Residents and local media sources said that Iraqi or Coalition airstrikes and shelling by Iraqi forces hit Al Walaa school, in the 17 July neighbourhood in West Mosul. This reportedly led to the death of up to 81 civilians – of whom 18 were children – and left 86 civilians injured. The school was said to be used as a shelter by displaced families who had fled from Old Mosul to the 17 July neighbourhood.
The local Facebook group “I am Mosul” posted a series of very graphic photos of dead and wounded children and huge destruction. The aftermath of this major incident was also shared in a Video by Hassan Dally, a local resident.
Yaqein spoke of more than fifty dead and over sixty wounded, and said that dozens were under the rubble. A doctor had stated the same numbers to Alaraby news: “I do not know the exact number, but they are more than 50 dead and about 60 wounded.” In a later interview, Doctor Mazen Abu Dhar told the news channel that “the current figure [for North West Mosul] is 130 civilians dead in less than a day. We do not know how many people are still under the rubble” and described the situation in Mosul as “a plan to burn the city.” Alaraby put the death toll at 69 for the Al Walaa incident.
Arar news reported that “About 20 families were holed up inside the Al-Walaa school in the neighborhood of July 17. They were subjected to heavy shelling and rockets from the Iraqi militia and Coalition forces. No one came out of school. The children’s flesh was mixed with stones … 68 dead and more than 47 wounded, mostly children and women.”
An officer of the Federal Police Forces – who wanted to remain anonymous – had also reported the incident to Anatolia press, said Emad Al Moselly on Facebook. He said that “the shelling killed 34 men, 29 women and 18 children.”
Alrafidain Channel posted a statement written by the Muslim Scholars Association, saying that “the massacre of the July 17 neighborhood in West Mosul, which killed and wounded about 200 people, crime of genocide in the ongoing series of crimes against Iraqis” and that “since the start, the battle of Mosul has been taking a dangerous and devastating direction regarding the existence of this city and its people.” The statement also held that “the parties to the conflict in Mosul do not appreciate the lives of innocent people and pay no attention to this aspect.”
The Iraqi Air Force denied responsibility for civilian casualties, saying on its official Facebook page that “the building was not damaged and we received contacts from many citizens. They confirmed that all those who were killed inside this building were ISIL members.”
Mosul Eye, a local Facebook group, however, said: “the site is the Al-Walaa School in the neighborhood of July 17, homeless families living in fear, hunger and fear of war. Some of them fled their neighbourhood and areas and fortified the school in the hope that the Iraqi forces would approach them to liberate them.” It followed, cynically: “It is very clear that the children who died, especially the child who was mingled with stones, was a military commander for ISIL.”
It later also quoted the Ninawa Observatory for Documentation, which said that “according to international law, the state is responsible for the actions of its employees and those under its authority, which requires an urgent investigation to be opened to the horrific incident” and that “the fight against and elimination of terrorism does not justify violations against civilians, who have been victims of the two sides in the city.”
Amnesty International later interviewed a local resident who provided the following comments: ““Nine or ten days ago a plane (presumed) hit a school in 17 Tammuz and killed four or five families inside. More than 80 people were killed in the incident. ISIS had forced the people in the school to 17 Tammuz from different areas. They made the boys carry those that couldn’t walk. The families in the school were from all over the west (of Mosul city). They had been there for perhaps a month or two.
17 Tammuz is a 15 minute walk from where we lived. The school was at the end of Hai Qaneeseh, at the beginning of 17 Tammuz. It was close to the women only supermarket. We didn’t go there or see this for ourselves. People in our neighbourhood knew people in 17 Tammuz and they were crying when they heard the news from them. ISIS asked them what they were crying for and they told them.”
The local time of the incident is unknown.
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Attached to this civilian harm incident is a provisional reconciliation of the Pentagon's declassified assessment of this civilian harm allegation, based on matching date and locational information.
The declassified documents were obtained by Azmat Khan and the New York Times through Freedom of Information requests and lawsuits filed since March 2017, and are included alongside the corresponding press release published by the Pentagon. Airwars is currently analysing the contents of each file, and will update our own assessments accordingly.
US-led Coalition Assessment:
Civilian casualty statements
Jan 25, 2018
After a review of available information it was assessed that no Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area that correspond to the report of civilian casualties
Original strike reports
For May 3rd-4th the Coalition reported: “Near Mosul, five strikes engaged four ISIS tactical units and a sniper team; destroyed four rocket-propelled grenade systems, four medium machine guns, two ISIS staging areas, an artillery system, a supply cache, a VBIED, a mortar system and a fighting position.”