Iraq probes coalition strike that killed 10 soldiers

Iraq probes coalition strike that killed 10 soldiers
An investigation has been opened by both
Iraq and the US military after an American airstrike killed Iraqi soldiers near the city of Fallujah.
2 min read
19 December, 2015
The funeral of one of the 10 soldiers killed in the US airstrike [AFP]

Iraq has opened an investigation into the circumstances that led to the death of 10 Iraqi soldiers in a coalition airstrike west of Baghdad, the defence minister said Saturday.

"We lost 10 of our soldiers," Khaled al-Obeidi said in Baghdad, adding that "an investigation into the incident was opened."

A statement from the Joint Operations Command on Friday mentioned that 10 had been "wounded or killed" but Obeidi and another senior military source clarified Saturday that 10 troops were killed.

According to the joint command, the incident occurred when two coalition strikes allowed Iraqi ground forces to advance rapidly towards positions held by fighters of the Islamic State group south of their stronghold of Fallujah.

A third airstrike struck when the two sides were in close combat, resulting in casualties to both, it said.

The US military acknowledged a coalition strike may have caused casualties among the ranks of the Iraqi security forces it supports in Fallujah and elsewhere in the country.

"Despite coordination with the Iraqi security forces on the ground, initial reports indicate the possibility one of the strikes resulted in the death of Iraqi soldiers," a statement said on Friday.

It said the US military would launch its own investigation into what it described as likely the first "friendly fire" incident involving the coalition since the war against IS was launched last year.

"We will conduct a thorough investigation and express deepest condolences for any loss of life among brave Iraqi soldiers fighting ISIL," top US envoy to the coalition Brett McGurk said on social media, using another acronym for IS.

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, who was in Iraq the day before the incident, called Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to extend his condolences, a statement said.

The head of the Security and Defence Committee in the Iraqi parliament described the event as a "heinous crime."

The committee called for the pilot who bombed the Iraqi military force to stand trial, adding that the US military has the capability to be 100 percent accurate it their targeting.

Spokesman for the League of the Righteous, Naim Abadi, warned of "consequences" over the Iraqi government’s silence on the coalition's strikes.

In a statement Abadi said that the combing indicates the true intentions of Washington and its allies, who do not have Iraq’s best interests at heart.