US using B-52 bombers in Iraq, Syria amid civilian fears
The US Air Force has announced using B-52 bombers in the air campaign against Daesh (ISIL) terrorists in Iraq and Syria, amid rising concerns about possible civilian casualties from the deployment.
US Army Colonel Steve Warren said Wednesday a B-52 was sent to destroy an ISIL weapons storage facility in the Iraqi town of Qayyarah, 35 miles (60 kilometers) south of militant-held Mosul, on Monday.
Warren said the aircraft are only conducting precision strikes, rejecting concerns that the use of the bomber would pose greater risk of civilian casualties.
“There are memories in the collective unconscious of B-52s, decades ago, doing … arguably indiscriminate bombing,” the commander said. “Those days are long gone. The B-52 is a precision strike weapons platform and it will conduct the same type of precision strikes that we have seen for the last 20 months.”
The B-52 Stratofortress was used to conduct carpet bombing in Vietnam during the 1960s and 70s.
The strategic bomber has the capacity to carry up to 32,000 kilograms of weapons. It is replacing B-1 bombers that had been operating in the region for the past year.
The US military has since August 2014 been targeting purported ISIL positions in Iraq and Syria. Yet many regional officials have questioned the efficacy of those attacks.
In addition, human rights groups and independent observers have reported hundreds of civilian deaths in the US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
A USA Today report said Tuesday that the US Defense Department had passed new rules allowing higher levels of allowable civilian casualties in its military campaign against Daesh positions in the two Arab countries.