Washington: Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said on Wednesday his plan for combating Islamic State militants involves targeting not just the group's fighters but also their families.
"When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families," Trump said on Fox News. "They care about their lives, don't kid yourselves."
Trump said if he were president, he would try to avoid civilian deaths in going after the militant group, but he said the Obama administration was "fighting a very politically correct war."
Christoph Wilcke of Human Rights Watch said in response to Trump's comments that military forces legally can only target combatants. "The family members of fighters are civilians and cannot be targeted," he said in an email.
Trump's comments about the families of Islamic State fighters came a day after Lebanon released the ex-wife of the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and other jailed Islamists in an exchange with al Qaeda's Syrian wing.
Saja al-Dulaimi, the ex-wife of Baghdadi, told Al Jazeera after her release that she wanted to return to Beirut and then leave for Turkey.
Trump leads the pack seeking the Republican nomination for the November 2016 presidential election. In a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll of the Republican field, the real estate mogul received support of 29 per cent.