March 26, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David Byrd reporting.
The U.S. military officials have acknowledged the U.S.-led coalition launched an airstrike that witnesses say killed more than 100 people during a battle to retake Mosul from Islamic State militants.
The U.S. Central Command said on Saturday that a review determined that a U.S.-led coalition operation requested by the Iraqi government had struck Islamic State fighters and equipment at a location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties.
Lise Grande is the U.N. humanitarian representative in Iraq. "Both the Iraq military forces and the U.S.- led coalition have acknowledged that there was an airstrike and that there are possibly hundreds of casualties."
What happened in the incident March 17 in Mosul al-Jadidah district is still [under] unclear. Some say residents a coalition airstrike hit an explosive-laden truck, detonating a blast that collapsed buildings packed with families.
Local rescue coordinators report that more than 250 people have been pulled from the rubble.
The U.S. announcement came after the Iraqi government announced early Saturday that it would temporarily halt the battle to retake Mosul from Islamic State.
Syrian and Russian warplanes pounded rebel targets across that country on Saturday, killing dozens of people, including inmates at a rebel-held women's prison in Idlib. Monitors from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the prison dead included 16 prisoners and prison staff.
Separately, monitors said government forces targeted rebel positions east of Damascus, where 16 people were killed and 50 others wounded.
The government offensive comes as the two sides are involved in the fifth round of peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland.
This is VOA news.
At a special summit on Somali refugees in Nairobi Saturday, Somalia's president, commonly known as Farmajo, asked the leaders of the inter-governmental authority on development to help his country find a durable solution to the Somali refugee crisis.
According to the United Nations, more than two million Somalis have been displaced during the country's civil conflict, which is now in its 26th year.
The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, says more funding is needed from the international community to get ahead of a famine in Somalia.
Steven Lauwerier is a UNICEF representative. "I think it is very important if you want to .... But also we want to prevent famine. That we have to get the funding now."
A drought in the war-torn country is threatening three million lives.
European Union leaders marked the 60th anniversary of the bloc's founding treaty on Saturday despite knowing that Britain plans to officially trigger exit proceedings next week.
In a solemn declaration ending the summit, the leaders of the remaining 27-member states sought to end paralysis that has gripped the bloc on several issues.
Pakistan says it has started fencing off its long border with Afghanistan and areas vulnerable to cross-border militant attacks are being given priority. Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa revealed the project during a visit Saturday to tribal districts.
Pakistan and Afghanistan share nearly a 2,600-kilometer border that's largely porous. Each nation blames the other for encouraging terrorist infiltration to support deadly attacks on their soils.
U.S. President Donald Trump is now turning his attention to tax reform following the collapse of his effort to repeal and replace the nation's health care plan.
Saturday morning, the president tweeted that the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, would explode and said, "We will all get together and piece together a great health care plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry."
Vice President Mike Pence echoed the president's sentiment at a small business gathering in West Virginia.
"And when Republicans and Democrats finally decide to come together and repeal and replace Obamacare, we'll be ready to get the job done."
Earlier on Friday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said during an interview with the news site Axios that he had been overseeing the administration's tax reform plans for the past two months.
For more on these stories, log on to our website voanews.com. I'm David Byrd in Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.