The Guardian has focused on the real problem of Iraqi force retaliations against the families of IS fighters. Its contribution to a 'cycle of violence' that could well lead to a return of ISIS 2.0 or another Sunni militant force to protect Sunni Arabs against the Shia dominated state, one heavily influenced by neighbouring Iran.
As Patrick Cockburn of The Independent reported today ,
The catastrophic number of civilian casualties in Mosul is receiving little attention internationally from politicians and journalists. This is in sharp contrast to the outrage expressed worldwide over the bombardment of east Aleppo by Syrian government and Russian forces at the end of 2016.Hoshyar Zebari, the Kurdish leader and former Iraqi finance and foreign minister, told me in an interview last week: “Kurdish intelligence believes that over 40,000 civilians have been killed as a result of massive firepower used against them, especially by the Federal Police, air strikes and Isis itself.”The real number of dead who are buried under the mounds of rubble in west Mosul is unknown, but their numbers are likely to be in the tens of thousands, rather than the much lower estimates previously given.
Cockburn, of course, correctly points out that ISIS was using civilians as human shields, a claim denied when it was made about jihadi groups in east Aleppo doing just that. The West has very little moral high ground over the wars in Syria and Iraq. If ISIS is going to be combated as 'an idea', the geopolitical strategies need drastic revision.
Earlier Cockburn reported,
The figure given by Mr Zebari for the number of civilians killed in the nine-month siege is far higher than those previously reported, but the intelligence service of the Kurdistan Regional Government has a reputation for being extremely accurate and well-informed. Isis prevented any monitoring of casualties while outside groups have largely focused on air strikes rather than artillery and rocket fire as a cause of civilian deaths. Airwars, one such monitoring group, estimated that attacks may have killed 5,805 non-military personnel in the city between 19 February and 19 June.
Cockburn also makes plain that Iraqi state force military action to take Mosul was indiscriminate too, rivalling Assad's forces for brutality. No outrage in the pages of the Guardian as there had been over east Aleppo. In fact, the liberation of Mosul has barely featured that much in the mainstream Western media. It was not covered widely at all.
Much of the blame for the calamitous level of destruction in west Mosul has been put on air strikes, but it is evident at ground level that a lot of the damage was caused by artillery shells and rockets. This is confirmed by an Amnesty International report issued last week titled At Any Cost: The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul, Iraq, which points to a greater and more indiscriminate use of its firepower by pro-government forces in the final stages of the attack on east Mosul, starting in January 2017 and continuing over the following six months during the assault on west Mosul. It says that Iraqi government and US-led coalition forces “relied heavily upon explosive weapons with wide area effects such as IRAMs (Improvised Rocket Assisted Munitions). With their crude targeting abilities, these weapons wreaked havoc in densely populated west Mosul, where large groups of civilians were trapped in homes or makeshift shelters”.