IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — The U.S.-led coalition said Wednesday that an Amnesty International report accusing its forces of violating international law during the fight against the Islamic State group in Mosul is “irresponsible.”
The report released Tuesday said Iraqi civilians were subjected to “relentless and unlawful attacks” by the coalition and Iraqi forces during the grueling nine-month battle to drive IS from Iraq’s second largest city. It said IS militants had carried out mass killings and forcibly displaced civilians to use them as human shields.
“War is not pleasant, and pretending that it should be is foolish and places the lives of civilians and soldiers alike at risk,” Col. Joe Scrocca, a coalition spokesman, told The Associated Press.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared “total victory” in Mosul on Monday, but clashes along the edge of the Old City continued into the evening Tuesday.
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In all, 5,805 civilians may have been killed in the fight for western Mosul by coalition attacks, Amnesty said, citing data from Airwars, an organization monitoring civilian deaths caused by the anti-IS coalition in Iraq and Syria.
Amnesty said the fighting generated a “civilian catastrophe.”
IS swept into Mosul in the summer of 2014 when it conquered much of northern and western Iraq. The extremists declared a caliphate and governed according to a harsh and violent interpretation of Islamic law. The militants rounded up their opponents and killed them en masse, often documenting the massacres with video and photos.
U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have gradually retaken much of that territory, but at a staggering cost, with hundreds of thousands of people displaced and entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble.