Civilian casualties from the US-led war against ISIS are set to double under President Donald Trump, according to the AirWars website that has been monitoring the toll of the conflict. AirWars resarchers estimate that at least 2,300 civilians were likely killed in Coalition strikes overseen by the Obama White House—roughly 80 each month in Iraq and Syria. As of July 13, more than 2,200 additional civilians appear to have been killed in Coalition raids since Trump was inaugurated—upwards of 360 per month. That’s 12 or more civilians killed for each day of his administration.
The Coalition’s own confirmed casualty numbers—while much lower than other estimates—also show the same trend. Forty percent of the 603 civilians so far admitted killed by the alliance died in just the first four months of Trump’s presidency. The high civilian toll partly reflects the brutal final stages of the campaign, with densely populated Mosul and Raqqa under attack by air and land. But there are indications that under Trump, protections for civilians have been weakened. (Daily Beast, July 17)
This grim news come just as Trump is officially ending the “covert” CIA operation to support Syrian rebels, according to a report in the Washington Post. Unnamed officials told the paper the phasing out of the program “reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia.” And this revelation comes amid that of a “previously undiclosed” meeting between Trump and Putin at the Hamburg G8 summit. (CBS, AP, July 19)
Note that the “covert” aid program was not “covert” (what does that mean when you can read about it in the Washington Post?), barely existed in the first place, and was mostly aimed at grooming the rebels to fight ISIS and explicitly not Assad… contrary to the presistent and baseless “regime change” conspiracy theory.
So the US war in Syria is to rely more on delivering death from above—while the Syrians are to be yet further deprived of whatever agency they had left in the struggle for their own country, inclreasingly dominated by foreign military powers.
Of course, Russian air-strikes in Syria have resulted in a far greater number of casualties since Moscow launched its own air campaign in 2015. Lest we forget.