The U.S. military has acknowledged it might be behind a deadly strike in west Mosul ostensibly against Islamic State positions but which claimed more than 100 civilians in the bombing on March 17.
“An initial review of strike data…indicates that, at the request of the Iraqi Security Forces, the Coalition struck ISIS fighters and equipment, March 17, in West Mosul at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties,” Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the task force leading the coalition, said in a statement released Saturday.
Both Iraqi officials and witnesses on the ground have reported heavy casualties due to airstrikes in recent days. However, prior to this statement, OIR had said officials did not know for sure if the U.S. carried out strikes in the bombarded area known as Mosul al-Jadida. Local Iraqi personnel claim to have recovered roughly 60 bodies from one leveled building in the area.
OIR said it is investigating the strike.
The United States has been carrying out airstrikes against ISIS positions in Iraq since 2014, while the U.S.-led coalition has also bombed the group’s strongholds in Syria. If the 100-plus figure turns out to be correct, the Washington Post reports that the strike would “mark the greatest loss of civilian life” since those strikes began. Some put the death toll even higher, at as many as 200 civilians.
At the beginning of March, OIR said in a statement that “it is more likely than not, at least 220 civilians have been unintentionally killed by Coalition strikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve.”
Meanwhile, Airwars, a monitoring organization based in the United Kingdom, has recently reported claims that civilian casualties have allegedly escalated since President Donald Trump took office in January.