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International law and the targeting of civilians

[JURIST] The Voice of America reports that at a news conference in Baghdad Friday Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf accused the US of targeting civilian locations [VOA report], and displayed photographs of what he said were civilian casualties from recent missile and bombing raids. For legal background on this general issue, see the US Air Force Intelligence Targeting Guide section on Targeting and International Law, available from the website of the Federation of American Scientists. The US Department of Defense gave a background briefing on targeting as recently as March 5.

UPDATE [4:30 PM ET]: A Friday US Central Command press release announcing that the air campaign of the Iraq operation had shifted into "high gear" earlier today says that "Coalition aircraft never target civilian populations or infrastructure and go to painstaking lengths to avoid injury to civilians and damage to civilian facilities."

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