After reports of civilian deaths, U.S. military struggles to defend air operations in war against militants

The Washington Post reports: The Pentagon has struggled in recent weeks to explain what lies behind a surge in reported civilian casualties in its air campaign against the Islamic State, fueling speculation that the new Trump administration is pursuing policies resulting in a greater loss of life.

Military officials insist there has been no significant change to the rules governing its air campaign in Iraq and Syria, and ­instead attribute the string of alleged deadly incidents to a new, more intense phase of the war, in which Islamic State fighters are making a final stand in densely populated areas such as the Iraqi city of Mosul.

But some in Iraq and Syria are left wondering whether the higher death count is a product of President Trump’s bare-knuckle military stance and his suggestions that the United States should “take out” militants’ families.

The recent incidents, and the attention surrounding them, have generated concern within the military that the strikes have undermined the United States’ ability to fight the Islamic State. [Continue reading…]

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