Iraqis protested the deaths of at least seven people during a US air strike in Ad Dawr, in northern Iraq’s Salahuddin province on Sept. 19—the same town where Saddam Hussein was captured in 2003. The US says the raid successfully singled out an “emir” in the bombing network of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) who was suspected of involvement in attacks along the Tigris River valley. But Iraqi officials said the strike used excessive force in killing eight members of one family, who they said were innocent. The officials said the dead were five men in their 20s and 30s and three women aged between 20 and 58. They accused the US forces of shooting down men and women from the air as they fled.
US officials said that four men and three women were killed, but justified the use of air power in the operation. “After arriving at the target, forces surrounded the building and called for its occupants to surrender. Despite nearly an hour of multiple calls and warnings that the force would engage them, the individuals inside refused to come out,” said a statement. “Sadly, this incident again shows that the AQI terrorists repeatedly risk the lives of innocent women and children to further their evil work.”
After the attack, 400 protesters gathered at the site, and marched to the cemetery for the funeral. Abdullah Hussein Jibara, the deputy governor of Salahuddin said he did not accept the initial explanations offered by the US to the Iraqi police in Ad Dwar. “I condemn the random targeting of civilians and the excessive use of force against civilians,” he said. “It was better to use another method to avoid losses; this is the third incident during the past two months.”
Fares Khatab, a sheik of the family’s tribe, said that the family had fled to Ad Dwar from their home in Baghdad to escape the violence in the capital. “This family is an innocent family,” he said. (IHT, Sept. 19)