The Trump administration loosened Obama-era restrictions on CIA drone strike approval, accelerating the air war on the Islamic State and Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, NBCNews reports.
The drone strikes predominantly took place in Syria and Yemen where multiple violent terrorist organizations operate. The Trump administration is also in the midst of a drone policy review which would reverse Obama-era policies forbidding strikes unless there is a near certainty that civilians will not be harmed, and barring any captured enemy combatant from being held at the U.S. military prison on Guantanamo Bay.
The change in CIA protocols would actually move strike procedures to be more in line with the standards used by the U.S. military, which allow for some civilian casualties, as long as they are weighed proportionally by the commander responsible for approving the operation.
Trump also took several steps in his early days to designate Yemen and Somalia as “areas of active hostility,” which allows the military to carry out counterterrorism strikes without going through a White House-led approval process.
The loosened restrictions on the U.S. military and the CIA were on full display in the early days of the administration when the U.S. launched five times the number of drone strikes in a six-month period than the previous administration. Most of the strikes were in Yemen, where the U.S. is battling an active al-Qaida insurgency with sophisticated elements bent on attacking the West.
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