⤵⤵The US military has elevated the level of inquiry into the suspected Mosul airstrike that allegedly killed dozens of civilians from a “credibility assessment” to a full formal investigation, the head of the US Central Command has said at a Congress briefing. "It will be a more formalized approach to really look into the details of this as much as we can to establish what happened, establish what the facts are, identify accountability and then certainly identify the lessons learned out of that," Army General Joseph Votel, the US CENTCOM commander,said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing, referring to the incident on March 17.
Dozens of civilians died as a residential building in western Mosul collapsed after a suspected airstrike carried out by the US-led coalition.
General Votel also agreed with an earlier assessment by another high-ranking US military official, Lieutenant General Steve Townsend, who commands the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR), who said, “there is a fair chance that our operation may have contributed to these casualties.” The CENTCOM commander went on to say that Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) is most likely to have a hand in this tragedy. “The enemy does use human shields, has little regard for human life,” and tries to use reports of civilian casualties to hinder the Iraqi forces campaign supported by the coalition, so “they bear the responsibility for this as well,” Votel said.
He added that Islamic State is“exploiting” the US “sensitivity for civilian casualties” and expressly agreed with the statement of the Rep. Martha McSally (R-Arizona), who said that if the US doesn’t kill ISIS terrorists, they will kill more civilians.⤵⤵
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