Defence confirms Australian forces may have killed Iraqi civilians, including children

The Defence Force has confirmed an Australian airstrike in Iraq in 2017 may have lead to the deaths of up to 18 civilians.

A 12-month long investigation has found that between six and 18 civilians, including children, may have been killed in the attack in Mosul on June 13, 2017.

It also said it was not possible to determine if it was the result of the Australian airstrike, the nearby Coalition airstrikes, or from other actors.

Chief of Joint Operations, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, says the Australian strike was requested by Iraqi Security Forces and was in full compliance with the law of armed conflict and applicable rules of engagement.

“The Australian Defence Force takes all feasible precautions to minimise the risk of civilian casualties,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.

“On this occasion, it was assessed that the enemy intended to attack Iraqi forces from the targeted location, threatening imminent loss of life or serious injury.”

The investigation found the strikes occurred during operations to re-take West Mosul as Islamic State fighters were also attacking civilians and army forces with small arms, heavy machine guns, mortars and rocket propelled grenades.

Coalition forces identified three enemy personnel in a building and four enemy personnel in the adjacent courtyard, armed with heavy weapons.

“Based upon the proximity of the enemy to the Iraqi forces, the nature of the target and the circumstances of the fighting in Mosul at the time, I can confirm that this action complied with Australia’s rules of engagement and the Laws of Armed Conflict,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.

Post-strike assessments confirmed the 500lb precision guided munition struck the intended target and achieved the effect desired by the Iraqi ground commander.

The civilian casualties were claimed to have been located in a building in the vicinity of the Australian and Coalition strikes.

Air Marshal Hupfeld said that while there was no specific intelligence to indicate civilians were present at the targeted site, it was impossible to be sure under the urgent circumstances facing the Iraqi forces at the time.

“There is a degree of uncertainty surrounding this incident. We know that the Australian strike does not precisely correspond with the information provided in the claim, however it was close by.

“We do not definitively know how these people were killed.

“But we do know from our review of the events that our aircrew made no error in this mission. They delivered their ordnance precisely onto the designated target in accordance with their rules of engagement. All authorities for the strike were valid and lawful.

“We also know that Daesh deliberately and deceptively caused civilian casualties by concealing non-combatants under fighting positions and exposing their fighters to induce Coalition airstrikes,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.

“Any loss of civilian life is highly regrettable and we treat all allegations seriously. Ultimately we have determined that it is possible civilians were unintentionally killed by the Coalition during these strikes.”

Australia was first advised of the potential claim in January 2018. The Coalition assessed the claim to be credible in December 2018 and announced the finding today.

Australia has previously announced involvement in three separate potential civilian casualty allegations resulting from strikes conducted during Operation Okra. These all occurred during the Mosul offensive on 30 March 2017, 3 May 2017, and 7 June 2017.

Australian strike aircraft concluded operations in January 2018.

Police

Tip off leads police to alleged drug dealer’s home

AN alleged drug dealer has been arrested and charged after police stormed his home on the Gold Coast and allegedly seized a cocktail of dangerous drugs.

After receiving a tip off from the public, Taskforce Maxima detectives raided the 21-year-old man’s home on Marine Parade in Labrador on Thursday morning.

While searching the residence, officers allegedly found just over 100 grams of cocaine along with an assortment of liquids and tablets suspected to be performance and image enhancing drugs.

Knuckledusters, ammunition and documents indicating the sale of drugs were also seized.

(Source: Qld Police

(Source: Qld Police

(Source: Qld Police

The 21-year-old man was arrested and charged with 21 offences, including trafficking and possessing dangerous drugs and unlawfully possessing a weapon and ammunition.

He is due to front Southport Magistrates Court tomorrow.

Detective Inspector Glen Donaldson of the Major and Organised Crime Squad said the arrest came as a result of information received from the public.

“The community plays a significant role in the proactive detection of drug suppliers and we commend the local community for their ongoing support of police and our work in keeping Queensland safe,” Detective Inspector Donaldson said.

“The Queensland Police Service recognises the harm caused by dangerous drugs within our community and continues to proactively target and disrupt criminal syndicates involved in the unlawful supply of dangerous drugs”.

If you have information for Police, please contact Policelink on 131 444 or provide information using their online form 24 hours per day.

You can also report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via crimestoppersqld.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.

Hinterland crash victim improves, others still critical

The condition of one of the teenage boys injured in a horrific crash in the Gold Coast Hinterland on Wednesday has improved.

Five boys were injured when a car, believed to belong to one of the boys’ mothers, hit a wheelie bin on Beacon Rd at Tamborine Mountain and rolled several times before crashing into a concrete fence.

Two 14-year-old boys were trapped in the back seat for some time before being freed and airlifted to the Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane in critical conditions.

One of those boys is now listed as being in a serious but stable condition after undergoing more surgery on an arm injury.

The second 14-year-old is still fighting for life.

A 16-year-old boy who is believed to have been behind the wheel remains in the Gold Coast University Hospital after being placed in an induced coma.

Two others have been discharged.

Police are still investigating the crash and have returned to the scene today.

They’re looking into claims the car was travelling at high speed as well as reports that the car swerved to avoid a garbage truck.

How to opt out of My Health Record

If you don’t want a record created for you the deadline to opt out is fast approaching.

After midnight tonight, a My Health Record will be created for every Australian.

To complete the online opt-out process for either yourself or your dependents under 18 (listed on your Medicare card) as a minimum, you will need your Medicare card and driver licence (or other identification).

If you need to opt-out of a My Health Record for someone over 18 who is dependent on you, additional documentation is required and you may need to contact the My Health Record Helpline on 1800 723 471.

The following video steps through the process;

Once you have completed the opt-out process, you cannot cancel your request however if you change your mind down the track, and would like to create a My Health Record you can re-register any time.

For more information visit the My Health Record website or phone the 24/7 helpline on 1800 723 471.

Horse Race

BREAKING | Police raid stables of top horse trainer Darren Weir

Melbourne Cup winning horse trainer Darren Weir and two other men have been arrested after detectives from the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit raided stables in Victoria this morning.

Police executed warrants at properties in Miners Rest and Warrnambool just before 6.00am.

It’s understood the raids are part of an ongoing investigation into sporting integrity matters.

“Three people have been arrested including a 48-year-old Miners Rest man, a 38-year-old Yangery man and a 26-year-old Warrnambool man,” Victoria police confirmed in a statement.

“They will now be interviewed in relation to matters including obtain financial advantage by deception, engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of event or event contingency, use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes, and attempt to commit indictable offence namely obtain financial advantage by deception.”

During the raids, a number of items including a firearm and what is believed to be a conducted energy device were also seized.

The investigation remains ongoing and has also been assisted by Racing Victoria and Detectives from the Ballarat Divisional Response Unit.