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Issue #1856      February 13, 2019

Civilian deaths in a dirty war

The RAAF, after a year-long investigation, have admitted that Australian Super Hornets “may have” killed an estimated 18 civilians in Mosul in Iraq. The announcement on February 1, by Air Marshal Hupfield, was in damage control mode. The airmen were not to blame, the Iraqi soldiers were not to blame as they under fighting stress, and most of all the Coalition forces were not to blame as they gave the right target coordinates. With suitable sad face Hupfield announced “this was an unfortunate consequence of war”.

Australian Super Hornets “may have” killed an estimated 18 civilians.

The government swung in behind the RAAF. Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said it was unclear if Australian bomb even hit the civilians. He then went on to say: “The Australian platform was operating entirely within the rules of engagement, and under the law of warfare, and so there will be no discipline for the pilots involved, because they were doing exactly the job that they were supposed to do.”

The Prime Minister in similar vein stated that it is “not clear it was the ADF who hit the civilians”, and declared that “Australia never targets civilians”. Opposition leader Bill Shorten said; “If they have been investigated ... I’m satisfied with that.”

However, a survivor of the attack says the Australian bomb destroyed her house, killing 35 members of her family. Airwarfare, an NGO that monitors coalition bombing in the Middle East, says those killed numbered 35 with 18 more injured. There is an obvious mismatch between the information from the Australian Government and that from independent observers. Based on past experience, the survivor and NGOs are likely to be closer to the truth than the ADF.

A spokesperson for the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition (AABCC) responded to this latest tragedy, saying “We reject the government’s explanation of this tragedy. We say they should not be using aircraft in city areas!”

The RAAF has been less than honest in the past, the AABCC says. One incident was reported on the ABC’s 7.30 Report in March 2017. The RAAF was exposed as being the most recalcitrant of military services in providing co-ordinates of bombing missions to human rights organisations. Australia’s intransigence contrasted strongly with even the US and NATO states.

Another pointer to the ADF’s duplicity is the fact that the commander of the operation that resulted in the civilian deaths was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal in the 2019 Australia Day Honours. The citation read in part that he protected “civilians in proximity to the fighting”.

The Anti-Bases group reports that after bombing elements of the Syrian Army and killing six Syrian Army soldiers the Commander of that operation also received a medal. Asked why such a catastrophe was worthy of a medal, Air Commodore Edgeley, Acting Deputy Chief of Air Force, replied:

“Royal Australian Air Force members who were recognised in the Australia Day Honours served their country with distinction in a demanding operational environment, and have been recognised accordingly.” We say in fact they brought shame on us.

The February 1, 2019 statement is a continuation of the ADF’s policy of not providing information to the Australian people on a range of issues relating to its operations. In view of the exorbitant amount of money provided by the Australian taxpayer for ADF operations, the lack of information is scandalous.

Both the government and the ADF are responsible for these deaths as they decided to take part in yet another US dirty war.

Next article – Universal basic income and the end of “democratic capitalism”

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