Led coalition not taking adequate precautions in Mosul: Amnesty report

US airstrikes probably played a role in the deaths of dozens of civilians in Mosul earlier this month, USA and Iraqi military officials acknowledged Tuesday, but they denied the rules for avoiding civilian casualties have been loosened despite a recent spike in civilian casualties.

A recent rise in civilian casualties in the battle against the Islamic State group in Mosul suggests that the US-led coalition is failing to take adequate precautions to prevent civilian deaths, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

Backed by US -led coalition air strikes and advisors, counter terrorism troops (CTS) captured eastern Mosul by January.

"They drive around on motorbikes looking for high positions on buildings, and they have tunnels between the homes", said Walid, a resident who fled from near the Old City. They make families retreat with them or herd them into buildings from which fighters fire on troops. In recent weeks, IS defenders have packed into neighborhoods with narrow streets and trapped civilians, Townsend said.

Mr Zebari said: "They were taxing every business - they were taxing every shop, every pharmacy, every activity - not to mention the money they stole from the Iraqi banks". Those strikes support Iraqi and embedded US coalition ground forces by destroying Daesh (ISIS) personnel in their redoubts.

"We know that we were dropping bombs in the immediate vicinity", he said, noting that the bombs used are "quite precise". "But we are fighting the most unsafe terrorist organization in the world, with huge, unprecedented support from the worldwide coalition".

That kind of terrain, and the risk of more civilian casualties prompted a rethink of tactics as Iraqi forces push to finish the Mosul campaign.

Fighters in Mosul are said to be so broke they are now effectively going rogue and smuggling families out of the city and to safety in return for bribes of as little as £15.

US officials also are assessing the possibility that IS forced civilians to gather there to act as human shields or to lure the USA into attacking, he added.

Rescue workers are still searching the site of the 17 March explosion in Western Mosul, where one health official said 160 bodies had been recovered. The United Nations says several hundred civilians have been killed in the last month, and residents say Islamic State militants are using them as human shields. An investigation is under way, but the specific cause of the civilian deaths is not yet known.

Evidence gathered on the ground in Mosul "points to an alarming pattern of USA -led coalition airstrikes which have destroyed whole houses with entire families inside", the Amnesty report said. Iraqi military said there was no indication the building was hit directly by the strike. One Iraqi commander has claimed that secondary explosions from an air strike on a Daesh bomb truck might be responsible. Iraqi Parliament speaker Salim al-Jabouri told al-Arabiya television that more civilian casualties could result in a halt to operations until a way to protect residents is found.

Investigators are studying more than 700 video feeds taken during air strikes on that area of Mosul over a 10-day stretch around March 17, he said.

One line of investigation is whether Islamic State rigged explosives that ultimately caused the blast that destroyed buildings.

  • Leroy Wright