BAGHDAD - Iraq's military on Wednesday
urged residents to shelter in their homes in
jihadist-held areas of Mosul, where its bid
to oust the Islamic State group has taken a
heavy toll on civilians.
Iraqi forces are battling to recapture
west Mosul from IS, killing and wounding
hundreds of civilians and pushing more than
200,000 to leave their homes.
The government has encouraged residents
not to flee during the fighting -- a policy
aimed at easing ease the burden of
widespread displacement but which can
heighten the risk of injury or death for
"Iraqi air force aircraft dropped
hundreds of thousands of leaflets...
containing procedures and recommendations
for citizens" in west Mosul and other
IS-held areas, said Iraq's Joint Operations
These included "remaining inside houses
and staying away from known (IS) sites such
as headquarters, checkpoints, artillery
positions and barracks, because they will be
targets for our aircraft.
"Aerial bombing will target (IS) gangs
and not civilians," it said in a statement.
But irrespective of whether or not they
are directly targeted, residents still can
be and have been the victims of strikes
aimed at IS fighters who are deployed in
areas still populated by hundreds of
thousands of civilians.
The US-led coalition carrying out strikes
against IS -- which has admitted that it
"probably" played a role in recent civilian
casualties in Mosul -- has said that the
militants are surreptitiously forcing
civilians into homes and then seeking to
encourage air strikes on them.
IS has repeatedly targeted civilians with
snipers, bombs and shelling in and around
Mosul, and seized them for use as human
The United Nations has said more than 300
civilians have been killed in the fighting
during the west Mosul offensive, which began
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al
Hussein called on Iraqi and US-led coalition
forces "to undertake an urgent review of
tactics to ensure that the impact on
civilians is reduced to an absolute
Amnesty International said field research
in east Mosul -- which was recaptured from
IS in January -- showed "an alarming pattern
of US-led coalition air strikes which have
destroyed whole houses with entire families
"The high civilian toll suggests that
coalition forces... have failed to take
adequate precautions to prevent civilian
deaths, in flagrant violation of
international humanitarian law," said
Amnesty's Donatella Rovera.
IS overran large areas north and west of
Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces have since
recaptured much of the territory that was
lost to the jihadists.