The US-led coalition against Islamic State has carried out more than 100 new air strikes targeting the militant group’s remaining strongholds in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province, killing at least 80 civilians – including dozens of women and children – in recent weeks.
US-led bombing resumed on October 24 following a particularly deadly period in which scores of Syrian men, women and children were killed in strikes on homes and mosques in and around the village of al-Sousa. On October 24, the UK-based monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported 16 civilians died in an air strike on the Al-Zawiya mosque in Hajin, the fourth coalition bombing of a mosque in less than a week. Local media and monitor groups said dozens more were wounded in the attack. Hajin magazine reported IS was using the mosque as a "headquarters."
On October 27, SOHR and local media reported that a family of five civilians – a man, his wife and their three children – were killed when their home in Al Boubadran village was bombed. The following day, Baladi News reported 20 civilians, mostly women and children, died in a US-led strike on the town of Al Shaafa. As many as 24 others were wounded in the attack.
Several sources including Baladi News and Free Deir Ezzor Radio reported a total of 17 civilians, including four women and three children, died in an October 30 strike on al-Kushma. Step News Agency reported the victims were the families of IS members. That same day, local media and monitor groups said another four civilians, all from the same family, were killed by a US-led strike on Al Shafaa. A woman and a child were reportedly rescued from beneath the rubble.
On November 3, Smart News Agency and other media and monitors reported that between 14 and 21 civilians, mostly women and children, died when US-led warplanes bombed a house near Khalid bin Walid mosque in Hajin. That same day, Al Shaafa was bombed again, with Al Jazeera and other media and monitors reporting that three young children – identified as siblings Zaid, Ziyad and Aisha I’mad Mahmoud Al-Haj Al-Hussein – died when their home was hit. Another five to 10 civilians were reportedly wounded in the attack.
The US-led anti-IS coalition acknowledged carrying out over 100 air strikes in Syria between October 28 and November 3.
The UK-based journalistic monitor group Airwars estimates at least 6,716 and perhaps as many as more than 10,000 civilians have likely died in more than 30,000 air strikes in Syria and Iraq since former president Barack Obama launched the anti-IS campaign in 2014. Civilian casualties have soared during the administration of President Donald Trump, who promised to "bomb the shit out of" IS and kill their families. Trump loosened rules of engagement meant to protect civilians and in May 2017 Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis announced that the US was shifting from a war of attrition to one of "annihilation" in Syria and Iraq. Mattis raised eyebrows and ire by adding that “civilian casualties are a fact of life” that cannot be avoided in such a war.
In the wider US-led war against terrorism, at least hundreds of thousands and likely more than a million men, women and children have died in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria since October 2001. Since the nuclear war waged against Japan in August 1945, US forces have killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.
Brett Wilkins is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and journalist, as well as editor-at-large for US news at Digital Journal. His work, which focuses on issues of war and peace and human rights, is archived at www.brettwilkins.com.