US Ignores UN Pleas, Continues Bombing Raqqa; US Troops Accused of Executing Children in Somalia Raid
August 26, 2017
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Al Jazeera
US and Somali troops attacked a farming village early Friday morning, capturing a group of ten civilians -- including three children -- and summarily executed them one at a time. US African Command confirmed that US troops were involved in the assault. Meanwhile, the soaring civilian death toll form US airstrikes against the ISIS capital city of Raqqa has gotten so bad that the US issued a formal appeal to Washington to halt the attacks and allow civilians to flee. The Trump administration shruged off the request.
US, Somali Troops Execute 10 Civilians,
Including Children, in Village Raid
US African Command Confirms US Troops Were 'Backing' Operation
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(August 25, 2017) -- US and Somali troops attacked the farming village of Barire early Friday morning, capturing a group of ten civilians and summarily executing them one at a time. Locals brought the bodies, including three children, to the capital of Mogadishu to protest the incident.
Deputy Governor of Lower Shabelle Ali Nur Mohammed blamed the US forces, saying that they rounded up the farmers working in the fields, then "one by one" shot them, saying that all the slain were unarmed civilians.
US African Command confirmed that US troops were "supporting" the Somali operation, but offered no details. They confirmed being aware of reports of civilians being killed and promised an "assessment" of the matter.
The Somali government, as usual, denied the incident took place, despite there being a number of bodies of women and children on display in Mogadishu. They insisted that officially everyone killed was a member of al-Shabaab.
US Dismisses UN Plea: Won't Stop Bombing Civilians in Raqqa
US Envoy: Continuing Strikes Is Best for Civilians
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(August 25, 2017) – The soaring civilian death toll form US airstrikes against the ISIS capital city of Raqqa has gotten so bad that yesterday, it actually fueled a statement from the UN requesting the US pause their airstrikes to allow more civilians to flee the city.
US officials are rejecting this call, however, with Special Envoy Brett McGurk insisting that the war against ISIS is going very well, and that the "number one thing that we have to do to" to help civilians in Raqqa is continue the war and defeat ISIS outright.
McGurk went on to say that President Trump is "focused like a laser destroying ISIS," and that the war is going well, but that they will take the UN call to pause the strikes "under advisement." It's clear, however, they aren't taking the call seriously.
That's unsurprising, as the Pentagon has gone out of their way to downplay the huge civilian toll of their ISIS air war, and appears to be confident that they can continue to mislead everyone about the number of people actually being killed in their strikes long enough to defeat ISIS outright.
UN Calls for Halt in Fight against ISIL in Raqqa
Some 20,000 civilians need to be
allowed to flee ISIL-held Syrian city without
fear of air raids, says top UN official
(August 25, 2017) -- The United Nations has called for a pause in the fighting for the Syrian city of Raqqa, which is held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group, to let thousands of civilians escape the battle.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters backed by US-led coalition fighter jets, has retaken 60 percent of Raqqa from the group. About 20,000 civilians remain trapped in five ISIL-controlled neighbourhoods, according to UN estimates.
Jan Egeland, head of the UN's humanitarian task force for Syria, said on Thursday that ISIL was doing its "absolute best to use [civilians] as human shields".
"Now is the time to think of possibilities, pauses or otherwise, that might facilitate the escape of civilians, knowing that Islamic State fighters are doing their absolute best to use them as human shields," he said in the Swiss city of Geneva. "People that come out cannot risk [being killed by] air raids."
Amnesty International said in a report published on Thursday that Raqqa residents face a "deadly labyrinth", coming under fire from all sides, as the death toll from coalition air raids and SDF shelling continued to mount.
"Things will only get more dangerous as the battle reaches its final stages in the city centre," said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's senior crisis response adviser.
"More can and must be done to preserve the lives of civilians trapped in the conflict and to facilitate their safe passage away from the battleground."
Diplomats at the UN reacted cautiously to the call for a temporary ceasefire.
Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York City, said that even though the UN would like to set up a plan for a pause in fighting, it was an impossible task.
"How do you speak to ISIL? It is incredibly difficult, almost impossible situation to try and resolve. The United Nations acknowledge that, but they are looking for something, anything that can point them in the right direction," he said.
On Tuesday, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 42 civilians, among them 19 children, were killed in coalition-led attacks on Raqqa.
Residents told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that at least 100 civilians were killed over a 48-hour span by US-led air attacks on the city.
The US-led coalition says it takes all possible precautions to avoid civilian casualties, but rights groups have said it is not enough.
"We are the good guys, and the innocent people on the battlefield know the difference," US Defence Secretary James Mattis said on Tuesday.
But the coalition acknowledged on Wednesday that it had escalated its attacks on Raqqa, with more aircraft available since a US-backed operation successfully pushed ISIL from Mosul in neighbouring Iraq last month.
"It's probably logical to assume there has been some increase in civilian casualties. But I would ask someone to show me hard information," coalition commander Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend said.
The coalition earlier this month acknowledged the deaths of 624 civilians in its attacks in Syria and Iraq since 2014.
But rights groups say the actual figure is much higher, and Amnesty criticised the coalition's investigation methods for failing to include site visits or witness interviews.
Saudi Airstrikes Kill 16 Yemen Civilians in Sanaa
Seven Children Among Slain as Attacks Target Residential Buildings
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(August 25, 2017) – For the second time this week, Saudi warplanes have conducted airstrikes against the Yemeni capital city of Sanaa, hitting residential buildings and killing a substantial number of civilians. At least 16 civilians were killed in today's strikes, against targets in the city's south, with at least seven children among the slain.
The attacks mostly hit a single building, killing everyone within. The casualties grew substantially, however, when an adjoining building also collapsed. Some civilians had escaped that building before it crumbled, but many were buried in the wreckage, so the death toll is not believed to be final.
This comes just two days after Saudi planes attacked and destroyed a hotel in the capital's northern Arhab District, killing at least 60 people, including 42 civilians. The Saudis insisted that was a "legitimate military target."
There has been no comment from the Saudis on this most recent strike, however, but with mounting civilian deaths, including a substantial number of children, being killed in airstrikes, they may feel uncomfortable trying to defend the campaign publicly.
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