Mosul (IraqiNews.com) The Iraqi command leading the war against Islamic State in Mosul said Sunday that an alleged white phosphorus attack blamed on Iraqi forces was, in fact, an intended smoke screen against IS snipers.
The Joint Operations Command said via the Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell that alleged attack on Saturday near the Jamhuri Hospital in al-Shefa district was in fact a smoke bombardment aimed at blurring the vision of IS snipers targeting a huge number of civilians who were escaping toward security forces.
The command said that the circulated footage presenting white pillows of smoke as the result of bombardment with the banned substance were “inaccurate”. It added that the smoke screen technique had already been used during operations in eastern and western Mosul.
Hundreds of civilians have either been killed by IS snipers or caught and executed upon trying to flee areas held by the group in Mosul to others controlled by security troops. But hundreds others were also killed in botched strikes by security forces and the allied U.S.-led coalition, which recently admitted causing the death of more than 350 civilians in operations.
On Sunday, Maj. Ali Mohsen, from the army’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service, said 40 corpses of civilians, believed to have been killed by IS in Refaie and Najjar districts, were found in western Mosul. He said those included the bodies of women and children.
Iraqi forces are becoming closer to retaking western Mosul from IS, approaching the Old City district where IS first declared the establishment of its rule in 2014. Eastern Mosul was recaptured in January.