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U.S.-Led Coalition Hits Main Mosul Hospital With Airstrike

The U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS says it carried out an airstrike on the main hospital in the Iraqi city of Mosul at the request of Iraq's military.

"The U.S. military doesn't normally target hospitals," NPR's Jane Arraf reports. "There's no word on civilian casualties."

The coalition is backing the Iraqi military as it works to push ISIS out of Mosul, the last major urban center in Iraq still under ISIS control.

Operation Inherent Resolve said in a statement that the strike was targeting ISIS fighters. It said Iraqi security forces launched an operation Tuesday to try to seize control of the Al Salem hospital complex in East Mosul, which it says ISIS was using "as a base of operations and command and control headquarters."

The Iraqi security forces seized the hospital but then pulled back "under heavy enemy fire." Here's what the coalition says happened, using ISIL, another acronym for ISIS:

"On Dec. 7th, after Iraqi forces continued to receive heavy and sustained machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from ISIL 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."

In its statement, the coalition said it "takes all feasible precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to non-combatants."

It was not immediately clear whether there were patients in the hospital at the time. We'll update this story if the coalition releases more information about the hospital strike.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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