Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A man carries a white flag while fleeing a village during the Mosul offensive.

A man carries a white flag while fleeing a village during the Mosul offensive. (Photo: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)

No Help for Civilians Trapped in Mosul as Deaths from US-Led Bombing Reported

A family of eight, including three children, was reportedly killed by a U.S.-led coalition airstrike on their home outside Mosul

Nika Knight

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped in Mosul, aid agencies warned Monday, with U.S.-led forces refusing to create safe escape routes and urging residents instead to "shelter in place" as the military assault on ISIS (Islamic State) fighters swiftly moves into the Iraqi city.

"Our main concern now is that operations are getting more and more close to Mosul, so we think it's now a huge need to ensure the people inside Mosul have a safe way to get out of the city," Fanny Mraz, the head of mission in Iraq for Handicap International, an organization that helps victims of land mines and other improvised explosive devices, told U.S. News and World Report.

"Without a clear path to allow innocents to flee, Mosul's estimated 1 million-1.5 million remaining civilians will be stuck as the coalition of Iraqi units begins to root out as many as 5,000 Islamic State group fighters holed up in the encircled city, and as many as 2,000 others in the surrounding area," U.S. News and World Report writes.

"The United Nations has long estimated that the battle could displace at least 1 million people, worsening the country's humanitarian crisis, and the agency's high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi said from Baghdad [...] that protection of civilians should be 'the most important element of this operation,'" as Common Dreams reported when the Mosul offensive began last month.

Yet, when approached Monday by U.S. News and World Report about the coalition's failure to create a so-called humanitarian corridor for civilians, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook "was less concerned about the likelihood of a mass migration and deferred to Baghdad's current plan to encourage Mosul civilians to stay in their homes," the outlet reports. "Iraqi air force planes have dropped leaflets on Mosul in recent weeks saying the safest thing for residents is to shelter in place."

Fears for civilians' lives are growing increasingly urgent as new reports emerge that U.S.-led coalition bombs killed a family of eight near the city on October 22.

Relatives, local officials, and Kurdish troops fighting in the area told the Guardian that the bombing was the responsibility of U.S.-led coalition forces.

"Pictures showed villagers uncovering bodies from a pile of rubble that had been a home. The house was hit twice, and some of the rubble and shrapnel was thrown up to 300 meters," the newspaper reports.

"We know the difference between airstrikes, artillery and mortars, we have lived for over two years surrounded by fighting," Qassim, a relative of the dead, told the Guardian.

The newspaper goes on to report that the U.S. "says it did conduct strikes 'in the area described in the allegation' on 22 October. 'The Coalition takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and will further investigate this report to determine the facts.'"

Reports of the United States' apparent disregard for civilian lives in Mosul follows last week's revelations from Amnesty International that the U.S. has grossly underestimated the civilian death toll from its campaign against ISIS, particularly when it comes to coalition bombing campaigns in Syria.

The rights group argued that its findings should shed new light on U.S. operations in Mosul: "Failure to see the great harm it causes to civilians throws the Coalition's Mosul campaign in particular into sharp relief," Amnesty's study author Neil Sammonds told Airwars. "If 250 civilians were killed in strikes on the Manbij area, how many times more might be expected to die for Mosul?"


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Democrats Demand Amazon and Facebook End Efforts to 'Sideline' FTC Chair Lina Khan

"Your efforts only add to the perception that you are attempting to bully your regulators, disarm the FTC, and avoid accountability rather than to strengthen ethics standards."

Jessica Corbett ·


Amnesty Follows House Dems' Letter by Imploring Biden to Close Gitmo 'Once and for All'

"This letter, signed by four House committee chairs, should send a clear message to President Biden: He has the political support to swiftly close the detention center at Guantánamo."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Truly Disturbing': Facebook Blasted for Blocking NYU Researchers Examining Ad Model and Misinformation

"It is disgraceful that Facebook is attempting to squash legitimate research that is informing the public about disinformation on their platform."

Jessica Corbett ·


After Decades-Long Grassroots Push, Key Senate Panel Votes to Repeal Iraq War Authorization

Rep. Barbara Lee, the only member of the U.S. House to vote against the AUMF in 2001, called the vote "a major victory in our fight to end forever wars."

Julia Conley ·


Mexico Files Historic Lawsuit Against US Gun Companies Fueling Cartel Carnage

The first-of-its-kind suit alleges U.S. weapons firms "design, market, distribute, and sell guns in ways they know routinely arm the drug cartels in Mexico."

Brett Wilkins ·