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Conflicting Reports on ‘Mosul Massacre’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Shops went up in flames after mortar shells landed in a market in Mosul. [Reuters]

Mosul, Baghdad- There were conflicting reports on Sunday concerning the party behind the “Mosul massacre” which left scores of civilians dead and injured when a building in the western part of the city was targeted ten days ago.

On Sunday, Iraq’s military said 61 bodies were pulled from under the rubble of the building that was booby-trapped by ISIS in West Mosul.

The military denied it had been hit by the US-led international coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq, despite a statement issued by the coalition on Saturday saying it launched the airstrike on March 17.

Concerning the number of casualties, the military statement also differed from eyewitnesses and local officials’ reports, which said that at least 200 bodies were pulled from under the rubble.

The Joint Operations Command in Iraq also denied the coalition had launched air strikes against civilian houses, adding that the damaged houses in the neighborhoods of al-Risala and al-Jadida were completely destroyed when booby-trapped by militants.

Command of “Nineveh, We’re Coming” operations said in a statement it had formed a team of military experts and local officials to inspect the location of the building that media outlets said was targeted by an air strike. “It appeared that the building was completely destroyed and that all its walls were booby-trapped. This house was used by suicide bombers to fire at security forces,” the statement said.

The incident highlighted the difficulty to uncover the details of what happened on March 17, as Iraqi forces engage in fierce battles with ISIS militants to control the highly populated areas of western Mosul, the last stronghold of extremist groups in Iraq.

Nineveh MP Abdul Rahim al-Shammari was surprised by the story offered by the Operations Command. “Their story is false. Everybody knows that the Americans had launched the strike and were behind the massacre, so why are they justifying,” he said.

Explaining what happened on that day, al-Shammari said a group of civilians had gathered in a building as ISIS members were targeting Iraqi officials from a tunnel near the house where the civilians stayed. “Therefore, they were attacked by US warplanes,” he said.