Iraq’s prime minister says between 970 and 1,260 civilians were killed during the grueling nine- month battle against the Islamic State group in Mosul,AP reports.
Haider Al-Abadi says: “We’ve tried our utmost to protect the civilians, that’s why our security forces have paid a very high price,” explaining that Iraqi security forces faced more than double the number of casualties than the city’s civilians.
Unlike in past battles against IS, in Mosul, Iraqi officials called on the more than 1 million civilians living in the city to remain in their homes to avoid massive displacement. The presence of civilians quickly complicated the fight with IS fighters who used them as human shields.
As Iraqi forces punched into Mosul’s more densely populated neighborhoods, civilian casualties spiked and human rights groups warned of the dangers of using large munitions in the packed urban environment.
On March 17, more than 100 civilians were killed in a single US airstrike targeting two IS fighters in west Mosul, according to a Pentagon investigation.