01.12.2016 Author: Grete Mautner

So, Should We Really Compare Aleppo and Mosul?

234123123123Exactly one month ago at his briefing in the Department of State Press Briefing Room John Kirby announced that:

The situations in Mosul and Aleppo is radically different, it is absolutely not the same, and to compare the two is frankly insulting. In Aleppo, as I think we’ve just talked in the last few minutes, you have the specific targeting of innocent civilians, first responders, and infrastructure – hospitals – that are specifically being targeted and destroyed, whereas in Mosul the air power that’s being used by the coalition is very precise, very discriminate. Great care is taken to avoid civilian casualties, and certainly there is going to be no concerted effort, as there is in Aleppo, to destroy civilian infrastructure. In fact, quite the opposite; we’re going to try to preserve as much as we can after so much has been laid waste by Daesh over the last two years.

And a curious statement it was. However, as the time went on, the Obama administration has demonstrated once again that it uses empty rhetorics and lies to promote its so-called achievements in Iraq, while trying to undermine the effort taken by the legitimate Syrian government, supported by Russia and Iran, to liberate one of Syria’s largest cities from radical militants.

So, has the situation changed in any way? On one hand, a considerable part of the territory of East Aleppo, a home to some 90 thousand people, has been liberated by the Syrian forces. As the last militants groups were pushed out of the area, the Castello road was opened for the delivery of humanitarian aid. On the early morning of November 30, Russia has dispatched mobile hospitals to provide medical assistance to those residents affected by the clashes in the city and surrounding areas. The residents that were starving for weeks while being hostages of radical Islamists finally received humanitarian aid provided by Moscow. More than 500 militants laid down their arms, while it’s been reported that, in accordance with the previously announced decision of Bashar al-Assad, 484 militants that were raised in the local communities would be immediately amnestied.

However, nothing like this happens in Mosul. The coalition led by the United States suffers heavy casualties in a bid to capture Mosul rapidly. According to radical Islamist reports, a total of 2671 soldiers of the coalition forces have perished. At the same time, ISIS militants allegedly seized 40 infantry fighting vehicles, armored cars and SUVs and destroyed 52 units of equipment, including APCs, armored cars, tanks, drones, bulldozers and minesweepers.

Even though the announcements made by ISIS are always hard to verify, the US administration is not allowing the reporters of the absolute majority of news agencies anywhere near Mosul. Even the so-called “White Helmets” that were heavily advertised by Washington and its allies are nowhere to be found in Mosul, as if there was no one for them to “save” on camera. What we’re witnessing is the complete information blockade. There is no clarity about the advances made by the coalition forces, no reports on how effective the tactics employed were, how many sorties were made and who carried them. One would have a feeling that the White House ordered a complete media blackout on the matter.

The US-led coalition reports that a month of fighting around Mosul resulted in 2,800 radicals killed or captured, but prefers to keep silent about the losses suffered by the Iraqi army, the Kurdish groups and the US military. However, it’s clear that those losses are significant. According to the Syrian “moderate opposition” in just three days of fighting last October Iraqi army lost 300 men. On November 5 a total of 30 coalition soldiers was killed, while another 50 were wounded, the Al Jazeera would report. On November 13, the Independent would quote a former senior Iraqi officials that confined that the losses continue to remain high, “one day we lost 37 KIA and 70 WIA.”

The massive death toll has already affected the course of the operation, since it has stalled. Against this background Washington is advocating an assault on yet another ISIS stronghold – Raqqa. As it was stated in the Pentagon, the siege of ISIS capital will diminish its power in Mosul.

The White House has been preparing for the Mosul operations for five months, so it’s looks like some serious miscalculation were made and it is unlikely that it pleases the planners at the Pentagon in any way. The operation, which was designed to teach Russia “a lesson” about how the terrorists are to be opposed, has transformed in a bitter failure. Today coalition forces continue to subject Mosul to massive air strikes, residential areas in Hazna, Karakosh, Karakharab and Ash-Shura are coming under heavy fire, but US officials prefer to declare that Russia is deliberately bombing hospitals and schools in Aleppo and Idlib, instead of providing an overview of Pentagon’s activities in Iraq. At the same, a total of five humanitarian corridors remain open in Allepo to allow civilians to escape contested areas, while none of these do even exist in Mosul.

The International Red Cross has already announced that the humanitarian crisis in Iraq’s Mosul has the potential to overshadow the current situation in Syria’s Aleppo, while everything will depend on how the parties intend to conduct combat operations. It is possible that the US coalition will have to level one quarter after another, using aircraft and artillery, regardless of losses among the civilian population. That is why the humanitarian situation in Mosul is degrading, people try to escape not only the atrocities of the Islamic State, but also the coalition bombing raids. A total of 40 000 people has already fled Mosul since the beginning of hostilities, and the flow of refugees keeps growing.

However, the US and its Western partners prefer to ignore the results of their bombings, in order not to spoil the carefully pre-planned PR campaign, while trying to put as much blame on the Syrian officials for the situation in Aleppo, while in Mosul the counter-terrorist operation carried out by the major powers of the XXI century has turned into a medieval slaughterhouse, which primarily affects the civilian population. The population of Mosul is butchered en masse by both the terrorists and the coalition forces. It turned out that there was no thorough civilian rescue plan in place and there is none still. Humanitarian corridors do not exist, people have nowhere to run, even if they have to run for their lives.

Reasons for delaying the capture of Mosul can be found in the main goal of this operation, that is to get ISIS out of the way, not to destroy it. This was reported by the journalists of the Lebanese newspaper Al-Manar a few days after the offensive began on October 21, and it is still remains true. The US plan is governed by three principles:

  • Firstly, spare the main ISIS fighting forces
  • Secondly, allow ISIS to “transfer” its activities from Mosul to the east of Syria to prolong the conflict in that country
  • Thirdly, to prevent the return of Mosul under the control of the national government of Iraq and turn the city into a stronghold of the Sunni forces in northwestern Iraq, making it a sort of a replica of the Kurdish region in the north-east of the country.

So while John Kirby prefers to deliver speeches full of anti-Damascs and anti-Moscow false accusations, for a change, he was actually right on one matter: The situations in Mosul and Aleppo is radically different, it is absolutely not the same, and to compare the two is frankly insulting.

Grete Mautner is an indepenent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.