Mosul air attack killed at least 105, say United States commanders

Posted May 26, 2017

The Islamic State lured the USA -led forces into conducting an airstrike in March that killed over 100 civilians in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a top American military official said Thursday.

A Pentagon investigation has found that the civilians were killed when a U.S. airstrike inadvertently triggered a second explosion, causing a building to collapse.

On Thursday, the USA military admitted an airstrike it conducted in Mosul, Iraq on March 17, 2017 killed at least 105 civilians.

There was a secondary explosion in the back side of the building that caused the building to collapse. A US aircraft carried out that strike with a single GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition after receiving approval from the Coalition Target Engagement Authority in Erbil, Iraq. Coalition drones surveilling the area were impeded by bad weather from March 15 to 16, and never recorded civilians entering the building. "No one saw ISIS move explosives into that area". The toll is one of the highest in the USA -led campaign against the Islamic State, though the investigation asserts that jihadis' explosives were mainly at fault.

"Our condolences go out to all those that were affected", said Maj Gen Joe Martin, commanding general of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJFLCC-OIR).

When the coalition targeted snipers on the roof, the explosives detonated, killing at least 101 civilians sheltering in the bottom floors and four civilians in a neighboring structure.

Iraq's Interior Ministry on Wednesday ordered an investigation into reports that security forces battling Islamic State (IS) militants in western Mosul tortured and killed civilians suspected to be IS members.

"At [8:24 a.m.] on 17 March 2017, in accordance with the applicable rules of engagement and the law of armed conflict, a coalition USA aircraft delivered a single GBU-38 precision-guided munition against two ISIS snipers engaging the Iraqi CTS", Isler said. The building was believed to be safe because it had walls up to 31 inches thick, Isler said.

To counter such a threat as "two snipers", the coalition should have used infantry instead of an aerial bomb, Steele added.

One woman, Lina Shaab Ahmad, who dug herself out of the front of the house, said she was taken to a nearby clinic by Iraqi forces who showed little concern for her or those still buried.

While we welcome the United States investigation into the...airstrike, we are curious to know whether any lessons were learned and what steps were taken to ensure such horrors do not occur again.

"The main point is that the Iraqi government and the Americans have been urging civilians not to flee but to remain in their homes where it'll be safer", John Steele said.

The coalition did not take the bait and no civilians were harmed, Isler said. Although the majority of airstrikes in the Syrian region are conducted by the USA led coalition, responsibility for the attack has not yet been confirmed. There have been conflicting casualty reports, with the city's municipality chief, Abdul Sattar al-Habbo, putting the death toll of the attack as high as 240.