IS fighters in Mosul provoking coalition strikes on civilians: US military

Iraqi civilians walk in a neighborhood recently liberated by Iraqi security forces on the western side of Mosul Iraq

It attributed the casualties to all sides involved in the fight for western Mosul: Iraqi and coalition airstrikes, Islamic State shellfire and improvised explosive devices detonated by the militants. After routing IS from the eastern part of the city, Iraqi forces in February launched a push to drive the militants from the western half.

During his visit, Guterres also met Iraqi President Fuad Masoum and the speaker of the parliament, Salim al-Jubouri, who expressed hope that the worldwide organization would increase its humanitarian aid in Iraq.

Human rights group Amnesty International, Pope Francis, and others have urged for better protection for civilians caught in the war, with calls intensifying after a separate March 17 explosion in the Mosul al-Jadida district, killing scores of people.

Guterres is on the second day of a visit to Iraq, after meeting with top officials including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad on Thursday. The U.N. chief also plans to meet leaders in Iraq's northern semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

An estimated 215,000 people are now displaced as a result of the ongoing military operations to retake the city from the Islamic State group, according to the United Nations.

The UN said earlier this month that some 600,000 civilians were still in west Mosul, 400,000 of them trapped in siege-like conditions in the Old City.

The coalition is supporting Iraqi forces battling the jihadists in Mosul, whose numbers are estimated to have fallen to fewer than 1,000, Scrocca said.

This is not the first time the ISIS has indulged in carrying out such executions in the name of Islam. Khalid told The Associated Press.

That's when Iraqi security forces were taking unsustainable casualties and had to pause their operations in order to reinforce, Scrocca said Thursday.

He said the troops were about 100 metres from a symbolic mosque where the IS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the extremists' self-styled caliphate in the summer of 2014. USA officials have said that an increase in civilian casualties was to be expected as the war against the insurgents entered its deadliest phase.

Wednesday night, a suicide truck bomb targeted a police checkpoint on Baghdad's main southern entrance.

A series of large-scale bombings claimed by IS have struck Baghdad since the operation to retake Mosul began.

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