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Iraqi government accused as 'dozens' of civilians killed in anti-IS air strike

The speaker of Iraq's parliament has said an air strike targeting the Islamic State-held town of Qaim in western Iraq, near the Syrian border, killed and wounded "dozens" of civilians, and he is holding the Iraqi government responsible.

It was unclear if the attack was carried out by the Iraqi air force or the US-led international coalition supporting the Baghdad government offensive against the Sunni extremist group. Anbar province and Iraqi Defence Ministry officials were not immediately available to comment.

Coalition spokesman USArmy Colonel John Dorrian said on Twitter that the coalition did not carry out any strikes in the area around the time of the incident.

"The air strike hit unarmed civilians in shopping centres in Qaim and caused the killing and wounding of dozens of them," speaker Salim al-Jabouri said in a statement late on Wednesday.

He described the incident as a "crime" and urged that the perpetrators "be punished".

Mr al-Jabouri did not give details, or a breakdown of the casualties, but said he holds the Iraqi government responsible and demanded an immediate investigation. He also did not say how he came by the information.

Another Sunni politician, Mohammed al-Karboli, said fighter jets targeted three markets in Qaim during rush-hour, putting the causality figure at 80. He also did not reveal the source of the information.

The IS-linked Aamaq news agency released a video late on Wednesday purporting to show the aftermath of the air strike.

The footage, lasting nearly two minutes, shows several bearded men rushing towards a scene where dozens of cars are on fire and some buildings appear freshly damaged. Several bodies of children and adults, some charred, are also seen lying on the ground.

The Associated Press could not immediately verify the authenticity of the video.

The town of Qaim, about 200 miles (320km) west of Baghdad, is still under control of the Islamic State group, along with other small towns in Iraq's western Anbar province.

An Iraqi government offensive has cleared much of the province since late last year. Now, the Iraqi military and allied militias, with the backing of the US-led coalition, are waging an offensive to clear Mosul of IS militants.

Mosul is Iraq's second-largest city and the last major urban bastion of the Islamic State group in the country.

AP

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