This post was written by Connor Balough
Since President Trump has taken office, the air strikes on Mosques housing ISIS fighters and commanders has sky rocketed.
The airstrike hit the Omar al-Aswad mosque located in the old city center of Mosul, three local residents told Reuters by phone. According to their accounts, houses nearby were damaged or collapsed as a result of the explosion.
The witnesses did not give a more precise estimate of the casualties as movements in the area were restricted by the militants, the news agency reported.
A spokesman for the US-led coalition said he had no information on a strike that targeted the mosque in question, according to the news agency. Iraqi officers, in turn, did not confirm the mosque attack, but said their troops were engaging Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) “wherever they could.”
The report comes as Iraqi forces continue to push deeper into the western half of Mosul. Earlier in February, the troops captured the international airport of Iraq’s second-largest city following a brief, but intense, firefight.
Later, a neighborhood along the Tigris River and the foot of one of Mosul’s five bridges also fell to the Iraqis. Other bridges spanning the river and connecting western Mosul – still held by most motivated Islamist fighters – with the eastern part, were destroyed in coalition air raids last year.
The Iraqis and the coalition claim the liberation of Mosul is the matter of time, and if the western part of the city falls, the Islamists-controlled areas of Iraq will be reduced to a small string of land in the northwest, bordering Syria.
Meanwhile in Syria, patriot planes struck a mosque in the islamic rebel-held village of al-Jina, in northwest Syria, killing at least 42 people and wounding dozens, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said on Thursday. The mosque was reportedly filled with Jihadist fighters.
The jets struck the village, southwest of Atarib near Aleppo, as the mosque was full of worshippers at evening prayer, said the Observatory, which monitors the Syrian war via a network of contacts across the country.
The US military said it carried out an air strike on Thursday against al-Qaeda militants, killing several, at a meeting location in Idlib province, but it was unclear if it was referring to the attack on Al-Jina.
These attacks were previously off limits during the Obama administration.