It’s not often that Pentagon airstrikes on what they themselves admit are civilian targets in residential areas, but they found one with a Sunday morning strike in the ISIS city of Mosul, where they destroyed a “cash collection and distribution point,” destroying what they believe was millions of dollars in cash.
Pentagon officials say they got dependable intelligence on the location of a giant pile of money, and spent several days conducting surveillance flights over the site to figure out when “the fewest number of civilians” would be in the area.
There appears to have been no question on the Pentagon’s part that civilians were going to die, and officials went so far as to say commanders were willing to tolerate “up to 50 civilians” killed in the attack because of how important the pile of money is.
Formally, the Pentagon wouldn’t admit to any deaths in the strikes, but privately they say initial assessments put the death toll at somewhere between five and seven civilians hit in the strike, well within their tolerance for killings.
ISIS is the most cash-flush terrorist organization in the world, and makes over $10 million monthly on an operating basis, which means this incident, while damaging, is far from crippling for the group. Pentagon officials, however, are eager to hype the attack as among their most significant yet.