The US-led coalition fighting ISIS conducted two strikes against two ISIS “command centers” that were operating inside mosques in Syria in less than a week, the coalition said in a statement.
The coalition said that 12 ISIS fighters were killed in the first strike, which took place October 18 in as-Susah, Syria.
“The facility was a mosque, which the law of war protects from targeting unless it is used for a military purpose,” the coalition said, adding that ISIS “repeatedly planned and actively coordinated attacks” on coalition troops and their local Syrian allies from that location.
The second strike took place on Monday. That strike “destroyed several buildings” used by ISIS to launch attacks against Syrian Democratic Force partners in As Susah, Syria.
“They’re nasty, they’re brutal, they’re unethical and they certainly have no problem at all putting civilians at risk and jeopardizing the status of protected targets,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning told reporters Monday when asked about ISIS’ use of mosques as military facilities.
“Such Daesh misuse of the mosque is another example of their violation of the law of war and made the mosque a valid military target,” the coalition said, using an Arabic term for the terror group.
“One of those facilities used by Daesh was a mosque that was being used as a defensive fighting position and command center,” Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the coalition, told CNN in a statement, adding that “the strike killed terrorists as they were actively firing on coalition partner forces.”
“After monitoring to reduce the risk to civilians, the Coalition precision strike targeted and destroyed the buildings adapted by Daesh terrorists as command centers and fighting positions when only their fighters were present,” Ryan said.
US-led coalition military forces have conducted hundreds of strikes against ISIS targets in Syria as the US and its local Syrian allies seek to drive ISIS from its last remaining stronghold east of the Euphrates river.
The coalition has assessed that over 1,000 civilians have been killed by coalition strikes since the campaign against ISIS began in 2014. However, outside monitor groups believe that number is higher.