We call on those states responsible for the invasion and occupation of Iraq to terminate their illegal and immoral war, and express our solidarity with the Iraqi people in their struggle for peace, justice and self-determination.

In particular, we demand:

  1. An immediate end to the US and UK-led occupation of Iraq;
  2. Urgent action to fully address the current humanitarian crises facing Iraq’s people, including help for the more than three million refugees and displaced persons;
  3. An end to all foreign interference in Iraq's affairs, including its oil industry, so that Iraqis can exercise their right to self-determination;
  4. Compensation and reparations from those countries responsible for war and sanctions on Iraq;
  5. Prosecution of all those responsible for war crimes, human rights abuses, and the theft of Iraq's resources.

We demand justice for Iraq.

This statement was adopted by the Justice for Iraq conference in London on 19th July 2008. We plan to publish this more widely in future. If you would like to add your name to the list of supporters please contact us.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Joint Call to Iraq and US-Led Coalition: Weapons Choice Endangers Mosul Civilians Warring Parties Should Minimize Harm to Civilians

The battle involving Iraqi and US-led coalition forces against the Islamic State (ISIS) in west Mosul’s Old City poses a considerable threat to civilians and civilian objects, international humanitarian and human rights organizations said today. All warring parties should cease using explosive weapons with wide area effects and inherently indiscriminate weapons in densely populated west Mosul. ISIS’s unlawful use of civilians as “human shields” and the difficulty of identifying civilians in buildings increases the risk of civilian casualties.

The United Nations has estimated that 200,000 civilians remain in the two-square-kilometer area in west Mosul’s Old City, which Iraqi and US-led coalition forces are encircling in preparation for the battle there.

"More than 12,000 munitions were used by the US-led Coalition at Mosul between March and May alone, according to official data - comprising airstrikes, rocket and artillery salvos, mortar attacks and helicopter actions. In addition, thousands more munitions were released by Iraqi air and ground forces - at times with little apparent discrimination. This despite the city still containing hundreds of thousands of trapped civilians," says Airwars Director Chris Woods.

"The result of this ferocious bombardment on a densely populated city has been inevitable - with thousands of Moslawis reported killed in Coalition, Iraqi government and ISIS actions. Determining responsibility is proving particularly challenging, given the high number of munitions involved. We urge both the Coalition and Iraqi forces imediately to end the use of wide area effect and indiscriminate munitions in Mosul, in order to save lives."

The groups expressing concern are: Airwars; Amnesty International; Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC); Human Rights First; Human Rights Watch, the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), and War Child.

On May 25, 2017, anti-ISIS forces dropped leaflets urging civilians to immediately leave areas under ISIS control. Anti-ISIS forces should take all feasible precautions to minimize harm when carrying out attacks and ensure that civilians can safely evacuate the Old City and get humanitarian assistance both inside and outside the besieged area. With the offensive to take west Mosul entering its 109th day, the situation for civilians trapped there is growing increasingly perilous. Those fleeing Mosul have told humanitarian and human rights organizations that markets are being emptied of food, with civilians subsisting on little more than wheat and rainwater.

In mid-February, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) supported by the US-led coalition, known as the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), began the offensive to retake west Mosul, a densely populated set of urban neighborhoods.

Rising civilian casualties from aerial operations have heightened concerns regarding coalition and Iraqi forces’ use of airstrikes. The use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects such as air-dropped bombs of 500lbs and above, which have been used in the context of the operation, in densely populated civilian areas of western Mosul may be resulting in civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects that is excessive to the anticipated military objectives of the strikes. Such disproportionate military attacks are prohibited under international humanitarian law.

Iraqi forces have also been launching locally fabricated rockets, commonly known as improvised rocket-assisted munitions (IRAMs), into west Mosul. Images published by media outlets and the US military also depict US forces and Iraqi forces firing mortars and unguided artillery rockets into western Mosul. Both of these weapons are inaccurate and can be unlawfully indiscriminate if used in heavily populated areas.

The difficulty of detecting civilians in the packed city, even with advanced targeting systems and continuous observation, make it difficult to determine accurately the number of civilians occupying a target area prior to approving strikes. The dangers are increased by ISIS’s use of civilians as “human shields,” which is a war crime.

Dozens of newly displaced people from west Mosul, including the Old City, have told humanitarian and human rights organizations that ISIS fighters forced them and their families to move with them up to three times, packing large numbers of families into small neighborhoods still under their control. They witnessed fighters summarily killing dozens of men as punishment as they and their families tried to flee ISIS control. They also saw ISIS fighters fire on groups of civilians as they fled; and some saw fleeing civilians shot and killed.

As the fighting intensifies and ISIS increases its use of civilians as shields, anti-ISIS forces should use all available means to verify the presence and location of civilians in the immediate vicinity of any fighters or military objectives targeted. In December 2016, US forces made procedural changes in its targeting that may increase the likelihood of civilian casualties.

All parties to the conflict are prohibited under the laws of war from conducting deliberate attacks against civilians or civilian objects, as well as indiscriminate, or disproportionate attacks. Indiscriminate attacks are attacks that strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction. An attack is disproportionate if it may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life or damage to civilian objects that would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the attack.

Individuals who commit serious violations of the laws of war with criminal intent – that is, deliberately or recklessly – are responsible for war crimes. Individuals also may be held criminally liable for attempting to commit a war crime, as well as assisting in, facilitating, aiding, or abetting a war crime.

The laws of war require that the parties to a conflict take constant care during military operations to spare the civilian population and to “take all feasible precautions” to avoid or minimize the incidental loss of civilian life and damage to civilian objects. When used in populated areas, munitions with large payloads of high explosives can have a wide-area destructive effect, and it is not possible when using them to distinguish adequately between civilians and combatants, almost inevitably resulting in civilian casualties.

Weapons such as mortars and multi-barrel rocket launchers when firing unguided munitions and IRAMs are fundamentally inaccurate. This can make discriminating between civilians and combatants during an attack on a densely populated area virtually impossible. Human rights and humanitarian organizations and journalists have documented the use by Iraqi forces of IRAMs that lack the ability to be aimed beyond a basic orientation toward the target and are inherently indiscriminate.

Mortars and multi-barrel rocket launchers firing unguided munitions used by anti-ISIS forces can be aimed and adjusted by an observer, but are area-fire weapons and, when used in densely populated areas, are prone to unlawful indiscriminate use. Iraqi and US-led coalition forces should avoid all use of these weapons in the densely populated Old City of west Mosul.

Amnesty International
Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch
International Network on Explosive Weapons –
INEW is governed by a Steering Committee whose members are Action on Armed Violence, Article 36, Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, Norwegian People’s Aid, Oxfam, PAX, Save the Children and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
War Child

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Does anyone care about Mosul?

Donald Trump says he was motivated by the death of “beautiful babies” in a chemical gas attack in Syria to launch a missile strike on a regime airbase, which incidentally also killed at least four children. But in fact, Trump’s aerial bombardment in the region is responsible for scores of civilian deaths, including children, on a nightly basis, as coalition aircraft pound targets in northeastern Syria and around the city of Mosul in Iraq.

Mosul is a city similar in population size to Birmingham. It was overrun by Isis a couple of years ago after the Iraqi army fled in the face of an Isis attack, leaving large amounts of weaponry to fall into the group’s hands. Since then, Mosul has been at the mercy of this ruthless death cult, whose crimes against civilians have been unspeakable. Those who have tried to escape the city -often in small fragile boats across a river in spate - have been shot dead. Despite this danger, some 300,000 residents have fled, creating a major humanitarian crisis which worsens by the week.

For more than six months, the Iraqi army, reinforced by aerial bombing by coalition aircraft, have attempted to liberate the city. The process is agonisingly slow: Isis are determined to fight to the death, with many of their militants permanently wearing the equipment of suicide bombers and others often mutilated or worse for not fighting with sufficient zeal.

The reluctance of US and other western forces to risk the lives of their own troops impels them to resort to increasingly reckless aerial bombardment of the city. Even before Trump took over, journalists at Airwars, a site that highlights media reports of civilian casualties, began to register a huge increase in civilian fatalities in Mosul. With the exception of one incident, where over 200 civilians may have died in one attack, hardly any of this has been reported in the western media. To give just a flavour of Airwars reportage for two weeks earlier this month:

(April 6th): Local sources said that a mother and her two children were killed in an airstrike on her house in Zanjili neighbourhood, in West Mosul.
(April 7th): Local sources, in what was possibly based on an Al Amaq [ISIL press agency] statement, reported that 22 civilians were killed and 42 injured in Coalition and Iraqi government airstrikes on Farouk, Zinjili and Isilah Zeraei (Agricultural Reforrm) neighbourhoods in West Mosul. Local sources reported that one civilian was killed and eight others were injured in airstrikes on Al Saha neighborhood in West Mosul.
(April 8th): Local sources said that three named family members were killed and their daughter injured on the morning of April 8th, after an airstrike reportedly struck their house in West Mosul. Local sources, possibly referring to a statement originating with Al Amaq [ISIL’s media wing], said that that 13 civilians were killed and 91 were injured – mostly children and women – in shelling and bombing by the Coalition and Iraqi forces on several neighborhoods in West Mosul.
(April 9th): Two local sources said that an unspecified number of civilians were killed and injured due to airstrikes and missile attacks on Zanjili neighborhood in West Mosul. Local sources said that heavy airstrikes and artillery shelling hit Rifai and 17 July neighbourhoods in West Mosul, killing and injuring an unspecified number of civilians. A single source – the local Facebook group of the Jarjria tribe – said that a son of the family of Muhammad Daham Murad al-Jarjari from the village of Jasa was killed in an airstrike on Yarmouk neighbourhood in West Mosul.
(April 10th): Local sources said that three named civilians were killed including a child, after an airstrike struck their house in Sekak neighborhood in West Mosul. Local sources reported a major incident in Yarmouk neighbourhood, West Mosul, where airstrikes allegedly killed more than thirty civilians.
(April 11th): A single local source reported that over thirty civilians, including women and children, were killed in Coalition airstrikes on al-Saha and al-Sham neighborhoods in West Mosul. A single source reported that two people were killed and nine others were injured due to unidentified shelling on Al-Resala neighborhood in West Mosul. Local sources reported that 13 civilians from two families were killed and 17 others injured in Coalition airstrikes on houses in Yarmouk neighbourhood, which had been liberated by Iraqi forces the previous day. Local sources said that nine people from the same family died in an unspecified airstrike on their house in Al-Farouk Street, in Farouk neighbourhood in West Mosul, at midnight.
(April 12th): Akbar Elyam News, quoting Lt. Col. Ahmed Abdul-Aziz Al-Nu’mani of Iraqi forces, reported that violent Coalition airstrikes hit the old part of Mosul, particularly the neighbourhoods of the Grand Mosque, Farouk, Clock and the center of Mosul, in the evening into the night of April 12th. Sawlf Ateka (local Facebook group) reported moreover that five civilians died in the Grand Mosque neighbourhood at 11 PM, when a missile hit their house.  (April 13th): Multiple local sources reported that Coalition airstrikes as well as raids carried out by Iraqi government forces led to the deaths of dozens of civilians, and left up to 181 people injured.
(April 14th): Two local sources reported that seven civilians from one family died when an airstrike or bombardment hit their house in Ras Al Jadda neighbourhood in the old part of Mosul.
(April 15th): Local residents told the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights that 42 members of the well-known family of Ghanim Sobhiya died after an airstrike hit their 16-room house in Bab-Sinjar neighbourhood in the old part of Mosul, at dawn on April 15th. Local sources reported that at least eight civilians died after two missiles consecutively hit a two-floor house in Isilah Zeraei neighbourhood in West Mosul. Sources reported a similar incident hours earlier in the same neighbourhood, with casualty numbers so far unknown.
(April 17th): Local sources reported that Coalition and Iraqi government warplanes carried out airstrikes on Zanjili and other neighbourhoods in West Mosul, killing and wounding dozens.
Iraqyoon and Yaqein spoke of more than 100 dead and wounded in the various western neighbourhoods of the city. Local sources reported violent airstrikes on Al-Thawra (Revolution) neighbourhood in the old town area of Mosul city, on Monday 17th of April. Two victims were named.
(April 18th): Local sources reported that heavy airstrikes hit several neighbourhoods in Old Mosul on Tuesday, leading to dozens of civilians killed and injured. Local sources reported that ‘US airstrikes’ hit the entrance of the emergency department of the Republican Hospital at the Medical Complex of West Mosul. Civilians killed: 7.
(April 19th): Local press sources reported that 51 civilians were killed and 55 injured in airstrikes of the international Coalition and Iraqi government forces on several neighborhoods in West Mosul. Local press sources and relatives reported that four members of the Al-Fakhri family died after Coalition airstrikes hit their house in Old Mosul. A single local source reported that Abdel Wahab Talal Hadidi and his father died after an airstrike was carried out in front of their house, in Al Thawra (Revolution) neighbourhood in Old Mosul.
(April 20th): Local sources reported that airstrikes of the Coalition and the Iraqi airforce on several neighbourhoods in Old Mosul, as well as artillery shelling, lead to the death of 18 civilians.

Looking through the events listings on the Stop the War website, there are virtually no meetings about these terrible events, nor, sadly, any commemoration of the 14th anniversary of the illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq. If we fail to protest against such unconscionable attacks on civilians, who are we to criticise the media silence? And if we do not protest, are not our enemies emboldened to carry on their murderous bombardment with impunity?

To receive the Iraq Occupation Focus free fortnightly e-newsletter, go to: http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/iraqfocus.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

The battle for Mosul

Last week, I received the following email:

“Dear Friends,
As you might have heard, the American Coalition have been bombing civilian areas in Mosul. Over the past few days the coalition targeted 3 houses of well known professors and researchers in Mosul University. One of them was my college professor and mentor Prof. Dr Mohamad Tybee Al-Layla.
Dr Al-Layla got his PhD in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Texas, USA. Worked as a faculty member in the Department of Civil Engineering in the Engineering College of University of Mosul since the early seventies of the last century. He was assigned as a Chairman of the Civil Engineering Department and the dean of the college twice. Supervised more than 30 PhD and Master degree thesis in Geotechnical Engineering and Civil Engineering. He published 48 research and technical papers in Iraq and abroad, and became an editing member of 3 scientific journals and magazines.
He received the prestigious award of the Iraqi Science Day on June 2nd, 2014.
He worked sincerely and hard for about 40 years to educate and help thousands of highly efficient and intelligent engineers graduate, many of whom became ministers, deputy ministers, academics and high ranking executive directors in Geotechnical, Irrigation Engineering and other civil and political posts inside Iraq and abroad.
Being one his students, it breaks our hearts that even though Dr Al-Layla was such a great scientific Iraqi figure who never let down or disappointed the University of Mosul community or even the city of Mosul in its hardest times, the crime of targeting his house by the American Coalition and his painful death along with his innocent family under the rubbles of his house, will remain an unforgettable disaster to us, one that all parties hold responsibility for, that reminds all of us that we are still sinking into the abyss the criminal US occupation of Iraq has led to.
May his soul rest in piece, and the souls of the many innocent thousands dying every month in Mosul by ISIS and the Coalition without accountability nor remorse.”

The battle for Mosul, an Isis stronghold in northern Iraq, has raged on for months. In the last four months alone, an estimated 145,000 people have been displaced and the vast majority of them are in need of major humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.

Civilians have been caught in the crossfire between Iraqi ground troops and Isis militants. The later also shoot at anyone leaving the city without their authorisation. Militias allied to Iraqi regular forces have been accused of sectarian atrocities. But by far the biggest cause of civilian fatalities is Coalition air strikes, which UK forces are also involved in. Some of these, it is alleged, have deliberately targeted hospital and educational establishments.

What’s not in doubt is the huge increase in bombardments killing civilians since the start of 2017. The website Airwars attempts to record all reported instances of these strikes. It also comments on the degree to which each has been independently corroborated. Just to give a flavour of the level of bombardment, I will quote from their reports for the first twelve days of this year:

January 2nd: Mosul: Four women were killed and 8 injured by Coalition strikes, according to local reports. January 3rd: As many as 22 civilians were reported killed, and 29 injured, in air strikes by an unspecified party in eastern Mosul according to local media. Yaqein reported that one civilian was killed and 11 injured in the Noor neighbourhood of eastern Mosul. January 4th: Press and local sources said that 16 displaced civilians were killed or injured, mostly children and women, after Coalition warplanes targeted their houses in 17 July neighbourhood, at the right side of Mosul. A local sources said that a named civilian, Imad Ahmed, was killed in raids on Farms district, north of Mosul. January 5th: Five members of the same family were killed when a Coalition air strike hit a house, according to local sources. Multiple reports referenced dead and wounded Iraqi troops killed in a friendly fire incident by Coalition strikes. Local sources told Mosul Ateka that 26 civilians from 4 families were killed when their home was bombed by Coalition strikes. Fourteen people including women and children were killed, and 15 wounded by Coalition strikes in the Garage and Fatih areas, according to local reports. Local sources said two named civilians (a father and son) were killed after a missile targeted their house in the left side of Mosul. January 6th: Local sources and relatives of victims said that more than 20 civilians from three families were killed, including children and women, after Coalition air strikes targeted their houses in front of Saddam mosque at the entrance of Farms district, north of Mosul. Local sources said that a family of three children and their grandmother were killed after their house was hit by a missile during raids in the Agricultural residential neighbourhood in central Mosul area, which is still under ISIL control. Local sources said civilians were killed and injured after Coalition Apache helicopters targeted a market in Sumer neighbourhood, southeast of Mosul, with machine guns. January 7th: Five civilians were reported killed, including 3 children and 2 women in raids in West Mosul. Local and medical sources said that 15-27 civilians were killed and many others injured and children displaced, in an alleged Coalition air strike. Local and medical sources said that 12 civilians were killed and many others injured, mostly displaced women and children, in the locality of Ibn al-Haytham area of Mosul due to Coalition air strikes southeast of Mosul. January 8th: One civilian was reported killed in alleged Coalition air strikes that targeted an ISIL member in a civilian vehicle, in Hadbah neighbourhood in the northeast of Mosul. Local reports say that the streets in eastern Mosul were covered by the bodies of dozens of civilians – their deaths caused by Coalition airstrikes and heavy artillery. Local reports indicated that shelling struck civilian homes in Sukkar, Talla and Mufthana neighbourhoods in eastern Mosul, “resulting in the burying of dozens of civilians under the rubble,” according to an account in a report by Iraqi Spring Media Centre. Local sources and relatives of victims said that Coalition air strikes targeted a family house in Muthanna neighborhood northeast of Mosul. January 10th: Local sources reported that the Coalition targeted Hadbah neighbourhood, northeast of Mosul, with three raids. January 11th: Local sources said Coalition air strikes and artillery shelling targeted Hadbah neighbourhood northeast of Mosul , killing dozens of civilians. Local sources reported that Coalition air strikes bombed a house with three missiles in Second Ka’afat neighborhood, northeast of Mosul. Local sources reported that Coalition air strikes bombed a house in Maliah neighbourhood, at the left side of Mosul during an operation to retake it. Up to 17 civilians were killed and five others injured, mostly women and children from the same family who were inside the house at the time of the strike. January 12th: Local sources reported that the international Coalition and/or US aircraft had carried out air strikes in New Mosul neighbourhood, at the right side of Mosul, leaving up to 30 civilians dead and 14 others wounded. https://airwars.org/coalitioncivcas2017jan-mar/

To emphasise, these are the strikes reported in a period of just twelve days. Yet, sources in Iraq suggest this may be a severe underestimate of the true numbers of civilian fatalities which could be around 10,000.

Yet, with very few exceptions, none of this has been repeated in western media, a failure of historic proportions, which helps conceal this humanitarian tragedy. At the end of 2016, Parliament voted that UK forces should take part in these bombardments - how many civilian casualties have our troops been responsible for? Why is there no outrage at this killing from the skies that western powers are inflicting on the same country they invaded 14 years ago, before Isis - the creation of their own interference - existed? Activists should lobby their MPs and demand some answers from the Government about its involvement in this carnage, which can only increase the likelihood of more terrorist attacks on British soil.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Sabah Jawad

We are very sorry to announce the death of Sabah Jawad on 9th January in London. Sabah was an Iraqi exile who opposed both Saddam Hussein and any attempt to intervene in Iraq by western powers. He was centrally involved in the campaigns against the first Gulf War in 1990/91 and in the Stop the War Coalition against the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He continued to campaign against the occupation and the impact of that intervention on his own country and the rest of the Middle East, and was for many years a member of the STW steering committee. He will be known to many supporters for his speeches at meetings and demonstrations. We are very grateful for all of the work that he did. We send our condolences to his family, friends and comrades, and below we print an appreciation of him from his fellow Iraqi comrades. We will let people know of memorial arrangements.

Lindsey German, StWC Convenor

Sabah Jawad, founding member of the Stop the War Coalition, Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation and decades long activist for democratic socialism in Iraq passed away peacefully, 09 January 2017, at a London hospital, following a sudden deterioration in his condition.

Sabah was born in Iraq and lived in exile in Britain due to his strong opposition to repressive regimes in his beloved Iraq. He was a committed socialist and held firmly to the idea that only democratic socialism could bring dignity, justice and prosperity to the Iraqi people. He campaigned vigorously against Saddam's repressive policies, but never for a moment entertained the idea that imperialism could become a friend of the Iraqi people. On the contrary, he always upheld the principle that true democracy could only come about through the protracted struggle of the Iraqi people themselves for a better future and ridding Iraq of imperialist presence and interventions.

Along with his Iraqi comrades and friends, in 1991 Sabah became very active against the murderous US-led war and sanctions on Iraq and was a founding member of the Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation and of the Stop the War Coalition. He served as an Officer of STWC for many years. He redoubled his efforts when the US and British governments started beating the drums of war in preparation for the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.

During his student days, Sabah was active in the Iraqi Student Society and later became an active member of Britain's National Union of Journalists during a strike that he led at a news agency. He was a committed internationalist who fought for the rights of British workers and opposed racism in all its forms, including Islamophobia.

His support for trade unionism and his close links to the struggles of the Iraqi people alerted him to the re-emerging independent trade union activity among oil workers in Basra. In 2004 he established close links with leaders of the workers campaigning against the occupation and for workers rights, particularly the president of the Basra Oil Workers Union, Hassan Juma'a. Within hours of his passing away yesterday, the Executive Bureau of the Iraqi Oil Workers Union issued a statement mourning the loss of Sabah as an honorary "member of the union" who fought against the US-led occupation, upheld the rights of Iraqi workers and staunchly defended their union.

In the past few years, Sabah became acutely concerned about the counter-revolution that has been sweeping the Middle East following the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain.

Consequently, he stood firmly against the NATO war on Libya, the US-Saudi-Qatar-Turkey proxy war on Syria, the Saudi invasion of Bahrain and the Saudi-led war on Yemen. He identified SaudiQatari backed Wahhabi and al-Qaeda-type sectarian terrorism in Iraq and Syria as posing a grave danger to both societies as well as to the unity of the peoples of the entire region. He also opposed the sectarian and racist campaigns in the Arab world, by Saudi and Qatari regimes and propaganda tools such alJazeera TV, against the Iranian people.

The struggle of the Palestinian people against Zionism and for a free Palestine was always a source of inspiration for Sabah and he regarded this struggle as vital to establishing a just and peaceful Middle East.

The anti-war movement, the Iraqi people and his comrades and friends have lost a loyal and principled campaigner. We shall miss you Sabah.

Sami Ramadani
Kamil Mahdi
and Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation
10 January 2017