A number of Iraqi security forces have been killed in an airstrike carried out by US-led coalition forces near a US airbase, Iraqi officials say, adding that the victims were ‘mistaken’ for militants.
The incident took place in the town of al-Baghdadi, 170km north-west of Baghdad. The town hosts Al Asad Airbase, operated by US and Iraqi forces.
There have been conflicting report about the exact number of Iraqi fatalities in the airstrike. Reuters cited Iraqi officials who spoke of at least 11 dead, including 10 members of the Iraqi security forces and a local official.
AFP, however, cited an anonymous provincial official who confirmed 8 casualties.
“Eight people — a senior intelligence official, five policemen and a woman — were killed by a US strike on the center of Al Baghdadi,” the official said, adding that at least 20 people, including the town’s police chief, were injured.
According to Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC), it had ordered a raid in the town, and once the raid took place, Iraqi troops were mistaken for terrorists by other troops who called in a coalition airstrike as cited by AFP.
For his part, a US-led international coalition spokesman, Colonel Ryan Dillon, said all coalition airstrikes are performed at the request of the Iraqi security forces.
The US-led coalition has been repeatedly accused by human rights groups of using excessive airstrikes, sometimes targeting friendly forces and failing to protect civilians.
In July 2017 Amnesty International said both Iraqi and coalition forces “failed to take adequate measures to protect civilians, instead subjecting them to a terrifying barrage of fire from weapons that should never be used in densely populated civilian areas.”