Mosul – A US military commander said on Monday that the ISIS terrorist organization was trying to drag international coalition forces into targeting civilians in the western side of the embattled Iraqi city of Mosul.
Reuters quoted US Army Lieutenant Colonel James Browning as saying that ISIS fighters led a group of civilians into a house in Mosul and locked them inside as Iraqi forces advanced.
He added that militants entered through a window, and then fired their weapons.
The militants’ plan was aimed at drawing attention to the house by firing from the windows, then move to an adjacent building through a hole in the wall, in hope of provoking coalition jets flying above to strike the house.
“We automatically knew what they were trying to do. They were trying to bait us into destroying this building,” Browning told Reuters.
“This is the game that we play, this is the challenge that we go through every day,” he added.
Browning explained that the challenge was increasing as ISIS militants were now trapped with several hundred thousand civilians in a small area in Mosul.
“There is nowhere to go…. the battlefield is much more complicated with the amount of civilians that are moving,” the US colonel explained.
More than 100 civilians were accidentally killed in a single airstrike by the US-led coalition in March.
The Pentagon has acknowledged 220 civilian deaths from coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since the US campaign against ISIS began in 2014.
Reuters said that Browning, a battalion commander from the 82nd Airborne Division, was one of more than 5,000 US service members currently deployed in Iraq to “advise and assist” security forces that collapsed when ISIS invaded Mosul nearly three years ago.
According to Iraqi forces, the battle to regain Mosul was now in its final phase, Reuters said.
It added that US servicemen were visible near the frontlines advising the Iraqis as they advance into the remaining districts controlled by ISIS, facing a barrage of suicide car bombs and sniper fire.