Syria and United States Air Strikes in Middle East
WASHINGTON – INTERNATIONAL – Syrian government warplanes have killed at least 60 civilians including a dozen children in two days of air strikes on Islamic State positions according to activists. In released video, which can not be independently verified by Reuters shows a series of attacks over the past two days.
The air strikes have also hit a number of Islamic State targets Confrontations between Islamic State militants and Syrian forces have escalated sharply since the Islamists made lightning advances against Iraqi government forces in June.
Since then, Islamic State militants have killed hundreds of Syrian government forces and seized three military bases in Raqqa province.
More than 190,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict erupted more than three years ago. Activists say the daily death toll regularly rises to more than 200 per day.
At the request of the government of Iraq, U.S. military aircraft attacked terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant yesterday in support of Iraqi security forces and Sunni tribes protecting the Haditha and Mosul dams, according to a news release from U.S. Central Command.
A mix of fighter and bomber aircraft conducted four airstrikes near Haditha. In total, the strikes destroyed five ISIL Humvees, one ISIL armed vehicle, an ISIL checkpoint and also damaged an ISIL bunker. All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.
“We conducted these strikes to prevent terrorists from further threatening the security of the dam, which remains under control of Iraqi Security Forces, with support from Sunni tribes,” Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.
Additionally, an attack aircraft conducted one airstrike against ISIL near Mosul Dam in support of Iraqi security forces protecting the dam. The strike damaged an ISIL Humvee and the aircraft exited the strike area safely.
The strikes were conducted under authority to protect U.S. personnel and facilities, support humanitarian efforts, and support Iraqi forces that are acting in furtherance of these objectives.
“We will continue to conduct operations as needed in support of the Iraqi security forces and the Sunni tribes, working with those forces securing Haditha Dam,” the press secretary said.
Corralling water from the Euphrates River, the Haditha Dam provides electricity and fresh water for millions of Iraqi citizens and farms. It is second only to the Mosul Dam in hydroelectric production for Iraq.
“The potential loss of control of the dam or a catastrophic failure of the dam — and the flooding that might result — would have threatened U.S. personnel and facilities in and around Baghdad, as well as thousands of Iraqi citizens,” Kirby said.
U.S. Central Command has conducted a total of 138 airstrikes across Iraq since operations began Aug. 8.
The new United Nations human rights chief today urged the international community to stop the “increasingly conjoined” conflicts in Iraq and Syria, lashing out at the armed group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for trying to create a “house of blood.”
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights referred to ISIL fighters as ‘Takfiris,” an ideology that he calls “extremely narrow and unyielding” who annihilate those Muslims, Christians, Jews and others – the rest of humanity – who believe differently to them.
“Do they believe they are acting courageously? Barbarically slaughtering captives? What virtue are they demonstrating exactly?” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in his first address since taking up the four-year post on 1 September.
“They reveal only what a Takfiri state would look like, should this movement actually try to govern in the future,” he continued. “It would be a harsh, mean-spirited, house of blood, where no shade would be offered, nor shelter given, to any non-Takfiri in their midst.”
The ISIL has demonstrated “absolute and deliberate disregard for human rights,” Mr. Zeid said, calling the extent of the violence “unprecedented.”
He called on Iraq, led by new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, to join the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ensure accountability and public acknowledgment of the wrongs suffered.
“In particular, dedicated efforts are urgently needed to protect religious and ethnic groups, children – who are at risk of forcible recruitment and sexual violence – and women, who have been the targets of severe restrictions,” Mr. Zeid said.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is another example of the need to end persistent discrimination and impunity, the human rights chief said.
He noted that the recent armed conflict had a “particularly devastating” toll in terms of deaths, suffering and destruction, and compounded an already precarious situati