Pilots from the Iraqi Air Force accidentally airdropped food, water, and ammunition over territory controlled by ISIS militants instead of in territory held by Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), NBC reported.
The Iraqi pilots were supposed to have conducted a supply run over the village of Al-Sijar in Anbar province in western Iraq in order to relieve Iraqi soldiers. ISF forces had been battling ISIS militants for a week in this area and had run short of supplies.
“Those soldiers were in deadly need of these supplies, but because of the wrong plans of the commanders in the Iraqi army and lack of experience of the pilots, we in a way or another helped ISIS fighters to kill our soldiers,” Hakim Al-Zamili, a lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament and a member of the parliament’s Security and Defence Committee told NBC.
A brigadier-general in Iraq’s Defence Ministry, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed with NBC that the incident had occurred on Sept. 19 citing that the pilots were young and inexperienced.
The US had spent years prior to its 2011 withdrawal from Iraq training the ISF and the Iraqi Air Force. But even before the US military pull out, the Iraqi government began purging its ranks of Sunni and Kurdish intelligence officers. This vastly degraded the Iraqi military’s ability to carry out intelligence operations.
Without the proper intelligence on the ground, it can be difficult to pinpoint activities such as close air support and supply drops — leading to mistakes like inadvertently re-supplying your enemy on the battlefield.
After the ISIS blitz across Iraq over the summer — an offensive that left the group in control of perhaps as much as one-third of the country — the Iraqi military further collapsed as service members deserted the country’s seemingly cardboard armed forces. In a desperate attempt to rebuild its flagging military, the Iraqi government has granted amnesty to all returning deserters.
An investigation is currently ongoing as to the exact cause of the Iraqi pilots giving supplies to ISIS militants.
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