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Iraq, US Investigate Scores of Civilian Deaths in Mosul

  • VOA News

The Iraqi military is casting doubt on reports that U.S.-led coalition airstrikes killed as many as 100 civilians sheltered earlier this month in a building in the contested city of Mosul, citing new evidence it says shows Islamic State militants rigged the site with explosives.

A Pentagon statement Saturday said an "initial review" showed coalition airstrikes March 17 "at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties" in western Mosul's Old City. The statement said an investigation is underway.

Civil protection rescue team work on the debris of a destroyed house to recover the bodies of people killed on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, March 24, 2017.
Civil protection rescue team work on the debris of a destroyed house to recover the bodies of people killed on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, March 24, 2017.

It also said coalition planes "routinely strike" IS targets in the neighborhood, and coalition forces "take all reasonable precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to civilians."

For its part, the Iraqi military's Joint Command released a statement later Saturday that confirmed airstrikes in the embattled city.

Iraqi Federal Police take cover during a battle with Islamic State fighters at Bab al-Jadid district in the old city of Mosul, March 26, 2017.
Iraqi Federal Police take cover during a battle with Islamic State fighters at Bab al-Jadid district in the old city of Mosul, March 26, 2017.

But it said an investigation of the site showed "all of [the building's] walls were rigged with bombs and there is no hole or signs that it was an airstrike target." It also said 61 bodies had been recovered from the site, as investigators continued to probe the wreckage.

More than a half-million civilians are still believed to remain in IS-held areas of Mosul, with many of them used by IS extremists as human shields as Iraqi forces advance.

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.

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