The Stories of the Battle of Raqqa

In a stunning piece of journalism, Amnesty International and Airwars teamed up to find the real number of civilian deaths in the US led coalitions air war on the Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria from June-October 2017. According to the report the coalition admitted to 159 deaths up to April 24th 2019 but the study confirmed a minimum of 1,600 civilian deaths. Since the report has been released the US led coalition released a statement that their current number of civilian deaths in Raqqa from October 2014-October 2017 is 318, 180 of those deaths being in June-October of 2017.

The deaths were confirmed by amnesty workers on the ground in Raqqa for a total of two months and by a team of over 3,000 digital activists who examined over two million satellite image frames. Amnesty workers and Airwars team members also worked together to analyze thousands of social media posts and other open-source evidence. The organizations gathered over 1,000 names of the victims, and 641 of those names were directly verified on the ground in Raqqa.

The report has been released on an impressive interactive website, with a map of incidents, interactive stories with 360 degree photos and a list of all the names they gathered of the victims.

On September 25th 2017 at 6pm a coalition airstrike hit a five-story building where displaced families were taking shelter, killing at least 32 civilians, 20 of them children. Ayat a survivor said, "All my children, mother, my entire family, everyone who was dear to me, they were all killed. Wasn’t this war about saving and protecting the civilians? Why did they kill innocent people?" This is just one heart wrenching example of far too many stories of innocent families being murdered by US led coalition airstrikes.

The beauty of this report is that it gives names and stories to victims of the United States disastrous foreign policy. The pundits and talking heads of the corporate media should read these accounts the next time they cheer Trump for his war hawk policies and cry "Russia" when he says he’s going to pull troops out of Syria. The people whose cognitive dissonance has them convinced that these wars are somehow a necessary evil in the world may begin to finally see that US intervention does way more harm than good. And the maddening irony of it all is that these poor people would have never had to live under the Islamic State if it wasn’t for the US war machine that claims they are saving them now.

Donald Trump has failed to fulfill any of his antiwar promises, but he has fulfilled his promise to "bomb the shit" out of the Islamic State and has followed through on his ominous fox and friends phone call from 2015 when he said "you have to take out their families". Sadly, he not only has taken out terrorists and their families but also innocent civilians caught in the middle of the Islamic State and the US war machine. Hopefully these great efforts by thousands of activists, volunteers and journalists around the world will make more people start second guessing the neocon agenda that has infected the White House.

Notes: Here is a link to the interactive report, click the button that says take action to send an email to the coalition to hold them accountable for all these deaths

Dave DeCamp is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn NY, focusing on US Foreign policy and wars. He is on Twitter at @decampdave.