Disastrous US Airstrike Kills 200 Iraqi Civilians

  • Disastrous US Airstrike Kills 200 Iraqi Civilians

Disastrous US Airstrike Kills 200 Iraqi Civilians

The US-led coalition that has been carrying out strikes against IS says it "probably" played a role in reported civilian deaths in west Mosul.

Votel praised Iraqi forces for their resilience in continuing the fight against ISIS despite heavy casualties in western Mosul.

The UN chief pledged that the United Nations would increase its assistance to the displaced families, confirming that the worldwide organization is working and assisting the Iraqi government in building and developing the country's institutions, it said. Given relatively new rules that allow US commanders to approve strikes more quickly than they had in the past, the numbers of bombs falling are hitting record highs for the 31-month USA -led air campaign.

Meanwhile, ISIS continues to kidnap innocents to use as shields, raising the number of civilian casualties even higher.

Reports from frontline units claim Iraqi forces are seeing twice as many Iraqi civilians attempting to flee western Mosul, compared to the flood of refugees who attempted to escape the city's east side at the beginning of the operation, according to Gen. Townsend.

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The UN said earlier this month that some 600,000 civilians were still in west Mosul, 400,000 of them trapped in siege-like conditions in the Old City. Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it would deploy another 200 to 300 U.S. troops to help liberate the city.

"I believe that as we move into these urban environments, it is going to become more and more hard to apply an extraordinarily high standard" for preventing civilian casualties, "but we will try", head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, told members of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee. Iraqi civil defense officials are saying the attack targeted a building in Mosul's al-Jadida neighborhood where many people were crowded in a basement; the remains of more than 100 had been recovered by Sunday.

On Tuesday, high-ranking United States commander Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend admitted that there was a "fair chance" that a US-led airstrike caused the civilian deaths.

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"There is a fair chance that our operations may have contributed to civilian casualties", Gen. Joseph Votel said. He was using an acronym for Islamic State.

Islamic State group fighters battling Iraqi forces in Mosul are holding civilians hostage in buildings and then deliberately attracting strikes by coalition aircraft, a spokesman for the US-led coalition said on Thursday.

The stepped-up pace for carrying out airstrikes has been welcomed by Iraqi forces, which have suffered enormous casualties in the Mosul operation.

Iraqi forces have been engaged in house-to-house fighting to dislodge IS fighters from their last stronghold in western Mosul, a crowded warren of narrow streets and buildings in an old part of the city.