Baghdad (GPA) – While the members of the US led coalition against Islamic State (IS) met to discuss the success of the operation to retake Mosul, they left out one thing: the incredible number of civilian casualties caused by US bombs.
According to Kurdish news outlet Rudaw, the US coalition bombed several houses where civilians had taken shelter in western Mosul which lead to an estimated 237 deaths. Keeping with the recent precisely, western media continues to remain almost completely silent on the death toll, presumably to help protect the image of the Mosul campaign as ‘the good fight’ against terrorism.
The airstrikes were carried out in the al-Jadida neighborhood of Mosul, a part of the old city that analysts previously warned would be dangerous to conduct airstrikes in due to how close together buildings are. The airstrikes occurred during the day on Thursday in local time.
US Central Command (CentCom), the body that is coordinating the operations in Mosul, reported that they’ve taken out “eleven fighting positions” of IS but failed to mention the amount of civilians killed in the bombings. When questioned on this, CentCom did release a statement that “they were aware” of the loss of life but justified the actions by saying IS was using the over 200 civilians as “human shields.”
Reports suggest that most of these civilian casualties consisted of women and children. The US bombs struck three connected houses, of which just one alone had 130 people in it.
According to the independent news agency Mosul Eye, they spoke to some of those trapped in the homes beforehand and reported they had been without food and water for four days. Mosul Eye also said they passed on the location of the civilians to Iraqi forces and “asked them to rescue the people, but received no response.”
There are an estimated 400,000 civilians still trapped inside the remaining twenty five percent of Mosul controlled by IS. Around 200,000 others have been displaced by the fighting. With conditions like this it’s likely the body count will continue to rise. Not helping the situation is the fact that coalition forces have cut off all routes out of Mosul and failed to provide a “humanitarian corridor” similar to that put in place by the Syrian and Russian governments during the battle for Aleppo late last year.
Under this increased pressure, the US led coalition released a statement earlier today that they will now be opening an investigation into “multiple incidents” of airstrikes that resulted in civilian deaths. According to figures released by the Pentagon, the coalition as only killed a total of 220 civilians in the entire air campaign since 2014 but human rights monitoring groups contest that number, saying it is an extreme underestimation. According to U.K. based group Airwars that total is more likely to be somewhere over 2,700.
The coalition’s statement was released to the Associated Press earlier today said that they have “opened a formal civilian casualty credibility assessment on this allegation.” The statement also said that coalition forces “take all reasonable precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to civilians.” If this were true then they probably wouldn’t have ignored warnings by groups like that from Mosul Eye, and with 400,000 civilians left in such a small segment of the city it is likely this won’t be the last atrocity we report before the battle for Mosul is over.
Image: Flickr – DFID – UK Department for International Development