The method of warfare which treats a whole area as a legitimate target has been controversial at least since the time of the 1899 Hague Peace Conference, although the matter was not addressed in these terms until much later. This article shows how the "target area bombing" concept and its prohibition have evolved from 1899 to the recent 2009 HPCR Manual on international law applicable to air and missile warfare. For the purposes of this article, "target area bombing" is defined as air attacks by any means that treat multiple clearly separated and distinct military objectives located in or near a concentration of civilians or civilian objects as a single military objective.
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