[pjw] NEWS/UPDATE: Civilian deaths in Iraq airstrikes; Divestment hearing postponed

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Tue Mar 28 20:19:26 EDT 2017

Supporters of Peace and Justice:

IMPORTANT UPDATE on the Divestment ordinance that was scheduled 
to go to Council tomorrow-- apparently there are less than a full quorum 
of Council members available and the hearing has been postponed until 
April 5 (next Wed) at 2 PM.

Meanwhile, below is an article from The Hill in which Pentagon 
spokespeople deny there's been a change in the "rules of engagement" in 
Iraq and Syria even though three airstrikes cause as many as (and probably 
more than) 200 deaths in Mosul in the last few weeks.

Betty S. also forwarded this article from Truthout:

Congress Is Missing in Action as Trump Escalates War in Syria Amid Russia

which follows up on our action alert for Congress to have to vote on the 
wars in Iraq and Syria, noting that demonizing Russia is just leading us 
into a new cold (or hot?) war, and we should pay attention to what's going 
on in the wars already underway. It mentions that Barbara Lee and
   "A handful of progressive Democrats and one Republican in Congress are
    demanding a halt to the military escalation in Syria. They introduced
    legislation this week that would prohibit the Defense Department from
    putting more boots on the ground without congressional approval."

There's not a link to that legislation, if you can find more about it let 
me know.

--dan h
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

Pentagon denies changing airstrike rules after reports of civilian deaths
    By Ellen Mitchell - 03/27/17 03:49 PM EDT

    Following three separate allegations of civilian deaths caused by U.S.
    coalition-led airstrikes, the Pentagon is asserting it has not loosened
    its rules of engagement in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq
    and Syria.

    "There is no indication of that," U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM)
    spokesman Col. John Thomas told reporters Monday.

    Thomas said CENTCOM leaders are "not looking into changing the way we
    operate other than to say our processes are good and we want to make
    sure we live by those processes."

    "We are cautious and appropriately thoughtful in employing our
    processes to discriminate appropriately civilian targets from military
    targets," he added.

    The Pentagon is investigating allegations that coalition airstrikes
    killed as many as 200 civilians in Mosul, Iraq, by combing through 700
    separate video feeds captured over 10 days in the area.

    Thomas told reporters during a call at the Pentagon that the
    investigation is "of the highest priority in Mosul right now and we are
    spending a lot of our time doing that."

    The Pentagon has acknowledged that it conducted a strike against a
    suicide truck bomb on March 17, near a building where Iraqi civilians
    were seeking shelter.

    [144]The New York Times on Friday reported that the strike may have
    killed as many as 200 civilians. If confirmed, it would be among the
    deadliest airstrikes to hit civilians since the U.S. began the war in
    Iraq in 2003.

    CENTCOM said [145]on Saturday that it opened an investigation "to
    determine the facts surrounding this strike and the validity of the
    allegation of civilian casualties."

    Thomas said the Pentagon assessment was looking into whether the
    coalition airstrikes were responsible for the building destruction and
    subsequent deaths, or if ISIS planted bombs at the site.

    "We know that we were dropping bombs in the immediate vicinity, if not
    on specific buildings that have made it into the open press," Thomas
    said. "We're dropping hundreds and sometimes tens of meters away from
    these things, as far as we can tell, our weapons are quite precise ...
    and so we have to look at what we actually struck and then there are
    intriguing conversations and some intriguing information out there
    about secondary explosions."

    He added the credibility assessment will take two to three weeks.

    The operation to retake Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, has been
    ongoing since last year.

    The Pentagon is also investigating two additional incidents of reported
    civilian casualties caused by coalition airstrikes -- one at a school
    in near the city of Raqqa, Syria, and one near a mosque in the northern
    Syrian province of Aleppo.

    Observer groups reported that at least 30 people were killed at the
    school and 49 people were killed in the airstrike near the mosque.

    Thomas said the school incident is at the start of a "credibility
    assessment phase" expected to take two weeks or more "to then determine
    if we have enough evidence or a need to ... go forward to a full

    Defense Secretary James Mattis on Monday responded to the incidents,
    saying the Pentagon goes out of its way "to always do everything
    humanly possible to reduce the loss of life or injury among innocent
    people. The same cannot be said for our adversaries and that is up to
    you to sort out."

  144. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/24/world/middleeast/us-iraq-mosul-investigation-airstrike-civilian-deaths.html
  145. http://thehill.com/policy/international/325803-us-military-launches-probe-into-mosul-airstrike-that-killed-civilians

More information about the pjw-list mailing list