IS conflict: Dutch air strike killed about 70 people in Iraq in 2015

A Dutch F-16 jet serving with the US-led coalition in Iraq killed about 70 people – Islamic State (IS) militants and civilians – in an air strike in 2015, the Dutch defence ministry says.

It is the first time the Dutch government has given details of the raid, which targeted an alleged IS bomb factory in Hawija, north of Baghdad.

Large, unexpected secondary explosions meant the death toll was higher than anticipated, a ministry statement said.

Dutch sorties in Iraq ended last year.

The IS facility hit in Hawija on the night of 2 June 2015 was believed to be producing vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used to attack coalition forces, the statement said.

It is not clear how many of the 70 killed were civilians or jihadists. And Dutch Defence Minister Anna Bijleveld said "the relationship between perished [IS] fighters and civilian casualties could not be determined afterwards".

She said the intelligence before the strike had indicated that "there were no civilians in the immediate vicinity of the target".

"The closest residences were outside the damage area… After the attack, however, more and larger secondary explosions took place than could have been expected from previous experience with the elimination of this type of target, resulting in a larger damage area," she added.

"It turned out that there were far more explosives in the IED factory than was known or could be estimated by the Netherlands on the basis of the information available… This also destroyed a large number of other buildings in the area."

The day after the Hawija bombing, US Air Force Lt Gen John Hesterman told a news conference that a "fairly small weapon" had been dropped on "a known IED building in an industrial area".

"The secondary explosion, which was caused from a massive amount of [IS] high explosives, was very large, and it destroyed much of that industrial area," he said, adding that the coalition had seen no evidence of civilian casualties.

Airwars, an organisation which tracks civilian deaths, concluded that Read More – Source