IS fighters in Mosul provoking coalition strikes on civilians

"We are in the final stage of liberating Mosul and our forces are exerting their utmost efforts to protect the civilians", Abadi said at a joint press conference with Guterres after their meeting.

The fighting has inflicted heavy casualties on the Iraqi security forces, according to the head of US Central Command, General Joseph Votel.

"As we move into the urban environment, it is going to become more and more hard to apply extraordinarily high standards for things we are doing, although we will try", Votel told the House Armed Services Committee. Three policemen were among the dead while the rest were civilians, and a number of policemen were also wounded, the officials said.

He said USA investigators have visited the site and that the review is looking at 700 weapons system videos over a 10-day period to help understand the effects of the munitions used.

The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group has said that it had killed a propaganda chief and associates in an air strike in the western Iraqi town of Al-Qaim.

"We have to be able to positively identify the valid military target (and) positively identify the combatant", as well as assess the potential collateral damage of a strike, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

United Nations rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said he welcomed the probes and that his office did not directly blame the coalition for any specific deaths.




In report released Tuesday, Amnesty International said the spike in civilian casualties in Mosul suggests the USA -led coalition was not taking adequate precautions to protect civilians. Rescue workers are still pulling bodies out of the site. Guterres arrived in Iraq amid a growing humanitarian crisis due to months-long fighting against the Islamic State group in Mosul, as the extremist group claimed responsibility for an overnight suicide attack in Baghdad.

"According to information verified by the U.N. Human Rights Office and the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq, at least 307 people were killed... between February 17 and 22 March", the U.N. rights office said in a statement. But Iraqi forces, with the backing of the US-led airstrikes, have since recaptured much of the area.

Meanwhile, concern grows for the up to 750,000 people still thought to be staying in western Mosul, where fighting continues between government forces and Islamic State militants.

Iraqi forces are edging closer to a landmark mosque in the northern city of Mosul.

But given the fluid fight in Mosul, where US and coalition aircraft, Apache helicopters, Paladin howitzers, and HIMARS precision rockets stationed outside the city are firing 24 hours a day at an enemy on the move, those calls are being made quickly.

The coalition is backing Iraqi forces in the battle to push out IS from west Mosul, a maze of narrow and densely populated lanes in which residents must hunker down in a bid to avoid bombs and bullets.

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