[pjw] US aircraft to block ISIL militants fleeing Mosul in Iraq (USA Today 11/1)

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Fri Nov 11 17:53:44 EST 2016

I missed this story last week, headlined by USA today as saying US 
warplanes will "block" ISIS fighters who flee Mosul. What they mean is, 
bomb, eradicate, exterminate, kill. Some of you may remember the "highway 
of death" when the Iraqi troops leaving Kuwait in 1991 had the US bomb the 
front and back of their convoy, then strafe everything in between.

At some point the US needs to realize that this moral relativism just puts 
us at risk-- drone warfare being a good example that one day will no 
doubt bite back at us. But, I don't see that day coming soon.

Let's keep marching and organizing for peace.
dan h
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

U.S. aircraft to block ISIL militants fleeing Mosul in Iraq
Jim Michaels , USA TODAY 12:37 a.m. EDT November   1, 2016

    The U.S.-led coalition has developed plans to target Islamic State
    militants from the air if they attempt to escape the Iraqi city of
    Mosul and head west toward Syria, as Iraqi ground forces close in on
    the city from several sides, a top U.S. general said Monday.

    ÒThis is all about getting after (the Islamic State) and setting up an
    opportunity where, should they try to escape, we have a built-in
    mechanism to kill them as they are departing,Ó said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey
    Harrigian, commander of U.S. air forces in the Middle East.

    Blocking militants from escaping has been a key challenge
    as U.S.-backed Iraqi and Syrian ground forces have retaken towns and
    cities from the Islamic State. Hundreds of militants have managed to
    slip away.

    The Pentagon has acknowledged there is no simple solution to prevent
    militants from grabbing civilian hostages or simply escaping in small

    But the coalition is beefing up surveillance, and Iraq's government is
    encouraging civilians to stay put and avoid trying to flee, lessening
    the likelihood they will be grabbed as human shields.

    Islamic State fighters have typically attempted to inflict heavy
    casualties on Iraqi and Syrian opposition forces before abandoning
    their positions and escaping.

    In the Mosul campaign, Harrigian said military planners are focused on
    the western approaches of the city, which are not as well defended as
    the other sides. He spoke to USA TODAY in a telephone interview from
    his headquarters in Qatar.

    ÒWeÕre very much focused there,Ó Harrigian said of the western routes.
    ÒShould they come out that direction, weÕre prepared to get after

    The western approaches are not completely open. Shiite militias
    are moving into positions there and have said they will drive the
    Islamic State from Tal Afar, a town west of Mosul on the road to Raqqa,
    Syria, the de facto capital for the militant group. The militias could
    act as a screening force to capture the Islamic State fighters if they
    attempt to head toward Raqqa.

    But the Shiite militias present a political problem. The U.S.-led
    coalition said it would only support forces under control of the Iraqi
    central government. Many Shiite militias are influenced or controlled
    by Iran.

    Plans for the Mosul offensive, which began Oct. 17, included a route to
    allow civilians to escape from the city and avoid its total destruction
    in case the Islamic State has nowhere to turn and tries to make a last

    ÒThey donÕt want to besiege the city and prevent civilians from
    escaping,Ó said Jennifer Cafarella, an analyst at the Institute for the
    Study of War.

    Such a plan also runs the risk of allowing some militants to escape to
    Raqqa. The Pentagon has said Raqqa is the next objective in the
    campaign against the Islamic State.

    The coalition has between 15 and 20 surveillance drones constantly
    watching Mosul and the surrounding areas, triple the number over the
    city in the weeks leading up to the offensive, Harrigian said.

    The Islamic State has frequently used human shields to avoid coalition
    airstrikes. Militants were able to escape from Manbij, Syria, in August
    with hundreds of human shields. Coalition aircraft will not target
    militants if there is a danger of killing civilians.

    By contrast in Fallujah, a Sunni city in western Iraq, coalition
    aircraft killed hundreds of militants in June when they attempted to
    escape the city hastily. After hours of surveillance, coalition
    commanders determined there were no civilians in the convoy.

    The Pentagon has said it has seen no signs that militants are
    attempting to escape Mosul yet in significant numbers. But that could
    change as Iraqi forces enter the city, and if militants believe defeat
    there is inevitable.

    On Monday, Iraqi and Kurdish forces were nearing the edges of Mosul,
    where fighting will grow more intense as both sides engage in combat
    amid narrow streets and alleys. The city holds an estimated 1 million
    civilians and between 3,500 and 5,000 fighters, the Pentagon has said.

    The Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL, has established
    deadly networks of tunnels and obstacles inside the city. Coalition
    aircraft have destroyed 55 tunnels and 33 car or truck bombs during the

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