The U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State admitted Thursday that it carried out an airstrike on the main hospital in Mosul, Iraq, NPR reports. The attack was carried out at the request of the Iraqi military, which is backed by the coalition, and was intended to target the ISIS fighters defending their last major holdout in Iraq.
Iraqi forces had reportedly attempted to capture the hospital, which is being used by ISIS "as a base of operations and command and control headquarters," but were pushed back by the militants. "On Dec. 7th, after Iraqi forces continued to receive heavy and sustained machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from [ISIS] 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," the coalition said in a statement.
It is not immediately clear if there were patients in the hospital at the time of the attack. The coalition "takes all feasible precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to non-combatants," it said in a statement.
"The U.S. military doesn't normally target hospitals," NPR's Jane Arraf said. "There's no word on civilian casualties."