US confirms airstrike at site in Mosul where dozens of civilian casualties were reported

The US military has confirmed a coalition airstrike on the site in Mosul where dozens of civilians allegedly died. The US said the strike was at the request of the Iraqi forces. An investigation into the case has been opened, it added.

An initial review of strike data from March 16-23 indicates that, at the request of the Iraqi Security Forces, the Coalition struck ISIS fighters and equipment, March 17, in West Mosul at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties,” US Central Command said in a statement issued on Saturday.

Videos of the aftermath of the airstrike released Friday show scores of dead bodies being pulled out of a completely destroyed building in western Mosul.

There have also been reports by eyewitnesses who say over a hundred civilians were either killed or buried under rubble in the bombing raid.

At least 40 bodies had been recovered from collapsed buildings on Thursday, Reuters reported, citing Iraqi Civil Defense chief Brigadier Mohammed Al-Jawari. Many others were buried in the rubble, he added.

The United Nations on Saturday expressed concern over the high number of civilian casualties in Mosul.

We are stunned by this terrible loss of life,” Lise Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said in a statement.

Saying that all allegations of civilian casualties are taken “seriously,” the Combined Joint Task Force said “a formal Civilian Casualty Credibility Assessment has been opened to determine the facts surrounding this strike and the validity of the allegation of civilian casualties.”

UN profoundly concerned by ‘hundreds of casualties’ in suspected coalition airstrikes in 

Photo published for UN profoundly concerned by ‘hundreds of casualties’ in suspected coalition airstrikes in Mosul — RT...

UN profoundly concerned by ‘hundreds of casualties’ in suspected coalition airstrikes in Mosul — RT…

The UN has urged all parties to the anti-terrorist operation in Mosul to refrain from “indiscriminate use of firepower” after reports by eyewitnesses said over a hundred civilians were either killed…

An Iraqi Federal Police spokesman told Reuters on Saturday that operations to drive Islamic State out of western Mosul were halted because of the “high death toll among civilians inside the Old City.”

Later, the Iraqi command denied this in a statement cited by Iraqi Alsumaria TV.

RT’s crew recently inspected the bombed-out streets of Mosul to assess the impact of US-led coalition airstrikes targeting IS. 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.

Mosul SOS: City strewn with corpses, children cry as jets fly over (RT EXCLUSIVE)

ISIS made us keep our door open, so they could get onto the roofs at any time. They even broke down the walls between houses so they could move around,” a local resident told RT.

I don’t know why they were climbing onto our rooftops, whether it was to fight or to provoke airstrikes,” another witness said.

Civilians fleeing Mosul to one of the nearby cities were indignant over what the US and Iraq say is “collateral damage.”

“Airstrikes destroyed us, the airstrikes were nonstop, falling and hitting. One Daesh [Arabic term for ISIS] soldier was on the roof of the house, and they attacked the whole house. Where this happened? There are families, and they don’t care. In Dwrat Abude area, about a hundred families got killed,” one of the locals, identified as Ali Hassan, told RT’s Ruptly news agency.

“Disaster, God knows, disaster. In my uncle’s house 15 people are under the concrete, because of the airstrikes… My house has also been destroyed by airstrikes and others: that means mortars were coming to us and airstrikes were coming to us,” a woman said.

Up to 600,000 civilians are still believed to remain in Islamic State-controlled areas of Mosul, according to Reuters. Some 700 civilians had been killed by government and coalition airstrikes in western Mosul since the launch of the offensive in late February, the agency added, citing unconfirmed reports from the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights.

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Pro- and anti-EU protests sweep through Rome as Brexit overshadows bloc’s 60th anniversary (VIDEOS)

Thousands of people took to streets of the Italian capital, Rome, to either support the European Union or to protest against it, as the EU is celebrating its 60th anniversary. RT asked anti-EU demonstrators why many were unhappy with the union.

READ MORE: ‘EU will see 100th anniversary’ but will never become a state – Juncker

Police have stepped up security for four marches and two sit-ins that had been expected in Rome, with estimated 25,000 people attending.

Demonstrators marched through the streets with banners saying, “Our Europe,” and “Europe For All.”

While the demonstrations were mostly peaceful, in some areas it came to confrontation with security forces, RT’s Peter Oliver reported from the ground. Oliver asked the people why they came out into the streets of Rome to protest.

“We are here because there is this march against the European Union and especially, the euro currency,” one of the protesters said.

“We are here today because we think that the European Union is against the workers, against the people of Europe, so we are here to say ‘No’ to the European Union and the eurozone,” another said.

“They have no democracy, they can decide everything without any contact with people,” a third protester said.

RT’s video agency Ruptly filmed the 8,000-strong march, dubbed “Another Europe.” Participants at the march spoke out against far-right tendencies and divisions in the EU, but also criticized the direction its policies have taken.

“We must be united against the danger of an increasing nationalism which could divide Europe once more,” warned Haris Golemis, of the Central Committee of Greece’s Syriza party, who was attending the march. He blamed the EU establishment for what he sees as the rise of the “extreme right.”

“We want to fight racism and xenophobia, and as well as we want to fight austerity,” explained Roberto Morea, a senior member of the transform!italia and transform!europe groups.

Antonio Tajani, the European Parliament’s president, admitted that the EU has a number of internal problems, describing the bloc as inefficient and overly bureaucratized.

“There have been too many mistakes, it is not complete, it is often removed from real issues, divided, powerless, too bureaucratic,” Tajani said on Saturday, according to Euronews.

“As European Parliament president, the growing disenchantment among citizens worries me. We cannot progress without bringing Europe closer to the people.”

The single currency and freedom of movement, the cornerstones of the EU, have recently been increasingly challenged by the economic and migrant crises. Nationalist right-wing parties and movements, which advocate for reinstatement of national currencies, the closing of borders to the flow of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East, as well as for the secession from the EU, have been on the rise in Europe.

Representatives of 27 EU countries, without the UK, which is not attending, are in Rome to mark 60 years since the creation of the European Economic Community, which later became the EU, by signing a new declaration on Capitoline Hill. It is the same site the founding six nations signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957.

The celebrations come just four days ahead of the UK’s formal exit from the EU.

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Iran rejects US claims of ‘harassing’ warships, urges Washington to ‘change behavior’

Iran rejects US claims of ‘harassing’ warships, urges Washington to ‘change behavior’
The Iranian military has brushed off accusations from the US Navy that its fast-attack boats came dangerously close to a US aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, as it was on its way to the Arabian Gulf on an anti-terrorist mission.

Dismissing the allegations, Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, stated that the reports of a faceoff were completely unfounded and stem from “false reports or ulterior motives,” IRNA cited him as saying.

‘Less predictable’ behavior: US-led flotilla approached by Iranian fast-attack boats in – commanders 

Photo published for US warships ‘harassed’ by Iranian forces in Strait of Hormuz – navy commanders — RT News

US warships ‘harassed’ by Iranian forces in Strait of Hormuz – navy commanders — RT News

American warships were “harassed” by Iranian forces in the Strait of Hormuz, according to US Navy commanders, who said the Iranians had their weapons uncovered, manned, and armed. It comes amid…

Jazayeri went on to stress that the US would be solely to blame for any potential skirmishes that may break out in the area, and called on the US military to review its operations.

“We emphasize that the Americans would be responsible for any unrest in the Persian Gulf, and again warn that the US military must change its behavior,” he said.

The incident, while ending without a shot from either of the two sides, has inflamed tensions brewing in relations between Tehran and Washington, which have been growing increasingly toxic since Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president in January.

The circumstances of the standoff were not been revealed until Wednesday, when US Navy commanders referred to the incident to accuse Iran of undermining safe traffic in international transit waters. Speaking Saturday, Rear Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, commander of the Carrier Strike Group 2, claimed that Iranian speedboats approached the 5-vessel flotilla led by the US aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, within a range of 870 meters (950 yards) with “some of the weapons manned” and in the process of fitting all the armaments.

To confront the threat allegedly posed by the Iranian boats, helicopters were dispatched from the carrier to hover over them, with one boat allegedly “threatening” the copter. Slamming the reported belligerent conduct of the Iranian Navy, the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier, Captain Will Pennington, called it “certainly unprofessional.”

It is not the first time that Tehran and Washington have clashed over navigation issues in the Strait of Hormuz. Earlier in March, Iran and the US accused each other of compromising security in the waterway. At the time, it was the Iranian Navy which blamed the US tracking ship USNS Invincible for changing course towards the Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats, calling the US conduct “unprofessional.” The US Navy came up with counter-claims in response, alleging that Iranian boats chased the US ship, risking “miscalculation or an accidental provocation.”

Growing tensions between Iran and the US have recently exacerbated by a set of ballistic missile tests carried out by Iran despite strong opposition Washington, which, in turn, has rolled out new sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The latest launch came just in early March, when Iran announced it had successfully fired the Hormuz-2 naval missile, capable of hitting targets within a range of 300 kilometers (180 miles).

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