US cannot be casual about increasing airstrike casualties

US cannot be casual about increasing airstrike casualties

US cannot be casual about increasing airstrike casualties

By Arabella Breck

As many as 200 civilians have been killed in airstrikes in Mosul, Iraq, in recent weeks, including a strike March 17 that may have killed more than 100 people. These could be some of the highest death tolls from airstrikes since 2003, according to a March 28 Vox News article. 

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, a top commander in Iraq, told reporters March 28 that an ongoing investigation of the March 17 incident could find that the civilian deaths were due to a combination of a U.S. airstrike and ISIS using civilians as human shields, according to an ABC News article published the same day. 

Unfortunately, these recent causalities don’t seem to be flukes but actually part of a larger trend regarding American airstrikes and involvement in Iraq and Syria.  

Airwars.org, a website that tracks airstrike deaths caused by both Russia and the U.S., recently came forward stating it would be focusing more resources on tracking U.S.-caused deaths because of the almost 1,000 civilian noncombatant deaths reported across Iraq and Syria in March caused by the U.S. or U.S.-led airstrikes, according to a March 24 Washington Post article.

The extreme concern from this group should not be taken lightly. If the group is this concerned about the increase in airstrike casualties, the responsible party—the U.S.—must take that seriously.  

However, U.S. officials have yet to appropriately respond.

As reported in the ABC News article, Townsend said, “In my mind, all of the responsibility for any civilian deaths, the moral responsibility for civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria belongs to ISIS.”

Although the investigation into what happened with these airstrikes is not yet complete, this total lack of respect, remorse or responsibility on the part of the U.S. is incredibly concerning. 

Townsend’s statement only perpetuates the idea that the U.S. does not have to take any responsibility for civilian casualties abroad in the fight against ISIS or other terrorist organizations. Somehow, ISIS taking civilians as hostages or human shields makes treating them as collateral damage excusable. 

For ISIS to take advantage of civilians in this way is a gross injustice, but so is the failure of the U.S. to factor in the lives of these innocent civilians.  

ISIS threatens security in the global community, but so does killing civilians, which has the potential to increase anti-American sentiment in Syria, Iraq and around the world. 

The U.S. cannot keep blindly moving forward with airstrikes, especially when they are leading to so many unnecessary deaths. 

As frequent critics of Russia’s killing of thousands of civilians in Syria, U.S. officials need to realize that through these recent strikes they have sunk to the same level. 

“These reported casualty levels are comparable with some of the worst periods of Russian activity in Syria,” a representative from Airwars.org said in the Washington Post article. 

If  the reported number of recent civilian deaths is even close to accurate, the U.S. must take responsibility and not push the blame onto outside forces like ISIS. The U.S. can and should be able to hold the moral high ground over an international terrorist organization that has brought nothing but harm and hurt into the world. 

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