Netherlands Admits Killing Up to 70 Civilians in 2015 Iraq Airstrike

Officials say intelligence did not anticipate civilian deaths

In a letter to the Netherlands’ parliament, the Dutch Defense Ministry admitted to a botched airstrike against the Iraqi city of Hawija in 2015. At the time, they’d claimed to have attacked ISIS in an airstrike, killing some militants.

Instead, it turns out they killed a lot of civilians. Of the 70 believed killed in the strike, as many as 70 could be civilians, though the Defense Ministry conceded that they never actually attempted to figure out how many that actually was.

The statement claimed that initial intelligence available in 2015 said there were no civilians believed to be living in the area, and least of all children, so they figured they couldn’t have killed any. They further believed few ISIS would be killed either, since they attacked the site in the middle of the night.

The initial attack caused a number of explosions throughout the neighborhood, killing a lot of civilians. The Defense Ministry statement insisted that they couldn’t have known that would happen.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.