Pentagon probe of Mosul airstrike underscores urgent need to protect civilians

The airstrike on the house in Mosul's al-Jadida neighborhood on March 17 became one of the deadliest incidents of the Mosul siege - an operation carried out by the Iraqi Army with the support of the US-led coalition.

CENTCOM said the worldwide coalition fighting the Islamic State, also called ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, concluded an investigation and "found that the secondary explosion of ISIS-emplaced material triggered a rapid failure of the structure which killed the two ISIS snipers, 101 civilians sheltered in the bottom floors of the structure and four civilians in a neighboring structure".

"The investigation determined that ISIS emplaced a large amount of explosive material in a structure containing a significant number of civilians and then attacked Iraqi forces from the structure", the Pentagon said in a statement.

The strike in question occurred the morning of March 17, when Operation Inherent Resolve coalition aircraft struck the building after the two snipers engaged Iraqi Counterterrorism Service forces.

"The Pentagon will say that such a small bomb could not have reduced this building to basically a crater" without being enhanced by other explosives, he adds.

"The coalition selected a single GBU-38 precision-guided munition as the most appropriate and proportionate means of engagement to neutralize the threat and to minimize collateral damage", CENTCOM said.

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Coalition investigators' analysis of the blast site found "residues common to explosives used by ISIS, but not consistent with the explosive content of a GBU-38", the Pentagon says.

Iraq's military previously said explosives rigged by the Islamic State - rather than airstrikes - killed the civilians in the incident. Isler said it was a home owned by a well-regarded Iraqi, who invited people to take shelter there because it was sturdy and well-built.

The conclusion, said U.S. Air Force Brig. He said the neighbors refused to leave and, as a result, were told by IS that "what happens to you is on you".

In October, Iraqi government forces launched a major offensive backed by US -led coalition air strikes to recapture Mosul, the main IS stronghold in the country.

The group's senior crisis response adviser, Donatella Rovera, also acknowledged the challenges in places such as Mosul. "However, once the fighting got underway, possibilities are created for people to leave". The deaths represent about a quarter of all civilian deaths associated with USA airstrikes since the air campaign began in 2014.

"While we welcome the United States investigation into the Jadida airstrike, we are curious to know whether any lessons were learned and what steps were taken to ensure such horrors do not occur again".

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