Mosul’s transformation into a pile of rubble filled with the bodies of dead civilians nears completion. The destruction of Mosul continues, and as the end nears we are now seeing Mosul back in the news. Several of the news reports center around how victory is near at hand, this may be so we are prepped for the celebration and ready to give credit to those who are bringing ISIS to its knees. Over the Memorial Day Weekend on Face The Nation, Defense Secretary James Mattis made it clear, containment is not enough the goal is total annihilation and humiliation so that nothing will rise from the ashes of ISIS.
Mosul and the surrounding area in northern Iraq had in the past housed about two and a half million people. Since being occupied by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in June of 2014 many people have fled. Knowing that to stay was to risk your life and the lives of those with you the population today has declined to around two hundred thousand. Adding to the woes of civilians that remain trapped by the fighting or afraid to flee are reports from U.S. based Human Rights Watch that Iraqi Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State have unlawfully destroyed Arab homes in scores of towns and villages in what may amount to a war crime, in short, your potential liberators may not be your friend.
The good news is that when the operation began to liberate the city of Mosul and eliminate the last bastion of ISIS in Iraq things were moving faster than many people had anticipated according to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Still, problems continued to surface slowing the advance, such as a wave of car bombs sent by the Islamic State group. Iraqi special forces Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi said, “there are so many civilian cars and any one of them could be a bomb.” As Iraqi forces try to advance further into Mosul these suicide car bombs have taken a toll. With Islamic State militants even deploying armed children in Mosul’s Old City as means to bolster the impression they are still in control it is obvious many more civilians will die before this is over.
Clearly, the once great and ancient city of Mosul will be reduced to nothing more than a pile of rubble. Mosul shares this fate with many other cities in the region that have become war zones. Within the slowly shirking kill zone, it is not difficult to imagine 100,000 or more of the innocent people trapped within the city killed as troops seeking to eradicate the last of the estimated four to six thousand ISIS fighters go about their task. Death often occurs rather indiscriminately in such places and is dealt out to both civilians and combatants. In this case, civilians will be used as human shields increasing the toll and carnage.
As for how those many tens of thousands of civilians who fled fighting near Islamic State-controlled Mosul last week many are now stranded outside the city without basic humanitarian assistance. The situation became so desperate near the end of last year it was reported that army officers began distributing rations meant for their soldiers and buying extra supplies with money out of their own pockets. We have seen this all before, when the smoke begins to clear a campaign will develop to raise massive amounts of money to rebuild and set things right but until then it is suffering and death and nothing we do will change this reality of war.
An article written in the middle of November 2016 pointed out that a matter that merits our attention has become merely a footnote lost in the noise of daily news, these are the events taking place as Iraqi troops and a coalition of anti-ISIS forces try to retake Mosul. Even though they are in different countries both Mosul and Aleppo stood in the path of total destruction destined to be wrecked by the forces of war. Aleppo was of course further down this path as we have seen in the photos that have become far too common. These photos depict the total devastation and death modern warfare brings upon those caught in its way.
It should be noted the Mosul offensive began in mid-October 2016, in the days leading up to the American Presidential election, at the time the offensive was expected to last weeks, if not months. The media reports were spun to let us know a forthcoming victory was in the offing, it seemed this was done to assure voters American foreign policy has not been a dismal failure. The fact is Mosul should never have never fallen. The blood and treasure wasted and spent in Iraq are in many ways a reflection and the legacy of intervening where you don’t belong. When this campaign is over victory will be declared but what exactly will we be celebrating?
H/T: Bruce Wilds