Iraqi army mistakenly bombs civilians in ISIL-held city

Iraqi air force kills at least 52 civilians waiting for salaries in western city of al-Qaim with dozens of others hurt.

At least 52 people – including many women and children – have been killed when air strikes by Iraqi forces mistakenly targeted civilians gathering in the ISIL-held western city of al-Qaim, military officials told Al Jazeera.

Dozens of other people reportedly waiting for their salaries outside an exchange facility and a livestock market were also wounded in Wednesday’s air raid by Sukhoi fighter jets. 

Mohammed al-Karbouli, an Iraqi member of parliament in Anbar province, said in an official statement on his Facebook page that it was not the first time civilians had been bombed by the Iraqi air force.

“We demand the government establish an investigation commission to find out who is behind these repeated accidents of killing civilians, lately in al-Qaim city,” Karbouli said.


“To repeat the mistakes of bombing civilians is to distort the reputation of our troops.”

He also said the incidents raised questions on the validity of the intelligence the army is using in targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

“This gives an opportunity to the terrorist organisation of promoting information through their media that harms our forces,” Karbouli said.

Anbar Provincial Council Chairman Sabah Khrout told Al Jazeera the death toll could be more than 100 civilians.

Amaq, the media arm of ISIL, reported on the raid, saying at least 120 civilians were killed by Iraqi warplanes.

INTERACTIVE: Battle for Mosul – Who controls what

Also on Wednesday, Iraqi forces claimed they made gains in their fight against ISIL in Mosul.

Lieutenant-General Abdul-Amir Yarellah, the commander of the campaign, said in a statement that troops had “fully liberated” the al-Elam neighbourhood and raised the Iraqi flag over its buildings. 

He said ISIL “suffered losses”, but did not elaborate.

The Iraqi army’s 9th Armoured Division said it had retaken al-Salam hospital in a push on Tuesday, the farthest the army has penetrated into east Mosul since the start of a broad offensive launched on October 17.    

“We advanced in al-Salam district but the situation is difficult. There is heavy fighting,” Brigadier-General Shaker Kadhem told AFP news agency.    

“We took control of al-Salam hospital, which was a command centre for Daesh,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL. 

READ MORE: Iraq army launches assault on vital Mosul bridge

A senior counterterrorism officer said the fighting in al-Salam was fierce and the army had asked for backup.

“The 9th Division’s situation is difficult and they have called for support. We are sending a regiment there,” the officer told AFP on condition of anonymity. “They are surrounded now in al-Salam hospital … We are on the way so we can open a passage for them.”

The ISIL-affiliated Amaq news agency said fighters had carried out five suicide car bomb attacks in the area during the past 24 hours and Iraqi forces had sustained significant losses.

Northern Iraq choked by oil fire

Overnight attack

ISIL carried out an overnight attack against Iraqi security forces in the southeastern part of Mosul.

The assault “inflicted heavy losses”, Iraqi Army Sergeant-Major Hakim Saranbii told the Associated Press news agency, without giving specific casualty figures.

The Iraqi government has not publicised the casualty figures for government troops and paramilitary forces fighting in Mosul and elsewhere in northern Iraq.

Nearly 2,000 members of Iraqi forces were killed in November across the country, along with more than 920 civilians in the battle to take Iraq’s second-largest city from ISIL, the United Nations said last week.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi – who has said he expects the Mosul campaign to wrap up by the end of the year, acknowledged late on Tuesday that the battle was slow-going.

“We are aware of the size of challenges, especially when it comes to the presence of civilians,” Abadi said. 

Iraqi army fights street to street in eastern Mosul

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies