Investigation Finds Civilian Casualties in Airstrike

A US Central Command investigation determined an Air Force jet likely killed four civilians during a March airstrike on an ISIS checkpoint in Iraq. A redacted “15-6” investigation, released Nov. 20, states that an A-10 was tasked with striking an ISIS checkpoint on March 13 near al Hatra. Before the strike, two vehicles pulled up to the checkpoint and parked in the target area. The drivers left their cars and spoke with ISIS members for about 40 minutes while other cars drove through. Staff in the Combined Air Operations Center watched the target, determined new cars were ISIS targets, and decided to continue with the mission. After the A-10 fired its weapon, four individuals left the vehicles. The strike hit its target? and destroyed the cars—killing the individuals. US Central Command spokesman Col. Patrick Ryder said the pilots were not aware of the individuals until after the weapon was fired, and that had the pilot and staff in the CAOC known, they would not have conducted the strike. An Iraqi citizen whose car was destroyed notified Central Command of the casualties, passing the message through a non-governmental organization. The civilians killed were not family members, so no payments have been made, and the Foreign Claims Act of 1942 prohibits the military from compensating for destructed property, Ryder said.