At the same time, more American Special Operations troops, some dressed in the black uniforms and driving black vehicles — the colors of their Iraqi counterparts — are closer to the front lines. That way, in theory, the targeting of Islamic State fighters should become more precise for the coalition. Another 200 American soldiers, from the 82nd Airborne Division, are heading to Iraq to support that battle over the next few days.
At Site of Deaths, Our Reporters Find Cost of U.S.-ISIS Battle
As you read the report, try to imagine how the survivors feel about the United States. How would you feel about a foreign country that comes into your country and does this? I’m not sure we’re attacking terrorism the best way.
Tim Arango reports:
MOSUL, Iraq — Dozens of Iraqi civilians, some of them still alive and calling out for help, were buried for days under the rubble of their homes in west Mosul after American-led airstrikes flattened almost an entire city block.
At the site on Sunday, more than a week after the bombing runs, reporters for The New York Times saw weary survivors trying to find bodies in the wreckage. Iraqi officials said the final death toll could reach 200 killed, or even more. That would make it one of the worst instances of civilian casualties from an attack by the United States-led forces during the long military involvement with Iraq, starting in 1990.
The pace of fighting against the Islamic State here has grown more urgent, with Iraqi officers saying the American-led coalition has been quicker to strike urban targets from the air with less time to weigh the risks for civilians. They say the change is a reflection of a renewed push by the American military under the Trump administration to speed up the battle for Mosul.
That push is coming at the moment that the battle for Mosul is nearing its most dangerous phase for civilians, with the fight reaching into the twisting alleys and densely populated areas of the old city. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are pinned down here in tight quarters with Islamic State fighters who do not care if they live or die.
Many Iraqi commanders welcome the more aggressive American role, saying that under the Obama administration coalition officers were too risk averse. Iraqis also say fighting for the dense, urban spaces of western Mosul requires more airpower, even if that means more civilians will die.
When those decisions turn tragic, it looks like this: a panorama of destruction in the neighborhood of Mosul Jidideh so vast one resident compared the destruction to that of Hiroshima, Japan, where the United States dropped an atomic bomb in World War II. There was a charred arm, wrapped in a piece of red fabric, poking from the rubble; rescue workers in red jump suits and face masks, to avoid the stench, some with rifles slung over their shoulders, searching the wreckage for bodies.
One of the survivors, Omar Adnan, stood near his destroyed home on Sunday and held up a white sheet of paper with 27 names of his extended family members, either dead or missing, written in blue ink. . .
To be fair, this is exactly what not only Trump but several of the GOP candidates promised. Ted Cruz would bomb until the sand glowed, if memory serves. And Trump kept repeating that we had to be “tougher” (which seems to have been the total of his secret plan to defeat ISIS), and this is what “being tougher” looks like and does.
And didn’t Bush and Cheney say everything in Iraq would be peaceful and prosperous by now? I wonder if they have the faintest recognition of what they have done. Probably not. Self-deception is powerful, as Daniel Goleman discusses in his excellent Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception.