US Investigating Whether Its Mosul Airstrikes Caused Mass Civilian Casualties

US acknowledges its forces were behind airstrike on MosulMore

Civil protection rescue teams work on the debris of a destroyed house to recover the body of people killed during fights between Iraq security forces and Islamic State on the western side of Mosul on Friday.

The US-led coalition against IS, which has been bombing the jihadists for more than two and a half years, said Saturday it had struck a location in west Mosul where civilians were reportedly killed.

Residents said the situation inside the city is worsening with no drinking water or electricity and no food coming in. However, locals said that dozens of worshipers were killed in the airstrike and that the targeted building was, in fact, a mosque.

U.S. Central Command's review of allegations of civilian casualties has determined that at least 220 civilians have been unintentionally killed by coalition airstrikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Civilians, humanitarian aid groups and monitoring officials have warned about the possibility of increased civilian casualties because of an increasing demand for airstrikes and artillery.

The Pentagon's announcement on Friday comes two days after it reported it was investigating claims that a US military airstrike recently hit a school in northern Syria and allegedly killed dozens of civilians.

"We are stunned by this awful loss of life", Lise Grande, the humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said in a statement.

For the first time since Moscow's intervention in Syria, claims of civilian casualty deaths caused by the coalition outstripped claims against Russian Federation, according to Airwars.

IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces have since regained much of the territory they lost.

This is the latest in a series of such deadly raids believed to be carried by the US-led coalition under the pretext of saving civilians in some of the war-ravaged Middle Eastern countries.

The insurgents have also used civilians as human shields and opened fire on them as they try to escape Islamic State-held neighbourhoods, fleeing residents said.

Local observers have said the catastrophe took place when coalition aircraft launched a strike after Iraqi forces came under fire from suspected ISIS fighters hiding and shooting in residential areas. They estimate that 600,000 people remain in ISIS-controlled parts of the city, including 400,000 trapped under siege-like conditions.

Hajem added that ISIS is using snipers and mortar shells, as well booby-trapped cars, "which is very unsafe for all civilians trapped inside the neighborhoods". Parties to the conflict - all parties - are obliged to do everything possible to protect civilians.

The US has not ruled out the possibility that ISIS was using some people as human shields, but the official who has direct knowledge of the investigation said there is urgency to find out if the US was responsible because of the scope of what may have happened.



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