Pentagon denies changing airstrike rules after reports of civilian deaths

Cheryl Sanders
March 28, 2017

It was unclear who carried out the air strikes, but on Friday the US-led coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria said it was investigating the allegations.

While the statement advised that the building had been booby-trapped by the Islamic State, an investigation is underway to determine if a USA -led airstrike in the al Ladida district of Mosul was to blame.

A key tenet of the proposed revised rules of engagement would raise the "acceptable" number of estimated collateral civilian casualties to authorize a usa or allied airstrike.

The civilian death toll from American airstrikes in Iraq and Syria is at an all time high since the launch of an worldwide military campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014, according to monitoring groups.

The credibility assessment, in which the military analyses an array of information that is both classified and public, is expected to take two to three weeks.

Taken together, the surge of reported civilian deaths raised questions about whether once-strict rules of engagement meant to minimize civilian casualties were being relaxed under the Trump administration, which has vowed to fight the Islamic State more aggressively.

Iraqi forces have been battling to take control of the city in north Iraq, which is one of the last remaining IS strongholds.

The U.S. military is investigating the incident.

Despite the increasing reports of civilian casualties in USA strikes, the Pentagon said it was not reassessing how it carried them out.

In a statement on Saturday, the United States Central Command acknowledged that its air strikes had hit an area where civilian deaths have been reported, according to NPR.

He said the limited resources available for the investigations will be first directed to reviewing the March 17 attack in Mosul because there is active fighting in the area and hence greater risk for future civilian casualties.

The largest of the strikes occurred on March 17 in Mosul, Iraq, where Iraqi forces battling ISIS militants in the densely-packed western half of the city called in a strike on what they had identified as an ISIS position.

"We know that we were dropping bombs in the immediate vicinity", he said, noting that the bombs used are "quite precise".

"International humanitarian law is clear".

Second, it's worth remembering that unless American forces are refusing to discriminate between military and civilian targets - or use force disproportionate to the threat - that these casualties are ISIS's moral and legal responsibility.

A USA airstrike that may have killed scores or even hundreds of people in Mosul on March 17 may now tarnish that record.

"There is no military force in the world that has proven more sensitive to civilian casualties", Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Monday during a meeting with his Qatari counterpart.

The deployment announcement comes as US commanders face growing pressure from the White House to intensify efforts against ISIS in both theaters.

Earlier Saturday, senior Sunni Muslim politicians expressed concern over reports of airstrikes that allegedly killed the civilians. "The same can not be said for our adversaries and that is up to you to sort out".

Other reports by iNewsToday