US ups civilian casualty tolerance in Syria, Iraq

April 20, 2016 6:44 pm

A SUAF F-16 Fighting Falcon departing Aviano Air Base, Italy enroute to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to carry out airstrikes in SYrian and , August 9, 2015. (AFP photo)

The Defense Department has passed new rules allowing higher levels of allowable civilian casualties in its campaign against Daesh positions in Iraq and , Pentagon officials say.
Six Pentagon officials, all speaking on condition of anonymity, described a sliding scale of allowable civilian casualties based on the value of the target and the location, USA Today reported Tuesday.
The Pentagon has delegated more authority to US Army Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland, head of the US-led coalition against Daesh (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, to approve targets when civilians could be killed.
This is while previously, it was the US Central Command that made the decisions on missions that ran a higher risk of killing innocents.
According to the new rules, there are several targeting areas inside Syria and Iraq in which up to 10 civilian casualties are permitted.
Those areas may change depending on the time and the location of the targets as well as the value of their destruction, the officials added.
One official, who is closely involved with current targeting plans, noted that missions with higher risks required approval from the White House.
US military planners say the risk for civilian casualties could be reduced by measures like dropping leaflets, attacking at night or changing the angle at which bombs are dropped.
The US-led coalition has dropped about 40,000 bombs on purported Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014, without any authorization from Damascus or the UN.
However, they claim only 26 civilians have been killed by the strikes so far.
This is while an airstrikes monitoring group, Airwars, says the number is some 50 times bigger.
The Airwars released a report in March, saying the UK-based group’s analysis of 352 coalition-related events leading to civilian casualties indicate that 1,004 to 1,419 non combatants have so far lost their lives in US-led airstrikes.
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