Battle for Mosul: Soldiers facing most brutal street fighting since WWII to defeat ISIS
Fanatics from ISIS, also known as IS or daesh, are packing frontline buildings with civilian hostages wired up with explosives.
Gen Townsend said there was “a fair chance” that a US airstrike killed up to 200 civilians in West Mosul earlier this month.
But he said an investigation is underway amid concerns that the civilians had been used as human shields by ISIS and that the building had been rigged with explosives.
He said: “What I don’t know is, were they gathered there by the enemy? We still have some assessments to do. I would say this -- that it sure looks like they were.”
Gen Townsend said that ISIS are resorting to increasingly desperate tactics, shooting civilians that try to flee the battle zone.
He said: “In the past few days, we have observed civilians fleeing from ISIS held buildings. We have heard reports that ISIS was shooting civilians trying to leave Mosul.
“The Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service reported they found two houses rigged to blow and filled with hostages, one - 45 in one house, 25 in another.”
“They managed to defuse the explosives and release the hostages without harm.”
“On the other hand, the savages that are ISIS deliberately target, terrorise and kill innocent civilians every day.”
Gen Townsend gave his briefing in Baghdad as RAF warplanes continue to pound IS positions around Mosul in support of advancing Iraqi and Kurdish troops.
Iraqi Special Forces and police today fought ISIS militants near the city’s landmark al-Nuri mosque where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a caliphate nearly three years ago across territory controlled by the group in both Iraq and Syria.