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Pentagon Defends Targeting as Reports of Civilian Death Tolls Rise

The uptick in violence over Mosul and around Islamic State’s self-styled capital of Raqqa in northern Syria is the result of “relaxed rules of engagement, hard urban fighting and an unimaginably brutal enemy,” said Hal Brands, the former Pentagon adviser who now teaches at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

“The Trump team certainly has opened the aperture for airstrikes and other counter-terrorism missions and signaled a greater willingness to approve strikes that entail higher levels of risk, either to U.S. forces or to civilian population,” Mr. Brands said.

While U.S. military commanders still observe an “extremely strong ethic” to minimize non-combatant deaths, the grueling urban combat going on in Mosul and Raqqa include “the sort of missions in which civilian casualties can often be unavoidable.”

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Read the full article at The Washington Times.