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Amnesty report on Mosul battle is deeply irresponsible, says British commander

Major General Rupert Jones said the world should “congratulate” Iraq’s security forces for liberating Mosul.

Claims the US-led coalition and Iraqi forces violated international humanitarian law in the battle to recapture Mosul from Islamic State are “deeply irresponsible”, a senior British commander has said.

Major General Rupert Jones, the deputy commander of the international anti-IS coalition, has slammed the report published by Amnesty International on Tuesday as “disrespectful” to the Iraqi government.

Days after a “total victory” in Mosul was declared by the Iraqi prime minister, the human rights organisation suggested the government and coalition carried out “disproportionate” and “unlawful” attacks in the fight to take back the city.

Amnesty said Iraqi forces and the coalition have killed and injured thousands, and appear to have committed “repeated violations of international humanitarian law”, some of which “may amount to war crimes”.

Pressed on the claims, Gen Jones told the Press Association that the report is “deeply irresponsible and frankly naive”.

“It is riddled with assertion, at no stage did they have the courtesy to engage the coalition to ask what our targeting process is,” he said.

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(PA Graphics)

“Firstly the Iraqi security forces have put the safety of civilians as the absolute centrepiece of the liberation of the city over the last nine months – that is beyond question.

“Does that mean there have been no violations? No, of course there have, but whenever those are presented to the government of Iraq, they are taken very, very seriously.

“The second thing would be to say that the coalition in providing support to the Iraqi security forces, we go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that when we strike we only kill the enemy. I would say it is the most sophisticated targeting and strike process in history.”

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Major General Rupert Jones (MoD Handout)

Gen Jones said it is naive to think a city such as Mosul with a population of 1.75 million could be liberated without any civilian casualties while fighting an enemy that “lacks all humanity”.

“It strikes me as being written by people who simply have no understanding of the brutality of warfare. But we should be absolutely clear who were deliberately killing civilians,” he added.

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Iraqi civilians await rescue in Mosul (Felipe Dana/AP)

After IS seized control of Iraq’s second biggest city in June 2014, Mosul became a stronghold for the extremist group.

Gen Jones said it is “huge kudos” to Iraqi government forces that they have now liberated the city held by IS for more than three years.

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Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi raises the national flag in Mosul (AP)

“We should just briefly take stock, it was a nine-month battle – probably the most significant urban battle since the Second World War – and the Iraqi security forces prevailed, with the support of the coalition, and they did so with great style,” he added.

“I think the whole world should congratulate them for that.”

But he warned there will still be “pockets which need to be tidied up” within Mosul, and that the recapturing of the city does not mean the end of IS in Iraq – with areas yet to be “cleared”.

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