February 5, 2007 / 12:15 PM / 12 years ago

U.S. military in Iraq admit airstrike error

MAHMUDIYA, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. military officers offered their condolences on Monday to an Iraqi family south of Baghdad in a rare admission of error after killing two innocent Iraqis in an airstrike last Tuesday.

A U.S. military statement released on January 31 said two “insurgents” out of a four-man team were killed as they were trying to plant a roadside bomb in the town of Mahmudiya.

Calling the incident a “tragic accident,” the officers on Monday handed out $2,500 to the family for each man killed.

A small group of U.S. officers, accompanied by an Iraqi officer and Mahmudiya’s mayor, entered a tent with their weapons where mourners gathered to pay respect to the victims, shaking hands with tribesman and drinking hot coffee.

After one of the tribesmen lectured the Americans on their “many mistakes”, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Morschauser apologized to the gathering.

“I wish I could roll the clock back five or six days and start again,” he said.

U.S. military admissions of error are rare in Iraq.

Many Iraqis believe wrongful killings of Iraqis at the hands of Americans are frequent and generally go unnoticed.

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