Erbil – The US-led coalition said in a statement on Sunday that ISIS is increasingly using civilian buildings as weapon storage facilities “which is forbidden according to international law”. Islamic State’s (ISIS) militants have been implementing such tactics due to increased pressure by Iraqi security forces that recently launched the second phase of the Mosul operation.
On Sunday, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command announced the liberation of the al-Karama district in eastern Mosul. At request of the Iraqi Army, the US-led coalition artillery struck an ISIS mortar tube in support of the operation.
“A precision guided artillery round hit the mortar tube in between two empty school buildings. No civilians were in the area and minimal damage was reported to the buildings,” the coalition said.
“ISIS is known to use facilities such as mosques, hospitals, and schools, which are protected under the rules of international law as weapons storage facilities, fighting positions, and bases for its terrorist operations. We have seen this tactic used in ever greater numbers as the Iraqi Security Forces successfully push further into Mosul,” it added.
“While the Coalition takes extraordinary effort to protect civilians and strike appropriate military targets, we will continue to strike ISIS wherever and whenever our partner’s lives are in danger in accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict.”
Human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch in November called on ISIS to stop using civilians as human shields.
“Using civilians as human shields is a war crime. Forces fighting ISIS should take all feasible precautions to protect civilians during attacks,” HRW said.
“The use of human shields by ISIS is just their latest cruelty against beleaguered civilians,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “But the horrors inflicted by ISIS do not give anti-ISIS forces a pass to attack ISIS forces without regard to the safety of the civilians in their midst.”
Since the start of the Mosul operation on Oct. 17, the US-led coalition has struck ISIS with more than 7,650 munitions in support of the Iraqi Security Forces.
Last Thursday, the Iraqi forces announced that several elements of the Iraqi Army, Federal Police and Counter Terrorism Service initiated a simultaneous advance along three axes in Mosul to defeat ISIS.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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