WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. commander in Iraq on Tuesday said the type of weapon fired by the U.S.-led coalition in Mosul in a recent air strike should not have caused a blast big enough to collapse an entire building, a potential sign of Islamic State’s role in civilian casualties.
“Actually our munitions, the fact that the whole building collapsed, actually contradicts our involvement,” said U.S. Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, addressing Pentagon reporters.
“The munition that we used should not have collapsed an entire building. So that is one of those things that we are trying to figure out in the investigative process because we have ... munitions in our inventory that can collapse whole buildings. That is not what we used in this case.”
Conflicting accounts have emerged since the March 17 explosion in al-Jadida district in west Mosul, where Iraqi forces backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes are fighting to clear Islamic State militants from Iraq’s second city.
Investigators are in Mosul to determine whether a U.S.-led coalition strike or Islamic State-rigged explosives caused a blast that destroyed buildings and may have killed more than 200 people.
Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by James Dalgleish