The U.S.-backed Iraqi military’s ground campaign to retake west Mosul from ISIS has been halted as details emerged over the weekend about U.S.-led coalition airstrikes that killed over 200 people in a single day. The U.S.-led coalition has admitted launching the March 17 airstrikes that targeted a crowded section of the Mosul al-Jadida neighborhood.
Some reports say one of the strikes hit an explosive-filled truck, triggering a blast that destroyed nearby houses where hundreds of people were taking refuge amid the city’s heavy fighting. Up to 80 civilians, including women and children, may have died in one house’s basement alone. The March 17 strikes appear to be among the deadliest U.S. airstrikes in the region since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Over the weekend, witnesses told The Guardian that some of their family members remain trapped under the rubble after days of U.S.-coalition airstrikes battered neighborhoods in and around west Mosul. This is a family member of some of the civilians killed in the March 17 strike.
Witness: « I came to the house to stay with my family, but the owner of the house told me there was no place for me. More than 100 people were inside. Half an hour later, the house was hit in an airstrike. There were neither snipers nor ISIL militants on the street. At least 15 people from this street, that links into the alleyways, have been killed. »
The journalistic project Airwars reports as many as 1,000 civilians have died in U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria in March alone. The high civilian death toll is leading many to question whether the U.S. military has loosened the rules of engagement that seek to limit civilian casualties. The Pentagon maintains the rules have not changed. We’ll have more on U.S.-led airstrikes, including the devastating strikes in Mosul al-Jadida, later in the broadcast.