Juan Cole / Informed Comment & TeleSur TV – 2015-05-03 23:10:52
(May 2, 2015) — A group monitoring the ongoing conflict in Syria said the death toll from an American-led coalition airstrike on a northern town rose to at least 52 people, including seven children.
US Airstrike in Syria Kills 53 Civilians, 6 Children
Juan Cole / Informed Comment @ JuanCole.com
(May. 3, 2015) — As Mariam Karouny reports for Reuters, the US air strike on Friday that inadvertently hit a village of non-combatants, killing members of six families, raises new questions about the Obama administrationâ€™s approach to fighting Daesh (ISIS or ISIL) in Syria. Despite months of bombing raids, Daesh has lost no territory in Syria.
The strike, according to the Syria Observatory, landed on a village on the east bank of the Euphrates River rather hitting its fundamentalist target.
US air strikes in Syria are estimated to have killed 2000 Daesh fighters, out of an estimated 25,000 in Syria and Iraq. However, thousands more volunteers are said to have gone to join up once they hear that the US was targeting Daesh. Some of â€œradicalismâ€ in the Middle East is just anti-imperialism, something that Washington interventionists are congenitally unable to understand.
The major accomplishment of the bombing that began last September was to keep Daesh from taking the Kurdish enclave of Kobane in the north of Raqqa Province. But the Kobane area, which had some 300,000 Kurds, is still a ghost town.
In contrast, in Iraq the bombing has been done as close air support for Kurdish Peshmerga fighters or for Iraqi and Iran-backed forces. With those fighters on the ground the US helped allies take Mt. Sinjar and Tikrit from Daesh, reducing the territory it holds in Iraq by 25% compared to last summer.
But in Syria, the US has no moderate fighters to support, since almost all rebels have joined Daesh, al-Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra or the Support Front), or other Salafi Jihadi groups that reject democracy and want to reduce religious minorities like Christians to barely tolerated non-citizens who have to pay a poll tax to avoid being attacked.
In Syria, moreover, there is a danger that if Daesh were weakened, the Syrian Arab Army of Bashar al-Assad would be able to take advantage of that development. The US wants to see Bashar, by now a notorious war criminal, overthrown.
What comes along with not having a ground force to support is lack of good intelligence on the ground in Syria. Hence the bombing of innocent non-combatants, including children.
The US says it wants to train 15,000 moderate fighters in conjunction with Turkey. But it would take years for such a force to be deployed and become effective. Moreover, there were more than that number of moderate fighters two and a half years ago, and theyâ€™ve all by now scattered or joined al-Qaeda affiliates.
What is to stop the same thing from happening to the new crew? And wouldnâ€™t they deliver their training and weaponry to Daesh (as already has often happened)?
This revolving door of US-trained fighters has been a key problem in Afghanistan, but no one ever brings it up.
The bombing of the civilians actually helps Daesh propaganda enormously. This policy in Syria needs reconsideration.
January 17, 2015 — With British warplanes all over Iraq, some devastating facts of the war in Syria and Iraq are starting to emerge, with reports that one airstrike may have killed over 50 civilians. The airstrike was in the town of Al-Bab in Syria, on the Turkish border, and US command only admitted to the airstrike after repeated enquiries from news agencies. They claimed the failure to list the airstrike in the December list was due to an ‘administrative oversight’, and if the casualty figures from the Syrian Network for Human Rights are correct, this is the worst single massacre by the coalition since UK support for airstrikes began. Watch the full episode here
US Coalition ‘Massacres’ Civilians in Syria Airstrike
(May 2, 2015) — A human rights group has accused the US-led coalition of killing dozens of civilians in a single airstrike in northern Syria. Fifty-two civilians were killed in an airstrike carried out by a US-led coalition Saturday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
“We in SOHR condemn in the strongest terms this massacre committed by the US-led coalition under the pretext of targeting the IS in the village, and we call the coalition countries to refer who committed this massacre to the courts,” SOHR stated.
Seven children are among the dead, after coalition airstrikes bombarded the village of Bermahli in northern Syria according to the monitoring group. SOHR said the death toll is “likely” to rise, stating at least 13 civilians are still missing.
Bermahli sits near the Islamic State group’s frontlines with Kurdish militias, though SOHR stated there are no militant positions within the village itself. “Bermahli is only civilians, with no (Islamic State group) positions and no clashes,” SOHR head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
The monitoring group added that “all parties” in Syria’s civil war must refrain from targeting civilian areas. The US-led coalition has been bombarding the Islamic State group in Syria since September 2014.
Syria’s president Bashar Assad initially opposed any Western interference in Syria’s civil war, but in late August 2014, his government announced it was willing to accept US airstrikes against the Islamic State group.
The sudden change came just hours after the Islamic State group overran the government’s last military outpost in Raqqa province. The defeat was a major loss for Assad’s forces and cemented the Islamic State group’s control over the province.
The provincial capital of Raqqa city is now the de facto capital of the Islamic State group’s self declared caliphate, and one of the main targets of US-led airstrikes.
September 29, 2014 — At least two civilian workers were killed after missiles launched in a US airstrike targeting an ISIS-controlled region in Syria struck grain silos, according to a human rights group.
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