Searing new information reveals the months-long battle by the U.S.-led coalition to liberate Mosul, Iraq, from the self-described Islamic State left a catastrophic number of people dead — exponentially more than previously claimed in American and other Western mainstream press — in fact, Intelligence officials now say the operation took more than 40,000 civilians lives.
Astonishingly, the coalition insists just 603 civilians have been “unintentionally killed” during months of intense combat for Operation Inherent Resolve — at least 66 times fewer civilian casualties than what the new information claims.
Kurdish Intelligence officials speaking with the Independent note the bombings, airstrikes, artillery rockets, and other firepower — launched variously by the coalition, Iraqi government forces, and Daesh — killed scores more than the several hundred deaths officially attributed the operation by the Pentagon, and trounced even the estimation of 6,000 dead, proffered by military watchdog group, Airwars.
Former Iraq senior minister, Hoshyar Zebari, told the Independent an unknown number of bodies “are still buried under the rubble,” with conditions so bleak in the decimated city, the “level of human suffering is immense.”
“Kurdish intelligence believes that over 40,000 civilians have been killed as a result of massive firepower used against them,” he continued, “especially by the Federal Police, air strikes and Isis itself.”
According to the outlet,
“Mr Zebari, a native of Mosul and top Kurdish official who has served as the Iraqi Finance Minister and prior to that Foreign Minister, emphasised in an exclusive interview that the unrelenting artillery bombardment by units of the Federal Police, in practice a heavily armed military unit, had caused immense destruction and loss of life in west Mosul.”
If Zebari and the Kurdistan Regional Government are indeed correct — and, according to the Independent, the latter boasts a “reputation for being extremely accurate and well-informed” — then the scope and violence of the undertaking have been drastically if unsurprisingly misrepresented to the Western public.
Manipulation of the death count — particularly that of the same innocents anti-Islamic State forces putatively sought to protect from militants — serves to maintain the vestiges of long-diminished public support for the U.S. agenda in Iraq by downplaying the war’s extensive impact on the families either uninvolved or victim to the conflict.
Having gained insight firsthand from his previous position, Zebari lambasted Baghdad for deliberately ignoring the suffering experienced by those left in Mosul, remarking, “Sometimes you might think the government is indifferent to what has happened.”
Similar to other areas in the Middle East on the receiving end of U.S. foreign policy, Mosul’s centuries-old record of tolerance and cooperation amongst a host of religious and ethnic minorities likely cannot endure governance of the Sunni Arab majority in power, Zebari explained, as Yazidis, Kurds, Christians, and others see them responsible for much of the misery, including rape and murder.
Indeed, the Iraqi city’s Sunni population continues to face a broad backlash for supporting Daesh throughout the terrorist group’s three-year occupation — since the liberation of Mosul, Iraq government forces have inflicted cruel and unforgiving punishments against former ISIL fighters.
Eagerly corrupt government officials facilitated travel through tightly-controlled military checkpoints for Daesh militants who should not have been provided safe, unencumbered passage, the former government official explained. Reports the Independent,
“Reading from Kurdish intelligence reports, Mr Zebari says that a high level of corruption among the Iraqi military forces occupying Mosul is undermining security measures to suppress Isis in the aftermath of its defeat. He says that suspect individuals are able to pass through military checkpoints by paying $1,000 (£770) and can bring a vehicle by paying $1,500. He says corruption of this type is particularly rife in the 16th and 9th Iraqi Army Divisions and the Tribal Volunteers (Hashd al-Ashairi), drawn in part from the Shabak minority in the Nineveh Plain.
“The ability of Isis militants to remain free or be released from detention by paying bribes has led to a change in attitude among people in Mosul whom Mr Zebari says ‘were previously willing to give information about Isis members to the Iraqi security forces.’”
Justifiably terrified fighters would be free to exact revenge against anyone bold enough to name names, Mosul’s war-weary residents instead opt to remain silent — this conundrum tacitly allowing ISIL “sleeper cells” to continue operating in Mosul without much fear of reprisal or punishment, and, as the Independent elaborates,
“A belief that Isis fighters and officials detained in Mosul are later able to bribe their way free explains why soldiers, most of whom are not complicit in bribery networks, have summarily executed Isis prisoners, sometimes by throwing them off high buildings.”
Although the Independent does not share with readers the Intelligence documents the outlet claims to have observed — making verification of figures as impossible as those sums touted by the Pentagon or White House — that Hoshyar Zebari allowed use of his name provides more credence than typically vague propaganda-laced reports emanating from the U.S. government.
Recovery from war, the occupation of Daesh, and yet more war will undoubtedly hinder speedy recovery for the city; but, despite official declarations Mosul has been cleansed of the last terrorist holdouts, militants still lurk surreptitiously and in the skeletons of crumbling structures.
Beyond the torment and squalor in the wake of liberation, Zebari — who grew up in Mosul — opined the self-described caliphate’s annihilation of historic city’s architectural and religious gems, noting wistfully, “the soul of Mosul has gone and its iconic buildings are destroyed.”