Tag Archives: civilian

US Air Strikes Kill 36 Civilians in Syrian Village

by Jason Ditz

US warplanes attacked the Syrian village of al-Khan today, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, killing at least 36 people, all of them civilians. Over a dozen other civilians are missing, and the toll is likely to rise.

Though al-Khan is an ISIS-held village, the Syrian Observatory pointed out that ISIS doesn’t actually have any forces in the village itself, instead having its forces on the outskirts. The strikes, however, hit the center of the village, which was why everyone hit was civilian.

The US offered no comments on the attack itself, but did say they intend to conduct a “credibility assessment” to decide whether the civilian deaths are worth looking into. Of the massive civilian toll in the US air war, Centcom has admitted to virtually none of the killings, indeed refusing to investigate most of the reports on the ground as they didn’t trust the sources.

This was the second scandal related to a US attack on Syria in less than 24-hours, as a previous US strike hit an air base in Deir Ezzor Province, killing at least three Syrian troops and wounding 13 others. The Pentagon has since claimed they think Russia actually launched the strike.

Blackwater trial for 2007 shooting in Iraq begins closing arguments

Four former security guards for Blackwater Worldwide, which was renamed Academi in 2011, have been facing trial over the past couple of months in the U.S. for the 2007 shooting deaths of 14 civilians in Baghdad, Iraq.

According to ABC News, a federal prosecutor told a jury Wednesday the four in question “unleashed a hail of gunfire” into a crowd of Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in the heart of Baghdad.  Besides the 14 who were killed, 18 others suffered from various wounds related to the shooting, none of which were fatal.

Many of the victims were shot in the back as they tried to flee the Square, noted federal prosecutor Anothony Asuncion.  Paul Slough, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, and Nicholas Slatten are said to have fired into the crowd which caused the exodus from the Square.

Slough, Heard, and Liberty are facing charges of manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, and firearms related offenses, all of which could carry upwards of 30 years, according to the Raw Story.

Slatten is being charged separately for the shooting death of Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y who was driving a white Kia in the area.  Prosecutors are saying the shooting death of Al Rubia’y is what prompted the civilians to flee in the first place, causing the incident to unfold.

The jury has heard from some of the family members of the victims who were killed.  One witness had recounted how his nine-year-old son’s brains had fallen out at his feet during the incident.

According to Reuters, a member of Blackwater unit Raven 23 also told jurors how Slatten had called all Iraqis “animals” and how he had boasted of shooting a man in the head, turning his head into “a canoe.”

Testimony will be heard from the defense later this week and deliberations are expected to begin next week.

Charges against Heard and Liberty concerning the death of five civilians in the incident have already been dismissed.

War crimes in Afghanistan covered up by U.S. military, says report

A new report released by Amnesty International titled “Left in the Dark,” has found the U.S. military has systematically disregarded or hid evidence of war crimes, unlawful killings, and torture in the war torn country of Afghanistan.

The report uses ten case studies where violence has claimed the lives of civilians in the country, all of which “raise concerns about the unlawful use of force.”  However, according to the report, “Very few cases involving alleged unlawful killings of civilians in international military operations have led to prosecution.”

Even when a trial has been sought, what the Daily Beast is calling, the “compromised military justice system,” has failed to produce justice for the slain, injured, or maimed.

One victim talked with Stars and Stripes, telling of their experience at Camp Nerkh at the hands of military forces.  “First,” says the victim, “they took off my clothes… Then they tied a thin plastic cord around my penis so I couldn’t pee.  Then they forced me to lie down face down on the floor.  Four people beat me with cables.”

The Amnesty International report also claims two of the case studies offer “abundant and compelling” evidence of war crimes.  One case involves the shooting death of two pregnant women and a 17-year-old girl in a nighttime raid in the eastern Paktia province.

According to the Independent, a press release from the U.S. forces in the area about the incident stated the three women were found by U.S. troops “bound and gagged” within their home.  This same release stated the three were killed in a “traditional honour killing.”

What is important to note is not all civilian deaths in a combat or war zone are ruled as unlawful.  Under international law, in order for a civilian death to be classified as unlawful, the victim must be indiscriminately or deliberately targeted.  Even then, a proper and impartial investigation must be carried out in order to deem these two criteria are met.

The Pentagon has made several claims stating they would investigate various incidents which could be classified as war crimes, but according to a 70-year-old patriarch in Afghanistan named Haji Sharabuddin, he has yet to hear of any results from an investigation or if there was even investigations held .

President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, said, according to Stars and Stripes, “I believe that the civilian casualties must not happen at all… Our aim and yours must be stopping the civilian casualties.”