A series of airstrikes in a crowded neighborhood in Mosul, Iraq earlier this month are under debate. U.S. officials have yet to officially confirm that civilians were killed in the deadly March 17 strikes, but a senior Iraqi military officer has stated that “dozens of civilians” were killed.

Chris Woods, a reporter and founder of Airwars, a nonprofit group that monitors civilian deaths from international airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, joined Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! to analyze the March 17 attacks and the ensuing casualties.

Watch the full discussion below:

The debate comes days after the 14th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, leading many to note similarities between George W. Bush’s handling of the media during that time and President Trump’s view of the media now.

“In reality, Bush was anything but a friend of the press during his presidency,” writes The Intercept’s Zaid Jilani. “Maybe he didn’t demonize it as much as Trump does—but he actively manipulated it and bullied it far worse and far more effectively than Trump has, much of it in the service of selling his marquee policy: the war in Iraq.”

Woods, Goodman and González discuss the lack of domestic mainstream media coverage on U.S. military involvement in the Middle East.

“Great work [is] being done by international, regional, local media in both countries, really outstanding journalism now, looking at these civilian casualties. The disconnect is domestically,” Woods states. “Where are the political voices being raised about this? There was a lot of anger from our politicians last year with Aleppo, and quite rightly so, when so many civilians died.”

The three also explore whether the recent wave of violence can be attributed to the Obama administration.

“[C]ivilian deaths are way up,” Woods explains. “What’s still somewhat difficult to untangle is whether we would have seen that under Obama.” He continues:

The strikes were rising. The deaths were rising steeply in the last months of Obama. Trump has obviously inherited Obama’s battle plan, to some degree. Even so, we’re hearing from Iraqi officials that it is easier to call in airstrikes now, particularly U.S. strikes. So the picture is still confused. I actually think this is—you know, we need a straight answer from the Pentagon, from the White House. Have they lifted restrictions that were there to protect civilians on the battlefield? Because ordinary Iraqis and Syrians have a right to know that. This is a life-and-death issue for them.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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