At least 112 bodies have been pulled from the site of a US-led coalition airstrike in Mosul, Iraq.
The deaths have sparked renewed concerns about civilian casualties from coalition airstrikes targeting ISIS fighters in the city.
“The United Nations is profoundly concerned by the reports yesterday of a high number of civilian casualties in al-Jadida in Iraq, a densely populated neighborhood in Mosul. Initial reports indicate hundreds of casualties,” Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN Secretary General, told a press conference on Friday.
Haq added that Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, is “stunned by the horrendous loss of life” in the aerial attacks.
Grande urged all parties to the operation in the embattled western Mosul, where Iraqi troops backed by pro-government fighters from Popular Mobilization Units – commonly known by their Arabic name, Hashd al-Sha’abi – are pushing hard to dislodge ISIS, to refrain from “indiscriminate use of firepower” and “do everything possible to protect civilians.”
Iraq’s Kurdish-language Rudaw television network reported late on Thursday that 237 people had been killed in US-led coalition airstrikes on a Daesh-held neighborhood in western Mosul.
The report said 137 people died when a bomb hit a single building in Mosul al-Jadida district of western Mosul. Another 100 were killed nearby.
“Some of the dead were taking shelter inside the homes,” Hevidar Ahmed, a correspondent for Rudaw, said from the scene.
The coalition said a review of its airstrikes confirmed one strike that day in the area where the casualties were reported.
Both the Iraqi and US defence departments launched investigations on Saturday into possible civilian deaths in airstrikes between March 17 and 23.
US and Iraqi forces have been trying to regain control of Mosul – Iraq’s second-largest city – from ISIS since October.
ISIS had a firm grip on Mosul since 2014, but suffered a major blow when Iraqi security forces regained control of eastern Mosul in January.
But the arduous fight for western Mosul continues.