The High Cost of War on Innocents

With the War on Terror continuing and Washington threatening to accelerate its war operations in Syria, monthly data from the United States Air Forces Central Command – Combined Air Operations Center is particularly pertinent.  This monthly report provides us with updated statistics for two ongoing conflicts; Operation Freedom’s Sentinel/Resolute Support and Operation Inherent Resolve.  Let’s look at each in turn followed by data that shows us how these and other military operations are impacting civilians living in these war zones.

Here is the data current to the end of January 2018 for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel/Resolute Support (OFS), the successor to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan which began on January 1, 2015:

What impact has the 17 years of conflict in Afghanistan had on the nation’s civilians?  According to UNAMA’s 2017 Annual Report, a total of 3,438 Afghani civilians were killed and 7,015 were injured throughout 2017, following a record-breaking year in which 11,434 civilians were killed or injured.

Here is a graphic from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for end of 2017 showing how many Afghani civilians were killed and injured since 2009:

Here is a pie chart showing what caused this year’s civilian casualties so far:

Given that we are now in the 17th year of conflict in Afghanistan, it is interesting to see this in the quarterly report (Q3 2017) on Operation Freedom’s Sentinel by the Lead Inspector General for Overseas Contingency Operations:

On August 21, 2017, President Trump announced the broad parameters of a strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia. The President stated that the United States’ primary interest in Afghanistan continues to be preventing the nation from being a safe haven for terrorist organizations that threaten the United States and its allies. The President outlined five core pillars of U.S. strategy going forward:

• Enacting a conditions-based rather than time-based approach;

• Integrating “all instruments of American power—diplomatic, economic, and military—toward a successful outcome”;

• Requiring that Pakistan stop providing safe haven for terrorist organizations;

• Asking India to increase its already sizeable economic and development assistance in Afghanistan; and

• Expanding the rules of engagement to allow commanders in the field to “fully and swiftly [wage] battle against the enemy.”

President Trump stated that rather than nation building or using “American military might to construct democracies in faraway lands,” the United States will prioritize “killing terrorists.” The President added: “From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.”

The President said that the United States would continue to support the Afghan military against the Taliban, but did not identify what would constitute an end of the war in Afghanistan. “Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan. But nobody knows if or when that will ever happen,” the President said.” (my bold)

So much for tens of thousands of casualties and trillions of dollars worth of the War on Terror.

Here is the data current to the end of December 2017 for Operation Inherent Resolve, the current operations in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State:

Notice the significant increase in the number of weapons released for calendar 2017 with year-over-year growth of 28.7 percent, hitting a new high of just under 40,000 weapons used.

If you want to get a sense of what these air attacks look like, here is an example from near Raqaa from March 2017:

What kind of impact has this had on Iraq’s civilian population.  Here, from Iraq Body Count, is a compilation fo the number of documented civilian deaths per month since the beginning of 2012:

Here is a table showing the monthly civilian deaths in Iraq since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003:

The number of Iraqi civilians killed as a result of combat is still well in excess of 10,000 annually, 15 years after hostilities began.

From the Syrian Network for Human Rights, here is a graphic showing how many Syrian civilians were killed in 2017 and which groups were responsible:

 

As you can see from this data that is rarely covered by the mainstream media, war is very much alive and well and innocents are still dying at very high rates thanks to the endless War on Terror.    With Donald Trump threatening Syria with imminent war and the ongoing sabre-rattling against both Iran and North Korea, the innocent civilians living in these threatened regions are likely to find their plight pretty much ignored by the mainstream media as well as by Washington.  Stay tuned for Washington to take aim at Iran and North Korea.  While the global military-industrial complex enriches itself, civilians continue to pay with their lives.  

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