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Netherlands: court orders government to give more details on 2015 Iraq air strike

January 17, 2024 at 11:56 am

Image of an airstrike attack carried out by the US in Iraq 8 December 2016 [US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. James J. Vooris/Wikipedia]

A Dutch court on Wednesday ordered the government of the Netherlands to supply more documents in a civil case submitted by more than 20 victims of a Dutch air strike against an alleged Islamic State/Daesh bomb factory in northern Iraq in 2015, Reuters has reported. Lawyers for the victims of the strike had argued that the bombing had violated the laws of war because it did not properly take account of the possibility of civilian victims.

The District Court in The Hague said in an interim judgement that it needed more information from the state on the circumstances under which the so-called “red card holder”, the person responsible for the final decision on the strike, came to the decision to go ahead with it. This should make clear whether the risks of targeting a bomb factory were foreseeable and that earlier comparable events had been taken into account.

The Dutch government, however, has said that the documents in question are classified. Another court will first assess this claim, said the District Court.

In hearings last October, lawyers for the state said that the Dutch military identified the area as an industrial complex and did not expect civilians to be present in large numbers. They argued that the Netherlands acted within the laws the war.

The Hawija bombing killed around 70 people, including civilians and Islamic State/Daesh fighters, according to the Dutch ministry of defence. The bombing mission was one of approximately 2,100 raids carried out over Iraq and Syria by Dutch F-16s as part of the anti-Daesh coalition between 2014 and 2018.

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