“There’s no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” – Howard Zinn
On Monday, at least 21 civilians were killed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in and around Manbij, Syria. On Tuesday, U.S.-led airstrikes killed at least 56 civilians including 11 children north of Manbij. Other reports estimated that Tuesday’s strikes claimed at least 85 civilian lives. These strikes have led to what may well be the largest civilian death toll caused by U.S.-led coalition forces since the U.S. began bombing ISIS nearly two years ago. Airwars, an independent monitoring group, estimates that the total number of civilians killed by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria since the start of the campaign against ISIS is now at least 1,422.
Amnesty International strongly condemned the strikes and called on the U.S. to do more to avoid civilian casualties. “There must be a prompt, independent and transparent investigation to determine what happened, who was responsible, and how to avoid further needless loss of civilian life. Anyone responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be brought to justice and victims and their families should receive full reparation,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme for Amnesty International.
Peace Action joins Amnesty in calling for an independent investigation into the bombings. As another means of avoiding further civilian casualties, Peace Action opposes the continued U.S. bombing of Iraq and Syria. In addition to the fact that this campaign has not been explicitly authorized by Congress, the U.S. military approach to confronting terrorism has proved an abysmal failure, contributing to a significant rise in terrorism related deaths since the War on Terror began. In June, Will Hopkins, a veteran of the Iraq war and executive director of New Hampshire Peace Action, wrote an op-ed in Truth Out detailing constructive responses to ISIS that don’t risk killing innocent civilians in an unauthorized military campaign.
As the U.S., France and the world continue to mourn the deaths of innocent civilians in Nice, Orlando, and so many other places that have been the target of terrorist attacks, let us remember to mourn the deaths of innocent people killed by our planes, by our bombs, by our tax dollars, and let us never stop organizing to end the violence that has driven so many into the clutches of hateful extremist groups.