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These Are the Civilian Deaths You Don’t Hear About

EDITOR’S NOTE:&nbspThis article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com.

Madogaz Musa Abdullah still remembers the phone call. But what came next was a blur. He drove for hours, deep into the Libyan desert, speeding toward the border with Algeria. His mind buckled, his thoughts reeled, and more than three years later, he’s still not certain how he made that six-hour journey.

The call was about his younger brother, Nasser, who, as he told me, was more than a sibling to him. He was also a close friend. Nasser was polite and caring. He loved music, sang, and played the guitar. Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, and Bob Marley were his favorites.

Abdullah finally found Nasser near the village of Al Awaynat. Or, rather, he found all that remained of him. Nasser and 10 others from their village of Ubari had been riding in three SUVs that were now burnt-out hunks of metal. The 11 men had been incinerated. Abdullah knew one of those charred corpses was his brother, but he was at a loss to identify which one.

If these bodies had recently been found strewn about in the village of Staryi Bykiv, in the streets of Bucha, outside a train station in Kramatorsk, or elsewhere in Ukraine where Russian forces have regularly killed civilians, the images would have been splashed across the Internet, earning worldwide attention and prompting fierce—and justified—outrage. Instead, the day after the attack, November 29, 2018, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) issued a press release that was met with almost universal silence.

“In coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), U.S. Africa Command conducted a precision air strike near Al Awaynat, Libya, November 29, 2018, killing eleven (11) al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) terrorists and destroying three (3) vehicles,” it read. “At this time, we assess no civilians were injured or killed in this strike.” Photos of the aftermath of the attack, posted on Twitter that same day, have been retweeted less than 30 times in the last three and a half years.

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