Fifteen Iraqi women and children found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time Thursday when the U.S. launched a series of airstrikes to back up ground operations targeting suspected insurgents.
It’s the kind of overkill that challenges the sense of combating an urban insurgency with the full breadth of American military power, and places America’s Iraqi allies in the awkward position of having to explain their support for a force that appears to value dead insurgents over live Iraqis.
The air and ground assault was targeted at senior leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in the Lake Tharthar region, it said.
An initial air raid killed four insurgents and more air strikes were launched to back up US ground troops, a statement said.
A further 15 insurgents were found dead along with six women and nine children.
American forces have applied fierce and determined pressure on militants, especially al-Qaida in Iraq, since the full contingent of additional U.S. troops arrived June 15. But Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has recently confronted top American commander Gen. David Petraeus about what he sees as overly aggressive U.S. tactics that harm innocent civilians, according to Iraqi officials.