Homeland Security

Did a U.S. Airstrike Kill 200 Civilians in Mosul? Maybe Not

Rick Moran reported here at PJ Media last weekend that CENTCOM was investigating a March 17 U.S. airstrike in Mosul, Iraq, that some claimed had killed up to 200 civilians:

On Sunday, CENTCOM published a statement confirming that they conducted an airstrike in that area at the request of Iraqi allies:

An initial review of strike data from March 16-23 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.

CJTF–OIR takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and a formal Civilian Casualty Credibility Assessment has been opened to determine the facts surrounding this strike and the validity of the allegation of civilian casualties.

Needless to say, Russian media propaganda outlets are having a field day with the claim, as Russia was called out for the intentional bombing of civilians in Aleppo in Syria:

The international media are pushing the story too:

And human rights groups are specifically blaming President Trump, claiming the civilian casualties are the result of his loosening of Rules of Engagement:

But now there is some evidence that the U.S. airstrike — again, called in by our Iraqi allies — may not have been directly responsible:

The BBC reports:

Reports suggested the disputed air strike, or strikes, killed more than 100 people in the Jadideh neighbourhood. But the details, and even the exact date, remain sketchy. Some reports suggested more than 200 bodies were pulled from a collapsed building.

However, the Iraqi military, on its Facebook page, has issued a detailed rebuttal of claims that an air strike was behind the deaths. The statement names al-Resala neighbourhood rather than Jadideh.

It says the coalition carried out an air strike, at the request of Iraqi forces, at 08:25 local time on 17 March.

Iraqi military experts checked a house “reportedly targeted by an air strike and they found out that the house was completely destroyed and there was no sign that it was destroyed by a strike”.

The Iraqi statement goes on: “A huge detonated booby-trapped vehicle was found near the house. Some 61 dead bodies were pulled from under the rubble.”

The military says eyewitnesses described how IS used houses, rigged with explosives and containing families, from which to fire at security forces.

And there is also independent evidence from inside Mosul as well.

One local operating on Twitter as “Mosul Eye” addressed the incident. He claims relatives were killed in the blast and attributes the ultimate cause to an ISIS VBIED stationed near the building:

The Jerusalem Post had a good run-down of what is now known about the incident beyond the immediate breathless media hype, including the lowering of fatalities from 200-plus to 61:

CENTCOM said yesterday that the investigation into the incident continues:

A few observations regarding civilian casualties in Mosul:

First: the Pentagon, under Obama, was promising the Mosul offensive would be concluded TWO YEARS AGO:

Second: the battle for Mosul—Iraq’s second largest city with over a million residents—against Obama’s “JV team” has been fierce:

Third: when it comes to civilian casualties in Mosul, some of the same groups and media outlets now attacking Trump for this incident were already saying months ago that civilian casualties in this offensive would be huge:

Fourth: residents of Mosul were told to stay in place — and not by the U.S.:

Fifth: the claims that the loosening of the Rules of Engagement in the Mosul offensive are to blame for the high civilian casualties are getting pushback from some unlikely quarters, including former Vice President Biden’s National Security Adviser Colin Kahl, who has been a fierce critic of the Trump administration:

And also from Army officers (CAS = Close Air Support):

And U.S. military brass:

The Pentagon and the media will continue to investigate this incident. But the breathless reporting with inflated casualty figures being used as a partisan battering ram to attack President Trump’s policies appears to not be accurate.