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President Barack Obama announced in May 2013 that no lethal strike against a terrorist would be authorized without "near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured".But amid unconfirmed reports of civilian casualties, the White House said this week that U.S. bombing in Iraq and Syria is not being held to the near-certainty standard. A more practical reason is that the self-imposed rules on drone strikes against Al-Qaeda are simply too restrictive for a conventional military air campaign against ISIS, which the U.S. says is both a terrorist group and an occupying army, and has ordered the Pentagon to destroy.While most of the airstrikes have been directed at ISIS, the U.S. also used cruise missiles to attack the Syria headquarters of the Khorasan Group, said to be plotting attacks on the West.White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the near-certainty standard was intended to apply "only when we take direct action outside areas of active hostilities".Military officials say they are taking great care to avoid civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria.
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