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Several killed, injured as US airstrike hits Iraqi troops

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This photo shows a formation of US Navy F-18E Super Hornets in flight after receiving fuel from aKC-135 Stratotanker over northern Iraq, on September 23, 2014. ©AFP

Several Iraqi soldiers have either been killed or injured as a US airstrike hits their base in the western Anbar Province.

According to Iraq's joint operations command, which oversees the campaign against the Daesh Takfiris, said in a statement on Friday that forces from Iraq's 3rd Division 55th Brigade were hit by a US airstrike at around 1:00 PM (1000 GMT) as they were advancing on the positions of the terrorists near Amriyat al-Fallujah, west of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. 

It said a coalition strike was carried out “without taking into account the distance that had been covered” by the Iraqi troops. 

An officer and nine soldiers were killed or wounded, the command center said without providing a breakdown.

However, the head of the defense and security committee of the Iraqi parliament, Hakim al-Zameli, put the casualty figures far higher, saying at least 20 Iraqi troops were killed and 30 others injured in the attack.

Zameli said he had called Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to "immediately" launch an investigation into the attack. 

A military source described the attack as accidental and not intentional, saying the Iraqi forces were hit due to their proximity to the positions of Daesh in Naimiyah.

Colonel Steve Warren, a Baghdad-based official of the coalition said, however, that the coalition would investigate any serious allegation of wrongdoing.

Iraqi army and allied paramilitary fighters maintain a heavy presence in Anbar where they have been engaged in a massive operation against the Daesh Takfiri group.

Iraqi pro-government forces hold a position in the Tel Mushaihed area, east of Ramadi, a large city on the Euphrates 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of Baghdad on December 17, 2015. ©AFP

The Iraqi army and allied forces have managed to recapture most parts of the desert province, including several districts of its capital Ramadi, which fell into the hands of Daesh in May.

Iraq has on several occasions complained about the ineffectiveness of the air strikes launched by the US and its allies in June 2014 allegedly targeting Daesh Takfiri terrorists in north and west of Iraq.

Iraqis say many attacks have been carried out without coordination with Baghdad, increasing the likelihood of coalition fighter jets hitting civilians and Iraqi forces.

In a similar incident in Syria, US warplanes hit a military base hosting Syrian forces east of the country on December 7, prompting Damascus to harshly criticize Washington for its uncoordinated and unauthorized air campaign.

Syria has also submitted complaint letters to the United Nations, saying the coalition attacks have inflicted huge damages on the country’s infrastructure and led to many civilian casualties.

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