MILITARY

US opens formal investigation into civilian deaths in Mosul

  • FILE - In this Friday, March 24, 2017, file photo, civil protection rescue teams work on the debris of a destroyed house to recover the body of people killed during fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants on the western side of Mosul, Iraq. Iraqis in the northern city of Mosul are still burying their dead after a U.S. airstrike allegedly killed more than 100 people last week, and rights groups are expressing alarm over a recent spike in civilian deaths. Iraqi officials have defended their conduct in the war against the Islamic State group, and their advice to civilians to shelter in place as U.S.-backed forces seek to drive the extremists from their last urban stronghold in the country. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

    FILE - In this Friday, March 24, 2017, file photo, civil protection rescue teams work on the debris of a destroyed house to recover the body of people killed during fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants on the western side of Mosul, Iraq. Iraqis in the northern city of Mosul are still burying their dead after a U.S. airstrike allegedly killed more than 100 people last week, and rights groups are expressing alarm over a recent spike in civilian deaths. Iraqi officials have defended their conduct in the war against the Islamic State group, and their advice to civilians to shelter in place as U.S.-backed forces seek to drive the extremists from their last urban stronghold in the country. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Friday, March 24, 2017, file photo, civil protection rescue teams work on the debris of a destroyed house to recover the body of people killed during fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants on the western side of Mosul, Iraq. Iraqis in the northern city of Mosul are still burying their dead after a U.S. airstrike allegedly killed more than 100 people last week, and rights groups are expressing alarm over a recent spike in civilian deaths. Iraqi officials have defended their conduct in the war against the Islamic State group, and their advice to civilians to shelter in place as U.S.-backed forces seek to drive the extremists from their last urban stronghold in the country. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

    FILE - In this Friday, March 24, 2017, file photo, civil protection rescue teams work on the debris of a destroyed house to recover the body of people killed during fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants on the western side of Mosul, Iraq. Iraqis in the northern city of Mosul are still burying their dead after a U.S. airstrike allegedly killed more than 100 people last week, and rights groups are expressing alarm over a recent spike in civilian deaths. Iraqi officials have defended their conduct in the war against the Islamic State group, and their advice to civilians to shelter in place as U.S.-backed forces seek to drive the extremists from their last urban stronghold in the country. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)  (The Associated Press)

The top U.S. general for the Middle East says the military has launched a formal investigation to determine what role the U.S. played in the deaths of dozens of civilians in Mosul, Iraq.

Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, says combat in the densely populated areas of Mosul is making it harder to avoid civilian casualties.

Votel says the probe will look at what Islamic State militants did to contribute to the deaths, including use of human shields, on March 17. He says they're exploiting America's sensitivities about civilian deaths.

Votel tells the House Armed Services Committee the combat situation is evolving. He says the investigation will review intelligence provided by Iraqi forces.