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U.S.-Led Coalition Hits Main Mosul Hospital With Airstrike

The U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS says it carried out an airstrike on a hospital complex in the Iraqi city of Mosul at the request of Iraq's military.

Air Force Col. John L. Dorrian, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters that the coalition did not "have any reason to believe civilians were harmed."

However, when specifically asked whether there were patients at the city's main hospital, Dorrian said that was "very difficult to ascertain with full and total fidelity." A review of the intelligence that led to the decision is underway, he said.

The coalition is backing the Iraqi military as it works to push ISIS out of Mosul, the last major urban center in Iraq still under ISIS control.

Operation Inherent Resolve said in a statement that the strike was targeting ISIS fighters. It said Iraqi security forces launched an operation Tuesday to try to seize control of the Al Salem hospital complex in East Mosul, which it says ISIS was using "as a base of operations and command and control headquarters."

The Iraqi security forces seized the hospital but then pulled back "under heavy enemy fire." Here's what the coalition says happened, using ISIL, another acronym for ISIS:

"On Dec. 7th, after Iraqi forces continued to receive heavy and sustained machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from ISIL fighters in a building on the hospital complex, they requested immediate support from the Coalition. In support of the Iraqi Security Forces, Coalition aircraft conducted a precision strike on the location to target enemy fighters firing on Iraqi forces."

In its statement, the coalition said it "takes all feasible precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to non-combatants."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.