NATO’s lies: The civilian casualties in Şurmān

Posted on 10 August 2011

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Investig’Action published today an analysis of a NATO press release that followed an airstrike in Şurmān on 20 Jun 2011.

Here’s a translation of that analysis by Simon de Beer into English. You can find the original article in French here. And NATO’s statement in English here.

The translation of the article starts here:

The day the coalition bombed the residence of Khouildi Hamidi in Sorman, killing thirteen civilians, including a pregnant woman, four children and a baby, NATO issued a press release to justify its action. Here is Investig’Action’s analysis of the press release.

NATO Strikes Military Command and Control Node

Wrong. We went there and there was no indication that this was a military target. In fact, the day before the bombing, a big family had gathered for birthday celebrations. Who would in times of war have the idea of holding a family gathering inside a “military command and control node”?

NAPLES – NATO is aware of allegations that a NATO strike targeted a residential building in the vicinity of Sorman, west of Tripoli, in the early hours of Monday morning.

After careful checking, NATO can confirm that it did conduct a strike in that area at the time. This was a precision strike on a legitimate military target — a command and control node which was directly involved in coordinating systematic attacks on the Libyan people.

True. It was a “precision strike” indeed. One that destroyed several buildings on the property without damaging a mosque or other buildings nearby.

While NATO cannot confirm reports of casualties, we would regret any loss of civilian life and we go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties. This is in stark contrast to the Qadhafi regime, which continues its policy of systematic and sustained violence against the people of Libya.

Bad luck. The day after the bombing, the international press went there and reported of fifteen dead including several children. Starting from noon, several websites had already reported about it.

The facility which was struck was identified as a command and control node through rigorous analysis based on persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance carried out over a prolonged period of time. NATO does not target specific individuals.

True and false. The accuracy of the bombing suggests that NATO possibly had help from someone on the ground who provided the coordinates. If so, it seems unlikely that the accomplice hadn’t known about the birthday party. We assume that NATO and its allies deliberately attacked these “specific individuals.”

“This strike will greatly degrade the Qadhafi regime forces’ ability to carry on their barbaric assault against the Libyan people,” said Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, Commander of Operation Unified Protector.

Nonsense. The target wasn’t of any military value, so it didn’t degrade Qadhafi’s forces a bit.

Since the attack, hundreds of Libyans have met daily on the site to show their support for the Hamidi family. Would this be happening if the building had indeed been used for Qadhafi’s “barbaric aussault”?

NATO will continue its mission to protect the people of Libya, in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.

The UNSCR 1973 authorizes an intervention to “protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack.” The bombing of Sorman Hamidi’s residence does in no way meet this goal.

What about the image evidence?

So NATO claims they bombed a military command center. As the only proof, it has provided a photo of the site, explaining that the white dots were satellite dishes.

NATO's proof of a command and control center

Here is another view of Sorman, taken from Google Earth. These are not luxury residences like Hamidi’s, but simple homes. Still, you can see that there is many satellite dishes on the roofs. Does that mean these are all military command centers?

A satellite image of Şurmān taken from Google Earth

NATO said that they had, before the airstrike, conducted a thorough analysis based on constant intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance conducted over a long period. How would they then not know about the big family gathering at the Hamidi residence? We conclude that NATO must have deliberately attacked these civilians.

According to Libyans we met, NATO attacks on civilians is common practice. Stuck again in a conflict it can’t seem to win, NATO seems to want the common Libyan to pay the price for their resistance, and proceeds to attack civilian infrastructure to divide them and turn them against Qhadafi.

(End of translation.)

Here’s Michel Collon with a on-site report:

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Posted in: Africa, All posts, Libya