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U.S. Commander Says Coalition 'Probably' Had Role In Mosul Civilian Deaths

Iraqi civilians and rescue workers inspect the damage in Mosul following an air strike on March 26.

The senior U.S. commander in Iraq says the U.S.-led coalition "probably" had a role in the air strikes that killed scores of people in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

U.S. officials have acknowledged coalition forces were behind a Mosul air strike on March 17 that killed up to 150 civilians, but had not confirmed there were civilian casualties.

Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend told a Pentagon news briefing on March 28 that his "initial assessment is that we probably had a role in these casualties."

He denied accusations by Amnesty International on March 27 that the U.S.-led coalition had loosened safeguards meant to protect civilians as it escalates the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants in Mosul.

On March 28, the UN said that more than 300 civilians have been killed in Mosul since the start of a fresh offensive against IS militants last month.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a statement that "it is vital that the Iraqi security forces and their coalition partners" avoid the "trap" of attacking IS forces that are operating in populated areas and using civilians to shield them from attacks.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP