According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a concentration camp is defined as “a place where large numbers of people are kept as prisoners in extremely bad conditions, especially for political reasons.” It is undeniable that the Rukban camp fits this definition to the letter.
The residents of al-Rukban camp suffer from severe humanitarian conditions especially during the winter. There are no heating elements, which forces the children of the camp to build mud houses rather than tents to alleviate the cold weather and storms that hit the area. Photo: Syria Live Map
The United States military has rejected offers to resolve the growing humanitarian crisis in the Rukban refugee camp in Syria, which sits inside a 55 km zone occupied by the U.S. along the Syria-Jordan border. The U.S. has also refused to let any of the estimated 40,000 refugees — the majority of which are women and children — leave the camp voluntarily, even though children are dying in droves from lack of food, adequate shelter and medical care. The U.S. has also not provided humanitarian aid to the camp even though a U.S. military base is located just 20 km (12.4 miles) away.
The growing desperation inside the Rukban camp has received sparse media coverage, likely because of the U.S.’ control over the area in which the camp is located. The U.S. has been accused of refusing to let civilians leave the area — even though nearly all have expressed a desire to either return to Syrian government-held territory or seek refuge in neighboring countries such as Turkey — because the camp’s presence helps to justify the U.S.’ illegal occupation of the area. Continue reading →
The International Committee of the Red Cross has stated that “employing asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and all analogous liquids, materials or devices is listed in the Statute of the International Criminal Court as a war crime.”
White phosphorus attack. Photo: Human Rights Watch
The U.S.-led coalition in Syria has been accused of using white phosphorus incendiary munitions for the fourth time since mid-September. White phosphorus is banned internationally when used in areas with civilian populations.
Syrian state news agencySANA reported on a bombing conducted by the U.S.-led coalition that had targeted the small city of Hajin in Syria’s Eastern Deir Ez-Zor province over the weekend. The bombing, allegedly intended to target Daesh (ISIS) terrorists who control the city, killed fifteen civilians – among them women and children – and injured scores more. Civil sources cited by SANA reported that white phosphorus bombs had been used, which – in addition to resulting in several civilian deaths and injuries — caused massive property damage due to the fires resulting from the use of the banned substance. Continue reading →
With the U.S. now unable to prevent Syrian government control of the Syria-Jordan border, Friday’s strikes are a sign that the U.S. effort to oust the Syrian government from Abu Kamal is likely to only grow stronger as its occupation of Syrian territory faces an uncertain future.
Abu Kamal after a January airstrike. Screenshot: Qasioun News
Around midnight on Friday, U.S.-led coalition warplanes in Syria conducted intensive airstrikes near Abu Kamal in the Deir ez-Zor province, with estimates of civilian casualties ranging from 30 to 54. Syrian state media agency SANAhas claimed that at least 30 were killed and that most of the dead were women and children. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), often cited by international and particularly Western media, has asserted that 54 were killed.
According to local reports, the U.S.-led coalition strikes targeted the towns of al-Souseh and al-Baghouz Fowqani, east of the Euphrates river in the countryside around Abu Kamal. The bombings resulted in dozens of houses in the towns collapsing, resulting in numerous civilian deaths, as whole families were crushed by the rubble while they were sleeping. Continue reading →
Reports indicate that in the past week, at least 170 civilians—including dozens of women and children—have been killed by the U.S.-led airwar in Raqqa, a Syrian city controlled by the Islamic State (ISIS). (Photo: @Raqqa_SL/Twitter)
As President Donald Trump expands the war in Afghanistan, which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday is partly inspired by “successful” tactics used in the war against the Islamic State (ISIS), Reutersreports that in the past week alone, more than 170 civilians were killed by U.S.-led airstrikes in Raqqa, a Syrian city ISIS considers its capitol.
“The monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 42 people, including 19 children and 12 women, were killed on Monday in strikes that destroyed buildings where families were sheltering,” Reuters reports. The observatory claims this marks the single largest daily death toll since the U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of Kurdish and Arab militias, began their mission to capture Raqqa in June. Continue reading →
Dashni Morad. (Credit: John Wright, February 2016)
As the battle for Mosul nears its conclusion, the fate of civilian survivors remains uncertain. The Kurdish singer and humanitarian Dashni Morad, whose youth was defined by conflict in the region, aims to highlight the psychological scars of living under a brutal regime. In 2014, Morad raised funds for refugee camps outside Mosul, where she witnessed the impact of three years of war on displaced children. Tutored only in fear, the children are aggressive even in play: “it made me so upset to see that a kid can be taken from its inner child”, she says. “It is the worst thing you can do to a human being – to take away that magical world”. Continue reading →
Men load the bodies of people recovered from the rubble of a house in western Mosul. More than 200 are feared dead after what appears to be a U.S. bombing raid. (Photograph: Cengiz Yar)
The carnage continues. And appears to be growing.
With the war that President George W. Bush started and that President Barack Obama failed to end now in the hands of President Donald Trump, global outrage and condemnation was expressed over the weekend as details emerged over a U.S. bombing in Iraq that may have killed 200 or more innocent civilians, many of them children and families seeking shelter.
The aerial attack on homes and buildings in the city of Mosul, where Iraqi and U.S. coalition forces have been battling Islamic State (ISIS) forces for months, actually took on March 17 but as evidence of the destruction and deathtoll emerged, the Guardianreported Saturday it may turn out to be “one of the deadliest bombing raids for civilians since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.” Continue reading →
Though a number of U.S. soldiers were previously deployed to Syria under the Obama administration, the U.S. government has just sent an additional 400 troops to Syrian territory without congressional approval, without approval from the Syrian government, and without approval from the U.N.
Given the illegality of the move, the real question regarding the operation must focus on the motive. Why is the United States military, under a president who ran on a campaign of focusing less on wars abroad, sending more troops to Syrian territory? Trump supporters often argue this is to fulfill his campaign promise to defeat ISIS. Continue reading →
An emergency U.N. Security Council meeting was called and an already tenuous cease-fire agreement is under further strain after U.S.-led coalition bombers on Saturday killed nearly one hundred Syrian army soldiers who were battling Islamic State (ISIS) fighters near the Deir al-Zor airport in eastern Syria.
Early reporting indicated that between 62 and 90 Syrian troops may have been killed in the U.S.-led airstrikes. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group with contacts across Syria, cited sources at the airport saying at least 90 Syrian soldiers had been killed and 120 wounded. Meanwhile, Anti-War.com‘s Jason Ditz described the massacre as perhaps “the single biggest blunder of the entire US war in Syria.” Continue reading →
Israel and Facebook will team up to delete content the country views as inciting violence, the Associated Pressreports Monday.
“The joint Facebook-Israel censorship efforts, needless to say, will be directed at Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians who oppose Israeli occupation,” Glenn Greenwald writes at The Intercept.
The development follows a meeting in Tel Aviv between two Israeli officials, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and a delegation of Facebook representatives. Continue reading →
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS, has been known to use weapons and vehicles their militants have seized from rebel forces backed by the United States. But many have also speculated that in the past, members of the terrorist group were trained or provided with weapons by the U.S. government — either directly or indirectly. Now, the rumors have finally been put to rest in a more formal fashion.
On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department announced it would offer a reward of up to $3 million for any information that could lead officials to Gulmurod Khalimov, a former Tajik special operations colonel who, before joining ISIS, received training from the United States through the State Department’s antiterrorism assistance program.
While in its latest statement the U.S. government did not readily admit Khalimov had been trained by its forces, Reutersreports that the former special operations colonel attended “five U.S.-funded courses in the United States and Tajikistan between 2003 and 2014.”
The official statement described the militant as one of the Islamic State’s “key leaders,” adding “[h]e was the commander of a police special operations unit in the Ministry of Interior of Tajikistan. He is now an ISIL member and recruiter.”
Reports of his decision to join ISIS appear to come from a 10-minute propaganda video from May of 2015, in which “he announced … that he fights for [ISIS] and has called publicly for violent acts against the United States, Russia, and Tajikistan.” Through the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program, officials hope to find information that will lead them to the militant — the same strategy the State Department used when looking for Osama bin Laden and former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Reutersreports that to U.S. officials, Khalimov is considered a “threat to national security and the U.S. Department of State due to his prior counter-terrorism experience and training.”
Back in 2015, the Washington Postreported that Khalimov “received training from elite instructors in Russia as well as in the United States.”
In the video, in which he unveils himself as an ISIS leader, he says:
“Listen, you American pigs, I’ve been three times to America, and I saw how you train fighters to kill Muslims. … God willing, I will come with this weapon to your cities, your homes, and we will kill you.”
Tajikistan, one of the poorest post-Soviet nations, crushed Islamic insurgencies with the help of the Russian government in a civil war that spanned from 1992 to 1997. In his 2015 video, Khalimov also attacks the Tajik president, Imomali Rakhmon, whose government has been harshly criticized “by rights groups for everything from forced beard shavings to numerous convictions of believers on religious extremism grounds.”
This article is free and open source. It is republished here under a Creative Commons license.