While Americans remain in a constant state of focus on the heightened threat of international terrorism, always on guard against the next potentially ISIS-inspired terror attack, it’s worth remembering that these attacks aren’t exactly occurring in a vacuum. They are part of a war the United States declared on the group back in 2014, and it has been Syrian and Iraqi civilians who have been suffering most at the hands of not only ISIL, but the bombs of the United States and its allies as well.
Take for example the U.S.-led coalition’s offensive in the city of Manbij in the Aleppo Governorate in July. According to the International Business Times
- “At least 85 civilians, including almost a dozen children, have been killed after U.S. airstrikes targeted an area in northern Syria held by Islamic State (Isis/Daesh) fighters, a monitoring group says.” That monitoring group is the consistently pro-Western, pro-American (and anti-Assad) Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which have no reason to exaggerate claims of civilian casualties caused by the U.S., and every reason to downplay them. That these deaths were acknowledged by them must mean that the evidence pointing to the U.S. as the culprit is undeniable.
- The I.B. Times continued, “Some eight families were reportedly wiped out in the ISIS-controlled village of Tokhar near Manbij on Tuesday (19 July)”, making this the single largest incident of mass civilian death in Syria since the U.S. started dropping bombs there in 2014.
- The day prior to the strikes that killed 70-85 in Tokhar, U.S.-led coalition forces struck down six civilians “including a woman with four of her children and an old man” whom they initially mistook for Daesh fighters.
- One week later the Coalition forces killed another 28 civilians during an attack on the Manbij town of al-Ghandour.
- In the fight for Manbij alone the U.S.-led coalition was responsible for the deaths of at least 210 civilians overall.
- In the words of Amnesty International’s Neil Sammonds,
“Levels of civilian killings from the coalition are so high now, we are edging toward the 1,000 figure, and they don’t disclose it, they are covering it up.”
The United States has naturally asserted that any loss of civilian life is a regretful tragedy and a mistake, but that the blame ultimately rests on the shoulders of Daesh for embedding themselves among the civilian population which amounts to “using civilians as human shields.” While it is certainly true that ISIS fighters embed themselves among civilians as a military strategy, there is a reason this strategy is effective. When the United States and its coalition partners slaughter civilians (‘shield’ and non-shield alike), they embolden extremist groups with the ultimate recruiting tool. After all, nothing draws people into the arms of extremists like seeing their loved ones butchered before their very eyes, or seeing their half-buried kids dug out from beneath a pile of rocks.