Speaking at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary James Mattis talked up the continued escalation of the ISIS war worldwide, vowing the “annihilate” thousands of ISIS fighters in the Middle East to ensure that they are never able to return to their countries of origin.
At the same time, Mattis downplayed the risk the continued escalation of the war posed to civilians, despite the soaring number of civilian deaths in recent months coinciding with previous escalations, saying that the US would continue its “extraordinary efforts” to keep the civilian death toll low.
In practice, that likely means that the Pentagon will continue to go to almost impossible lengths to publish official death tolls that are far, far lower than the actual figures, Independent groups like Air Wars regularly document civilian deaths from US airstrikes at least 10 times higher than what the Pentagon puts on their official list.
Mattiis was largely upbeat about how great he thinks the war in going, though he conceded it isn’t going to be over any time soon, and will continue to be escalated. He and other officials played up the large ISIS death toll, and the number of cities seized from them, while largely ignoring that some of those cities were virtually destroyed in the process and huge numbers of Iraqi civilians remain displaced from their “liberated” homes.