President Obama’s order to intensify air attacks in Syria has led to new internal debate over whether to loosen tight restrictions on strikes against Islamic State targets that risk civilian casualties, according to senior administration officials.
But so far, at least, the White House has resisted proposals to change the rules of engagement for the bombing. Each strike, whether against a pre-planned target or one chosen on a “dynamic” basis by patrolling aircraft, is weighed against likely collateral damage and must be individually approved by top officers at the coalition operations center in Baghdad.
“We are trying to develop intelligence to get targets, to leverage opportunities . . . to create strikes that have a strategic effect,” a U.S. military official said. “But we’re going to keep doing those the same way we have done. We will not willy-nilly go after a target because it’s right there, right now.” […]