ISIS Explosives Contributed to 105 Civilian Deaths in March Airstrike

ISIS explosives that had been previously planted in the building contributed to 105 civilian deaths resulting from a coalition airstrike on March 17 in Western Mosul, according to the results of a Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve investigation. The strike was intended to take out two snipers using the building as cover to fire on Iraqi forces. Iraqi and coalition forces were unaware that 137 civilians were also using the lower floors of the building to shelter. When coalition forces dropped a GBU-38 precision-guided munition, the detonation of the weapon triggered a secondary explosion that caused damage “far in excess to what could have been caused by the GBU-38’s net explosive weight,” according to the investigation’s structural analysis. Investigators also found at the site “residues common to explosives used by ISIS, but not consistent with the explosive content of a GBU-38 munition,” according to an OIR statement. As a result of the secondary explosion, “the vast majority” of the civilians in the building were killed, as well as four more in an adjacent structure, the investigation concludes. Thirty-six civilians remain unaccounted for.