President Donald Trump may have taken a tough stance against ISIS, but it has been revealed that his air war is killing around 12 civilians per day.
In contrast, the Obama administration tactics caused around 2,300 civilian deaths in total, roughly 80 each month in Iraq and Syria.
As of July, the Trump administration has already killed 2,200 civilians, meaning that around 360 civilians are being killed a month.
Even if you take the Trump administration’s far lower 603 total, they have still killed a staggering amount of civilians in just four months.
The Daily Beat reports:
The high civilian toll in part reflects the brutal final stages of the war, with the densely populated cities of Mosul and Raqqa under heavy assault by air and land. But there are also indications that under President Trump, protections for civilians on the battlefield may have been lessened—with immediate and disastrous results. Coalition officials insist they have taken great care to avoid civilian deaths, blaming the rise instead on the shifting geography of battles in both Iraq and Syria and Islamic State tactics, and not on a change in strategy.
Whatever the explanation, more civilians are dying. Airwars estimates that the minimum approximate number of civilian deaths from Coalition attacks will have doubled under Trump’s leadership within his first six months in office. Britain, France, Australia, and Belgium all remain active within the campaign, though unlike the U.S. they each deny civilian casualties.
One U.S. official even admitted that 100 civilians were killed in a Mosul airstrike that took place in March.
“Remarkably, when I interview families at camps who have just fled the fighting, the first thing they complain about is not the three horrific years they spent under ISIS, or the last months of no food or clean water, but the American airstrikes,” said Belkis Wille, Iraq researcher for Human Rights Watch. “Many told me that they survived such hardship, and almost made it out with the families, only to lose all their loved ones in a strike before they had time to flee.”
Much of this has to do with the strong stance that Trump has taken against ISIS. When Trump came to power, he called for a new ISIS plan to be drafted up, and with that, he asked his military officials to assess how far they could push the envelope when it came to international laws. By engaging in a policy like this, Trump has removed civilian protections in war.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis provided Trump with his war plan on Feb. 27.
“Two significant changes resulted from President Trump’s reviews of our findings,” Mattis later said at a May 19 meeting of the anti-ISIS Coalition. “First, he delegated authority to the right level to aggressively and in a timely manner move against enemy vulnerabilities. Second, he directed a tactical shift from shoving ISIS out of safe locations in an attrition fight to surrounding the enemy in their strongholds so we can annihilate ISIS.”
The Trump administration has justified the change in policy, saying that it is necessary to combat ISIS. However, this response isn’t good enough for human rights groups.
“I think it’s not helpful to get into an argument about whether the ROE [Rules of Engagement] have or have not been changed,” said Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington Director at Human Rights Watch. “The bottom line is more civilians are dying. Whatever the reason, that should concern the U.S. greatly.”
“We have spent a long time advancing the idea that preventing civilian casualties is not only a moral imperative, it’s also an operational one,” said another former State Department official who recently worked on civilian casualties. “These lessons come directly from our military’s counterinsurgency experiences in Afghanistan and are endorsed by members of our military at some of the highest levels. But so far we haven’t seen or heard anything that shows President Trump understands that.”