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Woman and child killed in Iraq as US adopts Israeli ‘knocker’ bombs and leaflet drops

Middle East
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American forces have adopted Israeli military tactics employed in Gaza of dropping cautionary leaflets and knocker bombs intended to warn civilians of incoming attacks. The method was used outside of Mosul in a recent operation, yet a woman and a child were killed upon re-entering a building shortly after it was targeted by a hellfire missile. The deaths were disclosed by a Department of Defense official in a briefing yesterday on expanding U.S. forces in Iraq as it battles fighters with the Islamic State.

U.S. Air Force Major General Peter E. Gersten said the Israeli inspired procedure was used in an attempt to target a cash deposit holding funds for ISIS. However, the operation was unsuccessful in preventing civilian casualties. 

“We employed the technique. We put leaflets down. Knock-offs were achieved. It was actually a very highly paced, precision event,” Gersten told reporters.

Gersten said the building in question was thought to store an estimated $150 million, and intelligence officials had monitored a male target responsible for moving the cash.

“We watched him come and go from his house, we watched his supplies, we watched the security that was involved in it,” Gersten said.

The wanted man was not the only person monitored.

“We also watched occasionally a female and her children in and out of the quarters,” he added.

“We formulated a plan to ensure that — that that particular, women and children and the non-combatants were clear of that objective,” Gersten said.

Once the precision weapon was launched Gersten noted, “we absolutely did see the woman and child leave,” adding, “interestingly enough, the men that were in that building, multiple men, literally trampled over her to get out of that building. And we watched her and observed her leaving the building. And she cleared the building, and we began to process the strike.”

Yet Gersten continued to explain the incident, “ultimately ended up in a civilian casualty” when the woman, “she actually ran back into the building. That’s a — we watched, very difficult for us to watch. And it was within the final seconds of the actual impact.”

The knocker missile and ensuring air-strike was filmed by the U.S. military. Gersten said the recording would be made available to the press at a later date.

When asked if the U.S. received any specialized training from the Israeli military, Gersten said the procedure was developed after observing Israeli military strategy. There was no coordination between the two armed forces, he said. 

“But we have to understand that Daesh is into the fabric of the people. They are using the civilian force as human shields, and we will fight and do everything possible we can to keep those civilian casualties to an absolute, absolute minimum,” Gersten said, echoing the talking points Israel has used to justify its similar policy in Gaza.

In 2014 the U.S. began deploying American forces to an international Joint Task Force fighting ISIS in Iraq. The following year President Barack Obama approved American air strikes in the region.

The U.S. has sent 50 special forces operatives to Syria to fight ISIS. On Monday President Obama announced an additional 250 will be added in the coming weeks.

Allison Deger
About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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33 Responses

  1. John O
    John O
    April 28, 2016, 12:07 pm

    They should adopt a new marching song – “Oops! I did it again.”

  2. pjdude
    April 28, 2016, 2:20 pm

    its illegal when israel does it. its illegal when the us does it. no matter how you want to slice it you can’t fire ordinace at civilians legally

    • just
      April 28, 2016, 5:07 pm


      Speaking of illegal and war crimes, just as we are awaiting the ‘official’ report on the horrendous US attack (war crime) on the MSF- supported hospital in Afghanistan, there is this:

      “U.S. Says Assad Forces Solely Behind Aleppo Hospital Strike

      Denies Russian claim that a U.S.-led coalition plane was seen over Aleppo Wednesday evening.

      REUTERS – Indications are that Syria’s government was solely responsible for an air strike on a hospital in Aleppo, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday, urging Russia to use its influence to pressure Syrian President Bashar Assad to stop the attacks.

      U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Washington was still learning more about the attack on Wednesday night that killed children and doctors at the hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders. …”

      read more:


      • just
        April 29, 2016, 2:03 pm

        Timely, eh?

        “U.S. Airstrike on Afghan Hospital Isn’t a War Crime, Military Probe Concludes

        October 3 strike, which killed forty-two people in the Doctors Without Border hospital, was due to several factors, including human error, chief of U.S. Central Command says.

        A U.S. military investigation has concluded that a deadly air strike in Afghanistan last year that destroyed a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders did not amount to a war crime but was caused by a number of factors, including human errors. 

        Forty-two people were killed and 37 were wounded during an Oct. 3 strike that destroyed a hospital run by the international medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres. 

        “The investigation concluded that certain personnel failed to comply with the rules of engagement and the law of armed conflict, however, the investigation did not conclude that these failures amounted to a war crime,” General Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters on Friday. 

        Votel said it was not a war crime because none of the service members were aware that they were striking a hospital. …

        … MSF, known as Doctors Without Borders in English, has in the past publicly cast doubt on the idea that the strike could have been a mistake but did not immediately comment ”

        read more:

        Seems that the US investigates itself just as Israel does, too. Although the article does state that:

        “On Thursday, Reuters reported that the U.S. military has taken disciplinary action against 16 service members over the air strike, including a general. 

        The report said that General John Campbell, who was then head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, took action against 12 personnel. 

        “The actions included suspension and removal from command, letters of reprimand, formal counseling and extensive retraining,” the report said. 

        Five personnel who returned to the United States were investigated by Votel. 

        “(General) Votel took action with respect to four of these five personnel, including four letters of reprimand and admonishment, and boards to evaluate the flight certification of three aircrew members,” the report added. ”

        Still looks like a war crime to me…

      • just
        April 29, 2016, 3:13 pm

        Nifty article in The Guardian today by the Presidents of ICRC and MSF:

        “The airstrike on an Aleppo hospital is a wake-up call for the UN. It must act now

        …Sadly, this is not an isolated case. From Afghanistan to the Central African Republic, from South Sudan to Yemen and Ukraine, ambulances, hospitals and health centres have been bombed, looted, burned and destroyed. Patients have been killed in their beds; health workers have been attacked as they rescued the wounded. …”

        No mention of Gaza, Palestine at all. Several folks have pointed that out in the comments… nothing about Iraq, either.

  3. Citizen
    April 29, 2016, 7:39 am

    US adopted Israel’s preemptive war policy, it’s militarization of police policy, its torture policy, its assassination policy, and now, it’s knock-knock bomb policy. Not much left of good old US values, eh? You’d think it was Israel who had the 330 million population.

    • pabelmont
      April 29, 2016, 6:54 pm

      Nutty always claims that USA’s values and Israel’s are the same. Looks like he’s right — at least as to war fighting.

  4. Jasonius Maximus
    Jasonius Maximus
    April 29, 2016, 8:16 pm

    “When asked if the U.S. received any specialized training from the Israeli military, Gersten said the procedure was developed after observing Israeli military strategy. There was no coordination between the two armed forces, he said.”

    WTF?!? Is he really saying that they “observed” Israel use a strategy in Gaza that had an effective civilian to militant kill ratio of 3:1 and STILL came to the conclusion that it would prevent civilian casualties? I don’t quite know which is more disturbing, that a Major General can come to such a conclusion after reviewing this strategy, or that there is an entire military apparatus under his command and at his disposal that also missed his glaring detail!

    “…very difficult for us to watch”, my f&@cking rear end! This is the clincher, because they clearly didn’t observe Israel use this strategy at all then. They would have seen thousands of Palestinians killed in EXACTLY the same bloody way if they had observed this strategy! This is not a mistake or human error, this is utter ineptitude in the highest ranks of our military at best and an outright war crime at worst!

  5. Kay24
    April 30, 2016, 12:11 pm

    Looks like the masters of war crimes are leading and the US is following. They are not only imitating the zio tactic of knocking on roofs and dropping leaflets before bombarding homes, but the US is also, just like the zionists investigating it’s own crimes, and declaring itself free of any wrong doing and guilt. Sounds familiar?

    • m1945
      May 1, 2016, 3:27 pm

      Israel & the USA were trying to minimize civilian deaths.
      They should be praised!

      • oldgeezer
        May 1, 2016, 6:00 pm


        Preposterous. The technique doesn’t even pass a common sense or smell test. Attempting to avoid charges at the ICC WHILE satisfy their blood thirst, perhaps

      • eljay
        May 1, 2016, 6:17 pm

        || m1945: Israel & the USA were trying to minimize civilian deaths.
        They should be praised! ||

        Glad to hear that you’re OK with other countries using these tactics against Israel and the U.S.

      • talknic
        May 1, 2016, 11:09 pm

        Propaganda relies on stupidity

        m1945 is one of the idiots who thinks only civilians can read leaflets or hear doorknock bombs …

        “Hey Mahmoud, what do you think you’re doing, you can’t read that, it’s for civilians only …… pssst ….. what does it say?”

        “It says civilians should flee the war zone to… to… uh… to… oh, some other part of the war zone I guess. One of the most modern equipped militaries in the world is coming to get us”

        “Nice of them to give everyone warning. Very reasonable!”

        “Uh? ‘everyone’? They’re only warning civilians! We’re the ones they’re after!”

        “Too late now, we’ve read th’ leaflet. Maybe we could pretend we’re civilians!”

        “That would be cheating!”

        “You’re right. Honesty is the best policy! ”

        “Uh huh! Say … Dead people don’t have policies!”

        “To be honest, you’re right. …. RUN!!!!”

        “WHERE TO????”

      • pjdude
        May 3, 2016, 9:44 am

        Thats a load of crap. you want to minimize civilian casualaties its real easy. DON”T SHOOT AT THEM

    • Kay24
      May 1, 2016, 6:58 pm

      OG when those massacred are not from their side, is is “praiseworthy”.

      Their blood thirst is unquenchable.

  6. m1945
    May 2, 2016, 12:47 am

    @eljay May 1, 2016, 6:17 pm

    If people were blowing up my house, I would certainly appreciate a warning so I wouldn’t be killed. Wouldn’t you?

    • eljay
      May 2, 2016, 8:56 am

      || m1945: @eljay May 1, 2016, 6:17 pm If people were blowing up my house, I would certainly appreciate a warning so I wouldn’t be killed. Wouldn’t you? ||

      I would prefer people not blowing up my house. Wouldn’t you?

      But just to be perfectly clear: As long as they drop leaflets and use knocker-bombs, you’re OK with other countries bombing Israel and the U.S., yes?

    • WH
      May 3, 2016, 2:26 am

      Except if the warning already blows up half your house, that’s not much good as a safety measure. One of the absurdities of the last asault on Gaza was that these “roof knock” bombs were more powerful than the Hamas rockets which were supposedly such a threat to Israel.

    • pjdude
      May 3, 2016, 9:45 am

      Call me stupid or nuts but i’d rather have my house not get blowed up. i know crazy thought

  7. m1945
    May 2, 2016, 12:48 am

    @Kay24 May 1, 2016, 6:58 pm

    If they were trying to massacre people, they wouldn’t give any warning.

    • John O
      John O
      May 3, 2016, 3:57 am

      And if you’re deaf? Bedridden? Heavily pregnant? A babe in arms?

    • eljay
      May 3, 2016, 7:49 am

      || m1945: … If they were trying to massacre people, they wouldn’t give any warning. ||

      So, just to be clear: It’s OK for other countries to bomb Israel and the U.S. as long as they drop leaflets and use knocker-bombs, because if they do that they’re not trying to massacre people and that makes it acceptable to you. Is that about right?

      • a blah chick
        a blah chick
        May 3, 2016, 8:51 am

        Someone should ask m1945 how long it would take for him/her to get out of a multi-storied building with all the kiddies and grandma in tow.

    • a blah chick
      a blah chick
      May 3, 2016, 8:53 am

      If they weren’t trying to kill anyone why bomb in the first place?

  8. jd65
    May 2, 2016, 2:06 am

    Excellent report, Allison. Important.

  9. oldgeezer
    May 3, 2016, 7:34 am

    These roof knockers were never meant as a warning to civilians. Two or 3 minutes warning in the middle of the night is not sufficient time to wake up and get out of bomb blast radius even if you get out the door.

    They may have been meant to provide some sort of political excuse ir cover or they may be a marking shot for follow up larger explosives.

    They dont make sense anyway. They used marker shots a number of times and when questioned about attacking civilians said the attack was due to the presence of a terrorist. So not only are they warnings but warnings which a combatant cant hear unless they wanted to miss their target when he escapes as a result of the warning.

    Does the presence of an individual warrant an attack on civilian targets? If we follow Israels logic then the answer is no as they claim their reservists are civilians except when on active duty. The same would apply to Hamas or any other group except when they are active.

  10. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    May 3, 2016, 8:54 am

    We should rename this article “Blaming the Victims.”

  11. m1945
    May 3, 2016, 1:09 pm

    @a blah chick May 3, 2016, 8:51 am

    250,000 Palestinians lost their homes. About 2,000 were killed, mostly male, lots of fighters.
    Some also died because Hamas told them not to leave.

    If not for the warnings, 250,000 would have been dead.

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