Get Adobe Flash player

Stock Trader Scroller

Powered by Stock Trader

Whos online

We have 102 guests online

A recent Amnesty International report makes clear the cost of America’s ‘war of annihilation’ against Isis

Fri 22 Jun 2018 13.00 BSTLast modified on Fri 22 Jun 2018 23.13 BST

raqqa
‘Once, Isis stalked American nightmares. “Bomb Isis,” Americans demanded. Now, America’s moved on, with little care for the ruins those bombings left.’ Photograph: Amnesty International/PA

Earlier this month, Amnesty International released a report proving that the US-led coalition had committed war crimes in their final push to oust Isis from their capital in Raqqa. Amnesty’s report is harrowing. Thirty-nine members of a single family killed. A father listening to the pleas of his children, buried under rubble, as they slowly died of thirst. A city destroyed. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of civilians dead, not the 21 the US military so risibly claimed.

Unsurprisingly, it barely made a blip in the US media. Once, Isis stalked American nightmares. “Bomb Isis,” Americans demanded. Now, America’s moved on, with little care for the ruins those bombings left.

I spent the last three years writing a book with Marwan Hisham, a journalist from Raqqa, who risked his life reporting undercover during the Isis occupation of his city. In September 2014, Marwan broke the news on Twitter that the US-led coalition had begun its airstrikes – 20 minutes before the Pentagon announced its campaign. Until January 2016, when he finally fled the city, Marwan lived under coalition bombs. These bombs, as well as those dropped by Russia and the Syrian regime, leveled whole neighborhoods. Only a few days after the first strike, coalition bombs claimed Raqqa’s first civilian casualty, a young security guard named Ismail whose body Marwan helped pull from the rubble. As the months wore on, US bombs turned Raqqa into a wasteland of broken buildings and broken bodies, and Marwan watched his neighbors’ eagerness to be rid of Isis morph into horror.

At the time, few outside Syria cared what American bombs did to Raqqa. Isis had committed such atrocities, in such a media spotlight, that anything done to oust the group seemed justified, regardless of how many civilians died in the process. Even the majority of US anti-war groups ignored America’s anti-Isis campaign, and instead confined themselves to occasional protests whenever Trump shot off a ceremonial missile at an empty government airstrip.

The final four-month push to oust Isis from Raqqa killed between 1,400-2,000 civilians, according to Airwars, and destroyed 90% of the city. The US gave no apologies for their deaths. These civilians were worth less breath than the those of 62 Syrian soldiers that the US accidentally bombed in September 2016 in Deir Ezzour. In that case, US officials expressed their regrets. Those soldiers, after all, fight for an army that is backed by the Russian government, and one superpower must deal delicately with another. Impoverished Raqqans have no such allies.

The journalists who visit Raqqa now find a shattered city, smelling of corpses, still studded with Isis landmines that claim a victim every couple of days. The civil administration lacks the funds and the heavy machinery to rebuild. In March, the Trump administration froze the $200m pledged for stabilization in areas formerly held by Isis. There is no power or water except what is provided by local entrepreneurs, and the most popular job is rubble clearance, dangerous work in which even children engage. While Raqqans have filed hundreds of reports of civilian casualties, US Central Command has rejected nearly every claim.

Coalition spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan has called Amnesty’s report “grossly inaccurate”, but official denials can’t hide the truth. The US had promised an annihilation campaign against Isis, and annihilated Raqqa in the process. Now, they must pay to rebuild the city they destroyed, and pay reparations to the families of the thousands of civilians they killed. Anything less makes Raqqa’s “liberation” just another betrayal that the world has piled upon Syria.

  • Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer in New York. Her recent book is Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War, which she co-authored with Marwan Hisham