WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On March 17, an alleged US-led coalition airstrike, which targeted Daesh militants and their equipment, hit a building in al-Jadida neighborhood in western Mosul. The militants reportedly forced dozens of civilians into the structure and secured the building with explosives.
Iraqi media reported that up to 200 people, many of whom were civilians, were killed in the airstrike.
"I do agree with Lt. General Townsend’s comments yesterday… when he said that there is a fair chance that our operations may have contributed to civilian casualties," Votel told the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said that it has likely played a part in a recent strike in the Iraqi city of Mosul that resulted in high civilian casualties.
The commander underscored that the investigation into the alleged Mosul strike continues. Votel visited the actual site of the incident yesterday as CENTCOM gathered additional evidence on the incident.
Intelligence that was received from the Iraqi partners will also be assessed, Votel added.
Votel said it will be difficult for the US military to uphold its high standards for avoiding civilian casualties as the fight against Daesh moves further into Mosul’s urban terrain.
"As we move into these urban environments, it is going to become more and more difficult to apply extraordinarily high standards for the thing that we are doing, although we will try," Votel said in a testimony at the US House Armed Services Committee.
The commander explained that Daesh understands US sensitivity to civilian casualties. "They are exploiting that," Votel noted.