US probably had role in fatal Mosul blast

The top USA commander in Iraq on Tuesday acknowledged the likelihood that the US-led coalition played a role in blasts in Mosul that killed many civilians this month, but said an investigation was under way and ISIL may also be to blame.

"However, the IS's [Daesh] use of human shields does not absolve Iraqi and coalition forces from their obligation not to launch disproportionate attacks", she added.

"We are investigating the incident to determine exactly what happened and will continue to take extraordinary measures to avoid harming civilians", he said in a statement.

"This is the toughest and most brutal phase of this war and probably the toughest and most brutal close quarter combat that I have observed or read about in my 34 years of service", he said.

"What has not changed is our care, our caution. our tolerance from civilian casualties - none of that has changed".

Amnesty International on Tuesday accused the us -led coalition in Iraq of conducting airstrikes in areas of Mosul where it should have known civilian families were trying to keep safe in their homes.

Conflicting accounts have emerged since the March 17 explosion in al-Jadida district in west Mosul, where Iraqi forces backed by US -led coalition airstrikes are fighting to clear Islamic State militants from Iraq's second city. Gen. Matthew Isler, is looking at whether a secondary explosion, potentially rigged by ISIS, caused the building's collapse. Estimates range from 50 to 200.

Votel and other military officials have, in recent days, acknowledged that the USA probably played a role in the civilian casualties. "What I don't know is why they [the civilians] gathered there by the enemy?"

Overwhelmed by the barrage of questions regarding the USA air campaign, Townsend joked that he feels like a police detective on TV, whom everyone is turning to for immediate answers.

Wilkinson, the legal researcher, said that, "Given the facts available, I have concerns that such strikes may amount to direct attacks on civilians, in clear violation of worldwide humanitarian law".

Witnesses on Sunday described horrific scenes of body parts strewn over rubble, residents trying desperately to pull out survivors and other people buried out of reach.

Amnesty International called into question the legality of the Iraqi military, which is on the ground in Mosul, and the USA -led coalition's tactics that caused a "shocking spike in civilian casualties". "My initial impression is the enemy had a hand in this".

The report also cites a second strike on Saturday that it said killed "up to 150 people". "ISIS is cutting off heads, ISIS is shooting people, throwing people from buildings burning them alive and they're making a video record to prove it".

Townsend said the munition used in the airstrike was not created to level the building.

When the Mosul operations began in mid-November, an Iraqi officer told The Washington Post: "If there were no civilians, we'd just burn it all".

Nineveh provincial governor Nawfal Hammadi said "more than 130 civilians" were killed in strikes over several days in Mosul's al-Jadida area, and attention has focused on the strike on March 17.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, the spokesman of the United Nations human rights office called on the coalition to work to "minimize the impact" on civilians.

Officials at United States Central Command (CENTCOM) said initial analysis indicates coalition forces struck ISIS fighters and equipment on March 17 in western Mosul. In January, Iraq declared east Mosul "fully liberated" and government forces are now battling to retake the city's western half.

"With a densely populated area, and the kind of door-to-door, street-to-street fighting, with more bombs being dropped, and there are still thousands of civilians still in western Mosul, that is one of our significant concerns".

Helicopters were strafing Islamic State targets around Al Nuri mosque, where Islamic State's leader declared his caliphate almost three years ago after militants took control of swaths of Iraq and Syria.

The fight to take back western Mosul from the Islamic State group had started in February.

Still, the battle for Mosul - the last remaining stronghold for the Islamic State in Iraq - has heightened the risk for civilians.

She confirmed that Amnesty was calling for an investigation into the excessive use of force in Mosul, particularly in instances when militants of Daesh, outlawed in Russian Federation, use residential areas as a base and civilians as human shields.

  • Leroy Wright