US military officials are at odds with Iraq over who was responsible for an explosion in western Iraq on Wednesday that killed 22 Iraqi soldiers.
The Governments coalition party in Iraq is urging Iraqi authorities to investigate the killing of the soldiers in which US led airstrikes were blamed. They want the findings to be made public.
According to an Iraqi military officer and a police source, the soldiers were killed when the airstrike hit the headquarters of an army company on the edge of Ramadi city, Anbar’s provincial capital on Wednesday.
The sources did not identify the nationality of the plane causing the damage.
RT reports: “The aviation of international coalition repeatedly carried out air strikes on the positions of the national militia forces and the armed forces, who are leading a fierce war against terrorists of ISIL [also formerly known ISIS, currently the Islamic State (IS)],” said a statement from Al-Moaten bloc, a member party in the government coalition.
No one has yet admitted responsibility for the deaths. Iraqi forces have blamed the killing of 22 soldiers on the US-led coalition. A military source told Reuters that a missile was launched from a foreign aircraft. However, coalition spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Gilleran said that the alliance fired the only strike in the province and it didn’t result in any “friendly casualties.”
US military officials also told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Iraqi security force planes were operating in targeted area and that US are discussing with Iraqi the reports of a friendly fire incident among Iraqi forces.
The head of the Anbar provincial council, Sabah Karhout, has suggested that the blast was caused by explosives planted in an underground tunnel beneath the military headquarters.
According to one of US officials, the strike was 33 kilometers from the site where Iraqi soldiers were killed.
In the meantime, Iraqi officials deny that their country forces were responsible for that friendly fire. “We don’t have any Iraqi war planes carrying out combat duties in Anbar,” an Iraqi military source said.
Kevork Almassian, an academic and political analyst focusing on the Middle East, told RT that he“ doesn’t buy the reports” that the attack in Anbar province was not carried out by the coalition or was carried out by mistake against the Iraqi forces.
“The equation for me is very clear in Iraq: the strong ISIS and other strong terrorist organizations have a price.”
American forces are working covertly to slow down the advances of the Iraqi forces in Tikrit and elsewhere against ISIS, Almassian said.
“If the Iraqi forces succeeded in crushing and eliminate these terrorist elements from that area, the Iraqi government will empower its position and the Iranians will empower their position in the Middle East,” he told RT.