US marines in Syria, civilians

Civilians have always been a major casualty of war. During the Second World War cities were deliberately destroyed, wholly or extensively, for example Berlin, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Punishing the population was a part of retribution.

Things changed in the Vietnam War when media coverage highlighted the awful effects of war on civilians. And the intermingling of armies within towns and villages made things very complicated.

Now civilian casualties get a lot of attention. Despite improved and more accurate ways of killing people and destroying properties ordinary people. Often the women and children left behind in the firing zone get maimed and killed.

The US has just deployed Marines in Syria to help in the fight against ISIS.

Reuters: Syrian force a ‘few weeks’ from Raqqa, U.S. Marines deploy

U.S.-backed Syrian forces said on Thursday they were closing in on Islamic State-held Raqqa and expected to reach the city outskirts in a few weeks, as a U.S. Marines artillery unit deployed to help the campaign.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a militia alliance including the Kurdish YPG, is the main U.S. partner in the war against Islamic State in Syria. Since November it has been working with the U.S.-led coalition to encircle Raqqa.

Coalition spokesman U.S. Air Force Colonel John Dorrian said the additional U.S. forces would be working with local partners in Syria – the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian Arab Coalition – and would not have a front line role.

Some 500 U.S. personnel are already in Syria to help the fight against IS. A 400-strong additional deployment which arrived in recent days comprised both Marines and Army Rangers, Dorrian said, adding they were there temporarily.

But inevitably:

Coalition airstrikes killed 23 civilians, including eight children, in the countryside north of Raqqa on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor said. The coalition said it was investigating the incident.

Just a bit more unavoidable ‘collateral damage’?

The artillery will help “expedite the defeat of ISIS in Raqqa”, he said, using another acronym for Islamic State. The Marines were armed with 155-millimetre artillery guns. Asked if they had been used yet, Dorrian said he did not believe so.

“We have had what I would describe as a pretty relentless air campaign to destroy enemy capabilities and to kill enemy fighters in that area already. That is something that we are going to continue and intensify with this new capability.”

Artillery is likely to be more indiscriminate than air strikes.

from Newshub: US-led air strike hits Syrian civilians

The US military has said it makes “extraordinary efforts” to avoid civilian deaths in its bombing campaign against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

The military’s estimates of civilians killed by coalition air strikes are generally far lower than those of monitoring groups.

ISIS needs to be defeated, and there are no easy ways of doing that. War is crap, and many innocent people have their homes and their lives ruined. If they survive.

Better ways need to be found of preventing war. The US invasion of Iraq has made many things worse than they were, with the horrors of war spreading around the Middle East and provoking more insurgencies.

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  1. Curious choice of cities you made there, Pete! All Axis, no Allies. You didn’t have to mention Coventry or London, Rotterdam or Belgrade, Warsaw or Chongqing. But you could have spread the responsibility a little wider, couldn’t you?

    On some sort of guilt trip, are we?

    • Blazer

       /  10th March 2017

      where do ISIS get their funding and munitions from?Collateral damage,seems so unnecessary with pinpoint accurate …smart bombs.Who’s leading the grunts in Syria Eric or Donald?

  2. @ PG (et al) – “ISIS needs to be defeated …”

    So that the West can have continued access to Middle East oil and other resources? And continue generally interfering the Middle East politics [and religion]? Because all avenues of negotiation have failed …? Because of terror attacks in the West, many of which may or may not be ISIS inspired …? To safeguard Israel from the Arab world? To safeguard the world from nuclear armed Israel?

    Convince me why …?

    “Artillery is likely to be more indiscriminate than air strikes.”

    Nope! Artillery is CERTAIN to be more indiscriminate than air strikes.

    “Better ways need to be found of preventing war.”

    We’ll start into utopian fantasy now shall we? My forte …

    The military-industrial-political complex doesn’t want to prevent war … they profit by it …

    First we’d need a global majority-population and consequent political ‘desire’ to prevent war.
    How likely is that when the M-I-P complex more-or-less controls politics?

    Next we’d need a global organisation capable of policing war’s prevention, using population-majority political [or what might concievably be called ‘democratic’] force if necessary …

    It starts to look depressingly unlikey … and I haven’t even said the magic words yet …


  3. Artillery is certainly far more accurate than airstrikes and is not defeated by loiter time like aircraft. Precision guided munitions are available for airstrikes and artillery, but usually airstrikes are using cheaper dumb weapons. Two examples from history. Battle of Kapyong in the Korean war where the Major Ralph Porter RNZA called down Divisional Artillery which included 16 Field Regiment and their 25 pounders onto 3 RAR’s position and saved their bacon. The second was in the battle of Long Tan in South Vietnam when 161 battery of 16 Field Regiment and their 105 mm Howitzers were brought in within 25 metres of the Australian troops by accurate fire control by NZ Mobile Fire Controllers. Artillery is more accurate than air strikes, but mistakes always happen. Ask the Australians and Canadians.


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