Double standards dominate the West as it blames Russia for each and everything going wrong in this world. The best example is the West’s accusations of Russia allegedly committing “war crimes” in Aleppo. Despite the fact than the all measures to reduce the losses among civilians had been taken with timely warnings, escape corridors prepared, humanitarian aid rushed in and air strikes limited to targets of military value, Russia is blamed for not caring about civilian residents.
Now the operation conducted by US-led coalition to liberate Mosul from Islamic State (IS) is under way to threaten the lives of estimated 1,5 million civilians. The New York Times editorial on October 14 said the city must be liberated regardless of the human cost.
The battle may continue for weeks to threaten the lives of city residents as a result of aerial bombardments and artillery strikes, landmines and the fire snipers, as well as lack of water and food. According to The Huffington Post, the battle will almost certainly destroy the city, and pose serious humanitarian problems.
IS militants could use civilians as human shields. Civilian deaths are unavoidable when a big city becomes a battlefield, be it Mosul or Aleppo.
The risk that civilian infrastructure will be classified as a legitimate military target and attacked is also high, as IS is reportedly using a variety of buildings in Mosul, including people’s homes, to store weapons.
According to Stephen O'Brien, UN Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, "Families are at extreme risk of being caught in cross-fire or targeted by snipers. Tens of thousands of Iraqi girls, boys, women and men may be under siege or held as human shields. Thousands may be forcibly expelled or trapped between the fighting lines."
There was no thorough preparation to mitigate the consequences and alleviate the plight of expected refugees. Emergency camps set up on the outskirts of Mosul can accommodate just 60,000 people – not enough to give shelter to all walk are expected to flee the city.
The survivors will be forced to flee the ruins for overcrowded and inadequate refugee camps lacking tents, hospitals, food and water supplies.
Aid agencies fear that tens of thousands will die from injuries, exposure, disease, dehydration or starvation as Western pledges of aid have not been met. There is no excuse for being underprepared after such a long period of notice and lead in time to a humanitarian crisis. According to UN estimates, up to one million people could be displaced from Mosul during the operation, exacerbating the humanitarian situation in Iraq.
Children will make up approximately half of those either trapped in Mosul or forced to flee.
It should be noted that the potential destruction of Mosul and large-scale civilian casualties is being justified in advance as unavoidable, due to IS fierce resistance. At the same time, the inevitable civilian casualties during the Russia ’supported operation in Aleppo against extremist groups are called by Western officials and media “war crimes”. By contrast, the civilian casualties to result as a consequence of the US-led operation to recapture Mosul are defined as unavoidable collateral damage. It’s propitious to remember that no ballyhoo was raised over civilian deaths after the Ramadi and Falluja operations against IS.
Entire suburbs were razed to the ground as a result of air and ground strikes, regardless of how many desperate civilians were in the urban areas. The electricity, water and sewerage systems were destroyed with medical services and transport networks rendered dysfunctional. Civilians were initially trapped and when families with children tried to escape some were caught in crossfire. Others triggered explosive devices or drowned when attempting to cross the Euphrates in search of safety.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on October 16 in a televised news conference on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in India he hoped the United States and its allies would do their best to avoid civilian casualties in an attack on Mosul. “We of course are not going to fan hysteria over this matter, like our partners in the West do, because we understand that we need to fight terrorism, and that there is no other way apart from active fighting,” he added.
There is another important aspect not to be overlooked while highlighting the ongoing events.
A military source in Moscow said that in preparation for the operation in Mosul, US intelligence agencies and Saudi Arabia agreed that before the assault all militants will be offered a safe route to leave the city with their families. According to it, more than 9,000 Islamic State fighters will be transferred to the eastern regions of Syria to follow a major offensive operation, which involves the capture of Deir ez-Zur and Palmyra.
To avoid strikes by Russian aviation, the militants can use their family members as human shields, as they usually do. If so, there will be more civilian casualties as a result of fighting in Syria and the West will blame Russia for the death toll! That’s why it’s important to highlight the consequences of the Mosul operation now.
It actually means that success in Mosul could in fact worsen the situation in Syria and, probably, other places where IS has a foothold.
There is one more factor to take into account. After Mosul, IS will be splintered but not defeated; it will revert back to its roots of traditional insurgency and terrorism in Iraq. The traumatized civilian population in unprotected and under resourced camps for displaced persons will be fertile breeding grounds for IS recruits. It may result in hundreds terrorist fighters striking in Europe, the US and the Middle East.
Western accusations of Russia and Syria’ wrongdoings in Aleppo are an example of boundless hypocrisy. It’s like pot calling the kettle black. The Mosul offensive it might be even more of a blood bath than the fight for Aleppo. The US-led coalition has failed to do its utmost to prevent civilian casualties. It has also failed to do it in Falluja and Ramadi. There is no way one can escape losses when fighting battles against terrorists. But every casualty in Aleppo will be more than matched, and most likely exceeded, by the US-backed forces in Iraq.