The Pentagon has admitted that its air campaign in Mosul “probably had a role” in the mounting civilian death toll in Mosul, including the recent loss of dozens of lives under the rubble of a house that was allegedly booby-trapped by ISIS to maximize casualties.
Mounting evidence of an underreported civilian death toll in Mosul has recently been noted by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Both organizations have criticized the modus operandi of the US-led military campaign.
Entire families in Mosul are being killed by airstrikes in their own homes following repeated instructions from Iraqi authorities to stay inside, AI said this week. The NGO emphasized that the coalition forces must have known the strikes were likely to result in civilian deaths.
In one of the deadliest single incidents of the Mosul siege, dozens of people lost their lives in the Jadida neighborhood on March 17. With the exact number of casualties still unclear, Mosul's municipality chief, Abdul Sattar al-Habbo, who was supervising the rescue, said 240 bodies had been pulled from the rubble.
Confirming that the US is conducting its own investigation into the March 17 incident, the Pentagon has admitted that its air power could have been a contributing factor to the mounting civilian death toll.
“My initial assessment is that we probably had a role in these casualties. Now, here’s what I don’t know: What I don’t know is were they, (the civilians), gathered there by the enemy? We still have some assessments to do,” Lieutenant General Steve Townsend told a Pentagon news briefing, pointing out that there are numerous conflicting reports about the extent of the damage from the March 17 strike.
The Iraqi War Media Cell — which the Pentagon referred RT to for further details on the March 17 incident — said the building could have been blown up by terrorists who “booby-trapped” the building. “No hole or other indication” was discovered to suggest that the US coalition had struck the building directly, it said.
Overwhelmed by the barrage of questions regarding the US air campaign, Townsend joked that he feels like a police detective on TV, whom everyone is turning to for immediate answers. Unable to definitively answer amid the ongoing investigation, Townsend said:
“Our initial assessment is... shows that we did strike in that area. There were multiple strikes in that area. So is it possible that we did that? Yes, I think it is possible... because we struck in that area, I think there’s a fair chance that we did it.”