An inquiry conducted in the aftermath of a U.S. aerial bombardment of an ISIS military position in Iraq has concluded the bombing mission killed four Iraqi civilians.
Although unconfirmed, one of the four civilians may have been a child.
“The preponderance of the evidence gathered during the investigation indicates that the air strikes likely resulted in the deaths of four non-combatants,” the military said in a statement.
According to the official investigation carried out by the Air Force, a woman on site in al-Hatra, Iraq, witnessed her vehicle and one other destroyed and passengers killed when an American A-10 “Warthog” aircraft attacked a confirmed ISIS checkpoint.
Although details are vague, the ground-attack aircraft approached the ISIS position, which had been verified as a hostile target, and two vehicles halted to meet ISIS personnel functioning as guards.
“Based upon the actions on the ground by the personnel at the checkpoint, the aircrew and Combined Air Operations Center personnel assessed that the drivers and vehicles, as well as the checkpoint, were ISIL and therefore lawful targets,” the report concluded.
This was a tragic accident.
The United States labors to prevent or minimize civilian deaths.
According to the official investigation, video analysis offered incontrovertible evidence the crew of the A-10 had “no opportunity” to detect civilians at the target.
That so few civilians are killed perfectly illustrates the circumspection with which the United States conducts military operations.
While critics of the war may use this as a rhetorical club to assail the U.S. for a flagrant violation of the rules of war or, worse, suggest the U.S. deliberately targets civilians, this does not amount to a war crime.
Aware they are competing for the truth with forces which persistently shadow them, the Pentagon launched a thorough investigation, was completely forthcoming and has admitted its error.
Those who imply this is the standard conduct for American military action are divorced from the real world, and certainly the realities of war.
[Reuters] [Photo courtesy CNN]