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Iraqi civilians told not to flee Mosul before airstrikes

Collapsed buildings and damaged vehicles are seen as the operation to retake Mosul from Daesh terrorists continue on 12 March 2017 [Hemn Baban/Anadolu]
Collapsed buildings and damaged vehicles are seen as the operation to retake Mosul from Daesh terrorists continue on 12 March 2017 [Hemn Baban/Anadolu]

The Iraqi government advised residents in Mosul to stay at home instead of fleeing the city ahead of airstrikes that killed 150 civilians, a report released by Amnesty International revealed.

The report suggests adequate precautions are not being taken to prevent civilian deaths in the battle to push Daesh out of the city.

Survivors and eyewitnesses say they received repeated instructions on the radio and were warned by leaflets dropped by plane to remain in their homes and so did not attempt to flee. Iraqi forces say they asked civilians to stay where they were to prevent large-scale displacement.

Read: After civilians killed in Mosul, Pentagon denies loosening rules

US officials have stopped short of admitting there were civilian casualties but eventually opened an investigation into the strikes that hit a west Mosul neighbourhood on 17 March.

Senior Crisis Response Advisor Donatella Rovera said there is an "alarming pattern of US-led coalition strikes which have destroyed whole houses with entire families inside… disproportionate attacks and indiscriminate attacks violate international humanitarian law and can constitute war crimes."

Survivors of an airstrike that killed 16 people and destroyed three houses told Amnesty that as far as they were aware, no Daesh fighters had been present in or around the house.

US President Donald Trump has refused to answer questions on whether the US has become less selective in its targeting of Daesh in Syria and Iraq, which has led to the increase in civilian deaths. Coalition jets have been accused of causing scores of civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria.

International humanitarian law demands all feasible precautions are taken to minimise harm to civilians.

Categories
Amnesty InternationalAsia & AmericasIraqMiddle EastNewsUS
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