Air strike that killed Iraqi soldiers appears to have been by US plane: Carter

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter (third from left) meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (seated alone) in Baghdad on Dec 16, 2015.
US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter (third from left) meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (seated alone) in Baghdad on Dec 16, 2015.PHOTO: AFP/HO/IRAQI PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE

ON BOARD THE USS KEARSARGE (REUTERS) - A US aircraft appears to have mistakenly carried out an air strike that killed Iraqi security forces near the city of Fallujah, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Saturday (Dec 19).

The Iraqi Minister of Defence Khaled al-Obeidi said earlier that nine soldiers died in the strike on Friday.

The US military is leading an international coalition that is waging an air offensive on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), where the militant group control large swaths of territory.

Mr Obeidi told a news conference that the strike occurred when coalition air forces were covering the advance of Iraqi ground troops near Fallujah because the Iraqi army helicopters were not able to fly due to the bad weather.

Mr Carter said he spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi by phone on Saturday to express his condolences over the deaths. He said it appeared a US aircraft had carried out the air strike.

"That's the information I have now," he told reporters while on a trip to the Middle East.

"He (Abadi) and I agreed that this was an event that we both regretted and that there would be an investigation of it, but that these kinds of things happen when you're fighting side by side."

Mr Carter met with Mr Abadi this week during a brief visit to Baghdad to assess the state of the campaign against ISIS.