The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) has today confirmed that it launched an airstrike against one of Mosul’s main hospitals in “support of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)”, after ISF units botched an assault on a neighbourhood in east Mosul.
Soldiers from the Iraqi Ninth Armoured Division were said to have surged into the Al-Wahda district, where the Al-Salam hospital is located, with their advance being chalked up to a “change in tactics”.
Not long after, they were subjected to intense counterattacks and ambushes by Daesh militants in an action where the ISF sustained heavy losses and were forced to withdraw, with a relief force in the nearby Sumer neighbourhood also falling prey to Daesh ambushes.
Citing a military officer who asked to remain anonymous, Reuters reported that Daesh seemed to want the ISF soldiers to advance in order to better ambush them.
“We managed to make a swift advance on Tuesday in Al-Wahda but it seems that Daesh fighters were dragging us to an ambush and they managed to later surround some of our soldiers inside the hospital,” the military officer said.
In a press release today, CENTCOM confirmed that it yesterday launched airstrikes to relieve Iraqi troops around the Al-Salam hospital by bombing the medical facility.
“Iraqi Security Forces attempted to seize the [Al-Salam] hospital complex from ISIL fighters in the heart of East Mosul,” CENTCOM said, using another acronym for the Daesh extremist organisation.
Confirming that the ISF were forced to withdraw due to Daesh assaults, CENTCOM continued: “Iraqi forces continued to receive heavy and sustained machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from [Daesh] in a building on the hospital complex.”
“In support of the Iraqi Security Forces, Coalition aircraft conducted a precision strike on the location to target enemy fighters firing on Iraqi forces,” CENTCOM concluded.
The Iraqi soldier quoted earlier confirmed these airstrikes and said that ISF soldiers were able to pull out their wounded men and some of their destroyed vehicles from around the hospital compound.
Though CENTCOM insists that the US-led coalition complies with the international laws of war, hospitals were bombed in Mosul, Fallujah and other cities long before any street-to-street fighting with Daesh militants took place.
Sources familiar with events on the ground have also informed MEMO that the hospital was still partially in use at the time, though it is unclear if there were any civilian casualties resulting from the coalition airstrike on the hospital.