An Iraqi army aircraft fired at Shiite militia forces who were responding to an attack by the "Islamic State," paramilitary officials said. The strike killed at least nine members of the pro-government group.
The drone targeted the fighters of the paramilitary Jund al-Imam faction due to mistaken coordinates, Colonel Ahmed al-Assadi said on Sunday.
The military aircraft was shot at from the ground outside Tikrit. Then it "fired on the advancing Jund al-Imam forces, killing nine and wounding around 15," added the spokesman for the Hashed al-Shaabi organization, which coordinates various armed groups.
The militia members were responding to an attack by the extremist "Islamic State" (IS) fighters. Many armed factions, mostly Shiite Muslims, fight alongside Iraqi's regular military against the Sunni militant group.
"We were under attack, we called for ground support, but when it arrived, the drone struck," Assadi told the AFP news agency. "The drone struck with a first missile and then two more seven minutes later," he added.
Although IS was defeated in Tikrit and most parts of Salaheddin province last year, it still holds positions in the desert regions west of the Tigris.
Initially, some of the anti-IS paramilitary groups accused the US and their allies of being behind the deadly incident.
However, the US-led coalition said it had not bombed any targets in the area, and its Baghdad-based spokesman Steve Warren denied coalition aircraft were responsible.
"It was Iraqi for sure," he told Reuters by phone.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi opened an investigation into the incident.
dj/gsw (Reuters, AFP)