Australian combat aircraft were not involved in a recent United States-led airstrike that allegedly killed dozens of civilians in Mosul, Defence Minister Marise Payne said.
However, Senator Payne cannot yet rule out whether the Royal Australian Air Force support planes contributed to the operation.
Local officials said as many as 200 people were killed when Coalition aircraft bombed a building in the Iraqi city on March 17, although the Iraqi army is blaming the Islamic State group for the deaths.
Senator Payne told Parliament the Australian Defence Force took all allegations of civilian casualties seriously.
“Based on the information that is currently available to us, I’m advised that Australian strike aircraft were not involved in the airstrike in question,” she said.
“As you will appreciate, it takes time to fully determine the details of a complex incident like this involving multiple aircraft from multiple nations.”
Under subsequent questioning from Greens senator Scott Ludlam, Senator Payne stopped short of ruling out any Australian refuelling or surveillance aircraft were involved in the operation above Mosul.
“In terms of working with the US Central Command, we will continue to do that as the matter is investigated and we will report those outcomes when they are known, at this stage I have no further information,” she told Parliament.
Earlier, the Defence Department told the ABC it was “aware of allegations a Coalition airstrike in West Mosul on 17 March resulted in civilian casualties”.
“While there are no specific allegations against Australian aircraft, Australia will fully support the Coalition-led [Operation Inherent Resolve] investigation into these allegations,” it said in a statement.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further on this matter until the investigation is complete.
“All Australian Defence Force personnel operate under strict rules of engagement designed to protect our forces, minimise the risk to civilians and comply with Australia’s obligations under international law.”
Source: ABC News