U.S.-led coalition says Islamic State command center destroyed in Mosul medical complex

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 18, 2017 5:12 AM

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S.-led military coalition on Saturday said its forces struck a building in the main medical complex of western Mosul, suspected to house an Islamic State command center.

The strike, carried out on Friday, follows reports that the militants are dug in among civilians on the western side of Mosul and are storing weapons in hospitals, schools, mosques and churches as a tactic to avoid targeting.

The militants are essentially under siege in western Mosul, along with an estimated 650,000 civilians, after U.S.-backed forces surrounding the city dislodged them from the east in the first phase of an offensive that concluded last month.

"The coalition was able to determine through intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance efforts that ISIS did not use the building for any medical purposes and that civilians were no longer accessing the site," a coalition statement said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

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The offensive to dislodge Islamic State from Mosul, its last major city stronghold in Iraq, started in October. The hardline Sunni group declared in 2014 a self-styled "caliphate" that also spans parts of Syria.

(Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Janet Lawrence)