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Air strike in Iraqi town of Al-Qaim kills dozens of civilians

An air strike in the Iraqi town of Al-Qaim, near the Syrian border, has reportedly killed dozens of civilians. A spokesman for the provincial council, Maath al-Jughaifi, said it was carried out by an Iraqi aircraft.

The afternoon air strike "targeted a market area for civilians and resulted in the death and injury of dozens of them," speaker of parliament Salim al-Juburi said in a statement. "I hold the government responsible for such mistakes," he said, demanding an immediate investigation.

Al-Qaim is close to the border with Syria and 320 kilometres (200 miles) west of the capital Baghdad. It is the last major town in the region of Anbar still under IS control.

If confirmed, it would be one of the worst cases of civilians killed in strikes in Iraq since the start of the air campaign against so-called Islamic State (IS) in 2014.

Unconfirmed numbers

Local MP Ahmed al-Salmani and hospital sources told the news agency Reuters that 55 civilians had been killed.       

Amaq, an IS-affiliated propaganda website, released a video purporting to show the aftermath of the strike and claimed 120 people were killed, AFP reported.

Maath al-Jughaifi, a tribal leader in Haditha, the nearest city, said "between 70 people and 80 people were killed," but claimed the strike had been carried out by the US-led coalition that has carried out thousands of strikes against IS.

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Reuters reported that this included many women and children, two parliamentarians, local hospital sources told the news agency.

There was no immediate comment from Iraq's Joint Operations Command supervising the fight against IS or from the US-led coalition.

jbh/bw (AFP, Reuters)

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