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Sunday, 27 December 2015 12:51

US friendly fire… with friends like that who needs enemies?

US friendly fire… with friends like that who needs enemies?

Pentagon chief Ashton Carter has put his hands up and admitted that the deadly US airstrike just recently killing nine Iraqi soldiers was “a mistake”. Carter said it was a case of “friendly fire” committed in the fog of war.

 

Trouble for Washington is that many Iraqis, including military ground personnel, do not buy the “friendly fire” explanation. Rather, Iraqis will see the latest American “mistake” not as an accidental error, but as further evidence that the US military is in reality working covertly in Iraq to support the terror group known as Daesh or ISIS.

The latest incident occurred near the city of Fallujah, some 50 kilometers west of the capital, Baghdad. Iraqi troops were making advances against the IS stronghold when their commanders called in US air support. Several missiles were subsequently fired from American fighter jets, but it was Iraqi soldiers who took the hit. Finian Cunningham has worked for over 20 years as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV. He has shed light on US friendly fire which ends to the benefit of ISIS and its cohorts.

Iraqi military spokesmen appear to back up the US account of the incident as being a result of mistaken friendly fire. They said that miscommunication with US “coalition partners” led to a miscalculation on the movement of Iraqi troops in the heat of battle.
Nevertheless, one Iraqi member of parliament, Hakim al-Zamili voiced the suspicions of many when he told RT: “We don't believe it was a technical mistake. We constantly see that the United States is trying to provide air cover to ISIS.” He added that the Americans are preventing Iraqis from making an offensive.

The Iraqi MP added: “I think everyone is now convinced that the United States is not sincere in its fight against ISIS. Maybe they have another agenda. The Pentagon, the CIA and other agencies in the US are trying to make a rift between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq.” Hakim al-Zamili said “They are trying to tear apart Iraq with the help of their allies like Turkey and the Gulf states.”

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported on rife suspicions among Iraqi public, politicians and military that US forces were “in cahoots” with the ISIS terror group. The belief in a Machiavellian agenda held by the Americans was, as the paper noted, harming the supposed US “anti-terror” effort and standing in the region.

Since August 2014, the US began air operations in Iraq allegedly in conjunction with the government in Baghdad with the stated objective of “degrading and defeating” the ISIS, in the words of President Barack Obama. The US has also been carrying out airstrikes in Syria – although those operations are not approved by the authorities in Damascus.

Just recently, Obama claimed that the US was “hitting ISIS harder than ever” and that it was stepping up its air campaign to “hunt down” terror operatives and commanders. Obama said that the US has carried out over 9,000 strikes in the past 16 months, with the number of strikes roughly split evenly between Iraq and Syria.

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has explicitly expressed skepticism about the so-called “anti-terror” objective of the US air campaign. The Russian government has also questioned the American commitment to its stated goals.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has not made public comments of an ulterior, sinister American agenda and still from time to time make use of the US as a partner in the fight against terrorism. However, that’s not how most of the Iraqi people see it. As the Washington Post reported: The perception among Iraqis that the United States is somehow in cahoots with the terrorists it claims to be fighting appears… to be widespread across the, and it speaks to more than just the troubling legacy of mistrust that has clouded the role the United States pretend to play in Iraq since the 2003 invasion and the subsequent withdrawal eight years later.

The Washington Post article cited several Iraqis who say they have seen videos purporting to show US forces air-dropping weapons and other supplies to ISIS terrorists. Iraqi soldiers complained that US air “support” has been more a hindrance than a help in the battle against the terrorists. One Iraqi elite force member, Lieutenant Murtada Fadl, even told the Washington Post: “We’d be better off without the Americans. According to the American paper he said that the only air support had come from the Iraqi air force and that he wishes the government would ask the Russians to replace the Americans.

A recurring complaint among Iraqis is that US air power has done so little to destroy ISIS bases and oil smuggling operations. The figure of 9,200 US airstrikes cited by Obama compares with over 4,200 strikes carried out by Russian forces across Syria in only three months. The evidence suggests that Russia’s military operations have inflicted far greater damage to ISIS and other terrorist groups compared with the American operations.

Meantime, a New York Times claimed that the Obama administration is in “a dilemma” about the “risks of civilian casualties” if it were to step up the aerial campaign in Iraq and Syria against ISIS. Considering the casualties of the US drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, has the US shown any concerns in terms of civilian casualties in practice?

The NY Times went on to say that Washington military planners are aware of precise ISIS positions in the eastern Syrian stronghold city of Raqqa, but are loathe to order in airstrikes on those targets out of concern to avoid “collateral damage".

Such official care by the US military for civilian victims has a serious credibility problem in light of the bombing and strafing of a hospital in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan. In that strike on October 3, some 30 hospital staff and patients were killed when an AC-130 gunship opened up on the facility in a sustained attack that lasted for nearly an hour.

Doctors Without Borders, the medical group who ran the Kunduz hospital, has described it as a “war crime”. US officials said it was “a mistake” – another case of “friendly fire”. But other reports point to a deliberate decision by the US military to wipe out the facility because they believed it contained a wounded insurgent belonging to the Taliban. In other words, there was a complete disregard for civilian casualties in order to take out a single target.

So the idea that US military strikes against ISIS terror bases in Syria or Iraq have been curtailed out of an ethical duty for safety of civilians does not seem plausible.

In another incident, this time in Syria, it was reported earlier this month by McClatchy News that 36 civilians, including 20 children, were killed in a US airstrike on the village of Al Khan in Hasakah Province. That attack was allegedly carried out to hit an ISIS group in the vicinity.

That’s why the latest deaths of Iraqi soldiers in Fallujah caused by American forces will fuel suspicions that the US is not serious about hitting ISIS. Hitting Iraqi troops advancing on ISIS positions seems more consistent with claims that the Pentagon is far more concerned about preserving its covert “regime change” assets, that is ISIS and its cohorts.
EA

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