The Iraqi military on Sunday blamed the Islamic State (IS) militant group for the killing of dozens of civilians at a house in the western side of Mosul.

Islamic State
Islamic State
A statement by the Joint Operations Command also denied that the house was bombed by airstrikes conducted by the coalition aircraft.

A team of experts dispatched to the scene of a destroyed house at a neighborhood in the western side of Mosul and discovered that all the walls of the house, which was completely destroyed, had been booby-trapped by IS militants.

The experts also found remains of a destroyed large booby-trapped truck beside the house, which could be the reason behind the house collapse, according to the statement.

It said that there was no evidence that the house was hit by an airstrike.

Earlier, media reports said hundreds of civilians were buried under the debris of their houses by heavy bombardments of U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi aircraft during the past few days.

On Friday, the United Nations expressed concerns about reports of civilian casualties in Mosul, and urged parties of the conflict to avoid such casualties.

“We are stunned by this terrible loss of life and wish to express our deepest condolences to many families who have reportedly been impacted by this tragedy,” a UN statement quoted Lise Grande, the humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, as saying.

“Nothing in this conflict is more important than protecting civilians. All parties of the conflict are obliged to do everything possible to protect civilians. This means that combatants cannot use people as human shields and cannot imperil lives through indiscriminate use of fire power,” Grande said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, announced the start of an offensive on Feb. 19 to drive extremist militants out of the western side of Mosul, locally known as the right bank of the Tigris River which bisects the city.

Late in January, Abadi declared the liberation of Mosul’s eastern side, or the left bank of Tigris, after over 100 days of fighting IS militants.

However, Mosul’s heavily-populated western part with its narrow streets appears to be a bigger challenge to Iraqi forces.

Mosul, 400 km north of Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under IS control since June 2014, when government forces abandoned their posts and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq’s northern and western regions. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh