- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 24, 2015

National security officials have begun internal talks about whether changes are needed to the U.S. military’s “rules of engagement,” governing airstrikes over Iraq and Syria, a senior U.S. official told CNN.

No formal proposals have yet been made, and no immediate decisions are expected, the official said.

Officials are gauging whether the rules that determine when airstrikes can be launched should be loosened, as President Obama moves to intensify airstrikes and as Special Operations forces land on the ground in northern Syria, the official told CNN.

Officials at the White House, State Department and Pentagon have expressed interest in making some changes, however, there is no consensus yet on what changes should be made, the official said.

One question being discussed is whether the military should have to wait for multiple confirmed sources of intelligence before a strike is approved and whether coordination rules can be eased among the coalition, CNN reported.

Any loosened rules could increase the risk of civilian casualties, but U.S. officials are still determined to keep those casualties at zero.

Before ordering any strike, a commander is given an assessment of potential civilian casualties and must then decide whether that number is too high to proceed.

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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