Friday, October 12, 2007

U.S. air strike kills 9 children, 6 women non-combatants

Above and Left: Family members grieve over victims of the U.S. air strikes.

U.S. air strikes kill 19 insurgents, 15 civilians

U.S. forces killed 19 insurgents and 15 women and children in air strikes north of Iraq's capital targeting suspected leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq, the U.S. military said on Thursday...

"These terrorists chose to deliberately place innocent Iraqi women and children in danger by their actions and presence."

The U.S. military said aircraft attacked a site in the Lake Thar Thar region, about 120 km (75 miles) north of Baghdad, after intelligence reports indicated senior al Qaeda members were meeting there. Four insurgents were killed.

It said suspects from the initial meeting then moved to another area south of Lake Thar Thar and U.S. forces came under small arms fire from a building.

"Responding in self-defense, supporting aircraft engaged the enemy threat. After securing the area, the ground force assessed 15 terrorists, six women and nine children were killed, two suspects, one woman and three children were wounded, and one suspected terrorist was detained," the U.S. military said.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet

U.S. Plans Inquiry on Strike That Killed Civilians

Rear Adm. Greg Smith, an American military spokesman here, said the killings were “absolutely regrettable,” but blamed the enemy fighters for engaging American forces while using civilians as a shield.

“We do not target civilians,” the admiral said in an interview today. “But when our forces are fired upon, as they are routinely, then they have no option but to return fire.”...

“A ground element came under fire from that building that we had to neutralize,” Admiral Smith said. Nineteen insurgents were reported killed. It was not clear on Friday whether American commanders knew so many civilians were in or near the structure when they authorized the air strike on it.

“The enemy has a vote here,” Admiral Smith said, “and when he chooses to surround himself with civilians and then fire upon U.S. forces, our forces have no choice but to return a commensurate amount of fire. Which is what they did last evening.”

Read the rest at the NY Times

US military says probing deadly Iraqi air strike

The U.S. military said on Friday it was conducting a "thorough investigation" of an air strike by its attack helicopters north of Baghdad on Thursday night that killed nine children and six women.

The civilian death toll was one of the largest acknowledged by U.S. forces from an air strike since former president Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.

The incident, on the eve of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, is likely to reignite tensions between Washington and Baghdad, which has repeatedly criticised U.S. forces over the number of Iraqi civilians killed in military operations...

The 15 were killed during an operation targeting senior leaders of al Qaeda in the Lake Thar Thar area 80 km (50 miles) northwest of the Iraqi capital early on Thursday night. Nineteen suspected insurgents were also killed, the U.S. military said...

"In every instance we take as many precautions as possible to ensure innocent lives are not at risk," he said. "We are committed to working with the affected families and taking care of their needs."

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet

UN calls for inquiry into deadly US strike in Iraq

The United Nations mission in Iraq urged U.S. forces on Friday to pursue a "vigorous" probe into an air strike that killed 15 women and children and said its findings must be made public so that lessons can be learned.

It said the safety of civilians should be a top priority during military operations. In a human rights report published on Thursday, the same day as the attack, the mission highlighted the number of Iraqi civilians killed in recent U.S. air strikes.

The civilian death toll in Thursday's operation was one of the largest acknowledged by U.S. forces from an air strike since former president Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.

"Civilians are getting caught far too often between warring combatants," said U.N. mission spokesman Said Arikat. "We understand the security concerns, but we also hope that every possible safety measure is taken not to harm any civilians.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet