The Patriot Post® · Iraqi Civilians Die Because Islamists Want Them To
The Washington Post is leading the charge this week to call into question America’s military mission against the Islamic State after U.S. airstrikes led to civilian casualties in Mosul, Iraq.
Mosul has been the site of a prolonged battle to defeat one of the last remaining ISIL strongholds in Iraq, and it has been fought since October. On March 17, U.S. airstrikes, part of a support effort for Iraqi ground troops, attacked ISIL positions deep in the city and may have killed 137 civilians.
An investigation is ongoing, but it appears that Islamic State troops herded families together in buildings as human shields, resulting in a large group of civilians being killed by American bombs.
The Washington Post alleges that there has been an increase in civilian casualties since January, and we all know what happened in January. Indeed, that’s their entire point — blaming President Donald Trump. They speculate about relaxed restrictions of engagement, and Trump’s so-called loose talk about heavier bombing against Islamic State territories. Then the Post spills some ink about how trying to win the war quickly is good, but that it should probably not be attempted if it means more civilian casualties.
It’s true that there has been a regrettable rise in civilian casualties in American-led operations in Syria and Iraq. Our forces have been far more heavily engaged since January — with 500 to 600 airstrikes per week. But U.S. troops are also in urban areas fighting against an enemy that uses the civilians as human shields. If the media had any sense of the scope of the operation, they would come to understand just how carefully American forces are targeting airstrikes.
Defense Secretary James Mattis declared, “There is no military force in the world that has proven more sensitive to civilian casualties. We go out of our way to always do everything humanly possible to reduce the loss of life or injury among innocent people. The same cannot be said for our adversaries.”
Trump was elected to turn up the heat on defeating the Islamic State, a sharp change from Barack Obama’s posture of non-committal. Obama’s defenders will point out that the air strategy during his administration led to the deaths of key figures of the terror leadership structure. (And did you hear the one about Osama bin Laden being dead?) What they cannot explain is why he abandoned Iraq at the most crucial moment of its independence, leaving it to implode, with the Islamic State rising up out of the dust.
Of course, the American military will do everything in its power to prevent civilian casualties, but we cannot forget that we are fighting an enemy that wants those casualties. ISIL will use the civilian deaths to stir discord among the Shias and Sunnis in Iraq. Chaos always works in their favor.
The civilian deaths in Mosul should not deter the U.S. military or our allies from continuing the fight against the Islamic State. They will become more desperate and more dangerous as ground shrinks beneath their feet, so the time to push the offensive is now. To fall back at this point would be to invite a prolonged fight like Fallujah in 2004. Reclaiming that city was difficult and deadly for American troops, and that moment does not need to be repeated in Mosul because of Leftmedia pressure.