In the highest confirmed civilian casualty event of the war against ISIL, at least 105 and as many as 141 non-combatants were later confirmed by the Coalition as having been killed in a US airstrike on a house in West Mosul’s al Jadida area. At least 137 bodies were reportedly recovered from the scene.
Locals have claimed that as many as 230 or even 520 civilians were killed in the catastrophic event at al Jadida – though these higher numbers may conflate a series of events over a number of days of violence in the neighbourhood.
The Coalition later confirmed it had carried out a strike “in the vicinity of alleged civilian casualties” and launched an investigation. This eventually concluded that a US bomb had killed between 105 and 141 civilians – though the Coalition also claimed that ISIL explosives had contributed to the disaster.
The Iraqi military initially placed the death toll at 61 killed – and blamed ISIL. This was at odds with Iraqi civil defence on the scene, who reported at least 137 bodies at first and said the incident was caused by an airstrike.
It was reported that a house near Al Rahma Al Ahli Hospital was bombed in which hundreds of displaced people were hosted, providing them food and shelter as well as a cellar to provide protection from airstrikes. However there were also claims that ISIL had deliberately trapped people in the building.
There was some initial reporting confusion about the date of the incident, which was placed variously between March 17th-20th. It is possible that a number of additional strikes in the near vicinity over some days may also have caused casualties.
Both the Coalition and Iraq had announced investigations into whether they had conducted an airstrike which may have ‘indvertently’ ignited a fuel truck and perhaps a VBIED at the scene.
Correspondences Team identified the house as the 3-storey building of Haj Tawfik house. Abdulrahman Al Lawzi reported on Facebook that the Coalition hit the house in New Mosul and that all the people in it had died. 56 male bodies had been found, but “rescue efforts were unable to reach the lower hall where the bodies of women and children are buried”. In total, 126 people were reported killed, as well as 8 in the house next door. Later, Waradana news said that about 150 bodies were still under the rubble. Mosul Insta, a local Facebook group, reported as many as 250 dead:
“More than 250 human beings lost their lives in vain. Children, women, elderly and disabled only in the new Mosul area. The list of victims goes on and on and the war rages and burns everything and I do not see it ending soon. The people of Mosul do not have their parents”.
Al Jazeera posted a graphic video reporting the strikes, speaking of 137 bodies, mostly women and children.
Iraqi Vice-President Osama al-Nujaifi called for an immediate halt to the bombing of western Mosul neighborhoods. “The intensity of the fighting against the terrorist is not exempting officials and leaders from moral and humanitarian responsibility for the increase in the number of innocent civilian casualties who have been forced to remain in their areas by the terrorist organization,” he said.
In a filmed visit to the scene on March 24th, the head of the Iraq Provincial Council Basma Basim said that she feared as many as 500 locals had in fact died at al Jadida. The Iraqi Observatory also claimed that 500 bodies had so far been recovered. Local MP Ali al-Metwati claimed 600 had died – and that the authorities were covering up the deaths. These high allegations may relate to overall civilian fatalities in the neighbourhood.
On March 26th, Alaraby news reported that “the number of people killed in the US air raid on the new Mosul district on the western coast of the city rose to 511, including 187 children under the age of 15, Iraqi officials said.”
A day later, on March 27th, Al Araby put the death toll at 520. On March 31st, it raised it to 531.
Both the United Nations and Amnesty International subsequently released information on the attack. The Amnesty report contained the following account: “As the fighting intensified Wa’ad Ahmad al-Tai, his brother Mahmoud and their families sought shelter at their other brother’s two-storey home hoping it would offer them more protection. “We were all huddled in one room at the back of the house, 18 of us, three families. But when the house next door was bombed, it collapsed on us, precisely over the room we were sheltering in. My son Yusef, nine, and my daughter Shahad, three, were killed, together with my brother Mahmoud, his wife Manaya and their nine-year-old son Aws, and my niece Hanan. She was cradling her five-month-old daughter, who survived, thank God,” he said.”
A relative of the family said the following in a video by Al Jazeera:
“My family were in three houses, 26 persons, I was always in touch with them before the bombardment. On Thursday morning, my brother sent me a message which reads “ Wafa’a, we cannot call due to the heavy bombardment” my heart was feeling like I am not going to see my family again. Their neighbor, Saker, was the only one who survived (…)”
In July 2019, the Coalition provided Airwars with the location of this incident, accurate to within a 100 metre box.
The local time of the incident is unknown.
The victims were named as:
Family members (2)
- Hisham Hazem Age unknown male From the Sheikh family killed
- Issam Hazem Age unknown male From the Sheikh family killed
Family members (2)
- Firas Child male Child of Ali Sarhan Al Hayali - possibly killed in separate event killed
- Taiba Child female Child of Ali Sarhan Al Hayali - possibly killed in separate event killed
Family members (4)
- Ali Thamer Abdulla Adult male Twin brother of Rakan Thamer Abdulla killed
- Rakan Thamer Abdulla Adult male Twin brother of Ali Thamer Abdulla killed
- Haj Thamer Abdulla Adult male Father killed
- 23 additional family members reported killed
Family members (1)
- The family of the wife of Karim Jassim Al Salim Unknown number of victims
Family members (1)
- Yarub Khader Kadawi Adult male One of 12 family members reported killed killed
Family members (1)
- Basem al-Muhzam’s family 11 persons reported killed killed
Family members (1)
- The Sinjari family Age unknown 30 persons reported killed killed
Sources (83) [ collapse]
Prior to the Coalition releasing the MGRS for this incident, Airwars had geolocated it to the nearest neighbourhood/area at 36.3323266, 43.1050515
US-led Coalition Assessment:
Civilian casualty statements
During a strike on ISIS snipers firing on partnered forces, 101 civilians were unintentionally killed when the munition struck the building igniting ISIS- planted explosives that destroyed the structure and killed an additional four civilians in an adjacent structure.
CLASSIFICATION: UNCLASSIFIED May 25, 2017 Release # 20170525-02 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CJTF-OIR Completes Airstrike Investigation SOUTHWEST ASIA - A Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve investigation of a March 17 Coalition airstrike in the Al Jadidah district of Mosul, Iraq, found that a secondary explosion triggered a rapid failure of the structure, in which two ISIS snipers, 101 civilians sheltered in the bottom floors of the structure, and four civilians in a neighboring structure were killed. An additional 36 civilians who were reported to be connected to the structure remain unaccounted for. The investigation determined that ISIS emplaced a large amount of explosive material in a structure containing a significant number of civilians and then attacked Iraqi forces from the structure. Around 8 a.m. on March 17, 2017, Coalition aircraft conducted an airstrike against two ISIS snipers engaging Iraqi Counterterrorism Service soldiers at the request of the local Commander. Neither Coalition nor Iraqi forces knew that civilians were sheltered within the structure. The Coalition selected a single GBU-38 precision-guided munition as the most appropriate and proportionate means of engagement to neutralize the threat and to minimize collateral damage. The GBU-38's detonation, localized to the top floor of the structure, ignited a large amount of explosive material which, unknown to the Coalition, ISIS fighters had previously placed in the house. Post-blast analysis detected residues common to explosives used by ISIS, but not consistent with the explosive content of a GBU-38 munition. Furthermore, weapons and structural experts concluded, based on extensive modeling, the structural damage to the building was in a different location, and was in excess of what could have been caused by a single GBU-38 munition. "Our condolences go out to all those that were affected," said Maj. Gen. Joe Martin, Commanding General CJFLCC-OIR. "The Coalition takes every feasible measure to protect civilians from harm. The best way to protect civilians is to defeat ISIS."
Original strike reports
For March 17th-18th the Coalition reported: “Near Mosul, four strikes engaged three ISIS tactical units; destroyed 56 ISIS vehicles, 25 fighting positions, five rocket-propelled grenade systems, two medium machine guns, two mortar systems, and an ISIS VBIED; and suppressed 20 ISIS mortar teams and four ISIS tactical units.”