Air strikes kill kids

Iraqi civil­ians dead after two strikes in­volv­ing Aussie forces

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - SARAH MARTIN

AUS­TRALIAN forces have been in­volved in two air strikes in Iraq that killed or se­ri­ously in­jured at least eight civil­ians, in­clud­ing the likely death of two chil­dren.

The civil­ian ca­su­al­ties, re­ported overnight by the USled Op­er­a­tion In­her­ent Re­solve, were the re­sult of Aus­tralian forces fight­ing against ISIS troops in a bat­tle to re­take the north­ern city of Mo­sul.

The first in­ci­dent took place on March 30 in West Mo­sul after a ground crew called in an air strike to de­stroy a group of peo­ple be­lieved to be mem­bers of ISIS – also known as Daesh.

A mem­ber of the Aus­tralian De­fence Force was in­volved in the ap­proval of the strike against the tar­geted group, which the air­crew later de­ter­mined had been wrongly iden­ti­fied.

The group of civil­ians, ei­ther killed or se­ri­ously in­jured, are thought to have in­cluded at least one child.

The sec­ond in­ci­dent was an Aus­tralian air strike on June 7, in the heav­ily built up area of West Mo­sul, tar­get­ing Daesh fighters in a residential build­ing. Aus­tralian Su­per Hor­nets were con­tacted when a group of Iraqi se­cu­rity forces were “pinned down” by Daesh fighters en­gaged in small-arms com­bat.

An Aus­tralian strike was or­dered, and while no civil­ians were ob­served dur­ing the at­tack, the post-strike video re­vealed peo­ple leav­ing the rear of the build­ing.

A child was be­ing car­ried in a per­son’s arms.

Chief of Joint Op­er­a­tions David John­ston said a re­view of each in­ci­dent showed that Aus­tralian forces had acted within the rules of en­gage­ment.

“The bat­tle and the en­vi­ron­ment in Mo­sul is very dif­fi­cult,” he said.

“It’s a dense ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment against an en­emy who have no re­gard for hu­man life or the laws of armed con­flict them­selves.”

Vice-Ad­mi­ral John­ston said Daesh were “by far the great­est per­pe­tra­tor of civil­ian ca­su­al­ties in Iraq” and of­ten used civil­ians as shields or hostages in the fight against al­lied forces.

“Daesh’s tac­tic of de­lib­er­ately putting civil­ians in harm’s way is de­signed to com­pli­cate and im­pede coali­tion sup­port for the Iraqi forces,” he said.

In the eight-month bat­tle of Mo­sul, be­tween 1200 and 1500 Iraqi se­cu­rity forces have been killed and about 8000 wounded.

CITY HIT: Airstrikes target po­si­tions on the edge of Mo­sul in July this year. Pic­ture: AP

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