At least 200 Iraqi civilians were killed in an air raid on Mosul’s Old City Tuesday, despite the U.S.-led coalition’s attempt to reign in civilian casualties in the final phase of operations to retake the city.
Scores of houses in the az-Zanjili district were destroyed in the raid, which lasted several hours, according to an Iraqi army officer. He said he was not sure whether the planes were American or Iraqi.
“It was not clear whether the aircrafts that carried out the airstrikes belonged to the Iraqi forces or the US-led coalition,” the officer told The New Arab.
In mid-March, the coalition put a pause on operations in Mosul after an American strike killed an estimated 278 people in a residential area of the al-Jadidah district. The Pentagon’s version of events has ISIS militants forcing the civilians into a building, where they are alleged to have also planted explosives in an attempt to force the coalition to kill non-combatants, however at least seven eye witnesses have come forward to dispute that narrative.
Washington ultimately took credit for just over 100 of the deaths after it concluded a recent investigation into the strike, but at the same time shirked responsibility by insisting ISIS had a role in the incident.
The Mar. 17 strike prompted the coalition to pause its air operations over the densely-populated Old City and reevaluate its tactics, but apparently little has changed.
Since October of last year, when operations to take Mosul began in earnest, over 8,600 civilians have been killed in the Nineveh Province, where Mosul is located, according to monitor group Iraq Body Count. Airwars, another monitor, says the coalition is responsible for at least 3,000 deaths in both Iraq and Syria since 2014. Those estimates are likely conservative.
Spokesman for the coalition, Col. John Dorrian, however, maintains that the coalition is carrying out “the most precise air campaign in history.”
After Tuesday’s deadly strike, hundreds of people and dozens of wounded civilians were escorted out of the area by Iraqi federal police.
Mohammed Hassan, a member of the Mosul council, described the raid as a “hysterical bombing of an entire neighborhood.”
Next door, in Syria, civilians have suffered under coalition bombs as well, with one strike on Monday killing over a dozen people.
While nearly 90 percent of Mosul has been recaptured by the U.S.-backed coalition, recent allegations of torture and abuse, in addition to the spate of civilian casualties, has a dark cloud hanging over the operation.
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