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Zhao Lijian: Five years ago, the US forces, using the fake intelligence of a staged video by “White Helmets” as evidence, conducted the so-called “most precise air strikes in history” in Syria, killing more than 1,600 innocent civilians.
In recent years, the international community has been calling for investigations into the killing of civilians in the US’ overseas military operations. On Syria alone, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic pointed out several times in its reports in September 2019 and February 2021 that the US failed to distinguish military targets from civilians in its air strikes in Syria, which gravely violates international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes. However, the US government has been turning a deaf ear to all this.
According to reports, over the past nearly two decades, the US conducted over 90,000 air strikes in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, which may have killed up to 48,000 civilians. But the US military time and again covered up the facts and refused to apologize, admit its crimes or hold the perpetrators accountable. It did everything possible to evade its responsibilities. On the drone strike of civilians in Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokesperson said openly in December 2021 that no US soldiers will face disciplinary action over it. The US media also disclosed at the end of last year that from 2014 to 2019, the US military turned its guns on farmers in the middle of harvest, children playing in the streets, families fleeing the fighting and villagers taking shelter in buildings. These disastrous crimes were deliberately concealed and whitewashed.
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US media revealed last year that according to the US military’s own confidential assessments of more than 1,300 reports of civilian casualties, civilian casualties in US air strikes have been “significantly undercounted”. Larry Lewis, a Director at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) of the US said that on average at least one incident of civilian harm has happened every week since 9/11. There has been an overall pattern of negligence with regard to the US government on the issue of civilian harm. The US has also obstructed the International Criminal Court’s investigations into its war crimes in Afghanistan.
Every human life, regardless of nationality, race, religion or values, is equal and precious. The US should earnestly respond to the strong call of the international community, conduct a credible, independent and impartial investigation into civilian casualties caused by US air strikes, and hold the people concerned accountable.
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