CENTCOM Investigating Civilian Deaths in Mosul Airstrike

US Central Command is investigating the March 17 strike in Western Mosul that reportedly killed more than 100 civilians, though the command maintains it consistently works to avoid civilian casualties. The strike in the Mosul El Jadida neighborhood reportedly hit a building where more than 100 civilians were hiding. Iraqi Security Forces requested the strike, which targeted ISIS fighters and equipment, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve said in a Sunday statement. CENTCOM chief Gen. Joseph Votel, said in a statement, that the death of the civilians is a tragedy and “we are investigating the incident to determine exactly what happened and will continue to take extraordinary measures to avoid harming civilians.” The fight in Mosul is difficult because ISIS fighters are operating among civilians, so “the Iraqi ground forces and the coalition forces supporting them have taken deliberate actions to minimize unnecessary suffering,” Votel said. Defense Secretary James Mattis, questioned about the strike on Monday, said the US, more than any other military in the world, is more sensitive to civilian casualties. “We are keenly aware that every battlefield where an enemy hides behind women and children is also a humanitarian [shield] and we go out of our way to always do everything humanly possible to reduce the loss of life or injury among innocent people,” Mattis said. “The same cannot be said for our adversaries and that is up to you to sort out.” If the reported numbers of deaths are confirmed, it would be the largest loss of civilian life in a US or coalition airstrike in the war against ISIS.