Mosul Families Complain Overuse of Airstrikes Killed Thousands

Mosul Families Complain Overuse of Airstrikes Killed Thousands
Many bodies are still buried in the rubble with parts of the city inaccessible thanks to streets choked with debris, writes Patrick Cockburn in the latest of his series from Iraq

“There were very few Daesh [Isis fighters] in our neighbourhood, but they dropped a lot of bombs on them,” says Qais, 47, a resident of the al-Jadida district of Mosul. “We reckon that the airstrikes here killed between 600 and 1,000 people.”

He shows pictures on his phone of a house that had stood beside his own before it was hit by a bomb or missile that had reduced it to a heap of smashed-up bricks. “There were no Daesh in the house,” says Qais. But there were seven members of the Abu Imad family living there, of whom five were killed along with two passers-by.

People in west Mosul say that the intensity of the bombardment from the air was out of all proportion to the number of Isis fighters on the ground. Saad Amr, a volunteer medic, worked in both east and west Mosul during the nine-month siege. He says that “the airstrikes on east Mosul were fewer but more accurate, while on the west there were far more of them, but they were haphazard.”

Nobody knows how many civilians died in Mosul because many of the bodies are still buried under the rubble in 47 degrees heat. Asked to estimate how many people had been killed in his home district of al-Thawra, Saad Amr said: “we don’t know because houses were often full of an unknown number of displaced people from other parts of the city.”

Some districts are so badly damaged that it is impossible to reach them. We heard that there had been heavy airstrikes on the districts of Zanjily and Sahba and, from a distance, we could see broken roofs with floors hanging down like concrete flaps. But we could not get there in a car because the streets leading to them were choked with broke masonry and burned out cars.

Local people accuse the US-led coalition of massive overuse of force, though they agree that Isis forced people into houses in combat zones and murdered them if they tried to flee. The sighting of a single sniper on a roof, would lead to a whole building being destroyed along with the families inside them. A sign that Isis was not present in any numbers is that, while there are bombed out buildings in every street, there are surprisingly few bullet holes in the walls from automatic rifles or machine guns. In cities like Homs in Syria today or Beirut during the civil war, wherever there had been street fighting of any intensity, walls were always pock-marked with bullet holes.

The accusations of Mosul residents interviewed by The Independent are backed-up by an Amnesty International report called At Any Price: The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul. It says that civilians were subjected “to a terrifying barrage of fire from weapons that should never be used in densely populated civilian areas.” AI researchers interviewed 151 west Mosul residents, experts and analysts, and documented 45 attacks in total, which killed at least 426 civilians and injured more than 100. This was only a sample of thousands of air attacks on the city, some of which are still going on. Throughout the day in Mosul there has been the periodic thump of more bombs landing in the corner of the Old City still held by Isis.

Even where bombs hit their targets, they were often more likely to kill civilians than Isis fighters. For example, AI says that “on 17 March 2017 a US airstrike on the Mosul al-Jadida neighbourhood killed at least 105 civilians in order to neutralise two Isis snipers. Regardless of whether – as the US Department of Defense has maintained — secondary explosions occurred, it should have been clear to those responsible that the risk posed to civilians by using a 500lb bomb was clearly excessive in relation to anticipated military advantage.” This is the only such incident Mosul to be investigated by the US military, although the US say they always take precautions to reduce civilian casualties.

The Isis defended Mosul for nine months instead of the two months expected by the US military by adopting special tactics. Isis commanders relied heavily on snipers who would move swiftly from house to house. The three Iraqi government elite combat units, the Counter-Terrorism Service, Emergency Response Division and the Federal Police, that bore the brunt of the battle, had too few troops to fight house to house. When faced with resistance, they invariable called in air attacks.

The consequence of this was explained to AIby Mohamed from al-Tenak neighbourhood in west Mosul: “The strikes targeted the Isis snipers. A strike would destroy an entire house of two storeys.”

Civilian loss of life was so horrific in west Mosul because Isis was merciless in using civilians as human shields. Thousands were herded from their villages in the outskirts into the combat zones and shot or hanged if they tried to escape. Metal doors were welded shut and other exits booby trapped. Those who were caught escaping were hanged from electricity pylons. As Iraqi government forces advanced and Isis retreated, the civilians were squeezed into a smaller area where a single bomb would kill the large numbers of people crammed together.

Isis will be even further weakened after the loss of Mosul if fresh reports turn out to be true that its leader Abu Baqr al-Baghdadi was killed earlier in the year. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that it has “confirmed information” that he is dead as the Russia’s Defence Ministry had claimed in June. It said that it might have killed him when one of its airstrikes hit a gathering of Isis commanders on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa.

“We have confirmed information from leaders, including one of the first rank who is Syrian, in the Islamic State in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zor,” said Rami Abdulrahman, the director of the British-based group. The source did not say when or how Baghdadi had died.

This article was first published by The Independent –        

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July 11, 2017

The Media Says the US Just Liberated Mosul: Here’s What Really Happened

Source

Published: July 11, 2017

Source: The Antimedia

 Image result for mosul

(ANTIMEDIA)  The mainstream media appears to be celebrating ISIS’ recent defeat in Mosul, albeit with some reservations. The media is largely using the word “liberation,” which indicates the people of Mosul have been freed from a monstrous force by a friendly, benevolent one.

In reality, the “liberation” of Mosul paints a dark, horrifying picture of America’s foreign policy when one realizes how ISIS took hold of Mosul in the first place. As Anti-Media in summarized in September of last year, the U.S. allowed ISIS to gain control of Mosul quite deliberately:

“In June 2014, ISIS crossed the Syrian border into Iraq, effortlessly taking the strategic oil-rich cities of Mosul and Baiji and almost making it as far as Baghdad. Amid the terror group’s frightening victory, they uploaded images and footage of drive-by-shootings, large-scale death marches, and mass graves (following the mass executions of Iraqi soldiers).

“ISIS militants claimed massive quantities of American military equipment, including entire truckloads of humvees, helicopters, tanks, and artillery as their own. This was no secret to Washington, or even the world, as the militants photographed and recorded themselves and publicly flaunted their activity on social media.”

Was there a good reason the American military sat on its hands despite knowing full well that this was going on? As Anti-Media explained further:

“What did the U.S. do in response? Nothing. In spite of all the American bases in Iraq and the government’s ability to perform all manner of illicit activity — including assassinating Muammar Gaddafi in Libya using a drone that was flown out of Sicily by a pilot who operated the vehicle from a naval base in Nevada‚ the U.S. couldn’t do anything to stop ISIS rapid advancements. Was there a problem preventing the U.S. military from conducting air strikes? Clearly not, as the U.S. had been launching drone strikes in Pakistan at around the same time ISIS advanced.”

The U.S. allowed ISIS to gain this significant portion of territory before moving into Iraq with an air war that was designed to pave the way for a segued operation into Syrian territory. The U.S. couldn’t justify an intervention into Syria without going into Iraq first, and this was quite clearly the underlying intention of this operation the whole time, as evidenced by the U.S.’ obsession with the Syrian conflict throughout both the Obama and Trump administrations.

Since the U.S. moved back into Iraq in 2014, the U.S. has dropped 84,000 bombs in Iraq and Syria up until the end of May 2017. As Counterpunch explains, this is nearly three times the number of bombs and missiles dropped on Iraq during  George W. Bush’s “Shock and Awe” campaign in 2003.

Monitoring group Airwars’ currently estimates that the minimum number of civilians killed by the U.S.-led coalition’s campaign in Iraq and Syria has reached roughly 4,354 since the operation began in 2014. The number is likely higher, but we will never know the exact total because up until a month ago, the U.S. only had two personnel investigating casualties in Iraq and Syria full time.

Under President Trump, the number of bombs being dropped increased rapidly after Trump gave complete control to the military generals on the ground to call in airstrikes with little oversight. One such air raid in Mosul saw close to 300 civilians die, and the fact that the strike had been called in by Iraqi forces on the ground demonstrates the immense amount of scope that Trump has delegated to call in airstrikes with little regard to international law and the principle of proportionality.

The battle for Mosul also drew in Iran-backed Shia militias, who have been known to terrorize Iraq’s Sunni population (including torturing civilians). No one doubts that ISIS is a brutal and abhorrent group, but the people who are supposedly “liberating” the local population — whether it’s the U.S. military, the Iraqi armed forces, or the various militia on the ground — appear to be no better.

Now that these Iran-backed militias have firmly planted themselves in Iraq, the U.S. is left with an ultimate dilemma of how to kick them out and counter Iran’s expanding influence. In all seriousness, the battle for Mosul is only paving the way for further occupation and laying the groundwork for America to pursue its regional ambitions in its never-ending quest to confront Iran.

According to the U.N., more than 742,000 Iraqis have fled the battle in Mosul, with approximately 10,000 new civilians fleeing every day. For a country that hates refugees, the U.S. certainly plays a significant role in creating an endless supply of them.

And for those civilians still trapped in the city, their lives will never be the same. As Airwars explains:

“According to city officials, as much as 80 per cent of West Mosul has been completely destroyed. Civilians still emerging from the battlefield are often bloodied and starving – traumatised by Iraqi and Coalition bombardments; and by atrocities commited [sic] by ISIS.

“According to reporters accompanying Iraqi forces, the stench of death is everywhere in the Old City – with civil defence officials reporting that as many as 4,000 bodies still remain unrecovered in the rubble. It is likely to be many months before the full death toll is known.”

That is quite the liberation. Even if Mosul really has been “liberated” by the U.S.-backed coalition, no one seems to be talking about the fact that ISIS was only able to conquer strategic areas like Mosul under the safety of the Obama administration’s policies. Leaked audio of former Secretary of State John Kerry when he was a senator confirmed the U.S. was watching ISIS grow, and in turn, the hoped this would bring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the negotiating table (you can listen to the full audio here).

You can’t target a group as an enemy in one location and view it as a useful proxy army in another. Indeed, ISIS was always a useful proxy force for the anti-Assad coalition, as Kerry admitted.

Essentially, the U.S. allowed ISIS to gain control of large swaths of Iraq and Syria so they could justify interventions in these war-ravaged nations.

As far as the people of Iraq are concerned, there is only one winner here: the military-industrial complex, which secured massive years-long contracts to make, supply, and drop over 84,000 bombs on a territory that never should have been in the hands of ISIS in the first place.

Sayyed Nasrallah Hails “Historical” Mosul Victory: Chance to Eradicate ISIL Completely

 July 11, 2017

 

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah Tuesday stressed that Mosul victory is great and that it tops a series of accumulating victories over ISIL terrorists, considering that the what has happened in Iraq affects the destiny of the entire Umma.

In a televised speech, Sayyed Nasrallah said that ISIL invasion of Mosul in 2014 was eminent and pushed many Iraqis to get frustrated and disappointed, adding that Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Sistani later issued a historical call (Fatwa) for all the Iraqis to fight the terrorists.

Hezbollah leader maintained that the Ayatollah Sistani’s Fatwa managed to move the Iraqi’s out of the state of disappointment and frustration and contributed to establishing the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), noting that this Fatwa encouraged the Iraqi army and security forces and pushed hundreds of thousands of youths to join ISIL fight.

Sayyed Nasrallah added that the Islamic Republic of Iran, led by Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, provided Iraqi with all forms of assistance just after ISIL invasion, adding that the IRGC officers came into Baghdad to help the Iraqi forces in ISIL fight.

Sayyed Nasrallah also pointed out that the Iraqi forces rejected to obey the foreign regulations and attempts to frustrate their will to fight ISIL, stressing that this did contribute to the victory.

Hailing the role of Sunni clerics in ISIL fight for refuting the claims that the battle was sectarian, Sayyed Nasrallah said that when the Iraqis stuck to the national unity and got involved in the battle, they managed to defeat ISIL.

To restore security across the rest of Iraqi areas, the Iraqi forces have to keep on fighting ISIL, according to Sayyed Nasrallah who said that there is a historical chance to completely eradicate the takfiri group in Iraq, Syria and the entire region.

Sayyed Nasrallah said that the US officials acknowledged that Obama’s administration established ISIL and that the American assistance to the Iraqi army is controversial.

Hezbollah chief congratulated Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Sistani, Iraqi PM Haidar Al-Abadi and all the Iraqis who sacrificed in order to defeat ISIL.

Sayyed Nasrallah also congratulated the Islamic Republic of Iran, led by Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, and all who have supported the Iraqis on Mosul victory.

Arsal Barrens

Hezbollah Secretary General asserted that the terrorists in Arsal barrens represent a main threat to all the Lebanese as some of the suicide bombings get prepared in that area, adding that it is high time that such terrorist dangers get eliminated.

“Arsal terrorists still have a short time to surrender and approve the offered settlement, and this is the last time I tackle this issue,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, “It’s about time we put an end to the threat of the militant groups.”

“We reject to keep the Lebanese worried about the peril posed by those terrorists who carry out the plots ordered by their commanders in the Syrian city of Raqqa.”

Sayyed Nasrallah added that the Lebanese army will control all the Lebanese territories after liberating Arsal town and its barrens.

Hezbollah chief also greeted the Lebanese army and security agencies for their mighty efforts to fight the takfiri groups in Arsal barrens and arrest the members terrorist cells as well as their masterminds and funders across the country.

Sayyed Nasrallah pointed out that if these cells and would-be suicide bombers had been able to carry out their plots, Lebanon would have suffered from hard economic and security situations, adding that what Hezbollah and the Lebanese army has done in Arsal has diminished the terrorist threats.

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Sayyed Nasrallah considered that the Syrian refugees are spread across Lebanon and that this file overpressures all the Lebanese segments.

Hezbollah leader urged the Lebanese government to communicate with the Syrian authorities in order to end this Syrian refugees crisis for moral, social and economic considerations in Lebanon and Syria.

Sayyed Nasrallah rejected the local attempts to prolong the Syrian refugees calamity in order to receive foreign aids.

Domestically, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed Hezbollah support to the government, calling for activating the political institutions in order to tackle the security and socio-economic problems.

Source: Al-Manar Website

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Iraq PM Declares Victory over ‘Brutality and Terrorism’ in Mosul

,July 10, 2017

Iraqi PM Officially Announced Liberation Of Mosul

Iraq won a victory over “brutality and terrorism” in Mosul that marks the collapse of the terrorists’ state, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said on Monday.

But with the military mission against the ISIL group in Iraq’s second city completed, the country now faces other challenges, including stabilization and rebuilding, he said.

“Our victory today is a victory over darkness, a victory over brutality and terrorism, and I announce to the whole world today the end and failure and collapse of the mythical terrorist (ISIL) state,” Abadi announced in west Mosul.

Source: AFP

General Suleimani Hails Ayatollah Sistani’s Contribution to Mosul’s Victory

General Suleimani and a number of fighters

The Commander of the Iranian Al-Quds Brigades, Major General Qassem Suleimani, considered that Mosul liberation is the whole world’s victory, hailing the role of the religious reference Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Al-Sistani.

Ayatollah Sistani issued a Fatwa which calls the Iraqi youth to join fight against ISIL terrorists who invaded Mosul in 2014.

Denouncing US support to ISIL, General Suleimani considered that the Iraqi army and popular forces heroically defeated the takfiri terrorists, highlighting the Prime Minister Haidar Abadi’s contribution to the achievement.

Stressing Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei’s support to Iraq, General Suleimani hailed Hezbollah sacrifices “which helped the Iraqis to achieve Mosul victory” and thanked Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.

Source: Al-Manar Website

Mosul Liberation in Numbers

Designed by: Nour Fakih
10-07-2017 | 14
Mosul Liberation in Numbers
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ISIS COMMANDERS COMMITTING SUICIDE IN MOSUL AS IRAQI ARMY ADVANCE

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ISIS Commanders Committing Suicide In Mosul As Iraqi Army Advance

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According to Iraqi sources, a number of ISIS commanders and fighters have committed suicide by blowing up their explosive belts in the Old Mosul area in order to prevent the Iraqi Army from capturing them.

From its side, Iraqi forces have continued securing the right part of Old Mosul. Iraqi forces have killed a large number of ISIS snipers and commanders, including the Saudi national commander Abu Hafsa, the adviser of al-Baghdadi Ayed al-Jumaili and the ISIS governor of Ninawa Province, Abu Ahmad al-Iraqi.

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 commander (Saudi citizen) Abu Hafsa killed when he tried to flee from  Old city to east Mosul by crossing the Tigris river.

Separately, Iraqi forces have deployed a defensive line on the eastern bank of the Tigris River to prevent any ISIS fighters from escaping to the left side of Mosul City.

Iraqi sources announced that the Iraqi Army has finally evacuated most of the civilians from Old Mosul and that all the remaining women or men are fighters and members of ISIS terrorist organization.

From its side, the ISIS-linked News Agency Amaq said that all the remaining fighters in Old Mosul have given “pledge of allegiance until death” to the Caliphate.

ISIS appears to be encouraging its fighters in Mosul to commit suicide so that they are not caught and provide the Iraqi security forces with sensitive information.

The Iraqi Joint Operations Room announced that the Federal Police achieved all their goals in Mosul City. Iraqi forces are now searching homes for the remaining ISIS snipers and commanders to capture or kill them. And the operations to secure the city are expected to end in the coming hours.

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Tony Blair ‘not straight’ with UK over Iraq, says Chilcot

Blair ‘not straight’ with UK over Iraq

Tony Blair was not “straight with the nation” about his decisions in the run up to the Iraq War, the chairman of the inquiry into the war has told the BBC.

Speaking for the first time since publishing his report a year ago, Sir John Chilcot discussed why he thinks the former PM made those decisions.

He said the evidence Mr Blair gave the inquiry was “emotionally truthful” but he relied on beliefs rather than facts.

A spokesman for Mr Blair said “all these issues” had been dealt with.

In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Sir John also talked about Mr Blair’s state of mind during the inquiry and his relationship with the then US President George W Bush in the build-up to the 2003 conflict.

Sir John also admitted that at the start of the inquiry he had “no idea” how long it would take, but defended its conduct and the seven years it took to complete.

The inquiry concluded that Mr Blair overstated the threat posed by Iraq leader Saddam Hussein and the invasion was not the “last resort” action presented to Parliament, when it backed the action, and the public.


Analysis

Sir John Chilcot talking to the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg

by Laura Kuenssberg, BBC political editor

When the inquiry finally emerged in its full two million words, in the chaotic aftermath of the EU referendum, its analysis was polite, but firmly critical of the decision-making process and behaviour of the UK government both in the run-up to, conduct of, and aftermath of one of the most controversial conflicts in British foreign policy – what many now regard as one of the UK’s biggest foreign policy mistakes.

In the immediate aftermath of the inquiry itself, Sir John, a former Whitehall permanent secretary who had worked for decades at the highest level of government, declined to take further part in the debate, as his and his panels’ conclusions were digested.

But in the run-up to the report’s anniversary, he agreed to speak for the first time about the inquiry’s conclusions, its criticisms and consequences for us all.

Read more on this here


Asked if the former prime minister had been as straight as he could have been with the country and the inquiry, Sir John told the BBC: “Any prime minister taking a country into war has got to be straight with the nation and carry it, so far as possible, with him or her. I don’t believe that was the case in the Iraq instance.”

He went on: “Tony Blair is always and ever an advocate. He makes the most persuasive case he can. Not departing from the truth but persuasion is everything. Advocacy for my position, ‘my Blair position’.”

He said the former Labour leader gave the case for war based on his own assessment of the circumstances, saying Mr Blair made the case “pinning it on my belief, not on the fact, what the assessed intelligence said.”

“You can make an argument around that, both ethical and – well, there is an ethical argument I think.’

‘Emotional pressure’

Asked by the BBC whether Mr Blair gave the fullest version of events, Sir John replied: ‘I think he gave an – what was – I hesitate to say this, rather but I think it was from his perspective and standpoint, emotionally truthful and I think that came out also in his press conference after the launch statement.

“I think he was under very great emotional pressure during those sessions… he was suffering. He was deeply engaged. Now in that state of mind and mood you fall back on your instinctive skill and reaction, I think.”

Tony Blair British addressing troops in Basra, Iraq, in 2005.Image copyright AFP
Image caption The UK’s seven-year involvement in Iraq resulted in the deaths of 179 British personnel
Tony Blair and George W. Bush in 2003
Image caption Sir John criticises Tony Blair’s “with you whatever” memo to US President George W Bush in 2002

Sir John also talked at length about Mr Blair’s relationship with the US president in the build-up to the war.

“Tony Blair made much of, at various points, the need to exert influence on American policy making,” he said.

“To do that he said in terms at one point, ‘I have to accept their strategic objective, regime change, in order to exert influence.’ For what purpose? To get them to alter their policy? Of course not. So in effect it was a passive strategy. Just go along.”

Commenting on the documentation revealed when the Iraq Inquiry was published, Sir John revealed that his first response on reading a note sent by Mr Blair to Mr Bush in 2002 in which he told him ‘I shall be with you whatever’, was “you mustn’t say that”.

His reaction was: “You’re giving away far too much. You’re making a binding commitment by one sovereign government to another which you can’t fulfil. You’re not in a position to fulfil it. I mean he didn’t even know the legal position at that point.”

‘Coercive diplomacy’

Asked if the relationship between Mr Blair and Mr Bush was appropriate, Sir John says the former prime minister was running “coercive diplomacy” that clashed with the settled position of the government.

“I think that the fundamental British strategy was fractured, because our formal policy, right up to the autumn of 2002 was one of containment. That was the concluded decision of cabinet.

Residents fleeing the city of Basra in March 2003Image copyright PA
Image caption Residents fled the city of Basra in March 2003

“But the prime minister was running one of coercive diplomacy. With the knowledge and support of the foreign secretary, but the foreign secretary hoped that diplomacy would win and not coercion. I think to the prime minister it probably looked the other way round.”.

Speaking after the publication of the Iraq Inquiry report last year, Mr Blair said he felt sorrow and regret at the deaths of 179 British personnel in Iraq between 2003 and 2009 and those of countless Iraqi civilians.

He accepted the intelligence had been wrong and post-war planning had been poor.

But he insisted that he did what he thought was the “right thing” at the time and he still believed Iraq was “better off” without Saddam Hussein.

In response to Sir John’s interview, a spokesman for Mr Blair said on Thursday: “All of these issues were dealt with, in detail, at the two-hour press conference following the publication of the report.”

Emotional impact

Maj Gen Tim Cross, who was involved in post-war planning in Iraq and gave evidence to the inquiry, said Mr Blair was “an emotional guy” and that he was “sure” his emotions affected the decision to go to war.

He told BBC Breakfast: “We all bring our emotions into this, but the question is how far to you let them infringe on the decision making process.

“I don’t rush to defend Tony Blair and I don’t agree with a lot of decisions he made… but obviously his emotions had a big impact on his decision-making process.

“When I briefed Tony Blair, it was quite clear that he felt this was a necessity, that there was a just cause, that we had to do something about this. How he portrayed that politically… I do not think he played it very well.”

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