The civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq appear to be rising under the Trump Administration. There's concern that, under the new president, the painstaking attempts to keep civilians safe under Obama are out the window. That's pretty ironic, given what Trump has tweeted in the past. Trump may have said that he wants to "bomb the hell" out of ISIS during the campaign, but he also pointed to protecting civilians too. Now, Trump's 2013 tweet about civilian casualties in Syria feels ironic and disturbing. It runs opposite to what is happening under his command.
Experts on the issue argue that Obama went above and beyond the law, sometimes to the frustration of military officials, in his attempt to keep civilians out of harm's way, reports The Hill. Even so, Trump implied back in 2013 that accidental targeting of civilians was one of the main reasons not to get involved in the country's civil war. He tweeted, "If the U.S. attacks Syria and hits the wrong targets, killing civilians, there will be worldwide hell to pay. Stay away and fix broken U.S." Now, that mindset seems to have gone out the window.
Instead civilian deaths are way up in March — Glenn Greenwald, writing for The Intercept, used the word "skyrocketed." And he's right. The graph shows a rise that began in October but has continued to go up and up. One nonprofit group of journalists, Airwars, put the numbers for March at 1,000 — "a record claim." That's the level that before was only seen from Russian airstrikes.
And it's not just in Syria. The U.S. government is investigating civilian deaths from airstrikes in Mosul, Iraq, that may have killed 200 in one go. Warplanes dropped bombs on a neighborhood, and social media and local reports point to the number being that high. The U.S. military has promised to investigate, but they haven't owned up to anything yet.
The government essentially takes the local numbers and investigates them. Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told CNN that there were "conflicting allegations." "The coalition has opened a formal civilian casualty credibility assessment on this allegation, and we are currently analyzing conflicting allegations and all possible strikes in that area," Pahon said.
Assuming that these numbers are not inaccurate, Trump should be directing the Department of Defense and the military to be more protective of innocent lives. That would be taking literally what he said in the 2013 tweet — and not what he said on the campaign trail about bombing.
On the campaign trail, Trump said, "I would just bomb those suckers, and that's right, I'd blow up the pipes. I'd blow up the refineries. I'd blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left." The problem with that plan is that there are people living in those same areas. Protecting them must be the highest priority.
Trump needs to hold himself and his administration to the same standard to which he held Obama. Not only is it less hypocritical, but it also could save thousands of lives.