SHAFAQNA – Hundreds of civilians, mostly women and children, have been killed under collapsed buildings in the Iraqi city of Mosul after a reported US-led airstrike triggered a massive explosion in a residential neighborhood last week.
Iraqi civil defense agency officials and locals said Thursday that rescuers are still recovering bodies from under the debris near Rahma hospital in Mosul’s Jadida district following the explosion that took place on March 16.
Iraqi sources have put the number of those killed at over 230. So far 130 dead bodies have reportedly been retrieved from the debris.
The exact cause of the blast remains unclear, but local residents said an explosive-laden truck detonated following a US-led airstrike, destroying buildings in the heavily-populated neighborhood.
Local lawmaker Faris al-Sanjari said the US-led coalition targeted the truck bomb and noted, “You cannot kill dozens just to destroy a booby-trapped truck parked near houses.”
A police civil defense official also said “a coalition air strike hit a residential street last Friday and destroyed at least 30 houses.”
The US-led coalition has not given details on any specific airstrikes on Jadida District.
“We are aware of reports on airstrikes in Mosul resulting in civilian casualties. The coalition conducted several strikes near Mosul and we will provide this information to our civilian casualty team for further investigation,” the coalition said in a statement.
Meanwhile, reports say rescue operation has been temporarily stalled due to lack of equipment in the area, which has been the scene of heavy clashes between Iraqi forces and Daesh terrorists.
“Finding survivors is very difficult because the area is completely destroyed. It is a very big disaster, indeed we can describe it as a disaster,” Civil Defence chief Brigadier Mohammed Al-Jawari told reporters.
According to monitoring group Airwars, at least 2,463 civilians have been killed in US-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since the start of operations in 2014.
The US and a group of its allies have been pounding Iraq and Syria in a purported effort to root out Daesh. Those operations have widely been criticized by both countries for falling short of their announced objectives.
The US military is also suspecting of helping Daesh extremists by airdropping weapons in the territory held by the terrorists in the face of advances by government forces.