Thomas Wictor

The danger of calling everything a war crime

The danger of calling everything a war crime

For years “human rights” groups, aid organizations, other NGOs, and the United Nations have dishonestly claimed that almost every Israeli military action is a war crime. Beginning March 26, 2015, the Saudi-led Coalition fighting to defeat Ansar Allah—the Houthis—in Yemen has also been accused of war crimes. There’s absolutely no evidence that the Coalition is violating international humanitarian law. The reality is that Coalition air strikes are being carried out with nearly supernatural accuracy. But do you know who’s committing war crimes right out in the open? Russia. Where’s the outcry?

The term “war crime” has completely lost its impact through overuse by liars with agendas. Now nobody cares about genuine atrocities.

First, let me reiterate what I determined by adopting the same methodology as Action on Armed Violence (AOAV): I read English-language media reports about the fighting in Yemen. It’s absolutely clear that the Houthis are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties. When the Coalition carries out major operations against the Houthis, civilian casualties go down.

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Coalition air strikes are unbelievably precise.

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The Coalition drops inert bombs filled with cement in order to prevent buildings from being leveled.

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Using technology developed by Israel, the Coalition can locate weapons caches inside buildings and strike them with the proper munition from such a precise angle that the force of the explosion can be directed away from neighboring homes.

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In the photo above, all the debris was thrown forward, into the street, and the walls of the home still stand.

Houthis are reduced to creating fake imagery.

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By using the equalization function of photo-enhancing software, I can expose this image as a composite, with superimposed smoke (green arrows) and an animated fireball.

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The bomb-damage assessment (BDA) apparent in photos and videos from Yemen show that the Coalition is not violating international humanitarian law.

However, it’s clear that Russia’s first air strikes in Syria—carried out today, September 30, 2015—were war crimes.

The Russians are claiming to fight terrorism. However, Russia is not actually bombing the Islamic State in Syria.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, warplanes targeted eight ISIS positions, including arms, transportation, communications and control positions.

But U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter countered that claim.

“I want to be careful about confirming information, but it does appear that they (Russian airstrikes) were in areas where there probably were not ISIL forces,” he told reporters. ISIL is an acronym for ISIS.

“The result of this kind of action will inevitably, simply be to inflame the civil war in Syria,” Carter said.

A senior U.S. administration official told CNN’s Elise Labott that a Russian airstrike near the Syrian city of Homs “has no strategic purpose” in terms of combating ISIS, which “shows they are not there to go after ISIL.”

We have videos of what are said to be Russia air strikes in Syria. I believe them to be genuine.

The reason I think this video is real is because of the smoke cloud.

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That’s not the signature of a high-explosive aerial munition. Such weapons produce a uniformly dirty-gray cloud shaped like a mushroom. Here are two American high-explosive, general-purpose bombs exploding.

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The multicolored, shapeless smoke tower of the Russian munition is consistent with the fuel-air or vacuum bomb widely used by Bashar al-Assad.

The munition in the second clip is the ODAB-500 PM (red arrows).

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Here’s one that didn’t explode.

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The way a fuel-air, thermobaric, or vacuum bomb works is that flammable liquid is vaporized by an initial explosion, and then a second explosion sets off the dispersed cloud. A thermobaric weapon produces a massive shock wave. This is also the reason why the smoke tower is a blob instead of a well-defined mushroom.

By its very nature, a thermobaric aerial munition is indiscriminate. Targeting a residential area with this weapon is a violation of international humanitarian law.

You don’t have to take my word that the Russians are using thermobaric bombs in Syria. Their own footage proves it.

The crosshairs in the center of the screen show that this is video from a surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), not the aircraft dropping the munitions. I have no idea why the UAV filmed the area adjacent to the strikes instead of the targets (red arrows).

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My guess is that there was very poor communication between the UAV operator and the ground-attack pilots. All the small puffs of smoke in the dirt are from flying debris, not cluster munitions.

The third and fourth explosions show that thermobaric bombs were used. First we see the initial strike. The target isn’t obvious to me.

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After the first explosion, a second munition (red arrow) heads toward what appears to be an empty field.

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The second munition explodes, and the vapor from the first bomb ignites.

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Then we see huge shock waves radiate outward, raising dust all over the countryside.

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Russians tell me that the black smoke in the footage from Syria is the result of oil storage units being hit, but that’s not true. At least one model of Russian thermobaric munition itself produces black smoke.

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I wondered why there was so much black smoke in Homs after the Russians bombed it.

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It’s because the Russians are dropping thermobaric munitions on civilians, an unambiguous war crime.

Today the Russians demanded that Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve leave Syrian air space. This was the American answer.

[A senior US official] said…that Russian planes didn’t seem to be flying in areas where the United States is operating.

“They are not stupid,” the official said.

U.S.-led coalition missions were continuing as normal despite an advance warning and request from Russia to stay out of Syrian airspace.

During a statement at the U.N. Security Council meeting on fighting terrorism, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said: “We have conducted a number of strikes against ISIL targets in Syria over the past 24 hours including just an hour ago. These strikes will continue.”

Kerry said the U.S.-led coalition had conducted 3,000 airstrikes against ISIS and that efforts would dramatically increase.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Putin. The Russians are in no position to order anyone around. They accidentally admitted the number of casualties they’ve suffered in the Ukraine.

In the article published by finance-focused site Business Life, or Delovaya Zhizn in Russian, it was revealed that as of Feb. 1, the Russian government paid compensation to more than 2,000 families who had lost soldiers and to 3,200 military members who were injured, Forbes reported.

Do you know how many Russian troops have fought in the Ukraine? About 10,000. That means that eight months ago, they had a casualty rate of more than 50 percent. It’s much higher now, which is the reason that Putin made it illegal to publicize the names of fallen or wounded soldiers.

This is why Saudi Arabia just announced that it plans to overthrow Assad as well as the mullahs. Russia won’t do anything to stop the Arab League and Israel. The best Russian units lost over half their men in the Ukraine, while fifteen United Arab Emirates Presidential Guardsmen fought about 40,000 enemies in Aden for nine weeks and took no casualties.

It’s time for “human rights” organizations to redeem themselves. Retract your false accusations against the extremely honorable warriors of the Saudi-led Coalition opposing the Houthis in Yemen. Then hold Russia responsible for its real war crimes.

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