US Airstrikes Continue to Kill Civilians in Syria While US Allies Murder Civilians in Iraq
November 11, 2016
Deutsche Welle & AntiWar.com & BBC News
A human rights monitor said Wednesday that an American airstrike has killed at least 20 civilians in Al-Heisha. The attack hit near Raqqa, the de facto capital of the so-called "Islamic State." Meanwhile, Amnesty International reports that a number of Iraqi civilians were rounded up by Iraqi federal police while fleeing the area around Mosul and that at least six men and a teenager were tortured and killed by the police.
US-led Airstrike Kills at Least 20 Civilians
Near 'Islamic State' Capital City
The first reported civilian casualties of the US-backed invasion of the ISIS capital of Raqqa occurred this week in the nearby village of al-Heisha
(November 9, 2016) -- An overnight US-led airstrike in the village of Al-Heisha killed at least 20 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
On Wednesday, the Britain-based monitor said 32 people were also injured in the strikes, and added that all the casualties were civilians. These are the first civilian casualties by US-led airstrikes in the area since Saturday, when Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched what they said was a campaign to isolate and capture Raqqa, the de facto capital of the so called "Islamic State" (IS). Al-Heisha is controlled by IS and stands 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Raqqa.
The British monitor said the latest deaths brought the number of civilians killed by American-led airstrikes in Syria that started in September 2014 to 680. That includes 169 children.
Colonel John Dorrian, a spokesman for the US-backed SDF, confirmed the airstrikes took place. "After an initial assessment of strike logs against the date and location of the alleged civilian casualties, the coalition confirms it did conduct strikes in the area described in the allegation," said Dorrian.
A SDF spokeswoman stated, however, that there were no civilian deaths associated with the airstrike. "There is no such thing, and any such claims are IS news," said SDF spokeswoman Jihan Sheikh. The SDF claims the airstrikes killed at least six IS fighters in Al-Heisha, and accused IS fighters of using civilians as "human shields."
US-led Coalition Strike Kills 16 Civilians Near Raqqa -- 09 November 2016
Civilians fleeing the village said Tuesday that IS brought heavy weaponry when the SDF assault on the village began. "IS fighters brought heavy weapons to our village and stayed among us so that if there were strikes they would hit us," said 45-year-old Saada al-Aboud. "They won't let us leave. We had to escape by running out into the fields, with our children and old people. What else could we do? We left everything behind."
Pentagon Again Dramatically
Under-Reports Civilians Killed in Airstrikes
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(November 9, 2016) -- Central Command has issued a new report on civilian deaths in US airstrikes against Iraq and Syria, this time covering 10 months of strikes from November of 2015 into mid-September of this year. They claimed 64 civilians killed and eight wounded in 24 strikes over that span.
Previous reports from Centcom were a dramatic under-count, and that trend continued with this new report, which carefully omitted some of the biggest and most well-documented incidents, which apparently fell into the category of strikes that the Pentagon decided not to investigate at all.
The most conspicuously absent figures are from mid-July, when a flurry of US airstrikes against the city of Manbij and the surrounding area killed an estimated 200 civilians. At least 56 civilians were killed in one single incident, which at the time the US claimed they "mistook for ISIS."
Despite the Pentagon feeling the need to come up with excuses for the Manbij strikes at the time, they not only didn't include them in the final death toll, but didn't even hazard an attempt to mention the well-documented incidents in the document.
Iraqi Police Tortured and Killed Civilians Near Mosul
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(November 9, 2016) -- Amnesty International has reported that a number of Iraqi civilians have been rounded up by Iraqi federal police while fleeing the area around Mosul, and that at least six men and a teenager were tortured and killed by the police.
Though the Iraqi government had promised to prevent similar attacks on civilians fleeing ISIS-held Mosul, as happened in other cities like Ramadi and Fallujah, Amnesty reported that a number of fleeing civilians are being detained "on suspicion of having ISIS ties."
That's eerily similarly to the story around disappearances in Fallujah, and so is what happened next, with the people in question being taken out into the desert and savagely beaten, some trying to flee and ultimately being shot execution style by security forces.
Some of the killings date back as far as October 21, and despite the Abadi government's promises not to tolerate any violations by security forces, there is as yet no sign that the Iraqi government is even investigating, with Amnesty urging them to remove the suspects from active duty for the duration of an independent investigation.
Mosul Battle: 'Iraqi Forces' Tortured and Killed Villagers
(November 10, 2016) -- Men dressed in Iraqi federal police uniforms are reported to have tortured and killed residents of villages south of Mosul, Amnesty International says.
Evidence gathered by the group suggests up to six people from the Shura and Qayyarah sub-districts were shot dead after being detained on suspicion of having ties to so-called Islamic State. The federal police forces command has denied the accusations.
Pro-government forces launched an offensive to retake Mosul last month. About 50,000 Iraqi security forces personnel, soldiers, police, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen are involved in the three-week operation.
On Thursday, troops were reportedly consolidating gains made in the eastern outskirts of Mosul, which they entered nine days ago amid fierce resistance. Meanwhile, 30km (20 miles) to the south, army units retook a village near the site of the ancient city of Nimrud, where monuments were destroyed by IS last year.
Amnesty researchers visited the locations where the extrajudicial executions are alleged to have taken place as IS militants retreated, taking with them hundreds of women, children and old men apparently for use as human shields.
According to information they obtained, about 10 men and a 16-year-old boy who escaped being forcibly transferred by IS were tortured after handing themselves over to a small group of men wearing police uniforms in the Nus Tal area on 21 October.
The men were taken on foot to an open desert area, where they were allegedly beaten with cables and rifle butts, punched and kicked, and had their beards pulled. One man had his beard set alight. They were also made to lie on their stomachs and shots were fired between their legs.
Men and boys are being screened by Iraqi forces to check they are not IS militants
Three men were then separated from the group. Amnesty said men in police uniforms then subjected them to particularly brutal beatings before shooting them dead. Their remains were found in the same area five days later.
The body of a fourth man, who was handcuffed and led away by a group of men in police uniforms after being beaten, was discovered nearby almost a week later, according to Amnesty.
Also on 21 October, another young man was found dead with two bullet wounds shortly after he left a house near the Mishraq sulphur factory, which IS fighters set alight before retreating. He was blindfolded with his torso exposed.
Amnesty said the sixth man was apparently shot dead as he ran towards forces that included men in police uniform while pulling up his clothes to show that he had no explosives.
"When the Mosul military operation began, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi made clear that violations by Iraqi armed forces and its allies would not be tolerated. Now is the time for him to prove just that," said Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for research at Amnesty's Beirut office. "The Iraqi authorities must immediately investigate these alarming reports of extrajudicial executions and torture," she added.
A statement issued by the Command of the Federal Police Forces denied its officers had killed the six villagers, stressing its full commitment to adhere to Mr Abadi's order to protect civilians and their property. Officers had provided aid and medical support to those affected by the fighting, and had rescued 10,000 families being used by IS as human shields, it added.
Meanwhile, residents of Mosul told the Reuters news agency that IS militants had killed at least 20 people in the past two days for passing information to the enemy.
Five crucified bodies were reportedly put on display at a road junction on Tuesday, while other bodies were seen hanging from electricity poles and traffic lights.
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