While the eyes of the world were on London, in the wake of the attack in Westminster, coalition airstrikes have continued to pound ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria. The air campaign which began 2 1/2 years ago has weakened ISIS’s foothold in the region and crippled its supply network. But as Iraqi forces are locked in a bloody struggle to recapture Mosul from ISIS forces, new reports of civilian casualties from US-led coalition airstrikes have emerged.
More than 200 civilians were reportedly killed in a single airstrike on Mosul, as the United Nations warns the worst was yet to come for those still trapped in the Iraqi city. Some 230 bodies of mostly women and children were pulled from three adjoining houses in the Jadida neighbourhood of west Mosul where ISIS fighters are still active. If confirmed, it would be the single deadliest attack on civilians since the start of the air campaign.
Iraqi forces are pushing into the densely-populated west Mosul, where 400,000 people are trapped in increasingly desperate conditions. A common strategy employed by ISIS is to group large numbers of civilians in houses where insurgents are operating from. The difficulty of distinguishing fighter from civilian has effectively made the residents of Mosul human shields in the bloody struggle.
In Syria, similar reports of large numbers of civilian casualties from coalition airstrikes are streaming out. On March 21st, a coalition airstrike on a school in the village of al-Mansoura, west of Raqqa killed at least 33 civilians. A week before, coalition airstrikes targeted a mosque in the village of al-Jina in Aleppo Province. At least 46 people were killed.
Airwars, an independent watchdog monitoring and assessing civilian casualties from international intervention in Iraq & Syria estimated a minimum of 2,700 civilian deaths from US-led coalition airstrikes since August, 2014.