US-led coalition says IS command centre destroyed in Mosul

Islamic State militants are essentially under siege in western Mosul, along with an estimated 650,000 civilians. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Mosul, Nineveh Governorate, Iraq Feb 18, 2017, 11.35 AM (IST)

The US-led military coalition on Saturday said its forces destroyed a building in western Mosul's main medical complex, which they suspect housed an Islamic State (IS) command center.

The coalition accused Islamic State of using the five-story building as a military command and control facility.

"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 the Islamic State.

The IS has denied the claim, instead saying that Friday's strike killed 18 people, mostly women and children, and wounded 47, AFP reported.  The militant group disputed the claim in an online statement 

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

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

Mosul, is the Islamic State's last major city stronghold in Iraq. The offensive to dislodge the hardline Sunni group from the city started in October. The IS declared a self-styled caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Independent media have no access to western Mosul or other areas under IS control in Iraq and Syria.

(WION with inputs from AFP)