US-led coalition strike killed dozens of civilian mourners 30km from Kirkuk – Russian MoD
The Russian Ministry of Defense says that the US-led coalition is responsible for striking mourners in the Iraqi city of Daquq on Friday, killing dozens of civilians, including women and children.
The coalition jets apparently identified the mourning procession as Islamic State terrorists, said General Igor Konashenkov, spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry.
“Judging by the eyewitness accounts, the mourning procession was mistaken for terrorists by the coalition aviation. Dozens of Iraqi civilians died, including women and children,” Konashenkov said.
“Russian reconnaissance pinpointed two jets conducting airstrikes on Daquq, located 30 kilometers to the south of Kirkuk, where, according to our data, there are no ISIS fighters,” he added.
Initial reports on the attack came on Friday, with AFP citing local officials and medics as saying that 15 women were killed and 50 more injured.
Konashenkov noted that such incidents bear the mark of war crimes.
“These deadly attacks on civilian areas, which have all the marks of war crimes, are becoming almost a daily routine for the international coalition.”
The spokesman also noted that civilians and civilian infrastructure are increasingly finding themselves in the crosshairs of the coalition bombardment.
“Too often weddings, funerals, hospitals, police stations, and humanitarian convoys are being hit by the coalition warplanes,” Konashenkov said. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova also weighed in, slamming the coalition’s action.
“Yesterday the ‘human rights defenders’ again bombed a funeral ceremony, this time in the Iraqi Daquq where there are no terrorists.” Zakharova said in a Facebook post.
In a statement to RT, the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF), which is in charge of the international anti-ISIS operation in Iraq and Syria, said that it has no evidence that jets of the alliance carried out the Daquq strike.
“At this time, we cannot associate this incident with any Coalition strikes in the area,” the response says.
On Friday, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) ‘sleeper cells’ launched attacks on government buildings in Kirkuk, sparking clashes with security forces.
At least 80 people, died in the fighting while some 170 have been injured, according to AP.
The attack on Kirkuk comes at a time when the Iraqi military is conducting a full-scale military operation to retake the country’s second-largest city, Mosul from the jihadists.
The city was captured by Islamic State fighters in 2014 and became IS’ main stronghold in Iraq.
“During the past 24 hours alone, the international coalition has conducted 22 sorties using tactical aviation and four unmanned flying vehicles, which launched 19 strikes on various sites on the territory of Iraq,” Konashenkov said, noting that Russia is closely monitoring the developments.
The Security Council member for Baghdad province, Saad al Mutlabi, believes that the airstrike on Daquq "is definitely a war crime" and "a deliberate act because Daquq is far away from Kirkuk and has nothing to do with ISIS."
"This is a huge criminal act. I am sure it will go unanswered," he told RT. "There is no way you can mistake one city for another city and a funeral procession with a city that has no history of ISIS," Mutlabi said, when asked if there might have been any kind of intelligence mistake.
The Iraqi politician added that whoever is responsible for the tragedy is likely to go unpunished.
"Unfortunately we don't hear a condemnation from the Iraqi government because of the sensitivity of the subject, which is really a shame that such an event, such a criminal act, takes place without any questioning," he said.