Australian airstrike on IS ‘killed civilians’



An Australian air strike against Islamic State (IS) may have caused civilian casualties in Iraq, according to a document obtained by the ABC.

The US Central Command report lists alleged civilian casualties caused by Coalition aircraft in Iraq and Syria between September 2014 and April of this year.

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One incident details an Australian raid on a suspected IS weapons factory, that appears to have taken place on December 21 last year.

The report said 10 minutes after the last bomb was dropped, a woman and child were observed within the targeted area.

A man then arrived and took the child away on a motorbike, and the woman was seen walking to a median strip where she lay down.

The document is based on reports by Coalition pilots and/or ground forces and lists dozens of other possible civilian casualty incidents.

The document has the time, location and a rough summary of the incidents but not the results of any investigations that may have taken place as a result of the reports.

As most of the areas under attack are under the control of IS, it is difficult for Coalition to forces to verify the incidents.

In the case of the Australian incident, the report states that there was insufficient evidence to determine whether there were any civilian casualties.

Armed conflict in Iraq has left part of the country, including this Baghdad market, in ruins. Photo: Getty

Armed conflict in Iraq has left part of the country, including this Baghdad market, in ruins. Photo: Getty

Investigative journalist Chris Woods, who monitors the Coalition war effort in Iraq and Syria closely, said the documents were a rare insight into the Australian fight against IS.

“It gives us a real insight into how Australian aircraft are operating in Iraq and the outcome of the investigations that were triggered by these claims,” he said.

Document lists another incident of possible civilian casualties

The Australian military is considered to be cautious when it comes to releasing information about its operations in Iraq.

It provides monthly briefings to journalists at Defence Headquarters, providing information on total flying hours, the number of missions and the amount of ordnance dropped.

The briefings usually describe in general terms what areas were targeted, but they do not usually talk about possible civilian casualties.

“We do think it is going to make a couple of Coalition members, including Australia, a bit uncomfortable,” Woods said.

“But that’s because of their own issues about secrecy which we have our own issues with.”

The document was in a Freedom of Information request by Joseph Trevithick, who runs the blog War is Boring.

It lists another incident of possible civilian casualties where Australian fighter jets were present.

It states that in October 2014, an Australian F/A-18 reported a truck entering a target zone near an Islamic State checkpoint west of Ramadi.

The details are unclear but the truck entered the area sometime between the release of a weapon and its detonation.

It does not state whether the Australian jet fired the missile but the incident was filmed by the F-18’s weapons system.

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