A Pentagon investigation has found that more than 100 civilians were killed after the US dropped a bomb on a building in Mosul, Iraq, in March.
The probe found that the US bomb triggered secondary explosions from devices clandestinely planted there by Isis fighters. And the military says the secondary blasts caused the concrete building to collapse.
It was likely the largest single incident of civilian deaths since the U.S. air campaign against Isis began in 2014.
The lead investigator is Air Force Brig. Gen. Matthew Isler. Brig. Gen. Isler says 101 civilians in the building were killed, and another four died in a nearby building. He says 36 civilians remain unaccounted for.
The deaths represent about a quarter of all civilian deaths since the U.S. air campaign began.
Critics have claimed the attack shows the US has been too aggressive in bombing congested areas like Mosul. The major Iraqi city – and last Isis city stronghold – has a population of more than 660,000.
The incident generated an international backlash strong enough to halt the Iraqi government forces’ six-month advance into Mosul.
“It’s a time for weighing new offensive plans and tactics. No combat operations are to go on,” a Federal Police spokesman said at the time
But the newly released Pentagon report casts blame for the casualties on Isis, saying the fighters placed secondary explosives in the building. According to the report, the 500-pound GBU-38 bomb dropped by US forces was intended to destroy only the top floor of the building.
Analysis of the building debris reportedly found materials common to Isis-made bombs, but not found in the GBU-38.
A spokesperson for the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve defended the US’s tactics in March.
“Our goal has always been for zero civilian casualties, but the coalition will not abandon our commitment to our Iraqi partners because of Isis’ inhuman tactics terrorising civilians, using human shields, and fighting from protected sites such as schools, hospitals, religious sites and civilian neighbourhoods,” he said.
Brig. Gen. Isler says American-led forces dropped the bomb under request from Iraqi Counter-terrorism Services, who were fighting their way into Mosul.
The counter-terrorism forces were reportedly facing gunfire from two Isis snipers. The US has increasingly turned to air strikes to access snipers in the densely populated area.
Families in the western district of al-Jadida sheltered in their homes as the air strike started on 17 March. Afterward, journalists reported children and at least one pregnant woman among the dead.
Courtesy: The Independent