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Friday, October 14, 2016

Sly Wolf that is Crying Wolf in Syria Column: Politics

09.10.2016 Author: Martin Berger
Sly Wolf that is Crying Wolf in Syria
Column: Politics
Region: Middle East
Country: Syria
It’s curious that it’s often the thief himself found yelling “stop that thief!” in a bid to escape in the confusion he just created. Following this behavioral pattern, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged the international community to investigate alleged war crimes Damascus and Moscow the US accuses both governments of carrying out in Syria. The senior US diplomat cited such examples as attacks on civilians and hospitals, which, in his opinion, have been routinely carried out by the Syrian government and its allies.
But we must remember that Secretary Kerry is but one of many obedient servants of the White House, which is known for blaming others for  the crimes it itself has committed. There’s little wonder why the Washington Post has recently pointed out that Barack Obama has been providing hallucinatory explanations for his decisions. He mangles the facts, jumbles chronology and, in effect, holds himself guiltless for Syria’s approximately 500,000 deaths, 8 million internally displaced persons and a tidal wave of immigrants that has destabilized Europe.

While rejecting the very idea of any impartial international investigation of its own actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, the US argues that as a result of more than 11 thousand air strikes that were allegedly aimed at ISIS, US Armed Forces murdered no more than 55 civilians in Iraq and Syria since 2014 in the process.
Yet, the Norwegian news service, ABC Nyheter, points out that even Amnesty International and even the most reserved international experts simply don’t believe these claims. After all, if those number are to be believed, it means US airstrikes cause one civilian death per 200+ sorties.
At the same time, the Pentagon officially recognizes that in Afghanistan every 15 sorties result in a civilian being killed, while the latest report from the White House indicated even higher civilians casualty rates: one per 4-7 strikes launched by US planes and drones against possible terrorist targets in countries such as Pakistan and Yemen. If these figures are to be used to figure out the average number of those killed by US airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, we will come to the conclusion there’s been almost 3,000 civilians killed as a result of US actions.
This number is more consistent with the data provided by Airwars, a British news portal that collects documents regarding US-led airstrikes on ISIS. According to Airwars, a total of 9,600 airstrikes in Iraq and almost 5,000 in Syria over the past two years resulted in at least 1,584 civilians being killed.
However, even when American officials are provided with irrefutable evidence of their wrongdoings, they still refuse to recognize any responsibility.
According to Amnesty International and Syrian human rights activists, the White House refused to claim responsibility for civilian deaths it caused on numerous occasions. For example, when Amnesty International reported that on July 19 American B-52 bombers dropped over 2,000 pounds of ordinance on the Syrian village Tokhars in Aleppo, killing at least 80 civilians,  American authorities refused to recognize any wrongdoing on their part.
Nor can we forget about Washington’s use of prohibited weapons in military operations it carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan, including white phosphorus incendiary munitions and depleted uranium, and even threats of using tactical nuclear weapons. Washington has already recognized that it has been using white phosphorus in Iraq as early as 2004 and was subjected to international condemnation for doing so, yet, as it has been reported by the Washington Post, the US is still using white phosphorus munitions in Iraq to this day.
There is every reason to suspect the United States of using tactical nuclear weapons in Afghanistan with US officials having even openly suggested their use in the mountains of Tora Bora, which constitutes a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention, and means that those who either authorized its use, or sought to do so in the White House and the Pentagon, according to the letter of international law, are war criminals.
We shouldn’t forget that the US Air Force destroyed a hospital operated by Doctors without Borders in Kunduz, Afghanistan back in February 2015, while yet another hospital run by this organization was hit last February in the Syrian city of Idlib. Both incidents resulted in many civilian casualties.
So what really requires a detailed and impartial investigation are the ongoing United States military campaigns across the globe, which have resulted in destroyed schools, hospitals, and hundreds of thousands of people killed, maimed, or otherwise displaced. Moreover, the absolute majority of US military operations are being carried out without UN authorization which is likewise a clear violation of all international norms.
But no matter how far the list of these crimes goes, sooner or later, the perpetrators of these acts of aggression will have to face an international tribunal for their crimes.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” 

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