Humanitarian law alert - civilians killed in second Baghdad market bombing

[JURIST] Two English-language bulletins from the Arabic Qatar News Agency:

BAGHDAD,MARCH 28 (QNA)-SOME 51 IRAQI CIVILIANS WERE KILLED AND SCORES OTHERS WOUNDED WHEN ALLIES BOMBERS POUNDED A POPULAR MARKETPLACE IN THE IRAQI CAPITAL OF BAGHDAD TONIGHT. THIS CAME IN AN URGENT DISPATCH BY AL JAZEERA SATELLITE T.V. CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT IN BAGHDAD.

BAGHDAD,MARH 28(QNA)- DEATH TOLL OF THE AMERICAN BOMBING OF AL SHA'AB SOUQ-MARKET IN AL SHU'LAH QUARTER HAS RISEN TO 53 DEAD AND 50 WOUNDED. AL JAZEERA QUOTED AN IRAQI OFFICIAL AS SAYING ATTEMPTS WERE UNDERWAY TO PLUCK OUT SURVIVORS FROM UNDER THE RUBBLE OF THE SOUQ BUILDING WHICH WAS HIT BY MORE THAN ONE CRUISE OR TOMAHAWK MISSILE.
Incidental harm to unintended civilian targets in war is often called "collateral damage":
Collateral or incidental damage occurs when attacks targeted at military objectives cause civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects. It often occurs if military objectives such as military equipment or soldiers are situated in cities or villages or close to civilians. Attacks that are expected to cause collateral damage are not prohibited per se, but the laws of armed conflict restrict indiscriminate attacks. Article 57 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions [text] states that, in an international conflict, "constant care shall be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians, and civilian objects." In addition, under Article 51, carpet bombing is prohibited, as are attacks that employ methods and means of combat whose effects cannot be controlled. Finally, attacks are prohibited if the collateral damage expected from any attack is not proportional to the military advantage anticipated. Military commanders in deciding about attacks have to be aware of these rules and either refrain from launching an attack, suspend an attack if the principle of proportionality is likely to be violated, or replan an attack so that it complies with the laws of armed conflict.
US Central Command and US government officials have repeatedly restated their commitment to avoiding civilian casualties. The United States, however, is not a party to Additional Protocol 1 (neither is Iraq). Learn more about collateral damage from the Crimes of War project.

 

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