US-led coalition air-strikes near the northern Syrian town of Manbij July 19 "accidentally" killed between 56 and 160 civilians—including many women and children. The strike was conducted in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in their ground offensive against ISIS. The civilians in the ISIS-controlled village if Tokhar were apparently assumed to be militants. (The Telegraph) Russia, meanwhile, continues to be a senior partner in the Assad regime's ongoing aerial terror, taking a similar toll in civilians casualties on a near-daily basis. On the same day as the disastrous US strike on Tokhar, Russian and regime aerial bombardment of besieged Aleppo killed 21. (AFP) The following day, Russian and regime on Aleppa and Douma killed at least 51 civilians, including 15 children. (Reuters) But this ongoing carnage fails to win the same kind of headlines.
We have noted the work of Airwars.org in counting the civilian death toll from foreign air-strikes in Syria and Iraq. It now counts 1,422 civilian deaths under US-led coalition bombardment in both Syria and Iraq since the campaign against ISIS began in September 2014. Its page on Russian air-strikes in Syria from the opening of its bombing campaign in September 2015 to present counts a high of 5,686 civilians killed.
The reasons for the vast discrepancy is obvious. The US is bombing ISIS targets in the sparsely inhabited desert east. Russia is massively bombing rebel-held territory in the densely populated west. Washington is basically giving Russia free rein to commit these atrocities. The US has no interest in shooting down Russian warplanes, which could mean a direct superpower confrontation. The Syrian opposition is calling for a no-fly zone to protect them from the regime and Russia. Instead, with the new US-Russia coordination in Syria, Obama seems to be making a deal with Putin to divide the country between them…. Contrary to all the propaganda, Obama sees the enemy in Syria as ISIS—not Assad.
The Washington Post on July 13 provided more context on the US-Russia coordination: "Overall, the proposal would dramatically shift the United States' Syria policy by directing more American military power against Jabhat al-Nusra, which unlike the Islamic State is focused on fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. While this would expand the US counterterrorism mission in Syria, it would also be a boon for the Assad regime, which could see the forces it is fighting dramatically weakened."
Bashar Assad told foreign media earlier this month that Western countries had sent security officials to help his regime in fighting Islamist militants. "They attack us politically and then they send officials to deal with us under the table, especially the security." (Reuters, July 1)
The US-Russia coordination is actually a tilt to Assad—now a hard tilt.