Iraqi air force blunders 'killed hundreds of civilians'

Iraqi air force blunders 'killed hundreds of civilians'
Senior Iraqi army source tells al-Araby al-Jadeed that scores of raids have hit civilian areas this year as the government battles Sunni fighters and the Islamic State group.
2 min read
13 December, 2014
The source said 68 of 239 raids in June hit civilians [Getty]

Hundreds of civilians have been killed this year due to "great mistakes" by the Iraqi air force as it battles the Islamic State group, a senior source in the Iraqi army has told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

The source said a 38-page report prepared by the ministry of defence documents scores of raids that hit civilian areas in provinces held by Sunni fighters and others loyal to the IS group. In June alone, 68 of 239 raids hit civilian and residential areas when there were no militants present.

"The report confirmed that the airforce has committed great mistakes during its air missions in Hawija [Kirkuk province], Mosul, Fallujah, Tikrit, Jurf al-Sakhar, Diyala, Baiji and As-Siniyah among other cities," the source said.

     The officer said the report fell short of calling the blunders 'intentional' but at the same time there had been no investigations.

The officer said the report fell short of calling the blunders "intentional", but at the same time said there had been no investigations and that the "mistakes continue to happen to this day".

Iraq has experienced a dramatic rise in civilian deaths since the IS group's takeover of Mosul and surrounding areas in June. About 5,000 civilians were estimated to have been killed in violence in June alone - one of the highest tolls since the sectarian conflict that raged during the US occupation of the country.

'Frightening and shameful'

The director of the Asalam Iraqi organisation for Human Rights, Mohammed Ali, told al-Araby that he believed authorities had attempted to cover up the blunders.

"The rising daily civilian death toll at the hands of the Iraqi army has become a frightening and simultaneously shameful matter," he said. "The government and the security leadership are involved in the cover up, taking advantage of the fact that the IS has barred journalists from reporting and has threatened to kill them, thus it is a perfect crime whose details aren't revealed".

He said there was pressure on the Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, to place investigation of the errors at the top of his agenda to reform the Iraqi military.

The leader of the opposition Iraqi Forces Union palriamentary bloc, Khaled al-Dulaimi, called for justice for those killed or affected by the blunders, "otherwise there would be no difference between this army and any outlawed and unconstitutional armed group".

This is an edited translation of the Arabic original.