Iraq’s parliament speaker said an airstrike targeting the Islamic State-held town of Qaim near the Syrian border killed and wounded “dozens” of civilians, and that he is holding the Iraqi government responsible. “The airstrike hit unarmed civilians in shopping centers in Qaim and caused the killing and wounding of dozens of them,” speaker Salim al-Jabouri said in a statement late yesterday, calling the incident a “crime” and saying the perpetrators should be punished. He did not provide a specific casualty figure or say where he got his information. He demanded an immediate investigation.
Watch What Else is Making News
The government said fighter jets targeted IS militants in two houses in Qaim but denied civilians were present. Col John Dorrian, a spokesman for the US-led coalition battling IS, said on Twitter that it did not conduct any strikes in the area at the time.
Another Sunni lawmaker, Mohammed al-Karboli, said the fighter jets targeted three markets in Qaim during rush hour, killing and wounding 80 people. He did not cite his sources. The IS-linked Aamaq news agency released a nearly two-minute-long video late yesterday purporting to show the aftermath of the airstrike.
The footage shows several bearded men rushing toward a scene where dozens of cars were on fire and some buildings appeared damaged. Several bodies of children and adults, some burned, can be seen lying on the ground.
The Associated Press could not immediately verify the authenticity of the video. The Iraqi government called it a fabrication. The Defence Ministry’s media office said jets carried out separate strikes on two homes where up to 65 IS fighters had gathered, based on “accurate intelligence from our sources in the region.”
Qaim, located about 320 kilometres west of Baghdad, is among a number of small towns in the western Anbar province still ruled by the extremists. Iraqi forces have pushed IS out of most of Anbar over the past year, and are now waging a major offensive in the northern city of Mosul, the militant group’s last major urban bastion in the country.