US-led air strikes against ISIS extremists in Iraq and Syria have been “extremely effective,” despite the “extraordinary steps” taken to avoid civilian casualties, a coalition official said Friday. During a video briefing to Pentagon reporters, Marine Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, chief of staff for the Operation Inherent Resolve coalition, was asked about the charges at a recent congressional hearing that the concern over civilian casualties was limiting the air campaign’s effectiveness. Weidley noted the recent briefing by Lt. Gen. John Hesterman, the coalition air commander, on the air campaign’s impact and said, “from our perspective it’s been extremely effective.” The coalition investigates all serious allegations of civilian injuries, he said, and cited a recent admission that an air strike accidentally killed civilians. Asked why the Kurdish fighters, who have made significant gains in northern Iraq and Syria, appear to be taking more advantage of the air strikes than Iraqi forces, Weidley said the terrain in the Kurdish area, “perhaps is more conducive to air strikes.” The Kurds are fighting in more open areas and there are “well-defined forward lines of [friendly] troops,” while the situation in South and Central Iraq “is more complex.”
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