United States officials said there have been so many strikes – and so many allegations of civilian casualties – that it will take them time to determine whether their strikes indeed killed civilians. USA officials have not confirmed the Iraqi military’s account. Gen. Maan al-Saadi, a commander of the Iraqi special forces, said that the civilian deaths were a result of a coalition airstrike that his men had called in, to take out snipers on the roofs of three houses in a neighborhood called Mosul Jidideh. Independent monitor groups such as the London-based Airwars, put the casualty figures much higher, at just over 2,700 killed by coalition strikes since 2014. So far 130 dead bodies have reportedly been retrieved from the debris.
According to Iraqi authorities, more than 200,000 people have fled west Mosul since the operation to retake the area began on February 19.
The U.S. and Iraqi forces are trying to regain Mosul from ISIS.
The entire eastern side and around half of the west is under Iraqi control. Incredibly, however, they have admitted to the airstrikes that leveled those buildings full of civilians late last week, without admitting to the deaths of the civilians.
Richardson said that the Iraqi army could move in units from the north while other brigades build up positions around the Old CIty forcing the Islamic State to fight on two fronts.
Local residents said at least 137 civilians had been killed in a cluster of homes hit on March 13 and 17.
Earlier last Saturday, senior Sunni Muslim politicians expressed concern over reports of air strikes that allegedly killed the civilians. That was the one on March 17.
Later, the Iraqi command denied this in a statement cited by Iraqi Alsumaria TV.
“The fighting is coming closer to people’s home”.
The remains of 12 people – among them women and children – were placed in blue plastic body bags.
Conflicting accounts emerged on Sunday about an explosion in west Mosul on March 17 after a US -led coalition strike against Islamic State that local officials said collapsed buildings, killing and burying many people.
AP reporters saw at least 50 bodies being recovered from the wreckage of the buildings. “What we want from the coalition is for them not to repeat their mistakes and to be more cautious and accurate”.
This is because there are multiple nations and multiple aircraft involved, she said.
The top commander for USA military forces in the Middle East on Sunday called recent civilian deaths in the Iraqi city of Mosul a “terrible tragedy”, but stopped short of taking responsibility. Some residents say a coalition air strike hit an explosive-filled truck, detonating a blast that collapsed buildings packed with families. They emphasized that the mosque was not struck and that the building was not affiliated with the mosque. “It wasn’t clear why that was – if it was triggered by the strike or not – and some managed to escape unharmed”.
It was unclear who carried out the air strikes, but on Friday the US-led coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria said it was investigating the allegations.
“The Daesh terrorist organisation is seeking to stop the advance of the Iraqi forces in Mosul at any cost, and it is gathering civilians. and using them as human shields”, he said.
A civilian casualty report is issued monthly, CENTCOM added, verifying allegations and that coalition airstrikes are executed in compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict.
The strikes in western Mosul where US-backed troops are fighting the Islamic State group are now under investigation by Iraqi authorities. It was an airstrike that targeted my street.
In Syria, renewed fighting in the northern and western suburbs of Damascus is threatening a new humanitarian disaster. “It’s more complicated warfare”, according to Lt. Col. Abdul Amir Muhammadawi, spokesman for the rapid response teams.
Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told the New York Times that there has been “no loosening of the rules of engagement”.
The reports also prompted questions as to whether the civilian casualties were the result of President Trump’s vow to step up the USA fight against ISIS. Since taking office, his administration has intensified the use of force in conflicts across the Middle East, almost doubling the number of USA troops in Syria and expanding American operations in Yemen.
Ghazi Balkiz reported from Irbil, and Angela Dewan reported and wrote from London.