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.

Corbyn opposes Syrian air strikes

This isn’t really a big surprise, but the BBC reports that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn opposes proposals for UK airstrikes in Syria and prefers a “comprehensive negoriated political settlement”.

How that could be started let alone achieved is not explained.

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BBC: Jeremy Corbyn ‘cannot support air strikes’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has written to his MPs to say he cannot support the prime minister’s proposals for air strikes against IS targets in Syria.

But Mr Corbyn’s intervention puts him on a collision course with his shadow cabinet, half of whom are thought to support action.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Hillary Benn told BBC News he found the case for strikes “compelling”.

David Cameron is trying to convince MPs action would make Britain’s “safer”.

He will hold a Commons vote if he thinks he can win it, possibly as early as next week.

I’m not a fan of bombing and killing generally, but there seems little option but to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq, to reduce their indiscriminate and barbaric killings.