Fletcher in the News

ISIS Fighters Employ New Tactic in Raqqa: Prof. Hannum Comments in the Military Times

Besieged ISIS fighters launched a desperate counterattack, disguised as Syrian Democratic Forces, in the al-Sinaa and al-Mashlab neighborhoods of Raqqa, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The attack was launched by roughly 30 to 40 fighters according to the human rights watchdog observing the Syrian conflict.

Reports out of the battlefield indicate ISIS fighters disguised themselves in the uniforms of the SDF, comprising Kurdish and Arab troops, to launch the counterattack. The tactic may be new in Raqqa, according to Col. Joe Scrocca, a spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve.

"The fighters of the organization [ISIS] were wearing the military uniform of the Syria Democratic Forces, and carried out attacks on both neighborhoods located in the eastern section of al-Raqqah city," the report from the Syrian Observatory reads...

...The improper use of military uniforms is considered a war crime by the international community, according to Dr. Hurst Hannum, a professor of international law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Boston. But it is less clear how it applies to civil wars.

The definition of what is “improper is up for grabs,” Hannum said. It appears OK if you wear an enemy uniform to infiltrate a unit as long as it doesn’t involve combat, he continued. But expecting ISIS to follow the law of war is ludicrous.

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