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Rudaw

Iraq

Mosul civilians still vulnerable to airstrikes, new report

By Rudaw 16/4/2017
A man cries over the body of family member killed in an airstrike in west Mosul on March 17. Photo: Aris Messinis/AFP
A man cries over the body of family member killed in an airstrike in west Mosul on March 17. Photo: Aris Messinis/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Civilians in west Mosul remain vulnerable to airstrikes one month after at least 130 were killed in a likely coalition airstrike, the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights has reported, documenting the deaths of tens of people in reported airstrikes during the past week.

The Observatory claimed the coalition is most likely responsible for deadly airstrikes and that it has not altered its tactics after the deadly incident of March 17, despite close international scrutiny. 

“The Observatory confirmed that the international coalition continues to use the same techniques that led to the death of hundreds of civilians previously without any observed changes to protect west Mosul civilians from their fires, which in fact must be aimed at ISIS,” reads a report published by the Observatory on Sunday.

The Observatory documented the deaths of tens of people, including entire families, in several airstrikes between April 10 and 15 based on reports from eyewitnesses. 

Five families, numbering about 30 people in total, were killed on April 10 when an airstrike destroyed their house near the Yarmouk bridge. The house was hit about an hour after an ISIS militant had left the roof of the house, a family member of the deceased told the Observatory. 

Three generations of one family of 42 people gathered in a house in the Bab Sinjar area were killed on April 15 in a reported airstrike. 

On the same day, another house in the Islah area was completely destroyed. An eyewitness whose son was injured in the incident told the Observatory, “ISIS fighters launched a drone from my son’s house and ran. This was followed by two missiles targeting the house and resulted in the death of 8 civilians. So far their bodies still remain under the rubble.”

The Observatory stated that it urges all parties to the conflict to abide by international human rights law and give priority to protecting civilians. “It also demands the international coalition and the intelligence entities responsible for detecting ISIS targets on ground to be more precise and cautious to avoid any harm to civilians.”

A likely coalition airstrike killed at least 130 people in west Mosul on March 17, as was first reported by Rudaw. The coalition and Iraqi forces are carrying out an investigation of the incident, but coalition officials have admitted one of their strikes likely played a role in the deaths of the civilians who appear to have been in one house by ISIS as human shields. 

Coalition spokesperson Col. John Dorrian told reporters this week that ISIS has “intensified their efforts to bring civilians into harm’s way. This is something that is a despicable and cowardly tactic.”

He declined to get into specifics of the ongoing investigation, but said “I know that there's been some lab work conducted to try and, you know, look at some samples of various substances that were found around the sites. There had been engineers and experts brought in. There have been a lot of witnesses interviewed,” in order to put together a comprehensive picture of what happened. 

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