Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US General: Why US Shouldn't Carpet Bomb ISIS Targets

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US General: Why US Shouldn't Carpet Bomb ISIS Targets

Article excerpt

A top United States general shot down proposals to carpet bomb Islamic State (ISIS or IS) forces in Iraq and Syria in a teleconference on Monday.

US Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF - OIR) of the US-led coalition against IS, spoke from Baghdad on the task force's ongoing efforts in fighting the militant group. He said carpet bombings will not be a standard strategy going forward.

"Indiscriminate bombing where we don't care if we are killing innocents or combatants is just inconsistent with our values," MacFarland said.

"We are the United States of America, and we have a set of guiding principles and those affect the way we, as professional soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines conduct ourselves on the battlefield," he said.

"We are bound by the laws of armed conflict," said MacFarland. "At the end of the day, it doesn't only matter if you win, it matters how you win."

MacFarland's position echoes international agreements concerning the use of carpet bombing, or saturation bombing, which involves dropping unguided bombs to inflict damage across a wide area. The strategy was classified as a war crime in 1977 in Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions under the prohibition of "indiscriminate attacks," which are either not directed at specific military targets or could strike both military targets and civilians without distinction.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has repeatedly suggested carpet bombing swaths of the Middle East, claiming the strategy was a success in the first Persian Gulf War - although the bombs deployed then were aimed at military targets and were not unguided or indiscriminately dropped. While the US-led coalition has carried out around 10,000 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since 2014, most of which were conducted by the US, those strikes were all targeted attacks as well. …

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