A murderous US special forces cell called Talon Anvil massacred hundreds of civilians in Iraq and Syria—and top officers systematically covered up its crimes.
The cell controlled a fleet of Predator and Reaper drones that bristled with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs.
A major investigation by the New York Times newspaper says Talon Anvil killed “people who had no role in the conflict—farmers trying to harvest, children in the street, families fleeing fighting, and villagers sheltering in buildings”.
A former Air Force intelligence officer said he saw so many civilian deaths as a result of Talon Anvil’s tactics that he eventually grew jaded and accepted them as part of the job.
In one, Talon Anvil followed three men, all with canvas bags working in an olive grove near the city of Manbij in Syria in autumn 2016.
The men had no weapons, but the strike cell insisted they must be enemy fighters and killed them with a missile.
Then in March 2017, Talon Anvil sent a Predator drone over a Syrian farming town called Karama.
A Talon Anvil operator typed a message into the chat room the cell shared with intelligence analysts—“all civilians have fled the area.
“Anyone left is an enemy fighter. Find lots of targets for us today because we want to go Winchester”.
“Going Winchester” meant using all of the drone’s missiles and 500‑pound bombs.
A Predator drone dropped a 500‑pound bomb through the roof of a building.
As the smoke cleared, the former officer said his team “stared at their screens in dismay”.
“The infrared cameras showed women and children staggering out of the partly collapsed building, some missing limbs, some dragging the dead.”
During the US-backed attack on Raqqa, Iraq, in June 2017, civilians tried to flee the fighting and “boarded makeshift ferries to cross the Euphrates River.”
The cell ordered strikes that hit multiple boats, “killing at least 30 civilians”.
Instead of ending their murders, Talon Anvil operators “started directing drone cameras away from targets shortly before a strike hit, preventing the collection of video evidence”.
Talon Anvil, which officially never existed, was a unit within the larger Task Force 9.
It coordinated US military operations in Iraq and Syria from 2014 to 2019.
The Times reported last month that Task Force 9’s atrocities included an air strike on the town of Baghuz.
At least 80 women and children were incinerated by 500-pound and 2,000-pound bombs.
All these horrors were known by people at the top of the military.
They took no action because this is how imperialism works—through terror, mass death and contempt for those it has targeted.
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