At least 200 civilians killed in US airstrikes in western Mosul

Tareq Haddad
Mosul airport Isis

At least 200 civilians are believed to have been killed following US airstrikes in western Mosul.

Coalition airstrikes have been supporting Iraqi forces in their months-long campaign to recapture the northern city from Isis, but as troops moved westwards through Mosul, the fighting has become more intense.

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Families trapped in the midst of the fighting have nowhere to turn except take shelter in their homes. However, that option may seem ever-more futile now as dozens of shells were rained down into a three-building compound between 17 and 23 March.

In a nearby hospital, Ali Hander was among the few survivors.

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"There was a lot of bombing above us, and then I started to feel everything collapse around us," he told the Guardian. "We were buried for 10 hours until the neighbours dug us out. I lost my children."

Many were killed immediately, but scores more are believed to have suffocated under the heaps of metal and rubble.

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"The days after [the bombings] were horrible," Majid al-Najim, 65, said. "There were children shouting under the rubble. Nobody came to help them. The police told us yesterday that there was nothing they could do."

In the aftermath of the bombings, the United Nations released a statement expressing it was "profoundly concerned" by the high number of civilian casualties.

The UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande said: "We are stunned by this terrible loss of life and wish to express our deepest condolences to the many families who have reportedly been impacted by this tragedy.

"Nothing in this conflict is more important than protecting civilians."

She added: "International humanitarian law is clear. Parties to the conflict – all parties – are obliged to do everything possible to protect civilians."

In light of the casualties, Iraqi federal police confirmed all anti-Isis operations in Mosul have been put on hold.

"The recent high death toll among civilians inside the Old City forced us to halt operations to review our plans," a federal police spokesman told Reuters on Saturday. "It's a time for weighing new offensive plans and tactics. No combat operations are to go on."

The US military confirmed on Friday it was launching an official investigation into the casualties.

It also confirmed it would investigate a coalition strike in Raqqa, north-west Syria, in which at least 33 people were killed.

US Central Command believes 220 civilians have been killed in Syria and Iraq since the start of Operation Resolve – the bombing campaign against Isis – however monitoring group AirWars places the figure closer to 2,700.

Mosul

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