By Paul Notice
"The bodies keep coming, over 100 bodies pulled from the rubble, following a bombing attack in Mosul."
A deadly air strike killed least 200 civilians in one of the last remaining ISIS-controlled cities in Iraq, Mosul.
Who Did This?
After launching an official investigation on the incident, the Pentagon confirms the US' direct involvement in the air strike. However, international concern about why this attack occurred is growing. This is doubled in light of civilians being told not to flee the area. In fact, officials believe this to be a change in strategy brought on by the Trump Administration, and frustrated allies in Iraq.
What Exactly Happened?
NYT Reporter Tim Morango reports that on 03.17.17, ISIS gunmen pinned down advancing Iraqi Allied forces with sniper fire from a rooftop in the Mosul-Jedit neighborhood. ISIS fighters had recently forced civilians from other neighborhoods into their positions to act as "human shields," further inhibiting Allied forces capabilities to advance through the area.
While civilians escaped downstairs to avoid gunfire and mortar fire, US special forces called in air strikes to take out the snipers positioned on the roof. That bombing leveled the building, killing at least 200 civilians located in the lower floors, and surrounding areas.
Relatives of the civilians killed have been actively vying to tell their stories of loss to Western media outlets, many of them asserting that their narratives will help influence the practices of Western armed forces in the country. Morango explains:
"They want to tell what happened to their relatives, and what they lost. And they want the world to understand their suffering."
How Did This Happen?
According to Morango, there's been criticism during the earlier part of the Iraqi war that the Obama administration was overly cautious in approving wide-scale artillery tactics in the interested of protecting civilian life. However, Morango remarks during his interview with Michael Barbara of The Daily, this changed under the Trump Administration:
"Now, under the Trump Administration, the military is much quicker to approve strikes. And now the Trump Administration has expressed a desire to speed up the war against ISIS. So this, of course, raises a lot of questions."
Trump's remarks on the campaign trail, such as "I would bomb the shit out of them," seem to reflect much of this change in tactics. Even with the speculation that US forces believed the civilians evacuated the building before the calling the strike leaves, reporters like Morango skeptical:
"It's such a densely populated area that it's hard to imagine taking out one or two snipers on a rooftop, when you know civilians are in this area, and not harming civilians. It doesn't make sense to me."
Morango believes this push to speed up the war against ISIS, has subsequently lowered the caution for civilian life in the decision-making process.