US Investigating Whether Its Mosul Airstrikes Caused Mass Civilian Casualties

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An air strike targeting Islamic State militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul that witnesses say killed at least 100 people was in fact launched by the USA military, American officials say.

If true, the civilian casualty totals would be among the highest the US has seen since 2003, the beginning of the war in Iraq.

The military said it determined that warplanes struck ISIS fighters and equipment on March 17, but it's also investigating whether civilian casualties occurred. It said a formal assessment had been opened to determine the facts surrounding the strike and the validity of the charges that civilians were killed.

Musani said that since the operations in Mosul began in October, there have been at least 5300 people referred to hospitals in and around the city.

Initial reports from residents and Iraqi officials in the past week said dozens of people had been killed or wounded in Mosul's al-Jadidah district after air strikes by Iraqi or US -led coalition forces.

As many as 200 civilians might have been killed by recent US airstrikes in Mosul, Iraq.

Reports on the numbers of civilian dead and wounded have varied but Civil Defence chief Brigadier Mohammed Al-Jawari told reporters on Thursday that rescue teams had recovered 40 bodies from collapsed buildings.

While Iraqi officials said that it appeared that the Trump administration had loosened the rules of engagement around airstrikes, Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told The New York Times that the rules had not been loosened. "This means that combatants can not use people as human shields and can not imperil lives through indiscriminate use of fire-power", she said in a statement.

In an earlier statement this morning, the coalition said that its forces conducted six strikes in Iraq yesterday, including five near Mosul.

There has been a dramatic rise in the number of civilians killed in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in Syria and Iraq.

The United Nations also expressed its profound concern over the claims of civilian deaths, saying it was "stunned by this bad loss of life".

"The coalition respects human life, which is why we are assisting our Iraqi partner forces in their effort to liberate their lands from ISIS brutality", US Central Command said in a statement Saturday.

"International humanitarian law is clear".

The UN reports that more than 330,000 people have been displaced by the Mosul crisis. They have also stationed themselves in homes belonging to Mosul residents to fire at Iraqi troops, often drawing air or artillery strikes that have killed civilians.

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