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Iraq Suspends Mosul Advance Due to High Civilian Deaths

Iraq has suspended its advance on ISIS in Mosul due to the vast increase in civilian deaths from coalition bombings.

Iraqi military leaders have halted their push to recapture west Mosul from Islamic State as international outrage grew over the civilian toll from airstrikes that killed at least 150 people in a single district of the city.

The attack on the Mosul Jadida neighbourhood is thought to have been one of the deadliest bombing raids for civilians since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Rescuers were still pulling bodies from the rubble on Saturday, more than a week after the bombs landed, when the US-led coalition confirmed that its aircraft had targeted Isis fighters in the area.

The U.S. has launched an official investigation.

Donald Trump previously called for a review of Obama's rules ensuring civilian deaths would be minimized. There's concern he's already lowered the threshold. [More...]

Donald Trump earlier this year ordered a review of rules of engagement set by his predecessor, which had insisted on “near certainty” that there be no civilian casualties before airstrikes could be sanctioned. While it has not yet been completed, there are mounting concerns that the very fact a review has been ordered may have already led to the threshold being lowered.

How the latest atrocity of civilian deaths came about:

Iraqi commanders said the deaths followed an Iraqi army request for US air support to clear Isis snipers atop three buildings. They said they did not realise civilians were sheltering beneath, and it may have been a deliberate Isis trap.

Trap or not, the high death toll places the Mosul carnage, if confirmed, among the worst such incidents since the US invasion in 2003. It also serves to highlight a new pattern of behaviour by US forces since Donald Trump took office in January. Since then, the monthly total of recorded civilian deaths from coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria has more than doubled, according to independent monitors. (my emphasis)

Other civilian deaths in Iraq since Trump got a desk in the Oval Office:

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 49 people were killed on 16 March by a US strike on a complex that included the Omar ibn al-Khattab mosque.

Last Tuesday at least 30 Syrian civilians died in another American airstrike, on Mansoura, in Raqqa province. The American planes hit a school. The raid was one of 19 coalition missions that day, ordered in preparation for the expected assault on the Isis headquarters in Raqqa city itself. (my emphasis.)

Meanwhile, Centcom continues to conduct airstrikes as usual.

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