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‘US-led coalition may have killed civilians in Mosul’

Coalition aircraft had targeted a “van carrying ISIS fighters” in the area, CENTCOM for the Middle East said

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The US-led coalition against ISIS militants may have killed civilians in an air strike on a hospital car park in northern Iraq on Thursday, officials said. The Iraqi army, supported by the coalition, began the second phase of its offensive to retake Mosul, which has been under ISIS control for more than two years.

Coalition aircraft had targeted a “van carrying ISIS fighters” in the area, according to CENTCOM, the US military command for the Middle East. The strike took place “in what was later determined to be a hospital compound parking lot resulting in possible civilian casualties,” a statement read.

Also read: Iraqis celebrate first Christmas near Mosul after ISIS pushed out

ISIS militants had been observed firing an anti-tank gun “before loading the weapon in the van and driving off,” CENTCOM added, promising the incident would be “fully investigated and the findings released in a timely and transparent manner.” The coalition says it is taking extensive precautions to avoid killing civilians during its bombing of ISIS targets.

It routinely uses precision-guided bombs or missiles to hit targets that are often observed by drones for hours before being hit. But the coalition has already admitted to killing at least 173 civilians in its strikes in Iraq and Syria since the start of its campaign against the ISIS group, a number independent observers believe is greatly understated. The London-based NGO Airwars estimates the coalition campaign has actually killed more than 2,000 civilians.