RAMADI, (Reuters) – Six Iraqis including three women and two children were killed in a U.S. airstrike in the city of Ramadi in Iraq’s western Anbar province, a doctor at Ramadi hospital said on Saturday.
A police brigadier said five civilians were killed in the attack around dawn on Saturday.
Asked about the report, the U.S. military said U.S. troops came under attack several times on Friday and responded with tank fire and “precision munitions” — a phrase commonly associated with air-launched missiles.
U.S. forces killed “numerous insurgents”, including insurgents waiting in an ambush and gunmen firing at a U.S. outpost, the military said. A rocket-propelled grenade fired by an insurgent missed a U.S. patrol and hit a house, it said.
“Coalition forces also noted two unexplained explosions that were possible IED and rocket-propelled grenade misfires,” it said, adding that it was not able to assess civilian casualties in the incident.
Asked to clarify whether the U.S. military was referring to the same incident as reported by Iraqi officials, a U.S. military spokeswoman said there were no reports of airstrikes around dawn on Saturday.
Doctor Kamal al-Ani said the bodies of six members of a single family killed in the strike had been brought to Ramadi hospital on Saturday before being released to relatives for burial.
Police Brigadier Hamid Hamad Shuka confirmed there was an airstrike in the south of the city at dawn. He said five civilians were killed in the strike.
A senior U.S. general said earlier this week that U.S. and Iraqi security forces were taking “an aggressive, offensive approach” to reclaim Ramadi from insurgents.
Last week dozens of al Qaeda-linked gunmen took to the streets in a brief show of force to announce the city was joining an Islamic state comprising Iraq’s mostly Sunni Arab provinces, where the once dominant minority lives.
Shuka said U.S. forces had taken control of the street where the insurgents held their demonstration, ordering some families to evacuate their homes and setting up sniper positions.
Last month Major General Richard Zilmer, commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq, said the mission in Anbar was to train Iraqi security forces, not “to win that insurgency fight”.
Residents reported fresh clashes on Saturday and said U.S. troops were using loudspeakers to order people to stay in their homes. U.S. forces were also blocking entrances to the city.