The Australian Defence Force has been involved in two air strikes that resulted in the deaths of Iraqi civilians.
Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral David Johnston confirmed Australia’s involvement in the incidents, which took place earlier this year and saw at least eight people killed or injured.
The American-led coalition was due to release details of the official investigations into March 30 and June 7 incidents on Saturday.
The Australian Defence Force has been involved in two air strikes that resulted in the deaths of Iraqi civilians, Chief of Joint Operations Vice Admiral David Johnston confirmed (stock photo)
The June event is believed to have occurred when Iraqi Security Forces were involved in a gun battle with Islamic State militants around 20 metres away.
The group found themselves ‘pinned down’ and ‘unable to move’, Vice Admiral Johnston said.
A pair of Australian F/A-18 Super Hornets nearby were called in to provide air support, following normal targeting procedures.
‘It was a residential building, but it was assessed a legitimate target,’ he said.
A single weapon – a GPS guided bomb – was dropped on the front of the building and it is believed two IS fighters were killed.
Vice Admiral Johnston said no civilians had been observed in the area before the strike however, afterwards it became apparent some had been inside.
‘A civilian was either seriously injured or killed as a result of that strike… It was a child carried out’ Vice Admiral Johnston said.
The Australian fighter pilots reported the incident to the US-led coalition’s headquarters and up the Australian chain of command for investigation.
One civilian was injured or killed as the result of a strike on June 7, when a bomb from an Australian F/A-18 Super Hornet (stock photo pictured) was dropped on a residential building believed to be housing IS members
While seven other Iraqi civilians were killed or injured, including a child, after an airstrike on March 30 involving an ADF member as part of the ‘target decision-making process’ (stock photo)
Vice Admiral Johnston insisted Australian rules of engagement had been followed and the strike complied with the laws of armed conflict.
Meanwhile, a separate incident also occurred on March 30 when a group suspected of being IS fighters were positioned about 300 metres away from Iraqi Security Forces.
The US-led coalition authorised an air strike and seven civilians were killed or injured, including a child.
Australian aircraft were not involved but Australian defence personnel had been part of the target decision-making process.
‘It appeared the group was wrongly identified (as IS),’ he said, adding that at the time the information claiming the group was armed had come from a credible and reliable source.
The US-led coalition estimate, there have been 735 civilian fatalities since 2014, with 350 incidents still under investigation.
Airwars, a non-government group monitoring air strikes and civilian deaths in the Middle East estimates close to 5500 civilians have died in coalition air strikes in Iraq and Syria.
The US-led coalition estimate, there have been 735 civilian fatalities since 2014, with 350 incidents still under investigation, however non-government statistics estimate the number is closer to 5,500 (stock image)