Hundreds of civilians have died in recent months in Mosul from US-led coalition airstrikes, an Amnesty report says. Failure to prevent such casualties would be in violation of international humanitarian law, it noted.
The report released on Monday quoted survivors and eyewitnesses of airstrikes that have killed civilians.
"Evidence gathered on the ground in East Mosul points to an alarming pattern of US-led coalition airstrikes which have destroyed whole houses with entire families inside," Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response advisor at Amnesty International, said, adding that coalition forces would have known civilian casualties would arise from any airstrikes.
"They did not try to flee as the battle got underway because they received repeated instructions from the Iraqi authorities to remain in their homes," Rovera went on.
"The high civilian toll suggests that coalition forces leading the offensive in Mosul have failed to take adequate precautions to prevent civilian deaths, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law," she continued.
Heavy price to pay
More than 3,000 civilians are believed to have been killed in Mosul since February 19, when US-backed government forces began an offensive to drive out the self-styled "Islamic State" (IS) group from the western side of the city, an official at the city's civil defense department told German news agency dpa on Friday.
In one airstrike on March 17, some 150 civilians were reportedly killed in the al-Jadida neighborhood in Mosul, Amnesty said.
US and Iraqi authorities announced on the weekend that they were investigating this and other incidents.
On Monday, US military spokesman John Thomas, a spokesman for US Central Command in Tampa denied allegations that the US-led coalition had relaxed its rules of engagement on airstrikes against IS in Iraq and Syria.
Efforts were being made to act cautiously, to distinguish between civilian and military targets, he said.
Iraqi forces began the assault on IS-held Mosul last October and have faced their toughest fight against IS yet in Iraq, increasingly turning to airstrikes and artillery to clear and hold territory in the west of the city. In January, Iraq declared eastern Mosul "fully liberated."
Civilians, humanitarian groups and monitoring officials have repeatedly warned of the possibility of increased civilian casualties in western Mosul due to the higher density of the population and the increased reliance on airstrikes and artillery.
When the operation to retake Mosul was launched, more than a million people were estimated to still be living in Mosul. The UN estimates that about 400,000 people remain trapped in IS-held neighborhoods in the city.
jbh/gsw (dpa, AP)