US fighters in Mosul focusing on avoiding civilian deaths

US fighters in Mosul focusing on avoiding civilian deaths
© Human Rights Watch

U.S. forces aiding the Iraqi Army in its fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are focusing on how to avoid civilian deaths, including by using precision missiles to ensure accuracy, Reuters reported Saturday.

"Our mission is to find and destroy ISIS. We are not here to kill the wrong people," Capt. Lucas Gebhart, who commands the 4/6th Cavalry's Bravo Troop, told the outlet.

Gebhart’s troop is currently operating out of the Qayyara West Airfield in Iraq as it helps the Iraqi Army take the western part of Mosul from ISIS. The unit flies the Army's advanced Apache attack helicopters.

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Iraqi forces began the push for the city, which has served as the ISIS stronghold in Iraq since 2014, in October.

"Everyone that flies with me are fathers and husbands, so we are very deliberate to avoid casualties we don't want. We use guided missiles. The things we shoot from an Apache, they go where we want them to go," Gebhart said.

Also on the airbase is Odin battery of the 18th field artillery brigade, which uses High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), a truck mounted rocket system. 

"They have very, very low collateral damage, so we like to use them a lot," Lt. Mary Floyd told Reuters. "When the rockets hit they land at near a vertical angle. That really confines the blast to one house."

A statement from the U.S.-led coalition reported by Reuters said that up to March 4 there had been "more likely than not" at least 220 civilians unintentionally killed by coalition strikes during the anti-ISIS Operation Inherent Resolve.