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 (…)”
The local time of the incident is unknown.