By Ben Norton for FAIR. If you read the headlines of major corporate media outlets, you’d think hundreds of Iraqi civilians coincidentally died in the same location that just so happened to be hit by a US airstrike. A March 17 US attack in the city of Mosul resulted in a massacre of civilians. The monitoring group Airwars estimated that between 130 and 230 Iraqis were killed in the incident. Iraqi media reported similar figures. Civilian victims of the US-led bombing campaign to oust ISIS from the major northern Iraqi city, which has been terrorized by the extremist group for three years, have received little media coverage. The Washington Post (3/28/17) noted, nevertheless, that the recent airstrike “was potentially one of the worst US-led civilian bombings in 25 years.” Yet just a few days before the Post published this stark fact, leading news networks went out of their way to craft some of the most euphemistic headlines imaginable.
By Medea Benjamin for the Guardian. Donald Trump loudly criticized President Obama’s air campaign against Islamic State as “too gentle” and called for a reassessment of battlefield rules designed to protect civilians. The US military insists that the rules of engagement have not changed, but Iraqi officers have been quoted in the New York Times as saying that there has been a noticeable relaxing of the coalition’s rules of engagement since President Trump took office. President Trump has also escalated US intervention in Syria. In March, he authorized the deployment of 400 more troops to fight the Islamic State in Syria, and has upped the number of US airstrikes there. According to the UK-based organization Airwars, for the first time since Russia intervened in Syria’s civil war in 2015, US strikes in Syria are now responsible for more civilian casualties than Russian strikes. Among the most devastating incidents was a strike on a school sheltering displaced people outside Raqqa that killed at least 30 people, and an attack on a mosque in western Aleppo that killed dozens of civilians while they were attending prayers.
By Jason Ditz from Antiwar.com. As the US airstrikes in the Iraqi city of Mosul are increasingly concentrated around densely populated neighborhoods in the city’s west, the death toll from those airstrikes in spiraling rapidly out of control, with the most recent figures out of the area suggesting around 230 civilians were killed overnight in US and coalition strikes in just a single neighborhood. That’s an enormous toll, of course, but is reported from several sources telling largely the same story, including that a single US airstrike against a large building full of civilians in Mosul killed over 130 people, while the other 100 or so were killed in the surrounding area. Central Command said that they were “aware of the loss of life” and were carrying out “further investigation,” while insisting that all of their strikes against Mosul overnight “comply with the Law of Armed Conflict.”
By Jason Ditz for AntiWar.com. Instead of directly deploying thousands of additional ground troops into Iraq or Syria, the sort of precipitous escalation that might get Congress voting on the war, the Trump Administration appears to have decided that the solution is to send thousands of US ground troops to Kuwait, and let the commanders in Iraq and Syria just take what they want. Early reports of this strategy emerged Wednesday, when officials said there were considerations of sending around 1,000 troops into Kuwait for this operation. Just two days later, the figure was up to at least 2,500, with signs that it is continuing to grow all the time. While President Obama was micromanaging the escalations, particularly in Iraq, where every couple of weeks another hundred or two troops would be sent, the Trump Administration appears to be throwing the troops into a big pile and leaving the deployments up to the commanders.
By Kathy Kelly for Counterpunch. Before making their home in Damascus, Gabe Huck and Theresa Kubasak had regularly visited Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, where they developed lasting friendships and deepened cultural awareness. Iraq was steadily deteriorating under thirteen years of U.S./UN imposed economic sanctions. Despite iron clad determination by U.S. policy makers to isolate Iraq, Gabe and Theresa repeatedly challenged the economic sanctions by carrying medicines and medical relief supplies to Iraqi children, families and hospitals. They also helped organize opportunities for scores of other U.S. and U.K. people to visit Iraq as part of Voices in the Wilderness (VitW). Voices delegations politely but firmly notified U.S. authorities that they would break the economic sanctions by personally carrying duffel bags filled with children’s vitamins, antibiotics, medical textbooks, surgical kits, first aid material and medical relief supplies, all of which the economic sanctions prohibited.
By Staff of Popular Resistance – If Donald Trump’s recent threat of military action against Iran sounds familiar to you, then It should. Democrats in Congress already beat him to it before Trump’s tiny hands could even grace the bible at his swearing-in ceremony. How did they do this? By creating a resolution in January to threaten military action against Iran if they tried to obtain nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, what’s being touted as a move for U.S. safety and security is starting to sound eerily similar to the threat to invade a country to find deadly weapons that turned out to never exist (think Iraq). So what’s the REAL reason behind this threat of military action? All signs seem to point both underground and in America’s wallets.
By Micah Zenko for Reader Supported News. As President Obama enters the final weeks of his presidency, there will be ample assessments of his foreign military approach, which has focused on reducing U.S. ground combat troops (with the notable exception of the Afghanistan surge), supporting local security partners, and authorizing the expansive use of air power. Whether this strategy “works”—i.e. reduces the threat posed by extremists operating from those countries and improves overall security and governance on the ground—is highly contested. Yet, for better or worse, these are the central tenants of the Obama doctrine. In President Obama’s last year in office, the United States dropped 26,171 bombs in seven countries.
By Steve Horn for Desmog – TigerSwan is one of several security firms under investigation for its work guarding the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota while potentially without a permit. Besides this recent work on the Standing Rock Sioux protests in North Dakota, this company has offices in Iraq and Afghanistan and is run by a special forces Army veteran. According to a summary of the investigation, TigerSwan “is in charge of Dakota Access intelligence and supervises the overall security.”
By Crofton Black and Abigail Fielding-Smith for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism -The Pentagon gave a controversial UK PR firm over half a billion dollars to run a top secret propaganda programme in Iraq, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal. Bell Pottinger’s output included short TV segments made in the style of Arabic news networks and fake insurgent videos which could be used to track the people who watched them, according to a former employee.
By Leo Shane III for Military Times – The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $5 trillion so far, and that total could rise even higher in the years to come, according to new calculations released by independent researchers late last week. That total includes not only the costs of equipment and personnel in those countries, but also State Department spending to help local populations, Department of Homeland Security spending linked to the wars and Department of Veterans Affairs services that expanded as troops returned home.
By Joshua Eaton for the Intercept. In February 2004, U.S. troops brought a man named Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badry to Abu Ghraib in Iraq and assigned him serial number US9IZ-157911CI. The prison was about to become international news, but the prisoner would remain largely unknown for the next decade. At the time the man was brought in, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba was finalizing his report on allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib’s Hard Site — a prison building used to house detainees singled out for their alleged violence or their perceived intelligence value. Just weeks later, the first pictures of detainee abuse were published on CBS News and in the New Yorker. Today, detainee US9IZ-157911CI is better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. His presence at Abu Ghraib, a fact not previously made public, provides yet another possible key to the enigmatic leader’s biography and may shed new light on the role U.S. detention facilities played in the rise of the Islamic State.
By Haider Newmani for The Guardian – US and coalition military forces continue to attack Isis territories in Iraq, while Iraqi ground troops prepare to retake the city of Mosul from the grip of the terrorist group. As Isis loses ground in Iraq, it escalates its violent campaign against civilians. On Sunday, a suicide bomber attacked a security checkpoint in my home city, Baghdad, killing at least 14 people. It followed the attacks on 3 July in the same city – the city I fled to become an asylum seeker in America after losing multiple family members and friends.