IS 'baiting' coalition to bomb Mosul civilians

The U.S. military is now conducting a formal investigation into what role a U.S. airstrike may have played in the deaths of as many as 200 civilians in Mosul, Iraq.

According to the Pentagon, the Euphrates Valley could become the last bastion of the Islamic State following the fall of their strongholds in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqa, Syria.

Western Mosul's old city district is a "very dense urban area [which is ] much, much more complex and much more favors the defender than it does the attacker", the general said.

"Iraq needs a plan similar to the Marshall present assistance to Iraqis and support development and overcome the effect of war against (IS) terrorist gangs", Jaafari said, according to his office.

Pope Francis said at his weekly audience in St Peter's Square on Wednesday that it was "urgent and imperative" to protect civilians in Iraq, and he expressed concern about those trapped in western Mosul.

Residents carry the bodies of several people in air strikes on the western side of Mosul last week.

The rising death toll among noncombatants even attracted the attention of Pope France at the Vatican, who said limiting civilian casualties was "an imperative and urgent obligation" during a papal address in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday.

The senior USA commander in Iraq also acknowledged on Tuesday that the US-led coalition probably had a role in a a deadly explosion in Mosul on March 17, believed to have as many as 240 people, but said Islamic State could also be to blame.

Islamic State overran about a third of Iraq in 2014, benefiting from the Sunni-Shi'ite rift that weakened the army.

The relatively new tactic has been used in the West Mosul fight, said the officials, who were not authorized to discuss the military operations publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Earlier this week, a surveillance aircraft watched ISIS smuggling civilians into a building, Scrocca said. On Tuesday, a team of American military personnel, including explosive experts and engineers, made their way to the site to examine the ruins and collect samples to determine what kind of explosives brought the structure down, one Defense official told FP. United States officials have acknowledged that a USA airstrike played a role in the March 17 attack.

Witnesses say the March 17 explosions may have killed at least 100 people. Iraqi military said there was no indication the building was hit directly by the strike.

On Tuesday, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the senior USA commander in Iraq, told reporters by teleconference it was "a little disappointing" that questions during the briefing focused on US -led airstrikes. "Civilians are there. Some of them have been able to escape". However, fighting in western areas of Mosul continues. Later, they said, civilians were seen being freed from the building.

  • Leroy Wright