ISIS herds civilians into booby-trapped buildings
The United Nations condemned the “massive loss of civilian lives in western Mosul” in a statement on Tuesday.
UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Raad Al Hussein accused the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) of herding civilians into explosive-rigged buildings in the besieged Iraqi city to “compound devastation.”
He said at least 307 civilians had been killed and 273 wounded in western Mosul since February 17 as IS fighters used civilians as human shields and fired on those who fled.
“This is an enemy that ruthlessly exploits civilians to serve its own ends, and clearly has not even the faintest qualm about deliberately placing them in danger,” he said in a statement.
“It is vital that the Iraqi Security Forces and their coalition partners avoid this trap,” he said, while calling for them to conduct transparent investigations into deadly incidents involving their forces.
On March 17, an explosion in the al-Jadida district killed more than 200 people. Investigators were in Mosul on Tuesday to determine whether a coalition air strike or IS explosives caused the blast, a US military commander said.
Iraq’s military command blamed militants for rigging the building with explosives to cause civilian casualties, but some witnesses said an air strike hit the building, burying many families under the rubble.
“It is very possible that Daesh (IS) blew up that building to blame it on the coalition in order to cause a delay in the offensive on Mosul and cause a delay in the use of coalition air strikes,” US Army chief of staff Mark Milley said.
“It is possible that a coalition air strike did it. We don’t know yet. There are investigators on the ground.”
The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights said since the campaign against western Mosul began, there were unconfirmed reports of nearly 700 civilians killed by coalition air strikes or IS action.