"The idea that somehow [we] should delay this operation because of others' concern about the humanitarian situation in Mosul; that doesn't make sense."

~ Josh Earnest, White House Spokesman, 22 October 2016
On October 17, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi announced the beginning of the long-touted military campaign aimed at retaking the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS terrorists. The announcement was met with much applause in Western and Gulf State political circles, but there are justified concerns about an imminent humanitarian disaster accompanying the campaign.

The expected atrocities from ISIS have already begun: they have already reportedly executed 284 men and boys in the Mosul area, executed 16 citizens by throwing them off a bridge and forcibly taken at least 550 families from villages around Mosul into the city to be used as human shields.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned that more than half a million children and their families face extreme danger following the launch of the operation. In a UNICEF press release, Spokesperson Peter Hawkins said "Mosul's children have already suffered immensely over the past two years. Many could be forcibly displaced, trapped between fighting lines, or caught in the cross fire."

The International Committee of the Red Cross said civilians face an impossible choice: stay in Mosul and risk being attacked or bombed, or flee and risk everything. Speaking on RT News on 17 October, Red Cross spokeswoman Sarah Alzawqari said the organisation expects there will be a humanitarian catastrophe, with up to a million people expected to flee their homes, adding to over 3 million already internally displaced refugees. They will flee with nothing and live in fear, Alzawqari said, as they desperately seek safety. She further said the Red Cross has humanitarian supplies for approximately 300,000 people, leaving supplies well short if the displacement reaches the 1 million mark.

Many people have fled to the Debaga refugee camp on the outskirts of Erbil, which is already at capacity, overflowing with 30,000 refugees. There are fears that ISIS fighters will flee among the refugees, posing security problems for the Iraqi and Iraqi Kurdistan authorities. Some men are being held separately until they can be given security clearances by the Kurdish Peshmerga.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) currently faces major economic woes, unable to pay its public sector employees' wages. It is severely underprepared to cope with an expected influx of refugees from the fighting in Mosul. It has estimated it will need $284 million to deal with the refugee crisis, money it simply does not have. As such, it is reaching out to international donors to fill the funding gap. As it stands, the humanitarian organisations will be overrun, scrambling to supply the most basic of needs in an environment of overwhelming internal displacement. In a lesson on the paranoia and hostility of Europe towards refugees who flee to the continent, Vian Rasheed, the head of the Erbil Refugee Council, said, "They have a few thousand refugees show up in Europe and they start to worry. When fighting broke out in Mosul in 2014, we had 100,000 people show up in one night at checkpoints."

Just as there is concern about the harmony, level of cooperation and potential for conflict among the Iraqi-led coalition forces, so too concern is held of possible mistreatment of civilians fleeing the fighting. Any male over the age of 14 will be viewed with suspicion lest they be ISIS fighters mixing with the refugees, who may be used to launch surprise attacks in nearby areas, such as we have seen in Kirkuk, or who may be able to flee and rejoin ISIS forces elsewhere.

In fact, we already know that ISIS forces will be fleeing Mosul to join the effort to oust Assad in Syria because Iraqi commanders confirmed to the Washington Post before the operation began that this is a fundamental part of their strategy to retake the city:
The western side of the city will be left largely open, which may make for a less protracted fight inside than if it was besieged. "We'll try to give them an escape to run to Syria," Maj. Salam Jassim, a commander with Iraq's elite special forces, said of the militants.
If vetting in refugee camps looking for those with ISIS links is the worst civilians have to bear, they can be thankful. They may face far worse, however, from militias who may question why they couldn't leave a city of over 1 million presided over by what now appears to be far less than 12,000 ISIS fighters, unless they are ISIS sympathisers, or even ISIS fighters. Accusations of the execution of civilians in the battle to retake Fallujah in June should be a sobering thought for anyone tempted to get caught up in the hype about the heroic liberation of Mosul.

On 1 June Kataeb Hezbollah fighters entered the village of Saqlawiyah near Fallujah, using loudspeakers to tell the residents they had nothing to fear. The United Nations accused the militia of separating women and children from men and teenage boys, taking the latter group to undisclosed locations, with reports of at least 50 executions - the fate of the rest remains unknown.

In the context of 25 years of incessant violence, the terror that ISIS has struck in the minds of Iraqis, the sectarian divisions that have opened up and a disunified coalition seeking to liberate Mosul from ISIS, it can be expected there will be human rights abuses.

As in the case of the staggering destruction of Ramadi during the campaign to retake it from ISIS in late 2015, we can expect to see large-scale damage to the city of Mosul in addition to the inevitable mass carnage.

In Ramadi, the central hospital and main train station were reduced to piles of rubble, along with thousands of other buildings in the city. At least 64 bridges were completely destroyed, leaving the Iraqi government, caught in an economic crisis induced by falling oil prices and the war against ISIS, struggling to fund the reconstruction of the devastated city.

The "destroying the city in order to save it" was compliments of US-led coalition air strikes, which sought to pound ISIS targets in order to rout them from the city.

We can expect the same in Mosul, with the dichotomy of siege versus liberation swung heavily in favour of the liberation narrative by the Washington-obedient mainstream media. Regarding Mosul, we will not hear terms such as "barbarity," "war crimes," or "worst humanitarian catastrophe since World War ll" from deceitful Western politicians or their servants in the media. Obfuscating the extent of human suffering, we will instead hear plenty of coded phrases such as the operation being a "complicated" or "prolonged" campaign, that ISIS will put up "fierce resistance," and that there are "humanitarian concerns." That is as close as they will come to admitting the truth of humanitarian catastrophe under siege conditions. From time to time you may hear the thoroughly distasteful whitewashing term, "collateral damage," although this is most likely to come under duress from State Department and White House spokespeople trundling out scripted responses to publicity and criticism of civilian casualties.

We can't expect to see any probe into suspected war crimes in Mosul by the United Nations Human Rights Council. This is reserved for the actions of Syria and Russia as they seek to drive Al-Qaeda terrorists and their allies out of the city of Aleppo, which they have terrorised for more than four years.

Russia has indicated early in the campaign that it is willing to up the ante on the US by stating an airstrike on a funeral procession in the Iraqi city of Daquq, which killed dozens of civilians, was a war crime. The US-led coalition has denied its planes struck the funeral, a standard response in such cases. Perhaps it may soon acknowledge it was a "deliberate error," based on false intelligence, similar to the claim of Saudi Arabia after its airstrike on a funeral hall in Yemen. The gloves are off in the information war; Russia, coming under intense accusations of war crimes in Syria, is rightfully exposing war crimes carried out by the US, crimes which have a years' long history in Iraq.

This more strident approach to confronting the US-led coalition on civilian deaths can be seen in Russia stating it has radar data proving that Belgian war planes conducted the airstrike on Hassadjek in Aleppo province, Syria, which killed 6 people on 18 October. It gave precise times of the air operation, surely done to send the clear message to Washington that it knows exactly when and where it carries out operations, and that it is well prepared with its radar and defence systems for any provocations.

Ministry of Defence Spokesman General Igor Konashenkov provided further discomfort for the Belgians and Americans, saying:
"I'd like to stress that this was not the first time when the international coalition conducted airstrikes against civilian targets and later denied responsibility for them," he said. "Coalition warplanes have hit weddings, funerals, hospitals, police stations, humanitarian convoys and even Syrian troops fighting Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] terrorists."
The US bears primary responsibility for the flaring of sectarian clashes in Iraq which have left thousands dead after its genocidal sanctions regime from 1991 until its brutal invasion in 2003, all based on the lies of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction and having ties to Al-Qaeda. The litany of lies, such as Colin Powell's fiction at the United Nations of mobile chemical weapons laboratories traversing the country, have been exposed and widely condemned. The power vacuum after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the dismantling of state institutions—apart from protecting the oil and interior ministries—notably that of the military, the carving up of Iraq's resources for western energy giants, and the sponsoring of renegade militias, all gave rise to ISIS, and has largely destroyed the cradle of civilization.

The use of depleted uranium by the US in the wars in Iraq has led to a forty-fold increase in the cancer rate in the country. Its boastfulness about the military advantage of weapons with depleted uranium vanishes when challenged over the long-term health effects on the Iraqi population. Its further use in Syria in late 2015, now admitted by the US, gives cause for concern over potential future health effects there. This is exacerbated when we factor in the duplicity of the US, which seems incapable of telling the truth on anything in Syria or Iraq. We may have to hold our breath and hope the US decides not to use depleted uranium in the battle for Mosul.

The United Kingdom, too, has a place in the Iraq hall of shame, eagerly following the US into the slaughter and mayhem. Felicity Arbuthnot recounts some of the crimes in Basra carried out by British forces during their occupation of the city. The role of Tony "I would do it again" Blair is well documented in the Chilcot Report, and we can only hope that justice can be served after the heinous crimes carried out under his Prime Ministership. However, despite the fact Chilcot delivered a devastating indictment of not just Blair, but also the institutions of the UK state, he is likely to be able to continue on in lucrative advisory roles, public speaking engagements, and, who knows, if he can weather the Chilcot storm, re-enter politics.

The liberation of Mosul will not rid Iraq or Syria of ISIS. The campaign however may help the campaign of Hillary Clinton, poised to become the next (hopefully not last) president of the USA on 8 November. Like so many other things around crooked Hillary, the operation seems to have been rigged to occur at the most strategic time for her campaign. Yet another example of how the US uses other countries and stage manages events to promote its own interests - to hell with the fate of the recipient country.