AS IS well known, the Clinton-led Democratic Party has pledged that if and when she is elected as President of the USA, she will take action to impose a no-fly zone on Syria. This will lead to thousands of Syrian people losing their lives, and could well lead to a war with Russia – with all that such a war would entail for humanity not just the Syrian people.
Yesterday, Amnesty International confirmed that the US-led coalition, that includes the UK, has already killed hundreds of civilians during its air raids in Syria since 2014, and called for an investigation into potential violations of international criminal law during the so-called campaign against terror.
‘It’s high time the US authorities came clean about the full extent of the civilian damage caused by coalition attacks in Syria,’ said Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Office, Lynn Maalouf.
Amnesty said as many as 300 civilians have been killed in 11 attacks conducted by the Washington-led alliance since September 2014. Maalouf added: ‘Analysis of available evidence suggests that in each of these cases, coalition forces failed to take adequate precautions to minimise harm to civilians and damage to civilian objects.’
The official further urged independent investigations into possible violations of international criminal law, calling on the coalition to take more precautions prior to their attacks. 2014 saw the rise of the Takfiri group of Daesh in the Arab country and neighbouring Iraq. Washington subsequently brought scores of its allies under the military umbrella to hit what it calls Daesh targets in Iraq and Syria.
In July 2016, a US airstrike reportedly killed at least 70 civilians, mostly women and children, near the city of Manbij in the Aleppo governorate. In September, a US-led airstrike hit a military base belonging to the Syrian army, leaving over 80 army troops dead and some 100 others wounded in the eastern part of the country. The raid helped Daesh terrorists make some gains in the area at the time.
The US Defence Department has not made any comment on the latest Amnesty report so far, but it has invariably insisted that the forces are taking enough precautions to avoid civilian fatalities. Research and documentation by leading human rights and monitoring organisations, including the Syrian Network for Human Rights, Airwars, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Violations Documentation Centre, indicate that the total number of civilians killed by coalition forces in Syria since operations began could be as high as 600 or more than 1,000.
Highlighted in the Amnesty memorandum are the three US-led coalition attacks in June and July 2016 on the Manbij area of Aleppo governorate, in northern Syria. Together the three attacks are suspected to have killed more than 100 civilians in the villages of al-Tukhar, al-Hadhadh and al-Ghandoura.
The attack on al-Tukhar on 19 July is believed to have caused the greatest loss of civilian life of any single US-led coalition attack. At least 73 civilians were killed, including 27 children, and some 30 were injured. A US-led coalition attack which struck two houses where civilians were sheltering in the village of Ayn al-Khan, near al-Hawl in al-Hasakah governorate in northern Syria in the early hours of 7th December 2015, killed 40 civilians, including 19 children, and injured at least 30 others according to local human rights organisations.
Amnesty International was able to speak to one survivor from the attack who described how he was awoken by a huge explosion and ran out to dig through the rubble for survivors. ‘The house shook and began to crumble. The windows shattered.
I ran outside and saw my neighbour’s house completely destroyed. I could hear people calling out from beneath the rubble,’ he said. As he helped to dig out survivors a helicopter gunship launched a second attack.
The UK and US trade unions must take action to defend the Syrian people. They must organise mass demonstrations and mass political strikes and demand that all US and UK forces are withdrawn from the Middle East and that the Syrian and Iraqi people are left to decide their own future without the deadly interference of the imperialist powers.