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Battle for Mosul: Residents flee ahead of air strikes

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Image Caption         A blast wall has been built using bricks from nearby destroyed homes

U.S. officials did not comment on the number.

At the beginning of this month it had said that "it is more likely than not, at least 220 civilians have been unintentionally killed by coalition strikes", while other incidents were still under investigation.

In mid-February, Iraqi ground forces - backed by US-led coalition air power - began fresh operations aimed at ousting Daesh militants from western Mosul, the extremist group's last bastion in northern Iraq.

Amid the aftermath of a terrorist attack on the UK's Parliament, which killed four people including a police officer, another mass casualty further afield has been buried in the headlines.

"We felt the earth shaking as if it was an natural disaster".

Multiple air strikes were launched on Saturday morning.

"If the U.S.is serious when it says our support for Saudi Arabia isn't a blank check, then it's time to prove it - because it's clear the Saudi-led coalition isn't listening", said Sen.

What they did find was several vehicle bombs, 50 or 60 Katyusha rockets and many IEDs (improvised explosive devices), he said.

The UN said Thursday that around 600,000 people were left in west Mosul, 400,000 of them "trapped" in the Old City area under siege-like conditions. The operation has been ongoing since past year. Army units are clearing villages to the north.

"The coalition has opened a formal civilian casualty credibility assessment on this allegation and we are now analyzing conflicting allegations and all possible strikes in that area", said Col. Joseph Scrocca, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve.

U.S. media reports say an investigation is under way.

Iraqi military experts checked a house "reportedly targeted by an airstrike and they found out that the house was completely destroyed and there was no sign that it was destroyed by a strike".

It has also been claimed that IS is using civilians as human shields in the region, hiding in houses and forcing young men to fight. "I do not think that the Security Council will be able to state its position with one voice on what happened, but we will ask our questions, we will voice our calls and, of course, we will keep this situation under tight control", Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said to reporters in Moscow, according to Sputnik International, a Russia state-funded publication.

"Sixty-one bodies were evacuated", the statement said.

US Central Command said that it had opened an investigation "to determine the facts surrounding this strike and the validity of the allegation of civilian casualties".

The military casualty figure was lower than that given by local officials. A municipal official had said on Saturday that 240 bodies had been pulled from the rubble. They will join 1,700 troops from the same brigade combat team who were deployed in November for nine months to support the anti-Islamic State campaign. When he emerged from his home after three hours, many homes were destroyed.

Bombs rained down in the heart of downtown on the western bank of the Tigris river, which divides the coalition-controlled eastern part of the city from the west, Islamic State's last stronghold in Iraq.

"The fighting is coming closer to people's home".

Aid groups are scrambling to build more camps to cope with the surge.

CENTCOM is now investigating three separate incidents: a March 17 attack in western Mosul, Iraq where some 200 civilians are said to have been killed; a March 22 airstrike in rural Raqqa, Syria where some 30 civilians are said to have been killed; and a March 16 airstrike in western Aleppo, Syria, where 47 people are said to have been killed, with the majority being civilians.

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