The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

U.S. Airstrikes:
Murdered Civilians and Coverups

Nov 22, 2021

On March 18, 2019, a U.S. jet dropped three bombs on a group of people in a dirt field next to the Syrian town of Baghuz.

Immediately after, a military analyst watching footage from a drone above the strike typed in a military chatline: “We just dropped on 50 women and children.” A U.S. legal officer noted that this airstrike was a possible war crime and that the military needed to launch an independent investigation.

But instead, the military covered up the strike. The unit that carried it out intentionally entered false log entries. The Defense Department began an inquiry, but the report didn’t even mention this attack. The site where it took place was bulldozed, pushing fresh earth over the bodies of those killed. A Navy officer who refused to keep silent and criticized the cover up was eventually forced out of his job with the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office.

When pressed by the New York Times in November 2021, the U.S. military admitted that 80 people were killed in this strike, but claimed it was justified because 16 were fighters—defined as adult men—and only four were civilians. It insisted that the other 60 could not be identified as civilians because the Islamic State sometimes used women and children as fighters.

Throughout the five-year war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the U.S. carried out about 35,000 air strikes. It claimed to have restrictive rules in place to protect civilians. But the military set up all kinds of loopholes, allowing air strikes in any case where the U.S. forces or allies could claim “hostile intent”—which could mean just driving a car, miles from forces on the ground. The reality of these strikes on the ground was mass death and destruction. The group Human Rights Watch identified at least 7,000 civilians killed by U.S. airstrikes in Syria alone, but the real number is undoubtedly much higher—whole cities like Raqqa and Mosul were turned into little more than rubble.

This is what the never-ending U.S. wars have really meant for whole populations across a huge swath of the world, including Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.