Iraqi Army Denies It Kills Dozens of Civilians in Anbar Air Strikes

Image: A map showing the Iraqi town of Qaim
Qaim is an Iraqi town on the border with Syria.Google Maps

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By Alexander Smith

Iraqi politicians are calling for an investigation after alleging airstrikes hit a market in an ISIS-held town and killed as many as 100 civilians.

The Iraqi military — which is fighting to recapture swaths of the country from the extremist group — said it did strike in and around the town of Qaim in Anbar province Wednesday, but denied causing civilian casualties.

A spokesman for the U.S. military, which is backing Iraqi forces, tweeted that American aircraft had not dropped bombs on that location at that time.

Iraq's Joint Operation Command said its bombs hit two houses each containing dozens of ISIS militants. It said the "wrong news" — that civilians had been killed — was spread by a propaganda video released by ISIS purporting to show the gruesome aftermath of the airstrikes.

It said all the targets had been chosen based on "accurate intelligence information and according to our sources in the area."

But the local Anbar Governing Council told a different story. Spokesman Eed Amash said that far from ISIS propaganda, residents of the town had told the council that more than 100 civilians had been killed and a further 100 wounded.

Qaim is an Iraqi town on the border with Syria.Google Maps

He called on the central Baghdad government to "to start an immediate investigation to know who's behind this crime. Qaim is still under the control of ISIS but its people are still living there."

Qaim lies around 200 miles west of Baghdad on the border with Syria. Despite the Iraqi military clearing much of surrounding Anbar, the town still remains under the control of ISIS.

The speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Dr. Saleem Al-Juburi, also called for an investigation, although he put the death toll in the tens.

Related: Iraqis Fleeing ISIS Could Be Tortured By Their Own Armed Forces

"He considers it as a crime and those who stand behind it should be judged and punished," according to a statement from his office. "He asks the government to conduct an immediate investigation to know what really happened and guarantee that civilians are not going to be targeted again."

Al-Juburi did not say how he learned the information, nor provide any other details.

Mohammed al-Karboli, a Sunni lawmaker, said fighter jets targeted three markets in Qaim during rush hour, putting the causality figures at 80, according to The Associated Press.

He also didn't provide the sourcing of the information.

The Associated Press contributed.