ISIS propaganda chief killed in strike on Iraq-Syria border

Posted April 09, 2017

Reports from frontline units claim Iraqi forces are seeing twice as many Iraqi civilians attempting to flee western Mosul, compared to the flood of refugees who attempted to escape the city's east side at the beginning of the operation, according to Gen. Townsend.

"The Iraqi Security Forces, so far, in about 37 days have sustained about 284 killed and a little over 1,600 wounded in the western part of the city", said Votel.

Iraqi special forces and police fought ISIS militants to edge closer to the al-Nuri mosque in western Mosul on Wednesday, tightening their control around the landmark site. Trump, on the other hand, has talked loosely about heavily bombing Islamic State-held areas and has stepped up direct US involvement in the fighting.

In addition to civilians caught in the crossfire inside the city, many more have fled their homes to escape the fighting.

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The willingness of Iraqi armed forces to press ahead with the offensive despite heavy casualties is a remarkable turnaround after they collapsed almost three years ago when the Islamic State invaded the country.

The U.S. military is investigating what role the U.S. played in the March 17 airstrike in Mosul, and American and Iraqi officials have said militants may have deliberately gathered civilians there and planted explosives in the building. That decision removes a layer of approval that was previously needed, but still requires the commander on the ground to go through the same analysis and consideration of civilian casualties that has been done all along.

USA officials have said they are investigating other claims of casualties in Syria and Iraq.

Iraqi witnesses have said that airstrikes earlier this month killed scores of civilians.

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Investigators are trying to piece together what happened on March 17, when during heavy fighting in the al-Jadida neighborhood in western Mosul one building came down, burying over 200 civilians who had been huddled inside.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi troops are battling several thousand Islamic State militants holed up in their last major stronghold in Iraq. The new procedures also will apply to the efforts to retake Raqqa, Syria, the Islamic State's capital.

Al Ansari was killed with four others in a strike Saturday in al Qaim, Iraq, on the border with Syria, Scrocca said.

Scrocca said that the coalition had observed this tactic Wednesday via video surveillance. He and others have said the munitions used by the USA that day should not have taken the entire building down, suggesting that militants may have deliberately gathered civilians there and planted other explosives.

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The high number of civilians in and around Mosul have led to the suspension of Iraqi-led attacks.