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Stating that coalition air strikes are just as deadly for civilians as they are effective in killing jihadists, they report that luring warplanes to residential buildings so they will target the innocent has become a standard IS tactic in Mosul.

The confirmation followed a decision by Iraqi government forces to pause their drive to recapture west Mosul on Saturday because of the high rate of civilian casualties, a security forces spokesman said, a move apparently motivated by the incident on March 17.

Col. Joseph Scrocca, a spokesman for the US military in Baghdad, said the coalition does all it can to reduce civilian casualties but that it would not abandon its commitment to Iraq even as Islamic State militants are using human shields and fighting from civilian neighborhoods.

U.S. defense officials said they can not say whether USA airplanes conducted the latest strikes alleged to have caused civilian deaths because they are conducting an assessment on both strikes to the credibility of the reported civilian deaths.

Iraq's military said 61 bodies were recovered from a destroyed building that Islamic State had booby-trapped, but that there was no sign the building had been hit by an air strike.

Speaking from Baghdad, he said: "We are today 35 days into west Mosul operations".

The US's official civilian death toll from the air campaign against IS in Syria and Iraq stands at 220, although monitors say the real total is far higher. U.S. officials have not confirmed the Iraqi military's account.

Reports have filtered out that the attack could potentially have stemmed from looser rules of engagement brought in by the new Trump administration in the White House, also citing a rise in civilian death by United States air strikes elsewhere. United States officials believe there are about 2,000 IS fighters left in western Mosul. In March alone, Airwars reports, there have been more than 1,000 civilian casualties alleged from coalition air strikes. They acknowledged, however, that American airstrikes in Syria and Iraq had been heavier in an effort to press the Islamic State on multiple fronts.

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At least 6,878 civilians were killed in violence mainly inflicted by Isis around the country past year, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) has said.

"When you ask them what happened ... people here say the main problem is that you have ISIL fighters who are roaming around, going in and out of houses, on top of rooftops to take positions and then disappear".

It was unclear who carried out the airstrikes, but on Friday the US-led coalition against IS said it was investigating the allegations.

But advances have slowed in the last two weeks as fighting enters the narrow alleys of the Old City.

The Iraqi military command said eyewitnesses had told troops that the buildings were booby trapped and militants had forced residents inside basements to use them as human shields.

That narrative is going to be a hard one to maintain this time, with reporters on the scene verifying civilians being pulled from the wreckage.

"Our heroic forces are committed to the rules of engagement, which ensure protection of civilians", the statement said. "The damage shown to the building would appear to indicate an airstrike rather than, say, an artillery strike or indirect fire", Woods said.


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