Iraqi officials have launched an investigation into two airstrikes by the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group that claimed the lives of more than 200 people in the country’s northern city of Mosul last week.
Brigadier-General Yahya Rasool, the spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC), said on Sunday that the Iraqi Defense Ministry “has opened an investigation into this issue.”
On Saturday, the US-led anti-Daesh coalition confirmed that it had carried out strikes on a location in western Mosul on March 17. Civilians were reportedly killed in the attack.
Iraq’s Kurdish-language Rudaw television network reported late on Thursday that 237 people had been killed in US-led coalition airstrikes on a Daesh-held neighborhood in western Mosul.
The report said 137 people died when a bomb hit a single building in the densely populated Mosul al-Jadida district. Another 100 people were killed nearby.
Lise Grande, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said she was “stunned by the horrendous loss of life” in the aerial attacks.
Western Mosul has recently seen Iraqi troops backed by pro-government fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by their Arabic name, Hashd al-Sha’abi, pushing hard to flush out Daesh terrorists.
Grande urged all parties to the Mosul operation to refrain from “indiscriminate use of firepower” and “do everything possible to protect civilians.”
Bashar al-Kiki, the head of the provincial council for Nineveh, of which Mosul is the capital, said “dozens” of bodies were still buried under the rubble.
General Rasool also said government forces had deployed snipers to target those terrorists who are using civilians as human shields in Mosul. Daesh “began to use citizens as human shields, and we are trying to target them with… snipers to eliminate them.”
The senior Iraqi military figure said army forces were making use of “light and medium weapons, among them sniper (rifles), to hunt for Daesh members” disguised among civilians.
Rasool said the terrorists were gathering civilians together and then blowing up explosives-rigged vehicles nearby to make it look like “Iraqi forces… are targeting innocent civilians.”
Meanwhile, Commander of Nineveh Liberation Operation Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Yarallah said forces with the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) had established control over Orouba district and the Industrial Zone in western Mosul, and raised the national Iraqi flag over several buildings in both areas.
CTS forces also recaptured Southern Wadi al-Ayn and Rajm al-Hadid districts in the western side of Mosul.
Soldiers from the Iraqi army’s 9th Division wrested complete control over Badush cement factory northwest of Mosul as well, inflicting heavy losses on Daesh ranks and destroying their military hardware.
Separately, two civilians were killed and 13 others injured when Daesh fired a barrage of mortar shells at Nabi Yunus market in eastern Mosul.
The commander of Nineveh Liberation Operation also said Daesh ringleader Ibrahim al-Samarrai, better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is hiding in an area close to the border with Syria.
Iraqi army soldiers and Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters launched their offensive to retake Mosul last October and since then they have made sweeping gains against Takfiri elements.
Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.