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Sixteen years ago, Rep. Barbara Lee was the sole member of Congress to vote against authorizing the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Throughout the presidencies of Bush and Barack Obama, Lee waged a lonely crusade to repeal the war resolution initially aimed at al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. Last month, she won a stunning victory when a bipartisan House committee voted to repeal the authorization in an amendment to the 2018 defense spending bill. But her win was short-lived. House Republican leaders stripped the amendment from the bill without a vote in a late-night maneuver that blocked Lee from leading a larger House debate on the president’s use of military force without further approval by Congress. The 2001 authorization was passed by Congress three days after the 9/11 attacks. “It was hastily written; it was overly broad; it was 60 words,” Lee said. Citing the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan arm of Congress, Lee said presidents have used the authorization at least 37 times since the initial Afghanistan invasion in October 2001. The [current] administration, Lee noted, has proposed severe cuts to domestic spending to pay for a bigger military. Escalating the Afghanistan conflict, she said, will come at the expense of “schools and infrastructure and jobs and health care - all the nation-building resources that we need here, here in my own district. “Yet they’re cutting these programs to fund these wars, and that’s ... unfair to the country,” she said.
Note: Read about the unprecedented plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan. According to Congressman Thomas Massie, the US government has made deals with the Taliban to give them electricity and turn a blind eye to their opium trade. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
Some of the world’s leading robotics and artificial intelligence pioneers are calling on the United Nations to ban the development and use of killer robots. Tesla’s Elon Musk and Alphabet’s Mustafa Suleyman are leading a group of 116 specialists from across 26 countries who are calling for the ban on autonomous weapons. The UN recently voted to begin formal discussions on such weapons which include drones, tanks and automated machine guns. Ahead of this, the group of founders of AI and robotics companies have sent an open letter to the UN calling for it to prevent the arms race that is currently under way for killer robots. In their letter, the founders warn the review conference ... that this arms race threatens to usher in the “third revolution in warfare” after gunpowder and nuclear arms. The founders wrote: “Once developed, lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend.” The founders call for “morally wrong” lethal autonomous weapons systems to be added to the list of weapons banned under the UN’s convention on certain conventional weapons (CCW) brought into force in 1983, which includes chemical and intentionally blinding laser weapons. Musk ... has repeatedly warned for the need for pro-active regulation of AI, calling it humanity’s biggest existential threat. While the suggestion of killer robots conjures images from science fiction ... lethal autonomous weapons are already in use.
Note: Despite Gen. Paul Selva's recent warning against putting "robots in charge of whether or not we take a human life," the US is among several countries currently moving forward with automating warfare. A 2013 report for the U.N. Human Rights Commission called for a worldwide moratorium on the “testing, production, assembly, transfer, acquisition, deployment and use” of killer robots until an international conference can develop rules for their use. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
A U.S. contractor bilked the American military out of $50 million spent on Bentleys, Aston Martins and big salaries for senior staffers’ significant others, according to a government audit. Senator Claire McCaskill demanded on Wednesday that the Pentagon explain why it was allowed to get away with it. The British company New Century Consulting (NCC) was deployed by the U.S. overseas to train Afghanistan forces. It was originally subcontracted by the now-defunct company Imperitas from 2008 to 2013 but has since taken over the contract completely. Under Imperitas, NCC ... paid the significant others of senior staff an average of $420,000 as “executive assistants” who worked from home, auditors found. It’s not clear whether Imperitas or NCC actually completed their work in Afghanistan, as neither retained complete training records. In a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis Wednesday, McCaskill ... wrote that “NCC was unable to provide evidence that these executive assistants actually performed any work.” This is not the first time that NCC or Imperitas spending has been questioned or the companies investigated. In 2016, a federal lawsuit was brought in New York by investors against Imperitas. In 2015, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction had an ongoing criminal investigation open against both NCC and Imperitas. And in 2012, two former employees of Imperitas ... sued the company, alleging their co-workers abused alcohol and drugs and possessed illegal weapons—all violations of U.S. policy.
The White House is actively considering a bold plan to turn over a big chunk of the U.S. war in Afghanistan to private contractors. Under the proposal, 5,500 private contractors, primarily former Special Operations troops, would advise Afghan combat forces. The plan also includes a 90-plane private air force that would provide air support in the nearly 16-year-old war against Taliban insurgents, Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater security firm, [said]. The U.S. military has 8,400 U.S. troops [in Afghanistan]. They do not have a direct combat role, and presumably would be replaced gradually by the contractors. The plan remains under serious consideration within the White House despite misgivings by Trump's national security adviser ... and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Prince, who has met frequently with administration officials to discuss his plan, is the brother of Trump's education secretary, Betsy Devos. Prince said the contractors would be “adjuncts” of the Afghan military and would wear that nation’s military uniforms. Currently, troops from a U.S.-led coalition ... are not embedded with conventional combat units in the field. Under the plan the contractors would be embedded with Afghanistan's more than 90 combat battalions throughout the country. Blackwater has attracted controversy under Prince's leadership. In 2007, four Blackwater security personnel were accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.
Note: When Blackwater changed its name to Academi, the US paid $309 million to this company to conduct counternarcotics operations in Afghanistan. These operations reportedly contributed to the Afghan opium boom. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and war.
The House Appropriations Committee’s voice vote on June 29, to approve an amendment repealing the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, came as a surprise to congressional leaders; reporters on Capitol Hill; and the amendment’s sponsor, Rep. Barbara Lee. The AUMF is the controversial legal authority under which most U.S. counterterrorism activities are conducted. Lee has been on a mission to repeal it since Sept. 14, 2001, when she cast the one and only vote in Congress against the original authorization. In the 16 years that followed, Lee has sponsored numerous bills ... intended to overturn the authorization, to no avail. The vote in June, the first time a congressional committee had passed an AUMF repeal, showed that she’s finally no longer alone in believing that the authorization she describes as a “blank check” is no good. In the end, the House Rules Committee stripped Lee’s amendment out of the bill. History has vindicated many of Lee’s concerns about the AUMF: It has, as she warned, dramatically expanded the president’s power to use military force, reduced congressional oversight, and vastly grown the U.S. military footprint around the world with no end in sight to the escalation. The measure includes no time or geographic distinctions, and three presidential administrations have taken full advantage of that ambiguity. A 2016 Congressional Research Service report found that the AUMF’s authority had been invoked 37 times for operations in 14 countries.
Early last month, the C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, recommended to President Trump that he shut down a four-year-old effort to arm and train Syrian rebels. The president swiftly ended the program. The rebel army was by then a shell, hollowed out by more than a year of bombing by Russian planes. Critics in Congress had complained for years about the costs - more than $1 billion over the life of the program - and reports that some of the C.I.A.-supplied weapons had ended up in the hands of a rebel group tied to Al Qaeda further sapped political support for the program. President Barack Obama ... agreed to the program in 2013. It soon fell victim to the constantly shifting alliances in Syria’s six-year-old civil war. Once C.I.A.-trained fighters crossed into Syria, C.I.A. officers had difficulty controlling them. The fact that some of their C.I.A. weapons ended up with Nusra Front fighters - and that some of the rebels joined the group - confirmed the fears of many in the Obama administration when the program began. Although the Nusra Front was widely seen as an effective fighting force against [President Bashar al-Assad]’s troops, its Qaeda affiliation made it impossible for the Obama administration to provide direct support for the group. American intelligence officials estimate that the Nusra Front now has as many as 20,000 fighters in Syria, making it Al Qaeda’s largest affiliate. Officials also received ... reports that the C.I.A.-trained rebels had summarily executed prisoners and committed other violations of the rules of armed conflict.
For nearly four years, Syrian rebels have clung to a programme of CIA assistance as a symbol of US support in their battle against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. So reports that Donald Trump’s administration will stop the limited scheme to arm and train Syria’s opposition forces have sparked anger and confusion. Rebels say they have not been informed of any changes to the policy introduced ... in 2013 as part of efforts to put pressure on Syria’s president. According to ... the Washington Post newspaper, Mr Trump decided last month to end funding for the CIA programme. Rebels contacted by the Financial Times say their CIA interlocutors had not confirmed any change, and political opposition figures who met US officials this week say they, too, were given no hint of any change. One rebel commander who asked not to be named said US support had been waning for months but noted that the rebels had been given their salaries as normal last month. The CIA funding for rebel groups fed into two internationally backed operations that supported an array of rebel groups. Many observers and even rebels themselves criticised the programme for turning a blind eye to its funding ending up with jihadis. Rebels who received support would return to volatile territories in Syria, only to be pressed by an al-Qaeda-linked jihadi group to hand over a cut. “Frankly so much of the weapons and ammunition were going to [Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate] that it’s probably a good thing,” [an] opposition figure said.
Note: What is the CIA doing paying the salaries of rebels in Syria? For more, see this informative article. Then, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the intelligence community.
House Republicans have stripped from a Defense Department spending bill Rep. Barbara Lee's amendment to reconsider the authority the president has to wage war. The House Appropriations Committee unexpectedly opened the door last month to ending the authorization approved by Congress in 2001 when Lee's amendment was added to a Defense Department measure after 16 years of attempts. Congress would have had 240 days to debate a new authorization. At the end of that time, the 2001 authorization would have been repealed. The version of the Defense Department bill approved by the House Rules Committee overnight removes Lee's amendment and replaces it with an amendment ... that gives the White House 30 days to tell Congress its strategy for defeating Al Qaeda and Islamic State. The Rules Committee decides what debate on a bill will look like on the House floor. “Stripping my bipartisan amendment to repeal the 2001 AUMF – in the dead of night, without a vote – may be a new low," Lee said in a statement. Lee ... was the only member of Congress to object in September 2001 to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, a resolution in response to the terrorist attacks that paved the way for the war in Afghanistan. The resolution has since been used by President George W. Bush, President Obama and now President Trump to justify more than 35 military actions in nearly 20 countries around the world without going back to Congress for new permission to send troops into harm's way.
In the sometimes hostile waters of the Persian Gulf looms the US Navy's first - in fact, the world's first - active laser weapon. The LaWS, an acronym for Laser Weapons System, is not science fiction. It is not experimental. It is deployed on board the USS Ponce amphibious transport ship, ready to be fired at targets today and every day by Capt. Christopher Wells and his crew. CNN was granted exclusive access to a live-fire test of the laser. "It is more precise than a bullet," Wells told CNN. "This is a very versatile weapon, it can be used against a variety of targets." For the test, the USS Ponce crew launched the target - a drone aircraft, a weapon in increasing use. Immediately, the weapons team zeroed in. "We don't have to lead a target," Hughes explained. "We see it, we focus on it, and we can negate that target." In an instant, the drone's wing lit up, heated to a temperature of thousands of degrees, lethally damaging the aircraft and sending it hurtling down to the sea. The strike comes silently and invisibly. "It operates in an invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum so you don't see the beam, it doesn't make any sound, it's completely silent and it's incredibly effective at what it does," said Hughes. All the $40 million system needs to operate is a supply of electricity, which is derived from its own small generator, and has a crew of three. No multi-million-dollar missile, no ammunition at all. The cost per use? "It's about a dollar a shot," said Hughes.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
America's second-highest ranking military officer, Gen. Paul Selva, advocated Tuesday for "keeping the ethical rules of war in place lest we unleash on humanity a set of robots that we don't know how to control." Selva was responding to a question from Sen. Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat, about his views on a Department of Defense directive that requires a human operator to be kept in the decision-making process when it comes to the taking of human life by autonomous weapons systems. Peters said the restriction was "due to expire later this year." "I don't think it's reasonable for us to put robots in charge of whether or not we take a human life," Selva told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a confirmation hearing for his reappointment as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He predicted that "there will be a raucous debate in the department about whether or not we take humans out of the decision to take lethal action," but added that he was "an advocate for keeping that restriction." Selva said humans needed to remain in the decision making process "because we take our values to war." His comments come as the US military has sought increasingly autonomous weapons systems.
Note: In another article Tesla founder Elon Musk's warns against the dangers of AI without regulation. A 2013 report for the U.N. Human Rights Commission called for a worldwide moratorium on the “testing, production, assembly, transfer, acquisition, deployment and use” of killer robots until an international conference can develop rules for their use. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is closing a decades-old office in the State Department that has helped seek justice for victims of war crimes. The Office of Global Criminal Justice advises the secretary of state on issues surrounding war crimes and genocide, and helps form policy to address such atrocities. It was established ... in 1997. The office has supported the work of criminal courts in countries including Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Cambodia and the Central African Republic, and has pushed for greater U.S. support of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. The office has also offered rewards that have resulted in information disclosures about and apprehension of war criminals, and has inveighed against brutal dictators. (It has not, however, criticized Saudi Arabia or other American allies with dismal human rights records.) “It just makes official what has been U.S. policy since 9/11, which is that there will be no notice taken of war crimes because so many of them were being committed by our own allies, our military and intelligence officers and our elected officials,” Maj. Todd E. Pierce, a former judge advocate general defense attorney at Guantanamo, told Newsweek. The office was formed following the 1996 passage of the War Crimes Act, which defined a war crime as a “grave breach” of the Geneva Conventions. When the CIA began using torture early in the Iraq War and, later, jailing people indefinitely and without trial in Guantanamo, the U.S. was in open breach of the conventions.
Nearly as many Iraqi and Syrian civilians have died in US-led air strikes under Donald Trump as were killed during the whole administration of Barack Obama, independent analysts say. As of 13 July, more than 2,200 civilians had been killed by the US-led international coalition against Isis since Donald Trump entered the White house in January - compared with the estimated 2,300 civilians who died during similar strikes between 2014 and 2016. Roughly 80 civilians per month died in strikes under Mr Obama but this has now risen to approximately 360 per month ... according to research by the military tracking organisation Airwars. Part of the rise in these figures is due to the changing nature of the war against Isis, as the jihadist group became entrenched in the major cities of Mosul and Raqqa. The coalition's own civilian casualty figures are much lower than Airwars', but they too show an increase. Following a new war plan unveiled by US Secretary of Defense General James Mattis in February, the US has focused its efforts on “annihilation tactics”. In one incident in Mosul in March, the US admitted it was responsible for the deaths of 101 men, women and children. Britain, France, Australia and Belgium have also taken part in the bombing campaign but the US is the only one to admit responsibility for any civilian deaths.
Note: Coalition airstrikes have reportedly targeted schools and other non-military locations. Killing increasing numbers of civilians is a sure way to create more anti-US terrorists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
Drone pilots have been quitting the U.S. Air Force in record numbers. They cite a combination of low-class status in the military, overwork and psychological trauma. But a widely publicized new memoir about America’s covert drone war fails to mention the “outflow increases,” as one internal Air Force memo calls it. “Drone Warrior: An Elite Soldier’s Inside Account of the Hunt for America’s Most Dangerous Enemies” chronicles the nearly 10 years that Brett Velicovich, a former special operations member, spent using drones to help special forces find and track terrorists. Conveniently, it also puts a hard sell on a program whose ranks the military is struggling to keep full. The book is, at best, a tale of hyper-masculine bravado and, at worst, a piece of military propaganda designed to ease doubts about the drone program and increase recruitment. Velicovich exaggerates the accuracy of the technology, neglecting to mention how often it fails or that such failures have killed an untold number of civilians. For instance, the CIA killed 76 children and 29 adults in its attempts to take out Ayman al Zawahiri, the leader of Al Qaeda, who reportedly is still alive. The film rights to “Drone Warrior” were bought over a year ago, with much fanfare, by Paramount Pictures. This development is predictable. The U.S. military and Hollywood have long enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. But there is something particularly unseemly about Hollywood’s enthusiasm for bringing Velicovich’s version of drone warfare to the big screen.
Note: Documents obtained by a crowdfunded investigative journalism project show that US military and intelligence agencies have influenced over 1,800 movies and television shows. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption and the manipulation of mass media.
President Trump’s advisers recruited two businessmen who profited from military contracting to devise alternatives to the Pentagon’s plan to send thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan. Erik D. Prince, a founder of the private security firm Blackwater Worldwide, and Stephen A. Feinberg, a billionaire financier who owns the giant military contractor DynCorp International, have developed proposals to rely on contractors instead of American troops in Afghanistan at the behest of Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, and Jared Kushner, his senior adviser. Soliciting the views of Mr. Prince and Mr. Feinberg ... raises a host of ethical issues, not least that both men could profit from their recommendations. Mr. Feinberg ... met with the president on Afghanistan, according to an official, while Mr. Prince briefed several White House officials, including General McMaster. In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in May, [Mr. Prince] called on the White House ... to use “private military units” to fill the gaps left by departed American soldiers. If Mr. Trump opted to use more contractors and fewer troops, it could also enrich DynCorp, which has already been paid $2.5 billion by the State Department for its work in the country. Mr. Feinberg controls DynCorp through Cerberus Capital Management.
Note: When Blackwater changed its name to Academi, the US paid $309 million to this company to conduct counternarcotics operations in Afghanistan. These operations reportedly contributed to the Afghan opium boom. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the corporate world.
The arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby has agreed to pay a $3m fine and forfeit thousands of smuggled ancient Iraqi artifacts that the US government alleges were intentionally mislabeled. Hobby Lobby became a household name when the US supreme court ruled in its favor in the 2014 case Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores, which in effect gave certain “closely-held” corporations the same religious rights as individuals. Hobby Lobby had begun acquiring a variety of historical Bibles and other artifacts in 2009 [and] executed an agreement to purchase more than 5,500 artifacts in December 2010 for $1.6m. Packages bore shipping labels that described their contents as “ceramic tiles”. Importing Iraqi cultural property into the US has been restricted since 1990 and banned outright since 2004. In the Hobby Lobby case, a dealer based in the United Arab Emirates shipped ... artifacts to three different corporate addresses in Oklahoma City. Five shipments that were intercepted by federal customs officials bore shipping labels that falsely declared that the artifacts’ country of origin was Turkey. In September 2011, a package containing about 1,000 clay bullae, an ancient form of inscribed identification, was received by Hobby Lobby from an Israeli dealer and accompanied by a false declaration stating that its country of origin was Israel. The illegal sale of historical artifacts is one way in which militant groups such as al-Qaida and Islamic State finance their activities.
Note: The rape of ancient Iraqi artifacts during the war is an incredibly important and underreported story. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Crippling deficits and a nightmarish national debt are popular, recurring tropes in American politics. Politicians and the pundit class ... complain that America is running out of money when it comes to helping the poor, people of color, the disabled and the elderly. Their worries miraculously disappear whenever the military wants to start a new war. A recent editorial in the Washington Post [alleged] that single payer in the U.S. is simply unaffordable. Yet in the past 20 years of editorials on U.S. wars - every one of which the paper has supported - the Post has never framed the issue of bombing and occupying as one of cost. Most glaringly, its 2003 editorials in support of invading Iraq never mentioned dollars and cents, even though that war ended up costing the U.S. more than $2 trillion. In the presidential debates, billionaire Pete Peterson’s pro-Social Security privatization group, the “bipartisan” Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, was mentioned twice by the moderators ... in the context of deficits and the alleged impending insolvency of Social Security. Yet none of the 178 mentions of Russia, 71 mentions of Syria, or 67 mentions of Iran had anything to do with costs to the U.S. Treasury. An estimated 44,000 Americans die a year because they don’t have access to healthcare, whereas you’re more likely to die taking a bath than at the hands of a terrorist. Why is spending on the latter existential and beyond cost-cutting, but working urgently to address the former a budget-buster we can’t afford?
Note: Despite reports of massive budgetary mismanagement, the Pentagon has never been audited. Could it be that the real reason the Pentagon is the only branch of US government that doesn't balance its books is that they don't want us to know where the money is going? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the manipulation of mass media.
We have had two consecutive presidents - Barack Obama and Donald Trump - who have in their own way recognized the limits of American military power in achieving political outcomes across the globe, yet we have been at war the whole time they've been in office. They were preceded by a president who promised a "humble foreign policy," no nation-building, and military involvement only where the exits were clearly marked. But George W. Bush's abandonment of those campaign planks set the United States on a foreign-policy course that has clearly not worked as planned. Still, at least he was operating in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, before all the unintended consequences of Iraq-style regime change were so blatantly known. Neither Obama nor Trump has that excuse. Obama largely owes his presidency to his 2002 speech opposing the invasion of Iraq and other "dumb wars." Trump won the 2016 South Carolina primary the day after denouncing the Iraq war in terms that got Ron Paul nearly tossed off the debate stage in the same state a decade ago. The foreign policy advice presidents receive is predominantly hawkish. So is the reinforcement they get from the Washington establishment. Things happen all over the world that seem to cry out for some kind of American response. But ... until some of this institutional bias in favor of intervention changes, we will keep voting for presidents who promise peace but deliver war.
Note: Read an excellent article showing how the power elite and their war machine corrupt world leaders. Powerful political and economic interests profit immensely from an endless war on terror. A top US general long ago exposed the corrupt roots of war in his penetrating book War is a Racket. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
The United States is stumbling into another decade of war in the greater Middle East. And this next decade of conflict might prove to be even more destabilizing than the last one. In the fight against the Islamic State, U.S. forces have been aggressively initiating attacks, resulting in a sharp rise in civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria. And in a dramatic escalation, this week the United States shot down a Syrian warplane, putting Washington on a collision course with Syria’s ally, Russia. Worse yet, it is unclear how this belligerence toward the Bashar al-Assad regime will achieve the sole stated mission of the United States’ involvement in Syria: to defeat the Islamic State. In Afghanistan, Trump has delegated the details of a mini-surge of 4,000 more troops to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. The United States has been in Afghanistan for 16 years. And yet, Mattis acknowledges that the United States is “not winning.” What will an additional 4,000 troops now achieve that 130,000 troops could not? In Yemen, the United States is more actively engaged in a conflict that does little to advance the fight against radical Islamist terrorism. Washington is further fueling Saudi Arabia’s proxy war against Iran - a war that has led the kingdom into a de facto alliance with al-Qaeda in Yemen. In almost every situation that U.S. forces are involved in, the solutions are more political than military. After 16 years of continuous warfare ... somebody in Washington needs to ask - before the next bombing or deployment: What is going on?
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
The extraordinary destruction of a Syrian fighter jet by a US aircraft on Sunday has precious little to do with the Syrian plane’s target in the desert near Rasafa – but much to do with the advance of the Syrian army close to the American-backed Kurdish forces along the Euphrates. The American strike on Monday was ... a warning to the Syrians to stay away from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces – the facade-name for large numbers of Kurds and a few Arab fighters – since they are now very close to each other in the desert. But the Syrian military are still winning against Isis and its fellow militias – with Russian and Hezbollah help, of course – although comparatively few Iranians are involved. The US has been grossly exaggerating the size of the Iranian forces in Syria, perhaps because this fits in with Saudi and American nightmares of Iranian expansion. So who is fighting Isis? And who is not fighting Isis? The Syrian army, supported by the Russians, is fighting Isis. But what is America doing attacking first Assad’s air base near Homs, then the regime’s allies near Al-Tanf and now one of Assad’s fighter jets? It seems that Washington is now keener to strike at Assad – and his Iranian supporters inside Syria – than it is to destroy Isis. That would be following Saudi Arabia’s policy. If we are to believe all the Americans now say, they want to destroy Isis but are quite prepared to go on attacking the Syrian government forces that are fighting Isis. Does Washington want simply to break up Syria and leave it as a failed state?
UN war crimes investigators have denounced a “staggering loss of civilian life” caused by the US-backed campaign to reclaim Raqqa, the de facto capital of Islamic State. The independent commission of inquiry tasked with investigating violations of international law, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria said the intensification of airstrikes by the US-led coalition had led to the deaths of at least 300 civilians in the city. The Raqqa operation began last week with a ground assault by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group comprising Kurdish and Arab militiamen armed by the US and supported by coalition airstrikes. “The intensification of airstrikes ... has resulted not only in staggering loss of civilian life, but has also led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced,” Paulo Pinheiro, the chairman of the UN commission of inquiry, told the human rights council in Geneva. The civilian cost of the campaign was highlighted last week when footage emerged of coalition planes deploying white phosphorus in the city, which is home to tens of thousands of civilians, prisoners of war, enslaved Yazidi women, and a few thousand Isis militants. Human Rights Watch urged the coalition separately on Wednesday to exercise great caution when using white phosphorus, saying it could cause “horrific and long-lasting harm” in crowded cities such as Raqqa.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
Important Note: Explore our full index to key excerpts of revealing major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.