The Guardian is reporting that Iraq has suspended the Mosul offensive after these attacks. What do you know about the accuracy of that report? And what’s the situation in terms of the response of the Iraqi government?

CHRIS WOODS: Yeah, it was certainly reported that the campaign had been paused, but, in fact, there’s very little sign of that. The airstrikes have still been going in very heavily from not just the coalition, but also the Iraqis. Two more neighborhoods were captured by Iraqi ground forces just yesterday from ISIS. So, there may have been a slowing down of the campaign, but really, I think, you know, the coalition, the Iraq government, is keen to capture west Mosul as quickly as possible. They’re gambling here that the quicker they capture the city, the less overall risk of harm there is to civilians. But civilians are paying a terrible price here. According to one report last week, which appears to have come from a senior Iraq military official, 4,000 civilians have died in the first month of fighting for west Mosul. That’s a thousand civilians being killed a week at the moment. Those are very high numbers—unacceptable numbers, in our view.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, these casualties are far higher than in the months, the last months, of the Obama administration. Do you get any sense that this is as a result of changes in operation by U.S. forces in this particular offensive, or is this just the fact that they’re now moving into a highly populated area?

CHRIS WOODS: It’s a really difficult one to untangle. There’s no doubt that the number of allegations and reported fatalities are through the roof. We have more than 120 alleged civilian casualty events from the coalition so far in March. That’s across Iraq and Syria. We have more than 1,200 civilians reported killed, alleged killed, by coalition actions. Those are way up there with the levels of allegations we saw against Russia last year when it was bombing across Syria. So these are very, very high levels of reported civilian casualties.

Part of that is definitely to do with west Mosul. The U.N. had warned beforehand, the aid agencies had warned, NGOs had warned there were going to be a lot of civilian casualties, because so many civilians were trapped in the city. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing. And we’re seeing far too many civilians killed in west Mosul. But we’re seeing many civilians being reported killed in northern Syria, as well, around Raqqa. And the assault on Raqqa itself hasn’t even begun yet, and yet we’re seeing two, three, four civilian casualty events a day around Raqqa.

So, yes, civilian deaths are way up with the coalition. What’s still somewhat difficult to untangle is whether we would have seen that under Obama. The strikes were rising. The deaths were rising steeply in the last months of Obama. Trump has obviously inherited Obama’s battle plan, to some degree. Even so, we’re hearing from Iraqi officials that it is easier to call in airstrikes now, particularly U.S. strikes. So the picture is still confused. I actually think this is—you know, we need a straight answer from the Pentagon, from the White House. Have they lifted restrictions that were there to protect civilians on the battlefield? Because ordinary Iraqis and Syrians have a right to know that. This is a life-and-death issue for them.

AMY GOODMAN: Chris Woods, I wanted to ask you about another recent harrowing attack involving the United States and its allies. In Syria, a U.S. Reaper drone recently struck a gathering in the rebel-held village in the province of Aleppo. As many as 49 people died. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, most of the dead were civilians who had gathered at a mosque to pray. The Pentagon acknowledges carrying out strikes on the village, but denied hitting a mosque. They said the gathering was a meeting of al-Qaeda members. This is Syrian ambulance driver Munther Abu Amar.

MUNTHER ABU AMAR: [translated] I’m an ambulance driver, Munther Abu Amar, from Aleppo’s western province. We came here after we were called, after an airstrike targeted the mosque while worshipers were inside. There are more than 30 martyrs, and dozens of injured people were transported to the Atareb hospital. There are still many people who are missing, five or six missing people. One of the martyrs was an elderly woman who lived close to the mosque. God help us.

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s a Syrian ambulance driver in Aleppo. Can you tell us what you understand happened there, Chris?

CHRIS WOODS: Well, I mean, every—every—report from the ground is in agreement that this was a mosque complex, that it looks like the U.S. wasn’t aware that a new building that had been built near the old mosque was an extension of that complex, and that hundreds of locals were gathered for a religious meeting when that unilateral U.S. strike took place. So this wasn’t a coalition attack. It was a unilateral U.S. targeted attack, the kind we’ve more usually seen in Pakistan or Yemen or Somalia. And it’s part of this shadow war that only America has been conducting against al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria. It gets very little publicity, but, in fact, many of these strikes taking place now. And again, they’ve ramped up under Trump, although in the last weeks of Obama we saw quite a big jump in the number of those reports. Significant numbers of civilians killed in that event, as well.

I think one thing we’re really seeing with Syria is poor intelligence. It seems CENTCOM did not know that that was a mosque building. And again, there was a school reported targeted and destroyed just last week in a place called Tabqa, near Raqqa. In that instance, the school was being used by internally displaced people. And there were reports of up to a hundred families being in that building when it was struck. There’s still a great deal of dispute about how many civilians died. But a minimum, we think, of about 35 civilians were killed in that event, as well. This is poor intelligence. Any local would have been able to tell them that IDPs, displaced civilians, were living in that building. And I think this is—this is about the proxy force that America is using in Syria today, which are not from this area—the SDF, primarily Kurdish force. It’s poor intelligence. It’s strikes being conducted very quickly. And civilians on the ground in Syria are paying a significant price for that.

AMY GOODMAN: Chris, we just have a minute left. Certainly, a huge amount of attention was paid to what happened in London with the killing of four people in an attack near the Parliament. There’s almost no—in the United States—attention paid to this massive spike in casualties in Iraq and Syria.

CHRIS WOODS: You’re right. You’re right. I mean, there isn’t an equivalence there. You know, a few weeks ago, we were very critical of international media for not covering the civilian casualties in Iraq, in Syria. That’s really changed now. Great work being done by international, regional, local media in both countries, really outstanding journalism now, looking at these civilian casualties. The disconnect is domestically. Where are the political voices being raised about this? There was a lot of anger from our politicians last year with Aleppo, and quite rightly so, when so many civilians died. Where are the raised voices here on behalf of Syrians and Iraqis who are dying as a result of our bombs?

AMY GOODMAN: Chris Woods, I want to thank you for being with us, founder of Airwars, the nonprofit group that monitors civilian deaths from international airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. Chris is an award-winning reporter and author of Sudden Justice: America’s Secret Drone Wars.

USA causing mass carnage of civilians in Mosul, Iraq


Brig. Gen. Matthew Isler, the deputy commander for the air war in Iraq and Syria, today offered details on the ever-growing scope of the air campaign over the massive, densely populated Iraqi city of Mosul, saying the US is in its “most kinetic” phase so far of the war.

In raw numbers, that means the US and its coalition partners are dropping an average of 500 bombs on the city of Mosul every single week so far in March. That number is growing, too, with the largest week seeing just over 600 bombs dropped.

Air Force officials insist all of the bombs being dropped on Mosul are being dropped “in support” of the Iraqi military’s ongoing invasion of the city. This increase in bombings is also leading to a substantial increase in the number of civilian deaths from US airstrikes as well, with several hundred civilians killed this month.

Isler insisted every single one of the 8,700 bombs dropped around Mosul since the invasion began was individually approved by an Iraqi general or a Kurdish Peshmerga figure. It is worth noting that Iraq has paused its Mosul offensive in recent days specifically because of the growing death toll of the US strikes, saying they could no longer conduct operations in the densely populated Old City under the current strategy.

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