Mosul – The US-led international coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq admitted on Saturday it launched an airstrike last week targeting a location in western Mosul where civilians were killed, saying an inquiry was kicked off to determine the facts of the incident.
“After an initial review of strike data indicated that the coalition forces struck ISIS militants and equipment at the request of the Iraqi security forces on March 17 in west Mosul at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties,” the coalition said in its statement on Saturday.
Earlier, Iraqi officials announced that tens of civilians died in the western part of Mosul during airstrikes launched as part of operations to recuperate the city from extremists.
In its statement, the coalition said that at the beginning of this month “it is more likely than not, at least 220 civilians have been unintentionally killed by coalition strikes”, while other incidents were still under investigation.
Meanwhile, Nawfal Hammadi, the governor of Nineveh, of which Mosul is the capital, said the coalition had carried out the strikes in the city’s Mosul al-Jadida area, killing “more than 130 civilians.”
“The Daesh terrorist organisation is seeking to stop the advance of the Iraqi forces in Mosul at any cost, and it is gathering civilians… and using them as human shields,” Hammadi told AFP.
For his part, Head of the Nineveh Provincial Council Bashar Kiki said efforts were ongoing to retrieve bodies from under the rubble.
Kiki told Rudaw that international aid was needed to complete the mission.
Meanwhile, Iraqi forces sought to call for additional snipers and transform the attacks into a war between those snipers and ISIS, in order to avoid more casualties among civilians who are trapped by ISIS in the old Mosul.
Chief of the Iraqi Federal Police Lieutenant General Raed Shaker Jawdat said elite Iraqi Counter Terrorism Forces backed by tens of snipers launched on Saturday operations near al-Nuri Mosque and targeted ISIS defenses.