Iraq PM Halts Airstrikes on ISIS-Held Civilian Areas

Concession Was a Key Demand of Western Sunni Tribes

Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi has announced today that he is ordering the immediate halt to all Iraqi military airstrikes against ISIS-held cities, towns, and villages, and anyplace else which might cause civilian casualties.

The move was in response to offers by Sunni Arab tribal leaders in the region to back the Iraqi military’s offensive against ISIS territory, provided they stopped killing civilians in the Sunni-dominated region.

What this means for Iraq’s own air campaign is unclear, as the air force had been short on Hellfire missiles, pending a new shipment from the US, and has mostly seemed to back off its air campaign once the US began their own.

Which is another major question, as the Obama Administration is prepared to dramatically ratchet up airstrikes in ISIS-held Iraq in the coming days, and will likely not consider itself bound by Abadi’s decision not to attack civilian areas. Yet it’s undeniable that US strikes on ISIS towns could easily undermine the Iraqi efforts to secure tribal support for the war, meaning it could be an early source of tension between the US and Iraqi governments in this new war.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.