The Dutch government has admitted involvement in a 2015 airstrike in northern Iraq that killed about 70 people. A bomb dropped by a Dutch F-16 fighter killed civilians, including children.
A Dutch airstrike targeting an alleged Islamic State bomb factory in northern Iraq killed about 70 people, "including IS fighters and civilians," the Dutch Defense Ministry said in a letter to parliament on Monday.
A bomb dropped by a Dutch F-16 fighter hit the facility in Hawija, near the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, on the night of June 2, 2015, Defense Minister Anna Bijleveld-Schouten wrote. The facility was on an industrial site and "intelligence available to the Netherlands did not anticipate civilian deaths because there were no civilians living in the area near the target."
"After the raid, there were a number of secondary and larger explosions that could not have been anticipated from earlier strikes on similar targets," the letter continued. "This caused the destruction of a large number of other buildings."
The Dutch government had not previously provided a detailed estimate of the number of deaths in Hawija. An investigation by Dutch broadcaster NOS and Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad into the airstrike published claimed that all 70 of the victims were civilians, though the Defense Ministry refused to confirm that to be the case.
Additionally, the Defense Ministry shed light on a separate airstrike in the city of Mosul, where a bomb hit a family home that was suspected to be an IS headquarters. The mistake was based on faulty intelligence, the ministry said. Four people are believed to have been killed in the attack.
Dutch F-16s flew about 2,100 raids over Iraq as part of the anti-IS coalition between October 2014 and 2018, according to the ministry.
The strikes in Mosul and Hawija were investigated by Dutch prosecutors, who did not find grounds for further prosecution, according to a statement.