Commander says United States may have played role in Mosul deaths

In the Mosul airstrike, it is possible Islamic State fighters had trapped hostages inside the building, rigged it to explode, then purposefully lured USA forces to attack it by positioning fighters on the building, Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top US commander for the campaign against the Islamic State group, said Tuesday.

Hussein welcomed the investigation by CENTCOM and Iraqi security forces into the most serious incidents in which civilians died, but said those investigations must be thorough, transparent and public.

In the east, the Iraqi forces adopted a strategy of encouraging civilians to stay at home, dropping leaflets into the city with safety instructions for residents. “But there has not been much improvement”, Smith said.

“Now they are a professional force”, said Army Col. Joseph Scrocca, a USA military spokesman. What seems to be in dispute is whether the US coalition-led strike caused the building to collapse; Iraqi officials have said that ISIS militants, taking advantage of the chaos, detonated their own device to maximize civilian casualties. Sixteen U.S. military personnel, including a two-star general, were disciplined for what American officials described as mistakes that led to the strike.

Intelligence that was received from the Iraqi partners will also be assessed, Votel added.

Townsend said Tuesday that the us still doesn’t know whether the civilians who died in the building were placed there by ISIS, adding that the Iraqis believe ISIS gathered the civilians intentionally.

Townsend said that the early indications are that it was a “clean strike”, and that there is “no corroborating evidence” of civilians killed. The Pentagon says the target was a meeting of al Qaida senior leaders.

They have also deployed some additional troops into Mosul, with an eye toward speeding up the offensive, but have provided no indication on changes. And that decision can be made quickly by commanders on the ground, closer to the fight.

The U.S. has been flying missions against ISIS in Iraq and Syria since Fall 2014, in addition to supporting local Iraqi and Syrian forces on the ground to defeat ISIS.

‘There is no military force in the world that has proven more sensitive to civilian casualties, ‘ US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said on Monday. A USA airstrike in Syria’s Aleppo province on March 16 is under investigation amid allegations that it killed scores of civilians gathered in a mosque; the Pentagon described the target as an al-Qaida gathering. Residents and outside groups have said the explosion killed at least 100 people.

“The high civilian toll suggests that coalition forces leading the offensive in Mosul have failed to take adequate precautions to prevent civilian deaths, in flagrant violation of worldwide humanitarian law”, senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera, who carried out field investigations in Mosul, said on Tuesday.

Iraqi special forces and police battled Islamic State militants in close-quarters fighting to edge closer to the al-Nuri mosque in western Mosul on Wednesday, tightening their control around the landmark site in the battle to recapture Iraq’s second city. In recent weeks, IS defenders have packed into neighborhoods with narrow streets and trapped civilians. Coupled with initial inquiries done by USA technical experts who visited the scene, he said: “My initial assessment is that we probably had a role in these casualties”.

Unfriendly fire US strikes that have killed civilians