A newly married husband and wife were killed and two young children injured in an airstrike on al Islah al Zirae in West Mosul on May 3rd. The event was later confirmed to be an Australian action.
Amnesty International provided the following field report to Airwars citing an eyewitness: “We were getting dressed to leave and my brother’s family were still getting dressed and putting jackets on the children. I set off with my wife and children and we turned the corner and heard an air strike. I ran back and the house had caved in. My brother died. My sister-in-law (wife of another brother) also died. There were no Daesh around otherwise how could I have just walked out of my house.
Brother: [Name anonymised], aged 27 – dead
Sister in law, newly married 20 days ago: [Name anonymised], aged 20 – dead
Young nephew: [Name anonymised], aged 1.5 years – injured
Young niece: [Name anonymised], aged 2 years – injured
Those who come to apparently liberate us should know Daesh hide between us. They force us to hide them. How can the instruction tell us to stay away from them?”
On March 29th, 2018, Australia admitted to killing the two civilians and two young children. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) published information about the event in a civilian casualty report: “On 3 May 2017, one Australian aircraft conducted an airstrike in support of Iraqi Security Forces who were under direct fire from enemy fighters in West Mosul. Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel were also engaged in the approval process. A low collateral, single precision-guided munition was released, striking the target and destroying a section of a building used by Daesh as a defensive fighting position. Based on a review of information now available, it is possible that civilian casualties may have occurred as a result of this strike. The personnel involved, using the information available to them, acted in compliance with the law of armed conflict and Australian rules of engagement.”
The ADF conducted “two thorough investigations” that concluded that civilian casualties were likely killed by an RAAF Super Hornet firing a GPS-guided bomb “hitting the second storey, collapsing the defensive fighting position inside the building,” said deputy chief of joint operations, Major General Greg Bilton.
At the time, Amnesty could not narrow down the precise date of the incident, stating that it likely had taken place between May 1st and May 3rd. However, in its March 28th civilian casualty report, the Coalition stated that on “May 3, 2017 near Islah al Zirai, […] The Coalition conducted a strike to destroy an ISIS fighting position. During the strike it was assessed that two civilians were unintentionally killed and two civilians were injured.”
Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne stated that the strike was called in “because the Iraqi security forces were under direct sniper attack from the building, and the sniper was causing injuries”. However, the witness interviewed by Amnesty had stated that “there were no Daesh around, otherwise how could I have just walked out of my house?”
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (7) [ collapse]
Prior to the Coalition releasing the MGRS for this incident, Airwars had geolocated it to the nearest neighbourhood/area at 36.3507344, 43.0868769
US-led Coalition Assessment:
Civilian casualty statements
Mar 28, 2018
May 1, 2017 near Islah al Zirai, Iraq via Airwars report. The Coalition conducted a strike to destroy an ISIS fighting position. During the strike it was assessed that two civilians were unintentionally killed and two civilians were injured.
Original strike reports
For May 1st-2nd 2017 the Coalition reported: “Near Mosul; two strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed two mortar systems, a front-end loader, an artillery system, a fighting position, a VBIED factory, and a medium machine gun.” It additionally stated that “Near Mosul, May 1st, three strikes destroyed three VBIEDs and three ISIS fuel tankers, and suppressed three mortar teams.”