The Pentagon has admitted that an air strike targeting Islamic State snipers on the roof of a house in the Iraqi city of Mosul in March killed at least 105 civilians. A further 36 people are still unaccounted for.
A US military investigation found the strike inadvertently triggered explosives placed in the building by IS fighters. The house was being used by a large number of civilians to shelter from intense fighting between the militants and Iraqi security forces.
“The civilians had gathered in the lower floors of the building after being expelled from their homes by IS fighters,” the BBC says.
According to the investigation, US military had targeted two IS snipers with a “precision-guided munition” for the strike in order to “minimise collateral damage”, but the IS explosives caused the entire structure to collapse.
US Central Command said those organising the strike “could not have predicted the presence of civilians in the structure prior to the engagement”, added the BBC.
“Critics have said the 17 March airstrike demonstrated that the United States has been too quick to use air power in a congested city filled with hundreds of thousands of civilians,” says the New York Times.