WASHINGTON has investigated its warplanes’ attack on Syrian army positions in September and concluded that, because slaughtering over 80 troops was an “honest mistake,” it did not break international law.
It blames “human error” for identifying a Syrian military vehicle as belonging to Islamic State (Isis) and Russian monitoring services for taking too long to inform the US air force of its error.
There are too many holes in this Pentagon-supplied account for anyone to accept this whitewash.
A US-Russian protocol provides for either air force planning to attack to give coordinates to the other to minimise hitting wrong targets.
Washington would have the world believe that its air force not only misidentified Syrian forces defending Deir el-Zour as Isis fighters but compounded the error by providing the Russian side with the wrong coordinates. This would have confused Russian monitors when told by their Syrian allies that their soldiers were under bombardment, with the Russians believing that the raids were taking place elsewhere.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad suspected from the outset that the attacks were deliberate and intended to weaken his country’s resistance to the war waged against it at the behest of its regional and Nato enemies.
Solidarity assistance from Russia, Iran and volunteers from Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan have turned the military tide against the jihadists and their wealthy sponsors.
Russia’s precautionary co-operation with the US to prevent clashes between the two major powers does not alter reality that air strikes by US, British and French planes and Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria are breaches of international law.
Death and destruction caused by their military activity are worthy of designation as war crimes, yet these hypocrites accord themselves the right to pronounce on the war-crime culpability of others, especially the Syrian government, in its existential war of self-defence.
Moscow’s role is legitimate because it was requested by the internationally recognised civilian power in Damascus.
Recourse by Nato powers and their allies to military intervention, especially against Arab/Muslim countries, ranging from aerial bombardment in support of surrogate forces all the way to full-blooded invasion, has become so regular that politicians and media rarely question it. MPs on both sides of the House routinely bay for intervention on a variety of grounds, usually on the spurious justification that “we” must do something.
Nato powers do not have a free pass that spares them from the requirement to abide by international law, as much as they may “reserve the right to take military action” as though a part of normal diplomatic life.
Military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Syria have all produced situations worse than existed previously.
Yet those who perpetrated the 2011 Nato air war against Libya, failing to foretell the bloody chaos in store for that country, now have the gall to warn of a potential massacre in east Aleppo, demanding a ceasefire so that civilians can escape.
This disingenuous demand disregards the reality that it is the jihadist forces who dominate the insurgency there that have prevented non-combatants from leaving, preferring to use them as human shields.
The ceasefire call is designed to provide the jihadists with a respite to regroup and continue their murderous activities. According to the Russian military, the Castello main road is now open and safe for humanitarian convoys.
This should be the main priority for those who profess concern for civilians rather than trying to drag out their suffering by deferring conclusive military defeat for the jihadi forces.
This article appeared in The Morning Star, Thursday 1st December 2016