New rules meant to temper the civilian death toll from unmanned U.S. drones won’t apply in the fight against terrorists in Iraq and Syria, the White House says.
The standards, which Obama spelled out during a high profile address last year, were meant partly to allay concerns many Americans felt toward lethal drones. President Obama said at the time the drone strikes were used with far greater frequency than his predecessor in going after militants — including in his fight against ISIS.
But while officials in Washington insist there are strict standards to prevent civilians from dying in Iraq and Syria, the rules Obama said last year would stem civilian deaths aren’t being applied in the new war against ISIS.
“The specific standards at issue in the NDU speech apply only when we take direct action ‘outside areas of active hostilities,’ as was noted at the time,” said Caitlin Hayden, the spokeswoman for Obama’s National Security Council, referring to Obama’s address at the National Defense University in the spring of 2013. “That description—outside areas of active hostilities—simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now.”