US Commander: US Airstrike ‘Probably’ Behind Mosul Civilian Death Toll

Says Bombs Should Not Have Collapsed the Buildings

On March 17, US airstrikes against the city of Mosul leveled multiple buildings, killing in excess of 200 people, by most estimates. The Pentagon had long been very evasive about the incident so far, confirming they’d bombed the buildings but insisting they are still investigating the question of whether they’d killed any civilians.

US commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend was a bit more realistic about the question in comments today, conceding that the US “probably had a role in these casualties,” saying that the investigation was ongoing and that they were still looking for possible reasons the buildings collapsed.

This is likely to be the excuse the Pentagon is leaning heavily toward right now, as Townsend insisted that the bombs the US dropped on the buildings shouldn’t have collapsed the buildings, so the fact that they collapsed, burying hundreds within, “contradicts our involvement.”

Townsend then suggested that ISIS might’ve “rigged” explosives inside the buildings, which might offer the US an opportunity to pawn off the death toll, the single largest in an incident throughout the war, as ISIS’ fault, despite the US bombing the buildings in the first place.

The official narrative isn’t finalized, with the Pentagon still conducting its investigation, but throughout the war most of the heavy casualty incidents have been either dramatically revised downward for official reporting purposes, or dismissed outright.

Townsend’s admission that the US was “probably” involved appears aimed at lowering public pressure on the US over the killings, while at the same time offering some hints that the Pentagon’s report will ultimately still weasel its way out of culpability.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.