According to a new report published by the United Nations, airstrikes launched by the U.S.-led coalition led to the death of 1 in 4 civilians during the operation to ‘liberate’ the city from the Islamic State group.
The report, commissioned by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), reported that at an “absolute minimum,” 2,521 civilians were killed and 1,673 wounded during the U.S.-led coalition operation to retake the Islamic State group’s so-called capital in Iraq.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ‘caliph’ of the Islamic State group, announced the creation of the ‘Islamic State’ in Mosul’s al-Nuri Mosque in 2014.
The UN report indicated that at least 741 of the victims were directly killed by the Islamic State group, 1,780 are thought to have been killed as a result of clashes within the city, and at least 461 were killed by airstrikes launched by the U.S.-led coalition during the operation.
The coalition confirmed its involvement in the death of 295 civilians while the rest, the report claims, “could not be attributed.”
The report also called on human rights abusers to pay compensation to victims. At this time, the coalition has only responded to 2 compensation requests stemming from airstrikes in Mosul.
“Compensation should be provided to relatives of civilians killed and to civilians wounded in airstrikes in which civilian casualties were proven, such as that in al-Jadida neighborhood of western Mosul on 17 March,” the report said, referring to a U.S.-led coalition strike that killed at least 105 civilians and warranted a response from many human rights observers at the time.
The al-Jadida strike, which killed 105 civilians, was launched against two Islamic State group snipers on a rooftop.
One report in response to the March 17 incident reported that “imprecise, explosive weapons, killing thousands of civilians…may constitute [a] war crime,” in reference to the coalition’s bombing methods in Iraq.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump was criticized in the same report for loosening the rules of engaging in Iraq, which created the possibility of imprecise targeting.
The report calls on the international community to “thoroughly investigate all incidents which allegedly caused civilian casualties and in which the international community was involved, making the results of the investigations public,” though the coalition’s current investigation mechanism relies on members to investigate each other’s alleged human rights abuses.
Human rights observers have criticized this lack of accountability.