Early this morning US forces surrounded a home in a small village near the Iraqi town of Tikrit and destroyed it with an air strike, killing eight people. According to Iraqi police and neighbors, all those killed were civilians. One of the neighbors reported his home was also raided during the operation and that American forces “ordered people not to leave their homes” during the attack.
Large crowds of angry Iraqis reportedly marched through the streets after morning prayers, condemning the attacks and chanting “America is the enemy of God”. The new civilian deaths are likely to further complicate the already stalled Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq. The Iraqis have insisted on jurisdiction over US contractors and military personnel largely because of the number of civilians being killed by the forces.
The US forces issued a statement after the incident, and as is so often the case their story contradicts the reports from the scene. According to the US the raid targeted a “suspected al-Qaeda operative,” and he and three other militants were killed, along with three women. They also claimed to have rescued a child from the rubble.
The US said the deaths of the women they killed in the air strike were further proof of al-Qaeda’s willingness to “repeatedly risk the lives of innocent women and children to further their evil work”.