United States ‘anti-ISIS’ bombs kill Syrian, Iraqi civilians


This 2009 video is called Iraq War: War Victims, Civilian Casualties, collateral damage.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Hundreds of civilians killed in US-led air strikes on Isis targets – report

Airwars project details ‘credible reports’ of at least 459 non-combatant deaths, including 100 children, in 52 air strikes

Alice Ross

Monday 3 August 2015 12.03 BST

The air campaign against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has killed more than 450 civilians, according to a new report, even though the US-led coalition has so far acknowledged just two non-combatant deaths.

More than 5,700 air strikes have been launched in the campaign, which nears its first anniversary this Saturday, with its impact on civilians largely unknown.

Now Airwars, a project by a team of independent journalists, is publishing details of 52 strikes with what it believes are credible reports of at least 459 non-combatant deaths, including those of more than 100 children.

It says there is a “worrying gulf between public and coalition positions” on the campaign’s toll on civilians.

To date the US Central Command (Centcom), the lead force in the campaign, has published one official investigation – a report in May that found two children were killed in a November 2014 strike in Syria.

The coalition’s lead commander, Lt Gen John Hesterman, has called the campaign “the most precise and disciplined in the history of aerial warfare”.

But Airwars project leader Chris Woods told the Guardian: “The emphasis on precision in our view hasn’t been borne out by facts on the ground.”

Since May, Centcom has conducted investigations into three further strikes, which found claims of civilian deaths were “unfounded”.

One of the attacks investigated was on Fadhiliya, Iraq, on 4 April. When the Guardian investigated this strike in May, witnesses and local politicians said a family of five had died, including a pregnant woman and an eight-year-old girl.

Centcom told Airwars it would only publish investigations with a “preponderance of evidence” of civilian deaths. It is understood to be examining six further incidents.

Sahr Muhamadally, from the Center for Civilians in Conflict, said: “All allegations of civilian harm, including from open sources, should be investigated by the coalition and processes should be in place to acknowledge and assist those harmed.”

However, over six months, Airwars examined 118 air strikes and identified 52 that Woods said “warrant urgent investigation”. Airwars believes there are strong indications of civilian deaths, according to multiple, reliable sources, from these attacks.

Airwars used international and local news reports in Arabic and English, social media postings including photos and videos, and the findings of monitoring groups on the ground. They cross-referenced these with coalition military reports. …

But in many cases civilian deaths are well-documented. In some attacks, multiple sources suggest that scores of civilians may have been killed.

The bloodiest was a 3 June air strike on a suspected IED [improvised explosive device] factory and storage facility in Hawija, Iraq. Videos and photos posted online after the bombing show a landscape of destroyed buildings and mangled metal. Local people told al-Jazeera and Reuters that over 70 civilians were killed.

In a press briefing shortly after the strike, Hesterman said the coalition used a “fairly small weapon on a known IED building in an industrial area”, but that this had hit a “massive amount of Daesh [Isis] high explosives”.

He added: “If there are unintended injuries, that responsibility rests squarely on Daesh.”

Centcom has since announced a formal investigation after receiving “credible” evidence of civilian deaths.

In Syria, the worst incidents include a 28 December air strike on an Isis facility in Al Bab that was being used as a temporary prison. Reports gathered by Airwars found that at least 58 prisoners – many of whom were being held for petty infractions of Isis’ rules, such as buying cigarettes – were killed. Local activists claimed that the use of the building as a prison was well known.

The coalition did not acknowledge the attack for nearly two weeks, after which it conceded, following repeated questions by news agency McClatchy, that it had conducted the strike. …

The UK is the second-most active participant in the coalition, having launched almost 250 strikes in Iraq.

As Britain’s MPs prepare to vote this autumn on expanding UK air strikes from Iraq to Syria, Labour MP Tom Watson called for thorough official investigations into claims of civilian deaths to allow an “informed debate” about the campaign. He added: “The UK should be leading in the tracking, reporting of and response to allegations of civilian casualties.”

Former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell told the Guardian he was in favour of expanding British strikes into Syria. “But if it’s our common objective to win hearts and minds and split off the terrorist thugs from the related population, then we have to acknowledge that killing innocent civilians acts as a significant recruiting sergeant for the terrorists,” he said.

Woods, from Airwars, said the US-led campaign’s focus on urban areas made civilian deaths unavoidable, despite “significant efforts” to avoid them. “What we are seeing in Iraq and Syria is the coalition is bombing where Isis is, and that’s in the cities … Unsurprisingly, that’s where we are tracking the highest number of civilian casualties.” The Isis stronghold of Mosul, Iraq, alone accounts for 40% of all civilian casualty reports in Airwars’ data.

The sheer pace of the strikes adds to the risk to civilians. Raines said that pre-planned missions made up approximately 10% of strikes.

The vast majority are on “emerging targets”. In these strikes the targeting process takes “anywhere from minutes to hours depending on collateral damage concerns, while maintaining careful consideration for each target to ensure we do our best to minimise civilian casualties and collateral damage,” Raines said. …

But Woods said Airwars’ findings suggest that the coalition’s narrative of virtually no civilian casualties may not be true. “You can’t have an air war of this intensity without civilians getting killed or injured, but they need to be more transparent,” he said.

‘Turkish air force killing Iraqi civilians’


This video says about itself:

Turkey kills “by mistake” 35 Kurdish civilians

30 December 2011

Tension increases at the border between Turkey and Iraq after Turkish officials confirmed their troops killed by mistake 35 civilians during an airstrike in the Kurdish village of Ortasu.

That was then. And now today, 1 August 2015.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

‘Turkish fighter jets again cause civilian casualties in northern Iraq

Today, 16:55

New attacks by Turkish warplanes on PKK targets in northern Iraq have killed ten civilians. This report the [Iraqi] Kurdish Rudaw media network, which has a reporter in the area. …

The attacks were on Zargali village, in the district Rawanduz. …

The Kurdish government in northern Iraq … condemned Turkey for “bombing civilians.” …

In The Hague this afternoon some 700 Kurds and Turks protested together against the Turkish bombardment of the PKK. The demonstrators marched from the central station to the Spui, where there were speeches.

Turks and Kurds demonstrate in The Hague, the Netherlands, against Turkish government bombing, 1 August 2015

Erdogan, stop bombing Kurds in Iraq, Iraqi government says


Erdogan and Syrian Kurds

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Iraq condemns bombing of PKK camps

Today, 14:55

Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi has condemned the Turkish bombardment of PKK camps in northern Iraq. He sees the attacks as a serious violation of the independence of Iraq and fears a “dangerous escalation” of conflicts.

Abadi calls on the Turks in order to avoid further escalation and find a solution to the crisis.

Turkey has intensified the attacks on the armed wing of the PKK after the NATO allies yesterday proclaimed their support to Turkey’s approach to terrorism.

The approach of the Turkish Erdogan government to terrorism is now: a few symbolic actions against ISIS terrorists who had used Turkey as their base for violence in Syria for a long time; and many more attacks on the only effective force fighting these ISIS terrorists: the Kurds in Syria, in Turkey, in Iraq.

In an article on the site of NOS TV from the Netherlands, Kurds in Iraq describe the Turkish armed forces as ‘the air force of ISIS’.

Danish soldiers want to get out of re-started Iraq war


This video says about itself:

Outsourcing Torture – “Denmark knew about the world’s first rendition case”

15 June 2015

Three Muslim Danish citizens reveal how they were asked to cooperate with Danish intelligence services. Their stories point to what could be a hidden role for Denmark and Lebanon in a new form of rendition: the outsourcing of torture.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Danish soldiers tired and stressed by fighting ISIS

Today, 15:09

Danish soldiers do not want to participate any longer in the international fight against ISIS. They are tired and stressed by the “extraordinary effort” they have made in recent years in various missions. Military trade unions and trustees write this in a letter, addressed to, among others, Prime Minister Rasmussen.

The Danes since last October participate with seven jet fighters and 280 military personnel in the international fight against ISIS. The Danish parliament will have to decide in October whether the mission will be extended.

The letter writers believe that enough is enough. “People are tired and stressed and do not have time for their families. Absenteeism because of illness has never been so high.” The material has also suffered considerably by the missions abroad.

Denmark ‘violated the rules of war’ in Iraq. Military officials announced on Friday that they will investigate the handling of prisoners of war following “unpleasant” revelations that showed Denmark may have been in breach of the Geneva Convention: here.

What factor is common to Canada, Sweden and Denmark? The snow, perhaps? The cold weather? The social programs? Or maybe smoked salmon? How about rendition to torture? And how about cooperation with the intelligence authorities of countries which practice torture with total impunity? These may be some of the darkest common factors shared by the three countries, ones that not everyone is aware of: here.

Turkish government bombs ISIS opponents in Iraq


Erdogan and ISIS, cartoon

This cartoon shows Turkish President Erdogan on the one hand stopping Syrian Kurdish refugees from fleeing to Turkey, on the other hand letting in ISIS fighters into Syria.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

The Turkish Air Force was also in action last night against targets of the Kurdish movement PKK in northern Iraq.

The PKK and their Syrian Kurdish allies were the only effective force preventing the planned massacre by ISIS of the Yazidi minority in Iraq.

From F-16s Turkish pilots fired at air defense and training camps of PKK fighters. Other Kurdish targets were bombarded from Turkish territory.

Turkey for the last time in 2013 waged air strikes against Kurdish positions in northern Iraq.

By the Turkish correspondent of the World Socialist Web Site:

Turkey joins US war in Syria

25 July 2015

Over the past two days, Turkey’s government has executed a sharp shift in its foreign policy, aligning itself more closely with Washington’s military strategy in the region and effectively becoming an active part of the US-led “coalition” waging war in Iraq and Syria.

For a long time, Ankara had refrained from supporting the US-led war, ostensibly aimed against the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS), insisting on a policy aimed at toppling the government of President Bashar al-Assad and covertly supporting ISIS, both against the Syrian regime and against Kurdish nationalists.

On Wednesday, however, US President Barack Obama and Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan agreed in a phone call to work together to secure the Turkish-Syrian border and fight against ISIS.

On Thursday, US officials announced an agreement allowing the US to carry out aerial attacks on IS positions from Turkish air bases at İncirlik and Diyarbakir. The Turkish government also agreed on the arming of the US Predator drones being launched from the İncirlik air base.

According to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News, the deal, treated by the Turkish side as a “secret cabinet decree,” also includes plans for a “buffer zone” in northern Syria, something Ankara has long demanded as a means of escalating the war for regime change in Syria.

Gen. John Allen, Obama’s special envoy to the so-called coalition against ISIS, denied this during an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado Thursday, saying that it “was not part of the discussion.”

State Department spokesman Mark Toner, however, cast doubt on this denial, stating in Washington that, while the Obama administration has concerns “about some of the logistical challenges inherent in a buffer zone…we obviously take threats to Turkey’s border seriously… So, we’re looking at options,” he said.

If this “option” is included in the deal, Turkey’s entry into the anti-ISIS campaign is being joined with a qualitative escalation of the US intervention in Syria.

A senior US official described the agreement as a “game changer.” The Turkish air bases are much closer to the Syrian border than those in Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and the Persian Gulf, from which US warplanes have operated until now. This will allow American combat aircraft and drones to respond much faster to intelligence information and attack more frequently. Spy aircraft can stay longer in the air.

Also on Thursday, the Turkish military directly joined the war against ISIS. Tanks and artillery shelled militants across the border. Early on Friday, for the first time ever, Turkish fighter jets attacked ISIS bases in Syria. They hit two headquarters and one “assembly point” of the group, according to the Turkish government. It stated that the decision for the attack was taken at a security meeting on Thursday. Government officials also claimed that no Turkish troops or warplanes crossed the Syrian border during these operations.

While joining the US war against ISIS, Ankara is simultaneously stepping up its offensive against Kurdish nationalist groups, which are openly or tacitly aligned with Washington in the fight against ISIS, and against the social and political opposition inside Turkey.

The Turkish ruling class fears the consolidation of a Kurdish-controlled area in northern Syria by the PYD/YPG, an offset of the PKK, a Kurdish separatist guerrilla group in Turkey. It is combining the fight against ISIS with an ever-growing pressure on the PYG-YPG and the PKK. The so-called “peace process” with the PKK and its imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan is considered as good as dead. The government is also attacking the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the legal Kurdish party that won 13 percent of the vote in the last election, depriving the ruling AKP of its majority.

On Thursday, when the Turkish army joined the war against ISIS, some 5,000 Turkish police officers, backed by helicopters and armored cars, launched raids on suspected ISIS and PKK members in Istanbul and in 13 provinces across Turkey. At least 250 people were arrested and one woman, a member of a leftist organization, was shot.

Prime Minister Davutoğlu said that the government was determined to fight all “terrorist“ groups “without distinction.” He also sharply attacked the HDP, declaring that it is an offshoot of a terrorist organization. Government critics, however, have charged that the majority of those arrested were not members or supporters of ISIS, but rather Kurdish activists, leftists and Turkish political opponents of the government.

The immediate reason given for the shift in Turkish policy is Monday’s terrorist attack in the town of Suruç, where an ISIS suicide bomber killed 32 people and wounded some 100, followed by an ISIS attack on Turkish soldiers at the Syrian border. ISIS militants opened fire, killing a soldier and wounding four, when Turkish authorities did not permit a wounded ISIS member to cross the border for medical treatment, according to the Turkish media.

But the shift in foreign policy was clearly prepared long before. The US-led wars in the Middle East have destabilized the entire region and undermined the neo-Ottoman ambitions of Erdoğan’s AKP to make Turkey a leading regional power.

Early this month, a large delegation from the Pentagon led by General Allen, the US special presidential envoy, and US Undersecretary of Defense Christine Wormuth arrived in Ankara to meet Turkish officials.

Originally Ankara, Washington and its Arab allies worked closely together in undermining the Syrian regime and arming Islamist groups opposed to Damascus. But when ISIS expanded into Iraq and endangered the regime in Baghdad, Washington made a political turn. It bombed ISIS and, much to the dismay of Ankara, aligned itself with Iraqi Kurdish groups. The recent agreement between Iran and the USA further undermines the rapidly declining influence of Ankara.

By joining the war against ISIS and simultaneously escalating the confrontation with the Kurdish nationalist groups, Ankara is trying to win back some influence on the course of events. By doing so, it is escalating the ethnic and sectarian tensions in Syria, Turkey and the entire region, posing a deadly danger for the working class.

A second, no less important, reason for Ankara’s warmongering is the escalating social and political tensions at home. … A member of the HDP was killed by an “unidentified murderer.” The Turkish Prime Minister’s Office stated that the government would take “any necessary measures to protect public order and national security.”

Having lost its working majority in parliament in last May’s election, and unable to form a coalition holding more than half the seats, the ruling AKP is likely to be forced to call another snap election. It fears even greater losses, with anger over the Suruç [massacre] fueling opposition to the government as well as support for the new pro-Kurdish HDP.

Outrage over the Suruç atrocity has led to a number of demonstrations denouncing ISIS as well as what is widely seen as the Turkish government’s complicity with the Islamist group, all of which have been met with state violence.

On Friday, Turkish police in Istanbul using tear gas and rubber bullets broke up a demonstration of several hundred people. The protesters had raised slogans denouncing the ISIS terrorist bombing in Suruç as well as the government for allowing the Islamist group to operate on Turkish soil. A much larger “march for peace” has been called for Sunday by the main Kurdish parties.