Good guys and bad guys and those in the middle.
Homemade landmines have killed and injured hundreds of civilians, including dozens of children, in Manbij, a city in northern Syria. The antipersonnel mines, often called improvised explosive devices, were planted by the extremist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS, which until recently controlled the city. Most of the mines appeared to be victim-activated and therefore banned under international law.
During a five-day investigation in the city from October 4 to 9, 2016, Human Rights Watch collected the names of 69 civilians, including 19 children, killed by improvised mines in schools, homes, and on roads during and after the fighting over control for the city. The total is most likely much higher because Human Rights Watch was not able to collect information from all neighborhoods and villages. Hospital staff said that they had treated hundreds of people injured by improvised mines.
In light of the recent unrest across the country, the debate over police militarization has reached an all time high, but the discussion brings the reader face to face with another and more frightening question: would US troops really open fire on the public?
The best place to begin a prediction of the future is in the past. Historical examples are often discounted for various reasons. A mention of Nazi Germany is immediately discounted because “those people were just evil.” Situations in Eastern Europe are discounted because of the communist or totalitarian regimes that existed there in the past. Bringing up the times militaries in the Far East, Africa, or Latin America opened fire on their citizens triggers the unconscious racist part of some brains that says “well those countries aren’t white.” Instances from US history are dismissed because they were “isolated incidents” or the patriotism gene kicks in and somehow “the citizens deserved it.”
Unexploded Submunitions Threaten Civilians
The Syrian-Russian joint military operation in Syria has extensively used internationally banned cluster munitions in its recent offensive, Human Rights Watch said today.
Human Rights Watch has documented 47 cluster munition attacks which killed and injured dozens of civilians in opposition-controlled territory across three governorates since May 27, 2016. The actual number of cluster munition attacks is most likely higher.
“Since Russia and Syria have renewed their joint air operations, we have seen a relentless use of cluster munitions,” said Ole Solvang, deputy emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “The Russian government should immediately ensure that neither its forces nor Syria’s use this inherently indiscriminate weapon.”