Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – France 24 reported, It was March 17, 2017. Troops from the US-led coalition fighting jihadists in Iraq were advancing on Mosul’s Old City, squeezing out the Islamic State group.
But just months before the recapture of the city, where IS had declared its caliphate in 2014, a new human toll was added to the growing tragedy when it was revealed more than 100 civilians had been killed in a single coalition air strike. The coalition has now admitted more than 1,000 civilian lives were lost in the seven-year operation against the jihadist group in Iraq and Syria.
And for the first time the coalition has revealed to AFP that it has compensated the families of 14 victims in Iraq. Four years after the carnage from which he miraculously escaped alive with his son, Abdullah Khalil is still waiting for compensation. His leg was amputated at the knee and his back is covered in deep welts and burn scars. But he’s still trying to find out where and how to claim any damages due to him. The compensation system is opaque even for those with expertise, says Sarah Holewinski, Washington director for Human Rights Watch.
“They have sometimes paid, sometimes not. We need degrees to figure out laws and channels,” she told AFP. “I can’t even imagine being an Iraqi woman who has lost her mother trying to figure out not just, do I have any kind of compensation, but how do I get some American to say ‘hey that was actually one of our bombs’.”
The explosion and collapse of the building where he had been sheltering with dozens of women, men and children caused the largest single civilian death toll in the fight against IS.
“At least 105 and at most 141 non-combatants” were killed, according to the non-governmental group Airwars, which monitors civilian deaths in bombings around the world.
For Iraqis, the shock was immense. But it was quickly overwhelmed by the general chaos. In the 72 hours before, during and after that one strike, hundreds more civilians died during fighting in Mosul.
“There were two snipers on the roof and they dropped a 500-pound bomb. It was the wrong weapon to use,” Chris Woods, director of the London-based Airwars, told AFP.
“You cannot use high explosive, wide area effect munitions in urban settings without very considerable risks for civilians, and this is exactly what Mosul al-Jadidah represents.”