Hassan Hassan writes: Last Thursday, Russian fighter jets carried out devastating raids in the ISIL-held Syrian city of Albukamal, near the Iraqi border. At least 30 civilians were killed in the twin attacks in the city centre. Many more were seriously injured. According to activists who document atrocities, not a single ISIL member was killed in the raids.
Leaflets dropped by the regime also warned this was only the start: “The intensity of the attacks is increasing. The worst is coming. Crushing attacks will be directed to this area.”
The leaflets suggest the raids were not intended to attack ISIL specifically but were part of a systematic campaign against the local population. Also, even before the current intensity of the air strikes increases in Deir Ezzor, the government still kills more than three times the number of those killed by ISIL. According to DeirEzzor24, an organisation whose members inside the province risk their lives to document ISIL’s daily atrocities, 77 people were killed by the regime last month, compared with 25 civilians killed by the terrorist group.
The level of devastation committed by the regime in ISIL-held areas often goes unnoticed. No condemnation was issued from the US-led coalition of the massacre of civilians, which reinforces the feeling often expressed by locals that the regime, Russia and the international coalition seem to be taking turns in attacking residential areas, especially as ISIL has adjusted to the air attacks and evacuated its bases.
If the international coalition believes that ISIL does not command the support of the local population living under it, as officials often claim, then silence over such atrocities cannot be justified. Locals living under ISIL are the international coalition’s safety net against the group and its attempts to ensconce itself in areas under its control, especially in border areas where locals still view it with suspicion.
Silence over such atrocities and failure to distance the anti-ISIL coalition from them only bolsters the group’s claims that there is a global war on those communities. The attacks in those areas, in particular, have no apparent tactical purpose other than to punish the local population. [Continue reading…]