Nineveh (IraqiNews.com) Sixteen civilians died in fighting between Iraqi government forces and Islamic State militants at one of western Mosul districts, activist sources said Sunday.
Anadolu Agency quoted activist Omar al-Taee as saying that the civilians, mostly women and children, were killed and ten others were injured in fierce ground battles and shelling over Nabi Sheet district, an area close to central Mosul and the first to be invaded by government troops in their advance towards the Old City.
No comment has yet been made of the civilian casualties, but the Iraqi government has reiterated that ensuring civilians’ safety was a top priority in its Mosul campaign. However, several incidents were reported where security operations targeting IS had left civilian casualties, prompting international rights groups to urge parties to battles to heed civilian lives.
The U.S. army said Saturday that 21 civilians were killed in nine separate strikes by the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria between November and January, bringing the total of civilians unintentionally killed by the coalition since the start of operations against the militant group in 2014 to 220.
The Iraqi government, backed by the coalition and allied militias, are currently struggling to retake western Mosul, having recaptured the eastern side in January. The United Nations says 45.000 have so far been displaced by the battles in western Mosul, and predicts 250.000 at least to be also displaced.