U.S. Airstrike Kills at 20 More Iraqi Soldiers in Anbar*
A senior Iraqi officer says the U.S. is deliberately hindering his country’s military advances after an American airstrike kills at least 20 soldiers in the Anbar province.
Hakim al-Zamili, the head of Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defence Committee, blamed the U.S. for the inability of Iraqi troops to enter Ramadi and Fallujah in the western province.
The MP accused the Americans of launching airstrikes or dropping aerial packages that provide weapons and equipment to Daesh.
His strong words came after a U.S. strike hit the Iraqi army’s 3rd Division 55th Brigade west of the Iraqi capital on Friday.
According to Iraq’s joint operations command, the strike came as Iraqi forces were advancing on terrorist positions near Amriyat al-Fallujah.
Zamili put the death toll at 20, saying the number may increase since “many were seriously injured and have not yet been taken to hospitals.”
The lawmaker asked Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to conduct an investigation into the airstrike against the 55th Brigade “which had previously had huge success in the fight against Daesh terrorists.”
“We will go to court over this crime, there will be a hearing,” an apparently outraged Zamili said.
Another MP rejected U.S. military assistance, saying it would harm the national security and cause chaos in the country.
The U.S. has proposed to provide ground forces including Apache helicopters to help Iraq recover Ramadi. On Wednesday, U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter went to Iraq to discuss the details about sending troops and helicopter gunships, which was not approved by the Iraqi government.
Abd al-Hussain al-Zergawy, member of the Iraqi Parliament, said the US move may harm Iraq’s national security and impinge on its sovereignty.
“The actions of the special forces on the ground are not controlled by us due to the nature of the tasks, which is harmful to our national security. Because we cannot tell what they should or should not do, which may lead to new problems and infringe on Iraq’s sovereignty,” he said.
“It is not simply about Apache helicopters, but about the trust between us,” al-Zergawy added.
Iraqi army and allied paramilitary fighters maintain a heavy presence in Anbar, where they have been engaged in a massive operation against Daesh.
The Iraqi forces have managed to recapture most parts of the desert province, including several districts of its capital Ramadi, which fell into the hands of Daesh in May.
Iraq has on several occasions complained about the ineffectiveness of the airstrikes launched by the U.S. and its allies in June 2014 allegedly targeting Daesh Takfiri terrorists in north and west of Iraq.
Iraqis say many attacks have been carried out without coordination with Baghdad, increasing the likelihood of coalition fighter jets hitting civilians and Iraqi forces.
Zerqawi said Iraq should not allow the US troops to enter as it cannot control them and they may also cause chaos.
“If they send out ground troops and you cannot control them, it will be considered a new invasion into Iraq. So we will refuse that directly. The U.S. invasion is a painful experience to us. They just left after causing chaos in our country.
“So we cannot open our door again when we are able to make progress in fighting extremist groups,” the lawmaker said.