ISIS rigged explosives to home where 100 civilians died in US-led airstrike, military says

US

The Islamic State lured the U.S.-led forces into conducting an airstrike in March that killed over 100 civilians in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a top American military official said Thursday.

An investigation into the March bombing found that the terror groups rigged a house with over 1,000 pounds of explosives, put civilians in the basement, and employed two ISIS snipers on the roof to bait the U.S.-led coalition to attack.

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Matthew Isler, the investigating officer for US Central Command, told Pentagon reporters that the bomb used by the American jet, a GBU-38 (500-lb bomb), would not have caused the type of damage associated with the destruction of the building.

The probe found that the U.S. bomb triggered secondary explosions from devices clandestinely planted in the lower floors of the concrete building, Isler said. He said neither the Iraqi troops nor the Americans who authorized and conducted the airstrike knew civilians were in the building or that the explosive materials were present.

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Isler added that the home’s 30-inch concrete walls were “completely pulverized,” but the GBU-38, which has a 192-pound warhead, could not have caused such destruction.  The GBU-38 is designed to take out enemy combatants on roof tops, not collapse entire structures.

The American bomb “wouldn’t even dent any of the surrounding walls,” he added.

How ISIS managed to smuggle in half a ton of explosives remains in question, but Isler said bad weather over two days prior to the airstrike hampered the U.S. military’s ability to conduct drone reconnaissance over the target area in Mosul and that the weather combined with intense fighting led to “multiple opportunities” for ISIS to smuggle in both the explosives and the civilians into the building.

“We don’t know when it was moved to the residence,” Isler said.  “No one saw ISIS move explosives into that area.”

Isler said Iraqi forces suffered casualties hours after the strike as they attempted to recover Iraqi civilians killed in the strike and rescue others wounded and trapped under the rubble. Some 101 civilians in the building were killed, and another four died in a nearby building, while 36 civilians remain unaccounted for.

The airstrike was likely the largest single incident of civilian deaths since the U.S. air campaign against ISIS began in 2014. The deaths represent about a quarter of all civilian deaths associated with U.S. airstrikes since the air campaign began in 2014.

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this piece.

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

5 years and billions of dollars needed to rebuild Mosul, officials say

5 years and billions of dollars needed to rebuild Mosul, officials say

  • © Muhammad Hamed
  • Reuters
3 May 2017 | 18:17 GMT

The occupation by Islamic State and the battle to oust the extremists have reduced much of Mosul to rubble. A five-year plan to get the war-torn city back on its feet has been drawn up, but finding the money is proving to be a problem.

The airport, the train station and the university are among the many buildings in Iraq’s once-proud, second-biggest city that lie in ruins. Over 100,000 precious manuscripts from the university were looted or destroyed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) who considered them blasphemous, according to activists.

In November 2016, the Iraqi government announced plans to start rebuilding Mosul after the city’s liberation from the militants. Local officials are currently surveying the damage in liberated eastern Mosul.

“After Mosul is fully liberated, we need a working plan to restore things to the way they were before 2014 when Islamic State took over,” Noureldin Qablan, deputy chairman of the Nineveh provincial council, told Reuters.

Qablan said that he and a group of 33 other Nineveh councilors have already started planning Mosul’s reconstruction, which will be carried out in phases. The first six months will focus on bringing back power, security and running water, which will be following by a two-year rebuilding process.

The plan also includes a two-year reconciliation process and a 30-month drive aimed at attracting outside investment.

But all this will cost billions of dollars, which the Iraqi government is unlikely to be able to afford. Even repairing houses at a cost of around $5,000 apiece will stretch the budget.

“Honestly, we are not getting enough support. What has been allocated to Nineveh in 2017 was 52 billion Iraqi dinars ($44.5 million), which is a very small sum for a province this size,” Qablan told Reuters.

“In 2013, we were allocated 738 billion dinars, yet after all this destruction we get just 52. It is very hard to reach our goals with this sum, so we are counting on foreign grants.”

The Nineveh council hopes to attract international aid from organizations such as the United Nations. Italy is already helping to rebuild a hospital.

And the threat from IS remains.

Iraqi troops, backed by US-led coalition airstrikes and Shia and Kurdish militias, have liberated the whole eastern side of Mosul in a six-month offensive that began in October. But securing the west of the city, in particular the northwest and the Old City, where the militants are currently holed up, has been proving a problem as firmly-entrenched militants have put up fierce resistance through booby traps, sniper fire and mortar shells filled with toxic gas.

IS militants are still holding out in the historic Grand al-Nuri Mosque, where leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first declared his so-called caliphate in 2014.

Hundreds of civilians are being killed as the confrontation between IS and Iraqi forces intensifies, and the UN has warned of a possible “humanitarian catastrophe” if the siege conditions continue.

ISIS executing civilians for trying to flee Mosul – eyewitnesses

ISIS executing civilians for trying to flee Mosul – eyewitnesses
Islamic State militants have been killing scores of civilians attempting to flee the war-torn city of Mosul in Iraq, according to eyewitness reports, with as many as 50 people being put to death in the latest mass execution.

Fighting in western Mosul has been intensifying in recent weeks as Iraqi troops, backed by Shia and Kurdish militias as well as airstrikes from the US-led coalition, close in on the Old City, a stronghold of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

As it loses territory, IS has told the local population that the approaching forces will kill or imprison them in an attempt to deter people fleeing. But when this doesn’t work, the militant group has turned to mass executions of would-be refugees. In the latest incident, 50 civilians were executed in western Mosul on Saturday, a local source told Alsumaria News.

Another witness, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters he found a relative’s mutilated body left hanging on an electric pole in the Tenek district, along with three others who tried to flee.

“Their appearance was shocking. We weren’t able to get them down and they have been there for two days,” he said.

A woman who successfully made it out of IS-occupied territory described her narrow escape.

“They took our bags thinking there was gold or money in them and as they were busy checking the contents, we fled through the houses taking advantage of the pitch darkness,” she told Reuters. “I fear those families who stayed in Daesh’s [pejorative term for IS] grip met a terrible fate.”

The Kurdistan Regional Security Council has said that 140 civilians were killed trying to flee IS-controlled areas on Monday and Tuesday.

US military sources say that IS is using the civilian population as human shields in order to maximize casualties, giving the militants a propaganda boost.

“They brought the civilians back into the fight,” Brig. Gen. John Richardson, a coalition deputy commanding general in Irbil, told the Stars and Stripes, adding that Iraqi soldiers had recently found nine headless bodies at a traffic circle, along with a sign threatening more killings if anyone else tried to flee. “They’re actually telling them to stay in the neighborhoods.”

Some 150,000 civilians have fled the city, with a further 600,000 still in Mosul, 400,000 of whom are trapped in the embattled Old City, according to the United Nations.

But while the US-led forces might shift the responsibility for civilian casualties onto IS, scores have been reportedly dying in coalition airstrikes as well. In March, a Pentagon spokesman admitted the US “probably had a role” in a single bombing that killed around 240 people alone.

“You know that at the end of the missile there are four flaps, on that cartridge was written ‘made in USA’,” one man, who lost his wife and whose four-year-old child was left badly disfigured in separate airstrikes, told RT.

‘All of us were ISIS human shields’: RT meets survivors of Mosul siege (EXCLUSIVE)

The battle for Mosul has taken a heavy toll on civilians struggling to escape the crossfire between ISIS and the Iraqi army, survivors have told RT’s Murad Gazdiev. US and Iraqi officials, however, cannot evaluate the casualties, citing a lack of “visibility” on the situation.

Death & destruction: Learn more about liberation of Mosul

A hospital in Erbil has received as many as 120 wounded every day since the beginning of the operation to retake western Mosul from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists. Injured civilians, who managed to escape the ongoing bloodshed are being treated in the hospital, but many others have died trying to do so. The RT crew visited the busy facility and heard the chilling tales of survival and daring escapes from the city.

Civilians are suffering at the hands of the both warring sides — as IS terrorists deliberately hide among them in order to attract US-backed coalition strikes and thus inflict as many casualties as possible among the population.

“We were five families together when ISIS fighters came to our house and went on the roof. We asked to be allowed to leave– we knew a jet would bomb the house, but they said no,” an injured man told RT. “The Iraqi army came and shot at our house with an Abrams tank. Seven civilians were killed and their bodies are still there. Everyone else fled —children, women, people with injuries — everyone ran where they could.”

“If ISIS has one great talent – it is their ability to kill people. If they take an area with a population of a thousand, in six months there will only be 500 left,” the man added. “Ask anyone in this hospital — and every single one will tell you that we were ISIS’s human shield.”

Iraqi military actions inevitably inflict heavy civilian casualties as the army intensifies its attempts to crush IS within the war-torn city, some of the Erbil hospital patients told RT’s Gazdiev.

“The Iraqi soldiers didn’t know people were in the house. When they get shot at — they respond with fire. So when ISIS started shooting at them, they shoot back,” an Iraqi man said.

Many of those who managed to escape the carnage have paid a heavy price.

“We ran out of our home, and the army came to drive us away. When we got out of the cars, the shells started falling,” a girl in a wheelchair told RT.

Her legs were sprayed by shrapnel, but she got off lightly, compared to her mother. The woman has lost her eye, an arm and the ability to walk after being hit in an IS shelling, but the loss of relatives pains her the most.

READ MORE: ‘Western bombardment of Mosul radicalizing Sunni Muslims around the world’ – George Galloway

“All I remember is everyone laying on the ground, covered in blood. I think my brother and his son were killed. They tell me they’re OK… but I’m his sister. I can feel it,” she said. “Perhaps I committed some sin to deserve this. But I don’t know what I did, I just don’t know…”

Besides the IS mortar and artillery shelling, US-led coalition airstrikes also cause heavy suffering among Mosul’s civilians, according to survivors.

“We heard regularly of airstrikes hitting civilians. We ourselves spent two weeks on the floor, with the windows covered, so that no one would see us,” the maimed woman added.

The exodus from Mosul might accelerate rapidly as the Iraqi army pushes deeper into densely populated western neighborhoods where some 700,000 people are still trapped. Almost 100,000 Iraqis have been displaced by the battle in the 19 days since February 25, according to the latest estimates by the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM).

A prominent Iraqi politician, Khamis Khanjar, warned the US-backed coalition on Monday that attempts to accelerate the battle would lead only to a surge in civilian deaths.

At least 3,500 civilians have already perished in west Mosul since the beginning of the latest offensive, according to Khanjar, who noted that most of the casualties have been inflicted by incessant coalition airstrikes and shelling.

“There were heavy casualties due to speeding up of military operations and we see this as a big mistake and residents who we are in touch with have much more fear than in the past of the ongoing military operations,” Reuters quoted Khanjar as saying. “We hope the US-led coalition doesn’t hurry up in this way without taking into consideration the human lives.”

US officials, however, could neither verify nor debunk these shocking figures, voiced by the Iraqi politician. The spokesman for the US State Department, Mark Toner, admitted that Washington has little data on what is really happening in Mosul.

“I just don’t have any kind of visibility on these exact allegations,” Toner told RT’s correspondent Gayane Chichakyan.

A lack of verified accounts, however, never prevented US officials from condemning reports of civilian sufferings and casualties during the Aleppo liberation. As many human rights advocates have noted, western mainstream media has also followed a similar pattern, citing all kinds of questionable sources to report casualties allegedly skyrocketing among eastern Aleppo residents.

READ MORE: ‘More have already fled Mosul than E. Aleppo during liberation’ – Russian FM

The Mosul operation gets completely different coverage in the media than the Aleppo liberation did, as civilian losses and hardships are muffled, Bolivian documentary filmmaker and director of the “The Voice of Syria” Carla Ortiz told RT.

“Whatever the media was covering 24/7 was basically on every wrong move that the Syrian Army, or Russia, or Iran were making. Of course, there were many casualties as well because that’s why it’s a war,” Ortiz said. “But I think about Mosul we don’t have much information about what is really happening. There’s a lot of silence about it, and if you want to find out you have to really go deep in.”

‘ISIS trapped & going to die’: US reaffirms rules of engagement in Mosul

As the fighting in Mosul rages on, the number of civilian casualties and displacements have grown significantly. While vowing to avoid civilian casualties by all means, the US is adamantly helping to maintain the siege until every single jihadist dies there.

Air strikes targeting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) fighters in the Iraqi city of Mosul are frequently killing civilians, a number of residents who lost loved ones have been telling RT recently. While the Islamic State is known to use men, women, and children as human shields in Mosul, the city’s residents have also accused the coalition of indiscriminate bombing.

READ MORE: ‘They were bombing randomly’: Mosul civilians doubt coalition’s careful targeting claims

On Sunday, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter Islamic State fighters, Brett McGurk bluntly warned that any remaining jihadists in Mosul will be killed inside the besieged city.

“ISIS is trapped. … Any of the fighters left in Mosul, they’re going to die there,” McGurk said in a conference in Baghdad. “So we are very committed to not just defeating them in Mosul, but making sure these guys cannot escape.”

Following McGurk’s remarks which coincides with reports of growing civilian casualties, RT asked the US State Department if Washington is still committed to its earlier pledge to do everything possible to spare civilian lives across Iraq.

In November, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the US takes “every effort” and “every precaution to avoid civilian casualties” across Iraq event to the point where the US will call off a strike “against known enemy targets because they put civilians at risk.”

When asked again on Monday by RT’s correspondent Gayane Chichakyan if the rules of engagement have changed in any way for the Mosul operation, Toner replied: “they [rules of engagement] have not changed.”

“We try to have the best intelligence and information available that we can to avoid any civilian casualties. And again, we stand – I stand by those comments that we will sometimes, if we have information that indicates that there’s civilians nearby or civilians in a place, then we will refrain from acting,” Toner noted.

The spokesman said that if the reported allegations of strikes targeting civilians are credible, “that would need to be investigated, looked into, and… if changes need to be made in terms of targeting, then that’s something that Department of Defense would look at.”

Since October 2016, Mosul has been besieged by Iraqi troops, backed by Kurdish Peshmerga forces, Shiite militias, and the US-led coalition, trying to drive Islamic State out of the city.

In January, the eastern half of Mosul was recaptured and operations to liberate the western side are ongoing. About one-third of Western Mosul has so far been liberated.

While the civilian death toll is impossible to calculate amid the ongoing battle for Iraq’s second largest city, Sheikh Khamis Khanjar, the founder of the Office of the Sunni Arab Representative for Iraq, said at least 3,500 civilians have been killed in the battle for Mosul.

Khanjar noted that most casualties are a result of US air strikes and “indiscriminate” shelling of crowded neighborhoods by the US-trained elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) forces, Reuters reported. According to Khanjar, some 850,000 people are still believed to be living in Mosul.

‘Worse number of airstrike casualties in than during , media fails to cover‘ – monitor https://on.rt.com/85nt 

Photo published for ‘Worse number of airstrike casualties in Mosul than during Aleppo, media fails to cover‘ – monitor...

‘Worse number of airstrike casualties in Mosul than during Aleppo, media fails to cover‘ – monitor…

The number of civilian casualties from airstrikes by the US-led coalition in the Iraqi city of Mosul exceeds the numbers reported by the media during the operation to retake Aleppo by Syrian and…

rt.com

The London-based Airwars monitoring group had earlier in the day assessed that the number of civilian casualties in Mosul far exceeded the numbers reported by the media during the operation to retake Aleppo by Syrian and Russian forces.

“Since the assault, first on east Mosul and then west Mosul began, we have seen just a remarkable change at Mosul, moving from tens of civilians reported killed every week or even every month, to hundreds reported killed every week now by coalition airstrikes,” Airwars director Chris Woods told RT’s Ruptly video agency.

In addition to the mounting civilian death toll, more than 200,000 refugees have fled Mosul since last October, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Iraq’s pro-government forces discover mass grave in Mosul

The grim discovery comes as government-backed Iraqi forces liberate territories occupied by the ‘Islamic State’ group. Extremists slaughtered thousands of Yazidi men and turned the women and girls into sex slaves.

Irak Schiitische Kämpfer rücken nach Badusch vor (Getty Images/AFP/M. Sawaf)

Iraqi paramilitary forces said Saturday that they had uncovered a mass grave with the bodies of hundreds of people who were executed by “Islamic State” (IS) militants at Badush prison near Mosul.

It is the latest discovery in Iraq as the country’s paramilitary forces continue to take back territory captured by IS three years ago. Iraqi forces have uncovered dozens of mass graves containing hundreds, if not thousands, of bodies, as they push back IS forces after more than two years of heavy fighting, including the current initiative to retake Mosul.

Watch video03:42

Yazidi survivors of IS torture win EU’s Sakharov prize

IS militants reportedly slaughtered as many as 600 people after taking control of Badush in 2014. The militants are also accused of kidnapping hundreds of Yazidi women and holding them at the prison.

The Hashed al-Shaabi, an umbrella group of pro-government fighters made up primarily of Iranian-backed Shiite militias, were among the forces that recaptured the prison from jihadists, according to the Iraqi military.

Hashed forces found “a large mass grave containing the remains of around 500 civilian prisoners in [Badush] prison who were executed by [IS] gangs after they controlled the prison during their occupation of Mosul,” the military said Saturday.

It was not immediately clear how the Hashed reached that figure, which could not be independently verified, but it is in keeping with accounts of IS militants killing hundreds of inmates from Badush.

Lamiya Aji Baschar (picture-alliance/AP Photo/B. Szlanko)Lamiya Bashar was forced into sexual slavery by IS militants, and badly injured by a landmine while escaping her captors

Mass graves and sex slaves

Human Rights Watch has reported that IS gunmen executed as many as 600 inmates at the prison on June 10, 2014, forcing them to kneel along a nearby ravine and then shooting them with assault rifles, an account also contained in a United Nations report.

Most of those executed were believed to have been members of Iraq’s Shiite Muslim majority, whom IS considers heretics.

Watch video02:20

Scores of IS victims buried in mass graves

IS abuses at the jail extended beyond the execution of its inmates. Iraqi lawmaker Vian Dakhil said in 2014 that the jihadists held more than 500 Yazidi women at Badush.

Members of the Yazidi religious minority were victims of a vicious campaign of executions, kidnapping and rape. The jihadists killed the men and used the women and girls as sex slaves.

This is not the first time a mass grave has been uncovered on territory formally held by IS. Iraqi forces found one grave last November that appeared to have more than two dozen bodies. It was in the Hamam al-Alil area south of Mosul.

Earlier this year Iraqi forces found a sinkhole known as the Khasfah, which could be the largest mass grave of the war with IS.

Local residents said IS used it as an execution site and a mass grave where they would dispose of victims.

bik/jlw (AFP, dpa)

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Iraqi forces near government buildings in Mosul as fight against ISIS continues

US-backed Iraqi forces are set to reach the main government complex in Mosul, their next target in the battle to retake the city from Islamic State.

The site should be taken on Monday, Lieutenant Colonel Abdel Amir al-Mohammadawi told the Reuters news agency.

Meanwhile, Colonel John L Dorrian, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the American-led coalition against ISIS, told Sky News the Iraqi forces were “imposing their will on the enemy” in the city.

Related stories…

  • Wave of ISIS car bombs targets Iraqi troops in west Mosul

  • ISIS fighters try hiding among Mosul families as refugee rates surge

  • ISIS fighters’ handwritten letters found at abandoned Mosul training compound

“They’re not going to be pushed out of Mosul – they’re going to surrender or they’re going to be killed there,” he vowed.

A senior commander said earlier Iraqi troops had been involved in the “heaviest” clashes yet with ISIS fighters in the west of the city since the start of their offensive.

Major General Haider al-Maturi of the Federal Police Commandos Division told the Associated Press the militants had dispatched at least six suicide car bombs, which were all destroyed before reaching Iraqi forces.

He said ISIS fighters are moving from house to house and deploying snipers.

Iraqi forces launched attacks against ISIS-held neighborhoods in western Mosul from three points on Sunday morning.

Read more from SkyNews.

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