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20 Mar, 2017 12:31

Mosul civilians between 'a rock and a hard place' - ISIS & US-led coalition strikes

Mosul civilians between 'a rock and a hard place' - ISIS & US-led coalition strikes

Civilians in Mosul are in densely populated areas, and it makes any airstrikes, even artillery fire, very problematic. If they try to escape, they are killed by ISIS. So, it is a no-win situation for the civilians, says former Pentagon official Michael Maloof.

About 100,000 Iraqis have fled the city of Mosul over the past three weeks as the US-backed military operation against Islamic State progresses.

Another coalition air strike is reported to have taken place in western Mosul on Sunday and claimed the lives of several civilians. In addition to the danger posed by air strikes, many civilians in Mosul have also been wounded and killed by Islamic State landmines.

RT: We have heard many times now that ISIS is using civilians in Mosul as human shields. Has the US been aware of this tactic?

Michael Maloof: Completely, I think the rules of engagement are such that if they are going to be going after prime targets, casualties of civilians [are] acceptable in a certain amount. But it is a real problem right now particularly in west Mosul because the streets are so close, you are in densely populated areas, and it makes any airstrikes very problematic, even artillery. I would add that artillery is being fired in there is supposed to be laser-guided but when you got families stuck up on different floors - it is a disaster, and the intelligence isn’t the best. The civilians are really caught between the rock and proverbial hard place at this point.

RT: Is there a way for the US-led coalition to target ISIS and avoid hitting civilians?

MM: No, not at this point. If they could have evacuated, I think they would have. The standing order by the Iraqi military is for the civilians to stay in place, which means that they have to go from house to house and they are going to inevitably come across families. So, consequently, they are going to be inadvertently killing families within the homes as well. And of course, the families themselves, if they try to escape, they are killed by ISIS. So, it is a no-win situation for the civilians.

RT: Iraq's prime minister promised the number of refugees would not increase as the fighting enters its final stage. Do you believe the number of refugees is not growing?

MM: Absolutely not. They are increasing completely; they are flowing out of the town. If they can escape, they are going to get out. And unfortunately, the humanitarian backup for them is not there. They don’t have places to go in order to seek refuge. And in many cases, the tents haven’t been built up. They had a year to prepare for this. They just haven’t done it.

‘US completely neglects civilian casualties’

The Trump administration is ready to do just about anything to defeat ISIS, with complete neglect for the civilian casualties, Middle East affairs expert Ali Rizk told RT.

“The main priority for the Trump administration and the Iraqi government forces is to defeat ISIS. That is what the Trump administration says. And I think to achieve that goal they are ready to do just about anything with complete neglect for the civilian casualties. I think it is important to draw attention to two points. Number one is that ISIS is known to have prevented civilians from fleeing the areas under its control. And hence you see the result of such a tactic which is more civilian casualties. They are basically using civilians as a human shield. The second point which is maybe even more important is that I anticipate more of these horrifying, disturbing images. More of this is yet to come. According to the latest reports, the Trump administration is going to lift the restraints on these military operations,” Rizk added.

Mainstream media double standards

More reports are emerging of civilian causalities in the Iraqi city of Mosul where there's heavy fighting between Islamic State and US-backed forces.

Children are reportedly among the dead.

READ MORE: Mosul family fleeing airstrike loses 10yo child to IED

However, unlike in Aleppo, the Western media doesn’t seem to paying so much attention to the suffering of the children in Mosul. In what way do they differ? RT asked Peter Ford, former UK ambassador to Syria.

The Western media shows total understanding for the operations carried out, with all the so-called collateral damage in Iraq but showed zero understanding for the need of the Syrian Armed Forces and the Russians in a very similar case in Aleppo. The only difference is that the Syrians and the Russians are cast as the ‘bad guys’ while in Mosul, the West and the Iraqi government forces are the ‘good guys,'” he said.

The suffering of the people in Mosul, he continued, is greater than the suffering in Aleppo, “which was already bad enough, but the numbers are much higher in Mosul.

It’s a case of double standards, very simply,” Ford said.

The Iraqi Centre for Human Rights accused the US coalition of extensive attacks and imprecise bombing which dramatically increased civilian casualties. Peter Ford stated, “there is a snowflake's chance in hell” that these cases will be investigated.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.