On Friday, a U.S. plane mistakenly killed Iraqi troops via airstrike, killing nine Iraqi soldiers and one officer, according to Iraq’s defense minister Khaled al-Obeidi.
U.S. officials acknowledged that an American plane was responsible for the deaths on Saturday. The strikes also hit an ISIS tactical unit and a construction vehicle, as well as militant vehicles and fighting positions.
One official said the Iraqi troops appeared to have been closer to the target area and they weren’t aware of it. According to both U.S. and Iraqi officials, bad weather may also have been a contributing factor.
The Wall Street Journal noted that “the incident marks the first time the coalition has acknowledged that one of its airstrikes has hit Iraqi forces by accident during the fight against Islamic State.”
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter “expressed his condolences” to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. “It’s tragic,” Carter said. “But he and I both recognized that things like this can happen in war.”
Carter claimed that the strike “seemed to be a mistake that involved both sides” and also welcomed Iraq to join in further investigation.
Iraq’s defense minister, Al-Obeidi, replied by issuing a statement that said “Iraqis would carry out their own investigation to determine whether Iraqi forces or the coalition was at fault for failing to update the information on the position of the Iraqi troops. The Iraqi government will not tolerate the loss of Iraqi blood.”
Thakim al-Zamili, the chairman of the Iraqi Parliament’s defense and security committee, is also demanding an investigation along with some Iraqi officials who are demanding accountability.
The fatal airstrike followed an incident in China in which a U.S. bomber accidentally flew within two miles of an artificial island built by China last week.
“What the United States did was a serious military provocation, complicating the situation in the South China Sea, to the extent of militarizing it,” China’s Defense Ministry declared in a statement responding to the incident.
News of the B-52 flight and the response by the Ministry came days after the United States announced a $1.83 billion arms sale to Taiwan. China angrily responded to the sale, saying it would place sanctions on U.S. companies that are providing the weaponry.
This article was updated on January 2, 2016 at 12:58 p.m.