Local hospital officials said that 17 Iraqis died and at least 17 more were injured during fighting at the central bank and the governor’s office Tuesday and Wednesday.
U.S. Central Command officials confirmed that seven Iraqis were killed in Mosul Tuesday. While acknowledging that more had died in other confrontations, they did not release an estimate of the number of Iraqis killed Wednesday.
Some Iraqis accused the U.S. troops of firing on innocent bystanders.
“They are killing us, and no one’s talking about it,” Zahra Yassin, who was at a Mosul hospital with her wounded son, told the Associated Press. “We want Saddam back. At least there was security.”
Central Command spokesman Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said the Wednesday incident involved Marines returning fire against apparent looters at the bank. The looters, Brooks said, had fired on Iraqi police officers.
The fighting on Tuesday had centered on the governor’s office across the street from the bank, where American Marines and special forces had taken up positions. Although accounts differ, protestors reportedly attempted to storm the building and U.S. troops had opened fire.
Central Command spokesman Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks characterized Mosul, the country’s third largest city, as an area of “uncertain” stability with pockets of lawlessness, violence and signs of pro-Saddam forces who are promoting the anti-U.S. actions. In response, he said, coalition forces were carrying out a deliberate approach to maintaining law and order and responding to threats.
“Our coalition forces have the inherent right of self-defense,” Brooks said. “That hasn’t changed and will continue to be something that is a first guiding principle for our work. At the same time, we want to be very deliberate about any responses we make and very careful that the response is focused and appropriate to the conditions that are existing at that given time.”
Brooks said there were some positive developments in the U.S.-Iraqi relationships Mosul.
“There was a police force that was involved in enforcing the law,” Brooks said. “They’re working very closely with the coalition. Those efforts will improve over time, and we believe that we can create the conditions of stability in Mosul, as they are in other cities of the north right now.”
The coalition is working to restore power in Kirkuk that will then restore the operation of a natural gas line to Mosul. The gas is needed to run the Mosul water distribution system. The Saddam Dam, which Central Command has renamed the Mosul Dam, stopped operating when the natural gas supply was lost during the war.