US acknowledges airstrike that appears to have killed 137 civilians in Mosul

"They were supported by coalition advisers, US and coalition airpower, Marine heavy artillery and Army Apache helicopter gunships".

Gen. Stephen Townsend was a bit more realistic about the question in comments today, conceding that the United States "probably had a role in these casualties", saying that the investigation was ongoing and that they were still looking for possible reasons the buildings collapsed. The incident has sparked fresh concern about civilian deaths as a result of the US-led air campaign against ISIS.

Ahead of the ground offensive to capture west Mosul, Iraqi officials told residents not to flee as they could come into the crossfire or they could be targeted by Islamic State militants.

A cart loaded with bodies of civilians believed to be killed in air strike in west Mosul on March 17.

Townsend said again and again that the us does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties. Rupert Colville said IS militants are brazenly employing human shields, urging the coalition to "avoid this trap". So that is one of those things that we are trying to figure out in the investigative process because we have. munitions in our inventory that can collapse whole buildings.

But the U.S. authorities insist the rules of engagement have not changed and there has been no drop in standards.

In December, Townsend granted US advisors greater authority to call in airstrikes more quickly, rather than go through a "strike cell" at headquarters.

"What I don't know is were they gathered there by the enemy?"

"It sure looks like they were".

"Bodies continue to be found in buildings where civilians were reportedly held by ISIL as human shields, and were subsequently killed by airstrikes conducted by Iraqi security forces and global coalition forces, as well as by improvised explosive devices allegedly planted in the same buildings by ISIL", Hussein said in a statement.

"My initial impression is the enemy had a hand in this".

The focus of the US investigation, led by Air Force Brig.

Iraqi media reported that up to 200 people, many of whom were civilians, were killed in the airstrike.

"Disproportionate attacks and indiscriminate attacks violate global humanitarian law and can constitute war crimes", Ms Rovera said. The advance of Iraqi forces also is complicated by ancient buildings and very narrow streets, he said.

The close-quarters fighting is focused on the Old City surrounding the mosque where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a caliphate almost three years ago across territory controlled by the group in both Iraq and Syria.

Mounting evidence of an underreported civilian death toll in Mosul has recently been noted by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

"If we did it, and I'd say there's at least a fair chance that we did, it was an unintentional accident of war and we will transparently report it to you when we're ready", Townsend said in an audio briefing from Baghdad with Pentagon reporters.

While anger toward worldwide and Iraqi forces grows among some Mosul residents, Fatih Abdullah said he does not blame the US for the death of his brother and his family in February.

Meanwhile, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said Tuesday that at least 307 civilians had been killed and 273 wounded in western Mosul since February 17.

"ISIL's strategy of using children, men and women to shield themselves from attack is cowardly and disgraceful".

Though the coalition review of the allegations is still underway, Townsend said initial indications are from "multiple corroborating streams" of information seem to indicate that only ISIS fighters were killed in the airstrike.

When a CBC News crew spent more than a week in Mosul earlier this month, the sound of coalition warplanes flying high over the city was common, as was the presence of Iraqi helicopter gunships launching missiles at ISIS targets.

  • Leroy Wright