RAAF bombers no role in Iraq civilian hit

Defence Minister Marise Payne has confirmed RAAF Hornet jets were not responsible for the sorties that killed up to 200 civilians in west Mosul in Iraq 10 days ago.


But she’s tight-lipped on whether other Australian support aircraft were involved.

The incident on March 17 could rank among the deadliest for civilian casualties since the fight against Islamic State militants began in 2014.

“I’m advised Australian strike aircraft were not involved in the air strike in question,” Senator Payne told Senate question time on Monday.

Asked if she could rule out involvement by Australia’s Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft or tanker aircraft , Senator Payne said: “It does take some time to fully determine the detail of a complex incident.”

This is because there are multiple nations and multiple aircraft involved, she said.

A US investigation is under way.

A Nineveh province health official said 160 bodies recovered from the site had been buried.

An estimated 600,000 civilians remain in the west half of Mosul.

Senator Payne said Islamic State extremists were using innocent people as human shields and trapping them in their homes.

Australian defence personnel operate under strict rules of engagement designed to minimise risk to civilians and need approvals from Iraqi and Australian authorities before carrying out air strikes, Senator Payne said.

Defence investigated any allegations of civilian casualties, Senator Payne said.

Australia has about 780 military personnel in Iraq and Syria carrying out air strikes, special operations and training Iraqi soldiers and police.

The US-led coalition acknowledges 220 civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq in the current conflict.

Airwars, a non-government group monitoring air strikes in the Middle East, estimates a minimum of 2715 civilian deaths.