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U.S. Air Strike On IS In Iraq 'May Have Killed Civilians'

Iraqi pro-government forces patrol the eastern part of the embattled city of Mosul on December 28, during an ongoing military operation against Islamic State (IS) militants.

The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS) extremist group may have unintentionally killed civilians in an air strike near a hospital in northern Iraq on December 29, the Pentagon has said.

The Iraqi Army, supported by the coalition, began the second phase of its offensive to retake the northern city of Mosul, which has been under IS control for more than two years.

Coalition aircraft targeted a van carrying IS fighters "in what was later determined to be a hospital compound parking lot, resulting in possible civilian casualties," U.S. Central Command said.

IS fighters had been observed firing an antitank gun "before loading the weapon in the van and driving off," it said. CENTCOM said the incident will be "fully investigated" and the findings released.

Despite taking extraordinary precautions and using precision-guided missiles to hit targets, the coalition has already admitted to killing at least 173 civilians in its strikes in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

Private war monitors say the number killed is more than 10 times that amount.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and dpa