USA military launches probe into Mosul strike after civilian deaths reported

IS pack vehicles with explosive material in Mosul to create maximum havoc

Iraqi forces have discussed new tactics, which a USA military official said might include opening a second front and trying to isolate the Old City. If there is sufficient evidence, a formal investigation will be launched.

Iraq's military issued a statement saying that the March 17 deaths were caused by the Islamic State, which frequently booby traps entire buildings and regularly uses civilians as "human shields" to avoid coalition airstrikes. "Our weapons are quite we have to look at what we actually struck".

The same day a spokesman said the Pentagon placed the "highest priority" on investigating claims there had been dozens or even hundreds of civilian casualties after air strikes in western Mosul.

"We are stunned by this bad loss of life", Lise Grande, the U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said in a statement Friday.

"Disproportionate attacks and indiscriminate attacks violate worldwide humanitarian law and can constitute war crimes", Ms Rovera said.

A member of Iraq's elite Rapid Response Division holds position in the northern city of Mosul as they continue the offensive to retake the city's western half from Islamic State (IS).

In a statement issued on his website, Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi, himself from Mosul, described the incident as a "humanitarian catastrophe", blaming the US -led coalition airstrikes and excessive use of force by militarized Federal Police forces.

The airstrikes were all conducted in support of Iraqi security forces actively engaged against Islamic State fighters, he said.

The Iraqi military has been invading Mosul for almost six months, and fighting in the Old City has been going arduously slow.

Airing Monday on Fox News' "Shepard Smith Reporting", the Sky News video captured the firefights, damage and desperation as the world's most feared terrorist group makes its last stand in the war-torn nation. Airwars, a UK-based monitoring organization has raised questions about the surge in civilian deaths in the Mosul campaign in recent weeks. Reports say Islamic State extremists use civilians as human shields against Iraqi forces. "After the bombing stopped, I went out with some neighbors and found that some houses on my street were leveled". In a statement translated by Kurdish Rudaw media, the Iraqis claimed "a team of military experts", had come to the site after it was liberated by their forces.

The Iraqi military said 61 bodies have been recovered from destroyed buildings.

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Earlier on Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appeared to back the way the United States carries out strikes.

He said: "The civilians are really a big problem and their presence there is causing us a big delay because we don't fire mortars or airstrikes because we are very, very careful about civilian lives".

As to who was responsible for the civilian casualties, "at the moment the answer is we don't know", Colonel John Thomas said.

The US said on Saturday that it was investigating an airstrike on 17 March at "the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties".

"They pick their way past dead bodies covered by blankets and burnt-out suicide auto bombs", Crawford says. Some wonder if the new Trump administration is carrying out a more aggressive air campaign against the Islamic State than the previous Obama administration.

The U.S. military has always emphasized its precision in limiting civilian casualties as much as possible.

Isler said he could not provide details of the military investigation into the civilian deaths. "The same can not be said for our adversaries ...", he said.

Despite the uptick of claims that US strikes killed civilians in recent weeks, including allegations that two separate American strikes in Syria killed non-combatants, Thomas said the military is not considering a change to how it approaches the strikes.

However, independent watchdogs have said the true figure could be closer to 3,000, says The Independent.

It said any failure to take precautions to prevent civilian casualties would be "in flagrant violation of worldwide humanitarian law".

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