US Now Engaged in Tactics of 'Annihilation' Against ISIS, Mattis Says

Speaking to CBS on Sunday, Mattis said the change of policy was primarily aimed at preventing Daesh's foreign members from returning to their own countries.

Asked by host John Dickerson whether the acceleration in fighting was responsible for a rise in civilian deaths, Mattis replied that such casualties "are a fact of life in this sort of situation", adding that the USA military will "do everything humanly possible consistent with military necessity, taking many chances to avoid civilian casualties at all costs".

The battle has already shifted from attrition to "annihilation tactics", he said, created to prevent foreigners who joined the so-called caliphate from returning home.

Civilian casualties in the war against terrorism is a "fact of life", US Defense Secretary James Mattis has said, insisting the US are the "good guys" doing everything "humanly possible" to annihilate ISIS with minimal collateral damage.

"We have already shifted from attrition tactics, where we shove them from one position to another in Iraq and Syria, to annihilation tactics where we surround them. It's also a fight about ideas", Mattis said.

Mattis said because North Korea was a threat to so many of their neighbors, "it would be a catastrophic war if this turns into combat, if we are not able to resolve this situation through diplomatic means". "We don't have to wait until they have an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear weapon it to say that [the threat] is manifested completely", he said.

Mattis declined to give a timeline for the fight against ISIS, only saying that it will be "long".

"You see that right now, for example, in western Mosul that is surrounded and the Iraqi- security forces are moving against them", he said.

"Over the previous year, we have been consulting with our Filipino partners at senior levels to support the Duterte administration's counterterrorism efforts", she said, declining to comment on the specifics of that American military support. "We know ISIS is going to go down". The way we intend to do it is to humiliate them, to divorce them from any nation giving them protection, and humiliating their message of hatred, of violence. "Then we have the virtual caliphate, that they use the internet". "We do everything humanly possible consistent with military necessity, taking many chances to avoid civilian casualties at all costs".

Up to 200,000 civilians caught between fanatical jihadists and advancing Iraqi forces are in grave danger in the final stages of the battle for Mosul, a senior United Nations official said Monday. "And we will - we will fight against that every way we can possibly bring our intelligence and our tactics to bear".

According to reports from families who have managed to flee, conditions in IS-held Mosul are increasingly dire.

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