Iraqi Army Denies Targeting Civilians

Iraqi Army Denies Targeting CiviliansIraqi Army Denies Targeting Civilians

The Iraqi military has admitted bombing a disused school in western Mosul, but denied targeting civilians, saying the building was being used by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group as a bomb factory.

The army’s statement on Friday came a day after IS said an air raid late on Thursday had killed 68 people sheltering in the building, including 47 children and women, and wounded 86 others, Aljazeera reported.

The IS blamed US-led coalition forces for the air raid, according to a statement carried on its Amaq website.

The Iraqi Army did not confirm the number of casualties in Thursday’s air raid, but said that IS has used civilians as human shields in the past.

Earlier, a source in the Iraqi federal police had told Aljazeera that at least 80 people, including women and children, were killed on Thursday in an air raid in western Mosul’s “July 17” neighborhood—the same area where IS said the air raid had taken place.

“[The source said] that these people were fleeing the clashes, the fighting [that is] going on between Iraqi security forces and IS in that neighborhood of western Mosul, and that they had taken refuge in a ‘school house’ in that area,” Aljazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoon, reporting from Erbil in northern Iraq, said.

He added that the source could not confirm whether the Iraqi air force or the US-led coalition was responsible for the raid.

The US-led coalition has been backing Iraq’s forces during an eight-month offensive to recapture Mosul, Iraq’s second city, from IS, which seized it in 2014.

Aljazeera also tried to get confirmation on the air raid from the US Department of Defense, but they have not yet commented on the incident.

As hundreds of thousands of civilians are still in Mosul, anti-IS forces have had to limit their use of aerial attacks and artillery in the city. Nevertheless, hundreds of civilians have been killed by coalition air raids and shelling, as well as in the counter-attacks launched by IS.

The US-led coalition bombing IS positions in Iraq admitted that it carried out air raids in March at a location in west Mosul where officials and residents say scores of civilians were killed.

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