Friday, 24 March 2017

US-Led Air Strike On Islamic State In Mosul Has Killed Over 200 Civilians

US-Led Air Strike On Islamic State In Mosul Has Killed Over 200 Civilians

The civilians caught up between the ISIS and the coalition forces are once again facing the brunt of the fight to retake the city from the Jihadists.
The US led coalition has in the recent days stepped up air raids in Mosul, the de facto capital of the Islamic State's caliphate.
But it has taken a toll on the civilians. According to local reports over 200 civilians have been killed in Mosul in the air strike.
Rudaw, a Kurdish news agency reported that 137 people – most believed to be civilians – died when a bomb hit a single building in al-Jadida, in the western side of the city on Thursday. Another 100 were killed nearby.
The Mosul Eye, an activist group from the city monitoring the conflict, reported that an airstrike from an unidentified plane set off the explosives that had been laid by ISIS.

Iraqi Civil Defence claimed they pulled 136 bodies from the rubble in the New Mosul district of the city.
The US has acknowledged the civilian deaths and the military is conducting its own probe of the incident.

The United Nations estimate that some 600,000 people remain in the parts of western Mosul held by ISIL, including 400,000 who are "trapped" in the Old City under siege-like conditions.
As the number of people fleeing the conflict increase UN has warned that civilians are at risk whether they choose to flee the city or remain in their homes.

US opens formal investigation into civilian deaths in Mosul

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has launched a formal investigation into what role the U.S. played in the deaths of dozens of civilians in Mosul, Iraq, earlier this month, amid warnings from a top American general that the dense urban fight is making it harder to avoid killing innocents.
Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, told Congress that Islamic State militants are exploiting American sensitivities to civilian casualties, using people as human shields to avoid being targeted by strikes.
"As we move into the urban environment it is going to become more and more difficult to apply extraordinarily high standards for things we are doing, although we will try," Votel said during a House Armed Services meeting.
Republican Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona, a retired Air Force colonel, questioned whether the high standards are "ridiculous," because they allow militants to use civilians as a defense against airstrikes so they can "live to fight another day." The result, she said, is just more innocent deaths.
Votel said the investigation will look at what Islamic State militants did to contribute to the civilian deaths in the March 17 strike. He and others have said the munitions used by the U.S. that day should not have taken the entire building down, suggesting that militants may have deliberately gathered civilians there and planted other explosives.

He said U.S. investigators have visited the site and that the review is looking at 700 weapons system videos over a 10-day period to help understand the effects of the munitions used. They also will review intelligence provided by the Iraqi forces.
Senior U.S. military officials said they have now seen several instances where IS militants have gathered a large number of people and held them captive in a building, and then put a sniper on the roof to fire at U.S. or allied forces in an effort to draw an attack on the building, and possibly kill dozens of innocent civilians. The relatively new tactic has been used in the West Mosul fight, said the officials, who were not authorized to discuss the military operations publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

In one instance, the officials said a precision U.S. strike took out the sniper but left the building intact. Later, they said, civilians were seen being freed from the building. The officials said the U.S., as a result, has to carefully calculate what types of munitions to use in order to limit destruction. At times the military will decide to wait rather than execute an immediate strike.
They noted, however, that if U.S. or partner forces are being attacked, the U.S. will launch strikes to defend them. And that decision can be made quickly by commanders on the ground, closer to the fight.

Votel also told the committee that nearly 800 Iraqi security forces have been killed and 4,600 wounded in the increasingly brutal battle to retake Mosul from IS extremists that began last fall.
Under questioning from lawmakers, Votel repeated U.S. military assertions that the military rules of engagement have not been changed or relaxed to allow for more civilian casualties. He said the only change authorized late last year was to allow certain combat decisions be made by U.S. commanders closer to the fight as the battle moved into the densely populated areas of the city. That decision removes a layer of approval that was previously needed, but still requires the commander on the ground to go through the same analysis and consideration of civilian casualties that has been done all along.

The senior military officials said that before the decision-making was streamlined, there were almost daily instances when the delay in getting approval for a strike allowed a target to get away.
Votel and other military officials have, in recent days, acknowledged that the U.S. probably played a role in the civilian casualties. Residents and outside groups have said the explosion killed at least 100 people.

Amnesty International on Tuesday said the rising death toll suggested the U.S.-led coalition wasn't taking adequate precautions as it helps Iraqi forces try to retake the city.
The fight for western Mosul began in February after Iraqi security forces pushed IS out of the eastern side of the Tigris River city. In recent weeks, IS defenders have packed into neighborhoods with narrow streets and trapped civilians.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top U.S. commander of American forces in Iraq, said Tuesday that the increase in civilian casualties has been "fairly predictable" given the heavily populated urban neighborhoods. He said the battle in the western portion of the city will be the toughest phase of the war, adding, "it is there that the enemy has invested two-and-a-half years of defensive preparations."

Iraqi officials say ISIS bomb was source of Mosul civilian casualties

April 3rd, 2017 (USMC)

Iraqi officials believe that the March 17 blast in Mosul that killed 61 civilians — including many women and children — was caused by the blast of an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria vehicle-borne explosive device.
Saeed al-Jayashi, a spokesman for the Iraqi military, said an examination of the site shows that the building was not hit by a coalition airstrike.
“There was no hole in the building,” Jayashi said to reporters traveling with Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Speaking through an interpreter, Jayashi said the coalition airstrike hit a building where ISIS fighters were holed up. “The strike was 100-percent accurate and it was correct,” Jayashi said.
The Iraqi spokesman said that Iraqi forces were coming under strong fire from a building and they properly identified the source of the fire and called for an airstrike. Next to it was another house and between them was a vehicle.
The strike came in and hit the target, but it also set off the bomb-laden vehicle. The ISIS bomb was packed with explosives and took out the whole block, said Iraqi Air Force Brig. Gen. Tahseen Ibrahim, a defense ministry spokesman. He said the size of the weapon the aircraft dropped could not have caused the kind of damage Iraqi troops found at the site.
When Iraqi forces approached the site, the house had pancaked down on the occupants. “Usually when there is an explosion, the explosion will throw everything to the outside,” Jayashi said. “This we did not see. There was no explosion from the inside out.”
People in the neighborhood told Iraqi forces that ISIS forced people into the house and made them stay, he said.
Nearby, Iraqi forces rescued 26 women and children who had been forced to stay in another house laden with explosives. “We got to them at night, but the house was contaminated with IEDs and we could not get them out,” Jayashi said. “We came back in the daytime to defuse the explosives and rescue them.”
Jayashi said that while Iraqi investigators have a lot of information, they are still working to uncover the complete truth. But, he said, everybody in Iraq understands what ISIS is doing in Mosul — the terror group is sowing fear and killing innocent civilians.
The spokesman quoted Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi who said, “There is no value in victory if we are not saving people’s lives.”
Fighting in the city increases the danger of civilian casualties, but Iraqi forces are taking casualties themselves rather than cause casualties among their fellow citizens, Jayashi said.
He said the investigators will submit their full report to the prime minister soon.

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