President Vladimir Putin today called on the US-led coalition to avoid civilian casualties in the battle to recapture the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State jihadist group. "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," Putin said in a televised news conference on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in India. "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. IS seized Mosul along with other areas of Iraq in June 2014, but Iraqi forces have since regained significant ground from the jihadists and -- backed by a US-led coalition that includes France -- are preparing for an assault to retake the city. Meanwhile in neighbouring Syria, Russian airpower is currently backing up an offensive by regime forces on rebel-held eastern Aleppo that has sparked accusations of potential war crimes from the West. More than 370 people, including nearly 70 children, have been killed in regime and Russian bombardment of east Aleppo since the regime's assault began on September 22, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said this week. The launch of the operation to recapture Mosul is expected to be announced soon.
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