Underscoring the nebulous nature of Iraq’s latest war, as well as the growing sectarian divide it is creating, locals in Tikrit are complaining that a recent military air strike against their town killed a number of innocent civilians.
The locals of the overwhelmingly Sunni Arab town say that the strike killed combatants, but also seven civilians, and wounded at least 12 other civilian bystanders.
Iraq’s military, itself overwhelmingly Shi’ite, denies the claim, and insists everyone killed was a “Sunni extremist,” which doesn’t necessarily preclude non-ISIS victims, but does reflect how the Maliki government sees its Sunni minority.
In addition to being a war crime, killing civilians is extremely counterproductive for the Maliki government, which is trying to present itself as a “unifier” of Iraq’s various ethnic and religious minorities, but which in practice seems to view them all as enemies.
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