US-led coalition probing report of friendly fire deaths in Iraq

US-led coalition probing report of friendly fire deaths in Iraq
© Getty Images

The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is investigating reports that an airstrike killed at least 19 pro-government Sunni tribal fighters in a village south of Mosul, the coalition said Wednesday.

The strike in question happened Wednesday and targeted a building in the village of Khara'ib Jabr, according to a coalition statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We are aware of the reports that Sunni tribal fighters were in the building that was struck and we are taking those reports seriously," the statement said. "As a result, both the coalition and the [Iraqi security forces] are conducting a joint investigation on this incident."

A Sunni militia leader told The Associated Press that 19 of his fighters were killed and five wounded in the strike. Another officer with the militia put the death toll at 20 fighters, according to the AP.

According to the coalition statement, the strike was carried out after ISIS fighters fired at Iraqi security forces. The strike was requested by and coordinated with the Iraqi government, the statement said.

Initial battle damage assessments indicated the strike destroyed one building and killed eight enemy fighters, the statement added.

“The coalition takes extraordinary precautions to avoid friendly or civilian casualties, applying rigorous standards in its targeting processes, from a comprehensive analysis of all available intelligence to a careful selection of munitions,” the statement said.

Coalition and Iraqi forces are currently preparing for the fight to retake Mosul from ISIS. The city, Iraq’s second largest, fell to ISIS in 2014. The offensive is expected to begin as soon as this month.