BAGHDAD Iraq’s parliament speaker called on Thursday for a government inquiry into air strikes on a western border town which killed around 60 people, mostly civilians.
Hospital sources and local parliamentarians said three air strikes killed dozens of civilians, including 12 women and 19 children on Wednesday in a market district of the Islamic State-held town of Qaim, close to the border with Syria.
A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition supporting Iraqi troops in their fight against Islamic State said it had not carried out air strikes around Qaim at that time. Islamic State’s news agency, Amaq, blamed Iraq’s air force.
Jabouri, the most senior Sunni Muslim politician in mainly Shi’ite-ruled Iraq, said the air strikes had targeted “civilian shopping centres, causing the martyrdom and wounding of dozens”, and called for the perpetrators to be punished.
“The speaker holds the government responsible for such mistakes, asking them to open an immediate inquiry to find out the truth of the incident and to guarantee that civilians are not targeted again,” a statement released by his office said.
Qaim, and the western province in which it is located, is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim. The town lies on the Euphrates river, northwest of Baghdad, part of a remote region near the Syrian border which remains under the control of ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim Islamic State fighters.
Wednesday’s air strikes took place as Iraqi forces wage a seven-week campaign to crush the Islamic State militants who control the city of Mosul, about 280 km (175 miles) northeast of Qaim.
Amaq released video footage showing what it said was the aftermath of the attacks. Burning white minibuses could be seen on a wide main road lined by shops, as well as corpses, some charred and others bloodied, and the bodies of several children. Many buildings had been wrecked.
(Reporting by Saif Hameed; Editing by Andrew Heavens)