October 12, 2007
US airstrike kills 15 Iraqi women and children
Tim Reid in Washington
US forces in Iraq killed 15 unarmed civilians yesterday — including nine children — in a series of airstrikes on suspected insurgents, one of the heaviest civilian death tolls from American operations in recent months.One remembers the hoots of excited exultation as GIs watch the detonation of a 500 lb bomb on an Iraqi building, and anyone with the barest whiff of the foreward area must doubt the expressions of regret.
The US military said that it had been targeting senior al-Qaeda leaders north of Baghdad during the operation, which killed 19 insurgents and also left six women dead.
“We regret that civilians are hurt or killed while coalition forces search to rid Iraq of terrorism,” said Major Brad Leighton, a spokesman for US forces in Iraq. “These terrorists chose to deliberately place innocent Iraqi women and children in danger by their actions and presence.”
Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, has confronted General David Petraeus, the US commander, in recent meetings over what he regards as overly aggressive US tactics that harm innocent civilians. Those criticisms have focused more on civilian contractors such as Blackwater, the US security company that is embroiled in controversy over the shooting of 17 civilians last month. But yesterday’s airstrikes will increase tensions between Mr al-Maliki’s Government and US military commanders.