US coalition airstrikes in Iraq 'could have killed civilians'

US coalition airstrikes in Iraq 'could have killed civilians'
Possible civilian casualties were reported after a US coalition aircraft miscalculated an airstrike in northern Iraq, during the coalition's air campaign against IS.
2 min read
30 December, 2016
The US-led coalition conducts airstrikes on the Islamic State group in Iraq [Getty]

Civilians were killed in a US-led coalition airstrike meant to target Islamic State group militants in northern Iraq on Thursday, officials said.

A coalition aircraft had targeted a "van carrying ISIL fighters" in the area, according to CENTCOM, the US military command for the Middle East, using an alternate acronym for the IS group.

But the strike took place "in what was later determined to be a hospital compound parking lot resulting in possible civilian casualties", a statement read.

IS fighters had been observed firing an anti-tank gun "before loading the weapon in the van and driving off", CENTCOM added.

It promised the incident would be "fully investigated and the findings released in a timely and transparent manner".

The Iraqi army, supported by the global US-led coalition, began the second phase of its offensive to retake Iraq's second city of Mosul, which has been under IS control for more than two years.

The coalition suggested it is taking extensive precautions to avoid killing civilians during its bombing of IS group targets, claiming it routinely uses precision-guided bombs or missiles to hit targets that are often observed by drones for hours before being hit.

Despite this, the coalition has already admitted to killing at least 173 civilians in its strikes in Iraq and Syria since the start of its campaign against the IS group - a number independent observers believe is greatly understated.

The London-based NGO Airwars estimates the coalition campaign has actually killed more than 2,000 civilians.

Across the borders, the Pentagon said it killed a key military commander for the Islamic State group's Syria branch.

Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti died on Monday near Tabqa Dam, west of the IS stronghold of Raqqa, according to a statement from Centcom.

Centcom added that al-Kuwaiti's death would impede the militant groups' ability to defend Raqqa, as well as diminish the group's ability to launch attacks in the West.