Baghdad: Nine Iraqi soldiers were killed after a US led air assault on Islamic State accidentally caught the Iraqi troops, confirmed Iraq’s defense ministry confirmed.
Coalition strikes were called in to support an advance by ground troops near Fallujah on Friday but failed to note the scale of their advance, reported BBC.
The US offered “condolences on the unfortunate loss of life”. Iraqi forces have been battling militants in Anbar province.
Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi said: “The coalition air forces were covering the advance of army ground troops near Fallujah because the Iraqi army helicopters were not able to fly due to the bad weather.”
The US military said it appeared the coalition strike had caused Iraqi army losses “despite co-ordination with Iraqi security forces on the ground”.
“The coalition offers condolences on the unfortunate loss of life of brave Iraq security forces on the front lines in the fight against Daesh [an alternative name to Islamic State].”
An investigation is under way, the US military said. Coalition air forces had carried out two strikes, enabling Iraqi soldiers to advance rapidly and engage jihadists in close combat.
“A third coalition strike carried out without taking into account the distance that had been covered resulted in casualties among our forces too,” Iraq’s joint operations command said in a statement.
The US military said it was the first reported incident of so-called “friendly fire” during Operation Inherent Resolve, which aims to drive IS militants out of Anbar province.