IS fighters in Mosul provoking coalition strikes on civilians: US military

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday urged Iraq's leaders to reconcile the country's religious communities once Islamic State is defeated in Mosul, the last major Iraqi city under the militants' control.

A person familiar with a Wednesday phone call between President Donald Trump and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi, said the Iraqi premier did raise the subject of the strike and civilian deaths.

The US-led coalition announced on Thursday (30 March) that they had launched a formal probe into the deaths of almost 200 civilians in western Mosul on 17 March - suspected to be a result of air strikes.

"It will be a more formalized approach to really look into the details of this as much as we can to establish what happened, establish what the facts are, identify accountability, and then certainly identify the lessons learned out of that", Votel said at the House Armed Services Committee Hearing.

After the beginning the operation to retake Mosul in October, Iraqi authorities in January declared they had liberated eastern Mosul.

"We will continue to assess and adjust our tactics to account for civilians on the battlefield while striking ISIS whenever and wherever we safely can", the colonel said.

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Shortly after landing at Baghdad International Airport, Mr Guterres said on Twitter that his visit is to "focus on the dire humanitarian situation on the ground". Officials and witnesses have said that air strikes have taken a devastating toll on them.

The coalition is backing Iraqi forces in the battle to push out IS from west Mosul, a maze of narrow and densely populated lanes in which residents must hunker down in a bid to avoid bombs and bullets.

According to the same source, who spoke anonymously due to restrictions on talking to reporters, meetings will tackle the ongoing campaign to recapture Mosul from the Daesh terrorist group and the steadily mounting numbers of civilians displaced by the fighting.

Iraqi forces are fighting ISIL in western Mosul, where some 2,000 fighters are launching fierce counter-attacks.

"Now that this has occurred the USA believes it can develop some 'indicators" of when civilians are present, but the official declined to specify details due to security concerns.

Three policemen were among the dead while the rest were civilians, and a number of police were also wounded, the officials said.

  • Sonia Alvarado