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At Least 106 Syrian Civilians — Including 47 Children — Killed in US-Led Air Strikes on Mayadeen

Dozens of children and babies are among the hundreds of civilians killed in US-led coalition and Iraqi air strikes and shelling in Iraq and Syria in recent weeks, mostly in and around Mosul and Raqqa. (Photo: Iraqi Spring Media Group)

In what is likely the deadliest incident in the nearly three-year US-led bombing campaign against Islamic State (IS) fighters in Syria, 106 civilians — including 47 children — died in multiple strikes on a town in Deir Ezzor province.

The Los Angeles Times cites the independent UK-based monitor group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which reported US-led coalition air strikes pounded central Mayadeen, located along the Euphrates River about 27 miles (44 km) southeast of Deir Ezzor, on Thursday evening and Friday morning. Agence France-Presse reporter Maya Gebeily tweeted that 132 civilians died in coalition raids on Mayadeen over three days, with 15 people killed on Wednesday, 37 killed on Thursday and 80 killed on Friday.

SOHR director Rami Abdul Rahman told the Times the victims were relatives of IS militants residing in Mayadeen’s municipal building. A local activist said the strikes also targeted a nearby hospital converted into a residence by IS militants. “The forklifts are still removing the rubble and finding corpses in the area,” the activist, who identified himself only by his first name Khaled for fear of reprisals, told the Times. “The fire after the strike was so powerful that it spread to school buildings nearby. They only managed to put it out today.”

Rahman said the vast majority of victims were women and children. “In these two days alone, coalition airstrikes on the city of Mayadeen killed 47 children, and the rest of the victims… the vast majority were women,” he told the Times. “By what right does the coalition kill women and children, even if they are family of Islamic State fighters?”

While campaigning for president, Donald Trump vowed to “bomb the shit” out of IS militants and “take out their families” — a war crime under the Geneva Convention. Since Trump became commander-in-chief, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of Syrian and Iraqi civilians killed in US-led and Iraqi air and artillery strikes as coalition forces engage in fierce urban fighting to recapture cities including Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest, and Raqqa, the de facto IS capital in Syria. According to the UK-based journalistic monitor group Airwars, US-led bombing killed more Syrian civilians than dictator Bashar al-Assad’s air strikes in the period from April 23 to May 23, the most recent studied.

The US military acknowledged bombing Mayadeen but as is usually the case Pentagon officials would not admit responsibility for the civilian deaths. “Coalition forces work diligently and deliberately to be precise in our airstrikes,” Col. Joe Scrocca, a US Army spokesman in Baghdad, told reporters. “Coalition forces comply with the law of armed conflict and take all reasonable precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to civilians.”

Scrocca said the US goal “has always been for zero civilian casualties.” However, since the start of the anti-IS air campaign in 2014, Airwars says between 3,681 and 5,849 Iraqi and Syrian civilians have died in US-led or Iraqi government attacks, although the vast majority of the more than 400,000 Syrians killed during the country’s six-year civil war died at the hands of Assad’s forces. In the wider US-led war against Islamist terrorism, death toll estimates range from the hundreds of thousands to over 1.3 million. Since the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan to end World War II, the US military has killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.

The US has increasingly been criticized not only for killing large numbers of innocents but also for denying responsibility for some of its air strikes and for dramatically undercounting civilian casualties. Survivors of US-led bombings accuse the US military of lying about the number of civilians it kills. According to the Pentagon, air strikes have killed 352 Syrian and Iraqi civilians since the US-led coalition intervened in the Syrian civil war in 2014. This is far lower than the low-end death figure of 3,681 reported by Airwars. This disparity is partially explained by the fact that Pentagon does not investigate most reported civilian casualties attributed to the coalition.

The Mayadeen strikes came just hours after United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein strongly condemned the US-led bombing of civilians. “The same civilians who are suffering indiscriminate shelling and summary executions by ISIL (IS) are also falling victim to the escalating airstrikes, particularly in the northeastern governorates,” Al Hussein said. “Just because ISIL holds an area does not mean less care can be taken. Civilians should always be protected, whether they are in areas controlled by ISIL or by any other party.”

Monitor: US Bombing Killing More Syrian Civilians than Assad Air Strikes

(Photo: Daily Times)

Recent US-led coalition air strikes have killed the highest number of Syrian civilians since the air campaign against Islamic State militants began — and more civilians than dictator Bashar al-Assad’s warplanes last month, a leading monitor reports.

The independent UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reports 225 Syrian civilians, including 36 women and 44 children, died in US-led bombings occurring between April 23 and May 23. Air strikes carried out by the Assad regime killed 146 civilians during the same period, SOHR said. The monitor also said that at least 122 IS militants and fighters loyal to Assad died in US-led air strikes during the four-week period.

“The past month of operations is the highest civilian toll since the coalition began bombing Syria,” SOHR director Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France-Presse. “There has been a very big escalation.”

In the deadliest reported incident attributed to the US-led coalition, dozens of civilians, including at least 12 children, died in May 15 air strikes targeting Abu Kamal in Deir Ezzor province. Reuters reported at least 30 deaths, while Al Jazeera placed the death toll at 59 and blamed US-allied Iraqi warplanes for the attack. Monitor groups reported as many as 60-73 civilian deaths in the attack.

Also:

– Media and monitors reported between 12-30 civilians — mostly women — were killed in May 14 coalition air strikes on A’Keirshi village in Raqqa province. The victims were mostly cotton workers on their way to work, with Al Jazeera reporting 22 women killed in the attack.

– As many as 18 civilians, including three women and nine children ranging in age from six months to 15 years old, died in an April 24 coalition air strike targeting the car of a family trying to escape fierce fighting in the besieged city of Tabaqa, in Raqqa province. The Associated Press reported eight relatives died in the strike, while the independent U.K-based monitor group Airwars and the local monitor Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) posted the names of 17 people killed. RBSS posted photos of some of the youngest victims on its Facebook page.

– On May 7, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reported 18 civilians, including 11 children, died in a coalition air strike on Palestine Street in Tabaqa.

– At least 15 civilians were killed and dozens more injured in a May 21 coalition air strike on Kdeiran village, Raqqa province, media and monitors reported.

– Media and monitor groups reported between 12 and 15 civilians from one family, including four women and eight children, died when US-led warplanes bombed a home in the al-Hashem area north of Raqqa on May 11.

This is not an inclusive account of all civilian casualty incidents attributed to the US-led coalition, it only lists the deadliest reported attacks. According to Airwars, between 3,681 and 5,849 Iraqi and Syrian civilians have died in US-led or Iraqi government attacks since the start of the anti-IS campaign in 2014. The vast majority of the more than 400,000 Syrians killed during the country’s six-year civil war have died at the hands of government troops loyal to longtime dynastic dictator Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Russia, Iran and the Shia militant group Hezbollah. However, more than 15 years of continuous US-led war against Islamist militants throughout the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa have killed far more innocents, with estimates of the number of civilians killed in the seven nations attacked by US and allied forces ranging from the low hundreds of thousands to over 1.3 million. There has been a surge in civilian deaths during the administration of Donald Trump, who infamously vowed to “bomb the shit” out of IS militants and “take out their families” — a war crime under the Geneva Convention.

Since the August 1945 nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, US military forces have killed more innocent foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.

Report: Israel Source of ‘Highly Classified’ Intel Trump Gave to Russians

(Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr Creative Commons)

Current and former US government officials said that Israel was the source of the highly classified intelligence disclosed by President Donald Trump during last week’s White House meeting with top Russian officials.

One current and one former US official — both unnamed — told the New York Times that Trump disclosed intelligence regarding an Islamic State (IS) terrorist plot during the May 10 meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, and that at least some of the details of the plot came from Israel. The officials told the Times that Israeli authorities previously urged the Trump administration to be careful about how it handled the highly sensitive information.

On Monday, the Washington Post reported current and former US officials said that Trump revealed “highly classified” intelligence during the Oval Office meeting, and that the president’s action jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on IS activities. According to the Post, the source which provided the intelligence had not given Trump permission to share the information and his decision to do so could harm future cooperation from a close ally with deep knowledge and penetration of America’s leading adversary in its war against terrorism.

Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted that if the Post report is true, it is “a slap in the face to the intel community.”

“Risking sources & methods is inexcusable, particularly with the Russians,” tweeted Warner, whose committee is investigating the alleged hacking campaign waged by the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election in favor of Trump.

Some Democrats noted the president’s ceaseless campaign attacks blasting Hillary Clinton as someone who could not be trusted with classified information. “I don’t think it’s safe to have Hillary Clinton be briefed on national security because the word will get out,” Trump said last July. “We can’t have someone in the Oval Office who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word confidential or classified,” he added in September.

The seriousness of Trump’s alleged intelligence disclosure prompted criticism from some Republicans. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accused the Trump White House of being in a “downward spiral.”

“To compromise a source is something that you just don’t do,” Corker told reporters on Monday. “That’s why we keep the information that we get from intelligence sources so close, is to prevent that from happening.”

Other critics noted Trump’s frequent campaign accusations that President Barack Obama and Clinton, his former secretary of state, destroyed the uniquely close relationship between the United States and Israel, even as the Obama administration approved the largest-ever military aid package to Israel and abandoned demands that it cease expansion of Jews-only settler colonies on occupied Palestinian territory. Both the occupation and the settlements are illegal under international law.

“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect,” Trump said last December after the US took the rare step of abstaining from a vote on a United Nations resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The resolution passed 14-0.

Israeli officials would not confirm to the Times that their country was the source of the intelligence shared by the president. Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer issued a statement reaffirming the uniquely close relationship between the two nations. “Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump,” Dermer said.

However, a diplomatic spat between the two countries erupted on Monday after US officials rejected an Israeli request for Trump to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the Western Wall, the holiest prayer site for Jews. One American official reportedly told Israeli officials the site “is not in your territory.” Israel captured the site of the Western Wall, along with the rest of East Jerusalem, during a 1967 war against its Arab neighbors and their allies, and has illegally occupied it ever since. The row comes just days before Trump is to visit Israel on the first overseas trip of his presidency.

Trump, who has once again found himself on the defensive, tweeted on Tuesday that he had an “absolute right” to disclose any “facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety” to top Russian officials. Senior Trump administration officials issued statements denying the president disclosed “sources and methods.”

“The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said in a statement. “At no time — at no time — were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.”

“What the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate to that conversation and is consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leaders with whom he’s engaged,” McMaster said at a White House briefing on Tuesday ahead of a meeting there between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

When pressed at the briefing as to why the CIA and NSA were contacted following the Oval Office meeting — what officials familiar with the matter said was an act of damage control — if nothing was amiss, McMaster suggested the White House might be exercising “an overabundance of caution.”

At Least 80 Syrian Civilians Reportedly Killed in Latest US-Led Air Strikes

(USAF photo)

US-led air strikes targeting Islamic State (IS) militants have killed scores of Syrian civilians in recent days, media and human rights monitor groups report.

At least 87 civilians died in eight separate bombings reported between May 11-15 by international and local media, as well as by monitors including Airwars, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) and others. In the deadliest reported incident, the Associated Press reports as many as 23 civilians died in an air strike likely carried out by US-led coalition warplanes in al-Bokamal, on the Iraqi border in Deir Ezzor province. Monitors said the raid occurred around 3:00 a.m. on Monday, with SOHR reporting eight children and women among the dead. SOHR said the death toll is likely to further rise as victims’ bodies are recovered from the rubble.

CBS News reports between 12-23 civilians died in US-led coalition air strikes on the village of Akayrshi Sunday night. RBSS, which reported 22 civilian deaths in the bombing, said the strikes targeted a convoy of farm workers. SOHR said 12 women were among those killed.

On Friday, Airwars, RBSS, Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) and others reported 20 civilians — including five children — were killed in a US-led air strike on the al-Thaleth neighborhood of Raqqa city. Airwars published the names and ages of many of the victims, which ranged from a one-year-old toddler to a 78-year-old man.

On May 11, Euphrates Post reported five civilians died when the car in which they were traveling was hit by a suspected US-led coalition air strike in Quriya. Also on Thursday, Airwars, RBSS and others reported four members of a family were killed in a US air strike on Markada, al Hassakah province, while three other civilians died in a strike on Hamra Blassem in Raqqa province.

On May 12, RBSS reported an elderly man, his wife and his granddaughter died in a May 12 coalition strike in Tabaqa’s Third District. Also on May 12, RBSS reported at least seven civilians, many of them relatives from two families, died in likely coalition air strikes on al-Asadeya farm in Raqqa province.

On Friday, Moral Low Ground reported at least 50 Syrian civilians died, mostly in and around the de facto IS capital of Raqqa, in previous US-led air strikes between May 8-11. That article came just two days after MLG reported between 53 and 76 civilians killed, and as many as 95 others injured, in earlier May strikes.

US military officials claim everything is being done to minimize the number of innocent civilians killed or injured in coalition air strikes. However, the Pentagon does not investigate most reported civilian casualties attributed to US-led warplanes, and survivors in Syria and Iraq accuse the US military of lying about the number of civilians it kills. According to the Pentagon, air strikes have killed 352 Syrian and Iraqi civilians since the US-led coalition intervened in the Syrian civil war in 2014. Airwars has reported between 3,294 and 5,281 civilian deaths in over 1,300 separate incidents attributed to the US-led coalition since the start of the anti-IS air campaign.

The vast majority of the more than 400,000 Syrians killed during the country’s six-year civil war have died at the hands of government troops loyal to longtime dynastic dictator Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Russia, Iran and the Shia militant group Hezbollah. However, more than 15 years of continuous US-led war against Islamist militants throughout the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa have killed far more innocents, with estimates of the number of civilians killed in the seven nations attacked by US and allied forces ranging from the low hundreds of thousands to over 1.3 million. There has been a surge in civilian deaths during the administration of Donald Trump, who infamously vowed to “bomb the shit” out of IS militants and “take out their families” — a war crime under the Geneva Convention.

Since the August 1945 nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, US military forces have killed more innocent foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.

Monitors: US-Led Air Strikes Kill At Least 50 More Syrian Civilians

Children killed in a reported May 9 US-led air strike on al-Salhiya village north of the de facto Islamic State capital of Raqqa, Syria. (Photo: Amaq News screen grab)

US-led coalition air strikes have killed dozens more Syrian civilians in and around the de facto Islamic State (IS) capital of Raqqa in recent days, local media and human rights monitors report.

On Wednesday, Moral Low Ground reported between 53 and 76 Syrian civilians were killed, and another 60-95 injured, in US-led bombing during the first week of May, according to figures compiled from local and international media as well as independent monitors including Airwars, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS).

From May 8 through May 11, at least 50 and as many as 70 more Syrian men, women and children died in US or coalition strikes, with another 43-133 wounded casualties, according to media and monitor sources. The following incidents were reported:

May 8: Airwars, SOHR and local media reported between seven and 10 civilians died, and at least a dozen others were injured, in what Step News Agency said was an attack on a bus in a convoy transporting displaced civilians from the countryside of Homs and eastern Hama. The attack occurred on the outskirts of Raqqa city.

May 8: The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), RBSS, SOHR and others reported three members of a family, including two brothers — 22-year-old Khaled Ahmad Al Jassem al Kinno, 20-year-old Uday Ahmad al Jassem al Kinno and Hassan Ali Mohammad al Kinno, 25 —  were killed in a coalition air strike on al-Jalaa farm north of Raqqa city.

May 9: Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) and others reported seven civilians including one child died and as many as eight others were wounded in al-Mansoura village, Raqqa province when warplanes believed to belong to the US-led coalition bombed a house there. Five-year-old Jihad Mahmoud al Yatim was killed in the strike.

May 9: Media and monitors reported 12 civilians — including seven or eight women and four children — were killed and as many as two dozen others wounded in a coalition air strike on a home in al-Salhiya village north of Raqqa city. According to reports, when village residents rushed to the bombing site in an attempt to rescue people buried under the rubble, warplanes returned twice to attack them. The IS-linked Amaq News Agency published video of some of the victims.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES OF DEAD AND WOUNDED CIVILIANS, INCLUDING CHILDREN — 

May 9: Turkey-based SMART News Agency reported five members of a family were killed, and three others injured, in a coalition air strike in the al-Thani neighborhood of Tabaqa, Raqqa province.

May 10: Human rights groups reported four civilians, including a woman and two children, died in a coalition air strike in Shanina village north of Raqqa city.

May 11: Media and monitor groups said between 12 and 15 civilians from one family, including four women and eight children, died when US-led warplanes bombed a home in the al-Hashem area north of Raqqa.

Additionally, it is unclear whether US-led coalition, Syrian government or Russian forces were responsible for May 10 air strikes that killed between seven and 14 civilians, including four children, and wounded as many as two dozen others in al-Soor, north east of Deir Ezzor. Five sources blamed the coalition for the attack, three said Russia was responsible and one outlet reported Syrian government forces carried out the strike, according to Airwars.

Longtime dynastic dictator Bashar al-Assad’s forces — backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah —  are responsible for the majority of the more than 400,000 Syrians killed during that country’s six-year civil war. However, US-led coalition warplanes from nations including many of America’s NATO allies, Jordan, Turkey and Australia, have carried out thousands of air strikes since intervening in Syria’s civil war in 2014. Airwars claims between 3,294 and 5,281 Iraqi and Syrian civilians have died in nearly 1,300 separate coalition bombing incidents during the anti-IS campaign. SNHR claimed that in March, coalition air strikes killed more Syrian civilians than either IS or Russia. The group said US-led bombing killed 260 civilians, including 34 women and 70 children, in March, compared to 224 killed by Russia and 119 by IS. Only Assad’s forces killed more innocent men, women and children, with 417 civilians, including 46 women and 61 children, dying in March.

More than 15 years of continuous US-led war against Islamist militants in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa have taken a heavy toll on civilians. Estimates of the number of innocent people killed range from the low hundreds of thousands to over 1.3 million. There has been a dramatic increase in civilian deaths since President Donald Trump — who promised to “bomb the shit out of” IS and kill militants’ innocent families — took office. Since the 1945 nuclear bombings of Japan that ended World War II, US military forces have killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.

US, Iraqi Strikes Kill, Injure Hundreds of Civilians in Iraq and Syria During First Week of May

Children badly injured in the May 4 attack on the al Walaa school in West Mosul, Iraq. (Photo: I Am Mosul/Facebook)

Hundreds more Iraqi and Syrian civilians have been killed and injured during the first week of May in US-led coalition and Iraqi air strikes, as well as Iraqi army shelling, targeting Islamic State (IS) militants.

The UK-based journalistic monitor group Airwars reports civilian casualties are most concentrated in West Mosul in Iraq and in and around Raqqa, the de facto IS capital, and Tabaqa in Syria. According to local and international media reports and human rights monitors, between 194 and 224 civilians were killed and between 299 and 325 others injured in Iraqi bombing and shelling and US-led coalition air strikes between May 1-7. In Syria, 53-76 civilians were reported killed, with another 60-95 wounded, during the same period. Additionally, it is not clear whether Syrian government, Russian or US-led coalition forces were responsible for an “unexplained” May 1 explosion that killed between 13 and 16 civilians in a village in Aleppo province.

In the deadliest single incident of the week, monitor groups and media outlets reported as many as 81 civilians, including 18 children, were killed and up to 86 others injured in May 4 air strikes and shelling that hit the al-Walaa school in the July 17th neighborhood of West Mosul. The school was reportedly being used as a shelter for residents displaced by fighting in nearby Old Mosul. Ahrar News said around 20 families were sheltering in the school when they suffered heavy shelling and rockets from Iraqi and coalition forces. The outlet posted graphic photos of dead and injured children and babies on its Facebook page, along with the caption “the stony rubble was mixed with the children’s flesh.” Al Jazeera reported the Iraqi military admitted to bombing the school, which it claimed was abandoned, and denied targeting civilians.

Also on May 4, Yaqein reported 240 people were killed or wounded in air strikes and shelling throughout West Mosul, including in the the neighborhoods of Rifai, Zanjili and July 17, over the first four days of the month. Additionally, dozens of homes were destroyed by these attacks. That same day, Al Jazeera reported 11 civilians from the same family died when US-led coalition warplanes bombed their house in North West Mosul.

On May 7, Yaqein reported at least 34 civilians were killed and another 77 injured by US-led coalition air strikes and Iraqi army shelling hit several West Mosul neighborhoods.

In Syria, dozens of men, women and children were killed in US-led coalition air strikes targeting Raqqa, Tabaqa, Hunaida, Al Mansoura and elsewhere. Among the deadliest attacks were the May 3 bombing of a fruit market in Tabaqa (6-12 killed, 9-15 others injured), a series of May 4 air strikes in central Raqqa (6-12 killed, 10-15 wounded) and another series of strikes targeting the al-Awwal and al-Thaleth neighborhoods of Tabaqa that killed seven people and injured as many as 24 others on May 4-5.

Another 18 civilians, including 11 children, died in a US-led coalition air strike targeting Palestine Street in Tabaqa, although there is uncertainty about the date of the attack. Various human rights monitor groups and media outlets reported the strike occurred on April 28, May 3 and May 5.

While longtime dynastic dictator Bashar al-Assad’s forces are responsible for the majority of the more than 400,000 Syrians killed during that country’s six-year civil war, more than 15 years of continuous US-led war against Islamist militants in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa have taken a heavy toll on civilians. Estimates of the number of innocent people killed range from the low hundreds of thousands to over 1.3 million. There has been a dramatic increase in civilian deaths since President Donald Trump — who promised to “bomb the shit out of” IS and kill militants’ innocent families — took office. In what could be the deadliest US bombing in decades, nearly 300 bodies were recovered from the site of a March 17 US strike on a residential building in Mosul’s Jadida neighborhood where IS fighters had taken up positions and allegedly held the residents as human shields, although many witnesses vehemently refute this.

Survivors, human rights monitors and others also strongly reject the US military’s claim that only 45 Iraqi and Syrian civilians were killed by coalition strikes in March, and that 352 civilians have died in coalition attacks since the anti-IS campaign was launched in 2014. Airwars reported hundreds of civilian casualties in March alone, and claims between 3,294 and 5,281 civilian deaths in nearly 1,300 separate incidents since 2014.

Since the 1945 nuclear bombings of Japan that ended World War II, US military forces have killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.

US-Led Air Strikes Killing Families in Tabaqa, Syria

Aftermath of a suspected US-led air strike on al-Haal market, Tabaqa, April 21, 2017. (Photo: Euphrates Post)

US-led air strikes targeting Islamic State fighters in Tabaqa, Syria are killing groups of civilians fleeing or sheltering from fierce fighting between IS militants and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces rebels, media and monitor groups report.

In the deadliest reported recent incident, 17 civilians, most of them from one family and including nine children, died while trying to flee the besieged city on Monday. The Associated Press reported eight family members, five of them children, were killed in the strike. By Tuesday, independent monitor groups said the death toll from the strike had risen to 17. According to Raqqa Is Being Silently Slaughtered (RBSS), “the family of Ali Abu Aish was killed after they were targeted by a coalition plane with machine gun fire while they were trying to leave Al Tabaqa.” RBSS identified the following victims:

・Fatima Karsouh, woman, age 41
・Khawla Abu al-Aish, woman, age 40
・A’rifa Abu al-Aish, woman, age 23
・Riham Abd al-Aziz, woman, age 23
・Wafaa Abu al-Aish, girl, age 15
・Hiba Abdel Aziz, girl, age 9
・Mounir Ali Abu al-Aish, boy, age 5
・Ali Abd al Salam Abu al-Aish, boy, age 3
・Mo’awiya al-Zalam, boy, age 2
・Mohammad Khaled Abdel Aziz, boy, age 9 months
・Salam Ali Abu al-Aish, boy, age 6 months
・Radwan Haj Hammoud, his unnamed wife and daughter, his unnamed daughter-in-law and her two children, ages not     listed.

Abd al-Salam and Ali Abu Aish died in a suspected US-led coalition air strike on Tabaqa, Syria on April 21, 2017 (Photo: Raqqa Is Being Silently Slaughtered)

On Friday, local media and local and international monitor groups including Airwars and Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reported five civilians — three children and their parents — were killed in a US-led air strike on Tabaqa’s al-Hal market. Journalist Mohab Nasser identified the victims as Khalil Zakariy, his wife and their children Hiba, Safa and Zakariya. Also on Friday, a woman identified as 30-year-old Aisha Al-Ahmad died and an unknown number of other civilians were injured when a suspected US-led air strike hit al-Wasat Street in Tabaqa’s al-Qarya neighborhood, media and monitor groups reported.

The following day, media and monitor groups reported a likely coalition air strike hit an ambulance in the city, killing four or five civilians. Turkey-based Smart News Agency reported the ambulance was rushing a patient to the National Hospital and listed the victims as the patient, two nurses and a driver. Also on April 22, a suspected US-led air strike on al-Bhatari school in Tabaqa killed one civilian and wounded four others, Smart News Agency and Airwars reported.

On April 23, three civilians — a man, his wife and their child — died when a likely coalition air strike hit their home in Tabaqa’s al-Thani neighborhood, Smart News Agency and Airwars reported.

US-led coalition warplanes are believed to be the only aircraft flying missions over Tabaqa, which is under siege as SDF rebels battle IS for control of the city located just 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of the de facto IS capital of Raqqa. RBSS reports nearly 30,000 civilians remain trapped in the city out of a prewar population of around 70,000. The situation in Tabaqa is dire — in addition to enduring intense fighting and air strikes, residents have gone without electricity or water for three weeks.

People fleeing for their lives sometimes come under fire from all sides in the conflict. RBSS reports an SDF sniper recently killed 70-year-old Ahmed al-Rawi and some of his relatives, while as many as 40 civilians drowned in the Euphrates River when the boat on which they were attempting to flee was either bombed or sank. In one of the deadliest coalition air strikes to target Tabaqa, BBC reported last month that 27 civilians died and 40 others were wounded when US-led warplanes bombed a bakery in the city’s Second District.

Additionally, an April 11 US “friendly fire” bombing incident killed 18 SDF fighters near Tabaqa.

More than 450,000 Syrians have died in a civil war that started in 2011 after longtime dynastic dictator Bashar al-Assad’s forces violently repressed what began as peaceful protests during the Arab Spring uprisings. More than a million people have been injured, and another 12 million Syrians — or about half the country’s prewar population — have been displaced, creating the world’s worst refugee crisis since World War II. Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, Iran and the Shia militant group Hezbollah, have killed the most civilians by far in the conflict as they battle disparate rebel forces including Kurds, IS, SDF, al-Qaeda and others. US and other air strikes carried out by NATO and other allies including France, Britain, Turkey, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany and Jordan, have killed and wounded hundreds of civilians.

While the US does not record the cumulative civilian casualties from over 15 years of continuous war against Islamist militants in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa, estimates of the number of innocent people killed range from the low hundreds of thousands to over 1.3 million. There has been a dramatic increase in civilian deaths since President Donald Trump — who promised to “bomb the shit out of” IS and kill militants’ innocent families — took office. Airwars reports more than 3,000 Syrian and Iraqi civilians have been killed by US-led bombing since former president Barack Obama launched the current war against IS in 2014.

Since the 1945 nuclear bombings of Japan that ended World War II, US military forces have killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.

US, Allied Bombings Kill Hundreds More Iraqi and Syrian Civilians

Dozens of children and babies are among the hundreds of civilians killed in US-led coalition and Iraqi air strikes and shelling in Iraq and Syria in recent weeks, mostly in and around Mosul and Raqqa. (Photo: Iraqi Spring Media Group)

Hundreds of Iraqi and Syrian civilians have been killed, and hundreds more wounded, by US-led and Iraqi air and artillery strikes this month, human rights monitors and local officials said.

Al Jazeera and other media and independent monitor groups, including the UK-based Airwars and Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), report at least 23 civilians, including five women and 13 children, were killed in either a US-led coalition or Iraqi air strike on Abu Kamal, Syria, near the Iraqi border. The Tuesday strike was believed to target a home and warehouse used by Islamic State (IS) fighters. Some reports put the death toll as high as 36. At least a dozen other civilians were wounded.

WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES. 

International and local media reported an April 19 US coalition air strike on a field hospital in Tabaqa, Raqqa province, Syria killed up to four civilians, including a doctor and a woman, and wounded as many five other patients and staff. The coalition said it was targeting IS fighters, buildings and a tunnel used by militants.

Airwars and local media reported a Monday air strike carried out by either US-led coalition or Iraqi warplanes killed and wounded over 100 civilians in various neighborhoods of West Mosul, Iraq. Coalition officials said eight air strikes targeted IS fighters in the area.

CBS News reports an air strike likely carried out by US-led coalition warplanes late Monday in Boukamal, Syria killed at least 10 civilians and wounded dozens more, with SOHR placing the death toll at 13 civilians, including women and children. Earlier that day, a separate US-led strike killed seven civilians, including a child, in the Syrian village of Husseinyeh, SOHR added.

In the town of Tabaqa, in Raqqa province, Syria, international and local media, as well as monitor groups, reported six civilians were killed and 11 others wounded in at least one of the five air strikes the US-led coalition acknowledged conducting there on Monday.

On Sunday, as many as 10 civilians from two families were killed in what is believed to be a coalition air strike on Kabish, in Raqqa province, Airwars, SOHR and other media and monitor groups said. Also on Sunday, the monitor group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) and local media reported two children were killed in an alleged coalition air strike on a school in Hunaida, Raqqa province.

On Saturday, nine civilians were reportedly killed and others injured in a coalition air strike on Rayhana village near Anah, in Anbar province, Iraq, according to local media reports. Also on Saturday, SOHR and numerous media outlets reported as many as 17 civilians were killed and as many as 24 others wounded in a coalition or Iraqi air strike on Sukariya, Deir Ezzor, Syria. Coalition officials said an IS fuel facility was targeted in multiple air strikes. Five civilians from the same family also died and others were injured when a coalition air strike hit homes in the village of Mazra’at Yarub, Raqqa province, Syria. The coalition said it targeted IS fighters and supply routes, including a bridge.

Last Friday, five civilians were killed and eight more injured in what is believed to be a coalition air strike on Musherfa, Raqqa province, international and local media reported, as did Airwars. Earlier last week, Al Jazeera and other media reported US and Iraqi bombing and shelling of the old city of West Mosul killed 73 civilians and injured well over 100 others. Last week the coalition also denied a claim by the Syrian government that the US-led alliance bombed a toxic chemical storehouse used by IS, killing hundreds of civilians. The coalition called the claim “intentional misinformation.”

Other reported mass-casualty events (10 or more deaths) attributed to US-led coalition or Iraqi government forces in April include:

– An April 11 “friendly fire” incident in which coalition warplanes bombed Syrian Democratic Forces fighters, who are allied with the United States in the fight against IS, near Tabaqa, Syria, killing 18.

– An April 11 coalition air strike on homes in the heavily-bombarded Yarmouk neighborhood of West Mosul, Iraq that killed 13 civilians and wounded 17 others, most of them critically.

– On April 10, a US A-10 warplane allegedly bombed the Yarmouk neighborhood of West Mosul, killing 30 civilians.

– Also on April 10, as many as 17 civilians, including a woman and two children, died in what is believed to be a coalition air strike on the villages of Shoeib Al Zakar and Dibsi Faraj, Raqqa province.

– On April 9, SOHR, RBSS and local media reported as many as 10 civilians, including a woman and a child, were killed in a coalition air strike on the Tishreen Farms area of Raqqa.

– On April 8, US-led bombing and Iraqi shelling of several West Mosul neighborhoods killed 13 civilians — mostly women and children — and wounded 91 others, international and local media reported.

– Also on April 8, RBBS reported a mother and her six children died when the boat on which they were crossing the Euphrates River near Sho’aib Al-Zikir in Raqqa province, Syria was bombed by a coalition warplane. Smart News Agency reported 11 bodies were found on the riverbank near the village, while other outlets reported as many as 40 civilians died on the boat.

– On April 7, the Associated Press and other media and monitor groups reported at least 15 civilians, including one or two women and four children, were killed, and as many as 24 others injured, when US-led warplanes bombed an Internet cafe in Huneida, Raqqa province, Syria.

– An April 5 Iraqi or US-led air strike on the al-Shafaa neighborhood of West Mosul killed at least 16 members of one family and wounded up to 25 other civilians, Airwars and local media reported.

– On April 4, 20 civilians, including many children, were reportedly killed, and six others wounded, in an Iraqi or US-led air strike on the Tal Afar neighborhood of West Mosul, Iraq.

These are only the credibly reported mass casualty events attributed to US-led coalition and Iraqi bombing and shelling. There have been many more reported incidents in which smaller numbers of civilians have been killed or injured, as well as many unverified or unattributable attacks. The majority of the more than 400,000 people killed in Syria’s six-year civil war have been killed by the forces of the Bashar al-Assad regime, although the human rights group Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) recently reported US-led bombing killed more Syrian civilians last month than IS or Russia, which is conducting aerial bombardment and other operations in support of Assad.

More than 15 years of continuous US-led war against Islamist militants in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa have taken a heavy toll on civilians. Estimates of the number of innocent people killed range from the low hundreds of thousands to over 1.3 million. There has been a dramatic increase in civilian deaths since President Donald Trump — who promised to “bomb the shit out of” IS and kill militants’ innocent families — took office. In what could be the deadliest US bombing in decades, nearly 300 bodies were recovered from the site of a March 17 US strike on a residential building in Mosul’s Jadida neighborhood where IS fighters had taken up positions and held the residents as human shields.

Since the 1945 nuclear bombings of Japan that ended World War II, US military forces have killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.

Mother and Her 6 Children Among At Least 20 Syrian Civilians Killed In Weekend US-Led Air Strikes

(Photo: Daily Times)

At least 21 Syrian civilians, including a mother and her six children, were killed in two separate US-led air strikes over the weekend, human rights monitor groups said on Saturday.

The Associated Press reports the anti-Islamic State (IS) monitor group Raqqa Is Being Silently Slaughtered said a boat carrying about 40 people attempting to flee fighting between IS fighters and US-backed rebels was bombed as it was crossing the Euphrates River near Shuaib al-Zeker, Raqqa province. The group said the bodies of a woman and her six children were recovered from the river, while others are still missing.

Earlier on Saturday, at least 15 civilians were killed in strikes attributed to US-led coalition warplanes in the village of Hneida, on the outskirts of the de facto IS capital of Raqqa, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) reports. The independent UK-based monitor group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said four children were among those killed when an Internet cafe was bombed. The US military publication Stars and Stripes reports Syrian state media said 13 civilians died in the attack. A witness told DPA 17 civilians were killed.

“Seventeen people were killed and 12 injured; the building was completely destroyed,” Mohammed al-Ajeily said. “The number of casualties is expected to rise because some of the injured are in critical condition and due to a shortage of medical centers in the area.”

Leaflets dropped by coalition aircraft in recent weeks have sown widespread confusion, with one suggesting areas near the Euphrates River are safer for civilians, while another warns that boats attempting to cross the river would be bombed. Thousands of civilians in IS-controlled areas are fleeing for their lives as Syrian Kurdish-led forces prepare for an offensive to retake the terrorist group’s capital.

Saturday’s strikes came just over a day after President Donald Trump ordered a cruise missile attack on al-Shairat airfield in Homs province, which the US and others say was used by Syrian government forces to launch a chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun, in Idlib province. SOHR said 87 civilians, including 31 children, were killed in Tuesday’s chemical attack, while Syrian state media claimed nine civilians, including four children, died in the retaliatory US strike.

There has been a dramatic increase in civilian casualties caused by US-led bombing in Syria and Iraq since Donald Trump became commander-in-chief. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump accused President Barack Obama — whose drone and other air strikes killed at least hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Libya — of “fighting a very politically correct war.” Trump promised to “bomb the shit out of” IS militants and kill their families. “I’d blow up every single inch, there would be nothing left,” Trump said in November 2015. “We’ll get Exxon[Mobil] to come in there and in two months… I’ll take the oil.”

“The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families,” Trump said in December 2015, advocating actions that are war crimes under the Geneva Conventions.

Since taking office, Trump has loosened rules of engagement in the continuing 15-year US-led war against Islamist terrorism, at the expense of innocent civilians. A week after his inauguration, the president ordered a ground raid against al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen in which dozens of civilians, including an 8-year-old American girl, and a US Navy SEAL were killed. In February, at least 18 Afghans, mostly women and children, died in a US strike in Helmand province.

Last month saw the largest number of civilians killed by US bombs perhaps since the Vietnam war, with the independent UK-based monitor group Airwars claiming more Syrians were killed by American forces than by either IS or Russia in March. The group reported 1,472 civilian casualties related to US and coalition strikes in Syria and Iraq in March.

Among the deadliest reported US-led attacks in last month were three mass casualty events. After initially denying responsibility, US officials launched an investigation of a March 16 air strike on the Omar ibn al-Khatab mosque in Al Jinah, in Aleppo province that killed 49 civilians. On March 20, an air strike on a school sheltering dozens of families in the village of al-Mansoura killed 33 civilians. In Iraq, at least 278 bodies, many of them of children, have been recovered from the site of a March 17 air strike in the densely populated al-Jadida neighborhood of western Mosul. IS fighters had taken up positions on a residential building where hundreds of sheltering civilians were used as human shields; Iraqi government officials have come under fire for instructing Mosul residents to remain in their homes prior to the deadly bombing.

More than 400,000 Syrians have been killed in a six-year civil war between Syrian government forces under the command of longtime dynastic dictator Bashar al-Assad and numerous disparate rebel groups, among them IS and al-Qaeda and Kurdish separatists. Russia, Iran and the Lebanese Islamist militant group Hezbollah are backing the Assad regime, while the United States and some of its NATO and other allies, including Kurdish fighters, Turkey, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Jordan and Australia, are battling IS and other Islamists. The fighting has sparked the world’s worst refugee crisis since World War II, with more than five million Syrians fleeing to neighboring countries, Europe and elsewhere.

More than 15 years of endless US war spanning much of the Earth from South Asia to the Middle East and North Africa have taken an extremely heavy toll on innocent life. Estimates of the number of people killed during the ongoing 15-year US-led war against Islamist terrorism range from the low hundreds of thousands to over 1.3 million. Since the end of World War II, US military forces have killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.

Hillary Clinton Called For Syria Airfield Strike Hours Before Trump Ordered Attack

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump advocated an escalation of the US war against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq during the 2016 presidential race. (Photo: Moral Low Ground composite from Gage Skidmore/Flickr Creative Commons)

Former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday called for a US military strike against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s air force just hours before President Donald Trump ordered such an attack in response to what the US says was a regime chemical attack against civilians near Idlib.

Speaking at the Women in the World summit in New York City, Clinton — who was criticized during the campaign by voices on the right and on the left for being too pro-war — attributed the bulk of civilian deaths in Syria’s raging six-year civil war to Assad’s air power. “Assad has an air force, and that air force is the cause of most of these civilian deaths as we have seen over the years and as we saw again in the last few days,” said Clinton. “And I really believe that we should have and still should take out his air fields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them.”

Hours later, two US Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea fired around 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles at al-Shairat airfield in Homs province after warning Russian officials of the imminent strike. Syrian state media reported 15 people were killed in the bombing, including nine civilians — four of them children. US forces have come under fire for causing a dramatic increase in civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq since Trump became commander-in-chief.

Clinton’s pro-war record and views proved a liability during both the Democratic primary contest against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and the 2016 general election. As First Lady, she boasted of her role in convincing President Bill Clinton to wage war on dubious grounds against Yugoslavia in 1999. As a former US senator, she voted to authorize both the US war in Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the invasion and occupation of Iraq beginning in 2003. As secretary of state, Clinton was a leading proponent of regime change in Libya and was instrumental in convincing a reluctant President Barack Obama to wage war there — without congressional authorization as required by law —  in support of the overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi. She also repeatedly threatened to attack Iran, even though US and Israeli intelligence agencies and officials concluded the Islamic Republic did not have and was not trying to develop nuclear weapons.

During the 2016 campaign, both Trump and Clinton called for an escalation of the US-led aerial bombardment of Syria and Iraq in the wake of the June 12, 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida. Clinton also came under fire during the campaign for accepting endorsements of some of the hawkish Republican figures in modern history. She called Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state and national security advisor who helped President Richard Nixon plan and implement the war in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in which millions of people were killed, and who green-lighted the dictator Suharto’s genocidal invasion of East Timor during the Ford administration, a “friend.” She also touted the endorsement of John Negroponte, who oversaw the creation of a notorious Honduran death squad and was instrumental in securing and maintaining US support for the Contra terrorist insurgency in Nicaragua during the Reagan administration.

Clinton’s hawkishness has not been diminished in defeat. During Thursday’s speech, she reiterated her support for a no-fly zone to protect Syrian civilians, a controversial policy she advocated throughout the 2016 campaign. “I still believe we should have done a no-fly zone,” she said. “We should have been more willing to confront Assad.” Clinton also insisted that had she been elected, she would have taken a tougher line with Russia over the ongoing Syrian slaughter. She said she would have told Russian President Vladimir Putin he is “either with us or against us on this no-fly zone.” During the 2016 campaign, many expert observers asserted such a no-fly zone would risk provoking a war with Russia.

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