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    Smoke rises from the old city during a battle against Islamic State militants, in Mosul, Iraq

    'Fair Chance' US Ops Contributed to Civilian Deaths in Mosul - CENTCOM Commander

    © REUTERS / Youssef Boudlal
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    US Central Command (CENTCOM) commander Gen. Joseph Votel said in a congressional hearing on Wednesday there is a considerable chance that a US counterterrorism strike in Iraq’s city of Mosul resulted in civilian casualties.

    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.

    Votel noted that there has been no change in the rules of engagement and CENTCOM is doing "everything humanely possible" to prevent civilian casualties as the result of its operations.

    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.

    The US military is concurrently reviewing more than 700 weapons systems videos over a ten-day period that followed the incident to understand the effects of the munitions that were dropped on the site, Votel said.

    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.


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    Daesh, Iraq, United States, Mosul
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