Iraq Mosul: Anti-IS forces used ‘unnecessary force’

Iraq Mosul: Anti-IS forces used ‘unnecessary force’

Civilians fleeing from Mosul (23 June 2017)Image copyright

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Both coalition forces and Islamic State fighters are accused of committing abuses against civilians in Mosul

Iraqi and coalition forces fighting Islamic State (IS) militants in the city of Mosul used unnecessarily powerful weapons, an Amnesty International report says.

They deployed heavy weapons in densely-populated areas, Amnesty says.

Coalition officials have so far not commented on the allegations, but they have previously insisted they have done all they could to protect civilians.

IS fighters are also accused by Amnesty of committing serious abuses.

The militants are accused of using human shields during coalition attacks and of summarily killed hundreds – possibly thousands – of civilians, leaving bodies to hang from electricity pylons as a warning to others.

Mosul battle: Coalition urged to review tactics after civilian deaths

‘Imprecise weapons’

Citing an eyewitness, the Amnesty report The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul says that bombardments by Iraqi and US-led coalition forces have killed a “huge number” of civilians.

The report calls for the formation of an independent commission to investigate the number of civilian deaths.

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Much of Mosul has been flattened in recent fighting

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Civilians found them selves either been shot at by IS as they attempted to escape or being killed in their houses, Amnesty says

It examined hostilities in the west of the city from January to mid-May and accuses coalition forces of failing to adapt their tactics even when it was clear that IS militants had forced civilians into areas most likely to come under attack.

They used “imprecise weapons with wide-area effects in densely-populated urban environments”, the report says, and subjected them to a terrifying barrage of fire.

The use of human shields by IS “does not lessen the legal obligation of pro-government forces to protect civilians”, Amnesty’s Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf said.

Amnesty allegations against Iraqi and coalition forces

  • They carried out a pattern of attacks which “appear not to have struck their intended military targets, instead killing and injuring civilians”
  • Some civilian deaths and injuries appear to have resulted from an inappropriate choice of weapons or a failure to take necessary precautions to verify a target
  • On 17 March a US airstrike on Mosul’s al-Jadida neighbourhood was carried out to kill two IS snipers – but also killed more than 100 civilians
  • The UK government’s claim that hundreds of RAF air strikes in and around Mosul have resulted in no civilian casualties “is at best implausible”

Amnesty allegations against Islamic State forces

  • They carried out a systematic campaign of forced displacement in the Mosul area, moving thousands of civilians from neighbouring villages to be used as human shields
  • They trapped people inside their homes by welding doors shut, rigging booby traps at exits, and summarily killing hundreds – perhaps thousands – of people attempting to escape
  • One witness described how militants hanged the bodies of civilians trying to flee from electricity pylons
  • “If you stayed, you would die in your house from the fighting,” the witness said, “[but] if you tried to run away, they would catch you and kill you”