US Launches Investigation Into Civilian Deaths in Mosul

Three policemen were among the dead while the rest were civilians, police and health officials, speaking on condition of anonymity under regulations.

Local officials and eyewitnesses have said as many as 240 people may have died in the Al-Jadida district when a blast made a building collapse, burying families inside.

A top US commander said Islamic State fighters have begun forcing civilians in Mosul into buildings rigged to explode.

A suicide truck bomber detonated his explosives in southern Baghdad, killing at least 17 people and wounding around 60 more, police sources said. Coupled with initial inquiries done by USA technical experts who later visited the scene, he said: "My initial assessment is that we probably had a role in these casualties". The Tigris River separates Mosul into its eastern and western sector.

The fierce battles in the western side of Mosul caused heavy casualties among civilians who were either caught by cross-fire or by airstrikes and shelling. In recent weeks, IS defenders have packed into neighborhoods with narrow streets and trapped civilians, Townsend said.

According to the U.N., ISIS has been using civilians as human shields in the conflict, increasing the risk to Mosul's civilian population. Rescue workers are still pulling bodies out of the site.

Iraqis walk past debris of houses destroyed during fighting between Iraqi security forces and ISIS on Friday. Another possibility he said was being examined: That IS filled the building with explosives.

"We probably had a role in those casualties", Townsend, who commands the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters in a phone briefing from Baghdad.

Republican Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona, a retired Air Force colonel, questioned whether the high standards are "ridiculous", because they allow militants to use civilians as a defence against airstrikes so they can "live to fight another day".

The incident has heightened fears for the safety of civilians - an important concern for Iraq's Shi'ite-led government as it tries to avoid alienating Mosul's mostly Sunni population.

Diplomatic sources pointed out that the United Nations secretary-general plans to review the humanitarian situation at a time when the causes and responsibility for an air strike on a residential neighborhood in Mosul, where more than 200 civilians were killed, according to official reports, are under investigation.

Earlier this week, a surveillance aircraft watched ISIS smuggling civilians into a building, Scrocca said.

  • Leroy Wright