Vladimir Putin issues warning to West over civilian casualties in Mosul

'We of course are not going to fan hysteria over this matter, like our partners in the West do'

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said he hopes the US and its allies will do their best to avoid civilian casualties in an attack on Isis' Iraq stronghold of Mosul.

“We hope that our American partners, and in this case our French partners as well, will act selectively and do everything to minimise — and even better, to rule out — civilian casualties,” Mr Putin told a news conference after a summit of developing economies in India on Sunday.

“We of course are not going to fan hysteria over this matter, like our partners in the West do, because we understand that we need to fight terrorism, and that there is no other way apart from active fighting,” he added.

Mr Putin made his remarks as the UK and US said they were considering sanctions against Russia and Syria in response to their bombardment of Aleppo.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned Russia and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad that they would not be successful in their "barbaric siege" of the city.

Speaking in London following talks on Syria's civil war, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the bombardment constituted “crimes against humanity”.

He said: “It could stop tomorrow morning, tonight if Russia and the Assad regime were to behave according to any norm or any standard of decency, but they’ve chosen not to.

“Instead we see what can only be described as crimes against humanity taking place on a daily basis, and hospitals are bombed and children are bombed or gassed.”

More than 275,000 civilians in the city are enduring daily bombing raids, alleged gas attacks, and the use of highly destructive barrel bombs from Russian and Syrian air strikes.

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The battle to seize Mosul from Isis began on Monday morning, as convoys of troops began mobilising east of the city.

US and French forces had already began bombing Isis targets in the city ahead of the offensive.

Ahead of the battle, the Iraqi army dropped tens of thousands of leaflets over Mosul, urging residents to hide before the offensive beigns.

The leaflets carried several messages to the citizens attempting to reassure them that the advancing army "would not target civilians," but warned them to avoid the known locations of Isis militants.

The military operation is the most complex carried out in Iraq since US forces withdrew from the country in 2011. 

Last week, the UN said it was bracing itself for the world's biggest and most complex humanitarian effort following the battle, which it expects will displace up to one million people and see civilians used as human shields.