Over 280 Iraqi security forces members killed in west Mosul - US general

"My initial assessment is we probably had a role in these casualties", said Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, speaking with reporters by phone. Unconfirmed reports suggest the death toll could range from 100 to 200.

In the Mosul airstrike, it is possible Islamic State fighters had trapped hostages inside the building, rigged it to explode, then purposefully lured US forces to attack it by positioning fighters on the building, Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top USA commander for the campaign against the Islamic State group, said Tuesday.

Zeid called for Iraqi and US -led coalition forces to ensure those investigations are transparent.

Townsend said Iraqi military leaders "firmly believe" that civilians were gathered by Islamic State ahead of the strike, either to lure the coalition into a trap that would kill civilians or possibly for the extremists' use as human shields.

US personnel have visited the bombed-out location.

But he also said that the fact that the building collapsed actually argues against US culpability, saying that the USA strike used a munition that should not have collapsed the building.

"It sure looks like they were", Townsend said.

Votel also told the committee that almost 800 Iraqi security forces have been killed and 4,600 wounded in the increasingly brutal battle to retake Mosul from IS extremists that began last fall.

More than 300 civilians have been killed in west Mosul since Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition began an offensive last month to push ISIL out of its last stronghold in Iraq, the United Nations said on Tuesday, adding the toll could exceed 400 if new killings are verified.

"Fighters from ISIS set up on the roof of this building, and so when the building was targeted with an airstrike, it ended up killing a lot of the people sheltering inside", Rabkin told VOA.

Airstrikes in Mosul, Iraq by the US and other have led to concerns about civilian casualties.

Votel told the committee that there has been no change to the rules of engagement for USA airstrikes targeting ISIS. "We go out of our way to always do everything humanly possible to reduce the loss of life or injury among innocent people", Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters after the May 17 incident.

"We have not relaxed the rules of engagement", Votel said.

The warning by former USAF Major General Charles Dunlap follows information that an air-strike targeting ISIS forces in Mosul March 17, may have accidentally killed close to 200 civilians.

He said 284 members of Iraqi security forces have been killed and over 1,600 have been wounded in the Mosul campaign. The Iraqi forces rescued the hostages before the militants killed them. But as more than 30 former national security officials wrote in a recent letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis, the USA military's doctrine of trying to minimize civilian casualties is both "the right thing to do" and "strategically beneficial".

Hundreds of thousands more civilians are still trapped inside west Mosul after Iraqi forces and the US-coalition recaptured the city's east from ISIL in January.

The fight for western Mosul began in February after Iraqi security forces pushed IS out of the eastern side of the Tigris River city.

Investigators are trying to work out whether a coalition airstrike or Islamic State-rigged explosives caused a deadly explosion in the al Jadida incident.

  • Leroy Wright