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US: 100 civilian deaths after anti-IS bombing

May 25, 2017

An airstrike in March led to the greatest loss of civilian life at the hands of the US-led coalition against the terrorists. The report said that neither the US nor the Iraqi army knew civilians were in the area.

Irak Kämpfe um Mossul
Image: picture-alliance/abaca/Y. Keles

A US airstrike targeting "Islamic State" (IS) terrorists in March killed at least 105 civilians in Mosul, Iraq, according to the results of a military investigation released Thursday. The Pentagon said the initial bombing triggered blasts from devices planted at the location by IS, causing the collapse of a concrete building with civilians inside.

"The secondary explosion triggered a rapid failure of the structure which killed the two ISIS snipers, 101 civilians sheltered in the bottom floors of the structure and four civilians in the neighboring structure to the west," said US Air Force Brigadier General Matt Isler, using an alternative acronym for IS. "An additional 36 civilians who are believed to be connected to the structure remain unaccounted for."

The incident is believed to be the greatest single loss of civilian lives since the US-led coalition began bombing IS targets in 2014, and it accounts for a quarter of the total civilian deaths caused by the campaign.

Isler added that neither US officers nor the Iraqi soldiers they were working with knew there were civilians inside the building. They also did not know more explosive material was being stored there. The purpose of the strike had been to kill two IS snipers who had been targeting Iraqi counterterrorism forces.

"Our condolences go out to all those that were affected," said Major General Joe Martin. "The coalition takes every feasible measure to protect civilians from harm. The best way to protect civilians is to defeat ISIS."

The strike was part of the final push to retake Mosul from IS forces, though it had been declared "fully liberated" already in January.

es/sms (AP, AFP)