The U.S. is adjusting its aerial tactics after the Islamic State baited an airstrike on nearly 200 civilians in Mosul, a spokesman for the U.S. mission in Iraq told reporters Thursday.
Army Col. Joseph Scrocca told reporters the U.S. has video of ISIS forcing civilians into a building, and killing a civilian who resisted. ISIS then stationed fighters on the building in an effort to get the U.S. backed Iraqi Security Forces to call in a U.S. airstrike on the position.
The suspicion came to light after a March 17 U.S. airstrike hit the building, possibly playing a role in its collapse and the resulting death of 200 civilians. The video confirmed U.S. suspicion of the tactic and “has caused some adjustments” to targeting procedures.
“My initial assessment is that we probably had a role in these casualties,” Army Lt. Gen Stephen Townsend told reporters Tuesday. Townsend clarified that the types of U.S. munitions used should not have collapsed the structure, indicating ISIS booby traps may have played a role.
“What you see now is not the use of civilians as human shields,” Scrocca continued. “Now it is something much more sinister.”
Civilian casualty incidents may multiply as the U.S. supports the most brutal phase of the Iraqi Security Force advance on Mosul. The Iraqi’s are currently assaulting the most crowded and narrow part of Mosul in what has turned into a bitter urban slog.
Nearly 400,000 civilians remain inside ISIS controlled Mosul, and they may be used increasingly as human shields as ISIS hangs on to the last of its territory in Iraq. “We go out of our way to always do everything humanly possible to reduce the loss of life or injury among innocent people,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters after the March 17 incident.
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