U.S. officials acknowledged that its forces launched an airstrike on March 17 targeting Islamic State militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul, which, according to witnesses, led to the deaths of more than 100 civilians, according to the Associated Press. U.S. authorities didn't confirm the reports of civilian casualties but opened an investigation.
The announcement brings a shift to the initial U.S. position, in which it said it was unsure whether American forces were behind the attack.
WATCH | Iraqi forces continue to retrieve bodies from the rubble more than a week after the airstrike had occurred.
A formal Civilian Casualty Credibility Assessment has been opened to determine the facts surrounding the March 17 airstrike.
"Our goal has always been for zero civilian casualties, but the coalition will not abandon our commitment to our Iraqi partners because of ISIS's inhuman tactics terrorizing civilians, using human shields, and fighting from protected sites such as schools, hospitals, religious sites and civilian neighborhoods," the coalition said.
According to the New York Times, Iraqi officials said that the Trump administration had appeared to loosen restrictions on the rules of engagement, which made it easier for them to call in airstrikes. However, Pentagon spokesperson Capt. Jeff Davis said that the rules haven't changed.
The statement added, “Coalition forces work diligently and deliberately to be precise in our airstrikes. Coalition forces comply with the Law of Armed Conflict and take all reasonable precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to civilians.”
Though the airstrike occurred more than a week ago, Iraqis continued to pull bodies from the rubble on Saturday. Reports of the mass casualties began surfacing six days after the coalition said it had struck the area.