US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order reducing the number of civilian deaths from drones that the government must report. Trump signed the order Wednesday, revoking an Obama-era requirement for the director of national intelligence to release an annual report on the number of deaths resulting from US operations in noncombat areas around the world.
When a Saudi F-15 warplane takes off from King Khalid air base in southern Saudi Arabia for a bombing run over Yemen, it is not just the plane and the bombs that are American. American mechanics service the jet and carry out repairs on the ground. American technicians upgrade the targeting software and other classified technology, which Saudis are not allowed to touch. The pilot has likely been trained by the United States Air Force.
The numbers are shocking — or at least they should be. 2017 was the deadliest year for civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria, with as many as 6,000 people killed in strikes conducted by the U.S.-led coalition, according to the watchdog group Airwars. That is an increase of more than 200 percent over the previous year.
Former President Obama earned the nickname of “Drone King” when he dramatically escalated the use of drone strikes, while also downplaying the number of innocent civilians who became “collateral damage.” In the two years that his administration devoted to publicly spending millions of taxpayer dollars to fight the Islamic State group, the estimated civilian death toll ranged from 2,300 to 3,400, according to Airwars, an organization tracking deaths in the war against ISIS.President Trump has been in office for just 9 months, and he has already surpassed Obama’s murderous record with estimated numbers as high as 4,500 civilian deaths.
Donald Trump has bowed to overwhelming pressure and directly condemned the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists, two days after violent clashes left one woman dead. “Racism is evil,” the US president said at the White House. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
On Saturday afternoon, neo-Nazis; white nationalists; and open-carrying, camo-wearing militia members combined forces at a Charlottesville, Virginia, rally to “Unite the Right.” This congregation of white people who love the president of the United States and hate racial, ethnic, and religious minorities chanted “blood and soil” and extended their arms in stiff salutes. The rally culminated in the death of at least one person when the driver of a gray Dodge Challenger plowed through a crowd of counter-protesters, seemingly with the intent to maim and injure.
During a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke said the event is in line with President Trump’s “promises.” “This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back,” Duke said. “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”
Even as President Donald Trump faces ever-intensifying investigations into the alleged connections between his top aides and family members and powerful Russian figures, he serves as commander in chief over a U.S. military that is killing an astonishing and growing number of civilians. Under Trump, the U.S. is re-escalating its war in Afghanistan, expanding its operations in Iraq and Syria, conducting covert raids in Somalia and Yemen, and openly facilitating the Saudi’s genocidal military destruction of Yemen.
Overturning more than a decade of careful “hearts and minds” military operations, the United States has signaled that the major U.S.-backed combat offensives against ISIS in Iraq and Syria should proceed regardless of the cost to civilians.
Civilian casualties in coalition operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria are being significantly under reported, monitoring groups say, with non-US partners refusing to release data about military operations in which their forces may have killed non-combatants. Since the anti-IS international coalition was formed in August 2014, there have been at least 21,820 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, according to monitoring group Airwars.
Air strikes carried out by the US and its coalition partners in Syria have killed the highest number of civilians on record since the bombing campaign began, a war monitor has said. A total of 225 civilians, including 36 women and 44 children, were killed in the period between 23 April to 23 May, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
US forces failed to take necessary precautions before launching a lethal drone strike in northern Syria last month that hit a mosque full of worshipers, three separate investigations have revealed. Research by Human Rights Watch (HRW), London-based Forensic Architecture and open-source investigative unit Bellingcat reveal that US air strikes hit a western Aleppo mosque on March 16, killing at least 38 people and injuring dozens of others.
An airstrike by the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State killed 18 Syrian fighters allied with the United States, the military said on Thursday. The strike, on Tuesday in Tabqah, Syria, was the third time in a month that American-led airstrikes may have killed civilians or allies, and it comes even as the Pentagon is investigating two previous airstrikes that killed or wounded scores of civilians in a mosque complex in Syria and in a building in the west of Mosul, Iraq.
US military officials say Trump approved counter terrorism operation without sufficient intelligence or ground support. The US military has launched an investigation into the scale of civilian casualties in a botched special forces raid against a suspected al-Qaida base in Yemen, the first such mission to be approved by Donald Trump, as questions mount over the operation.