Mosul resident compensated for 2015 air strike that killed family

Basim Razzo's home was hit by anti-ISIS coalition jets during battle for northern Iraqi city

An Iraqi man has been awarded compensation by the anti-ISIS coalition forces for the wrongful death of his family in an air strike on Mosul five years ago.

The Dutch government made a “voluntary offer” to Basim Razzo this week, after their F16 fighter jets launched the attack on his home that was misidentified by US intelligence as an ISIS headquarters.

He is believed to be the first Mosul resident to be compensated for a coalition air strike on the northern Iraqi city that was seized by ISIS in June 2014.

Mr Razzo, 61, lost his wife, daughter, brother and nephew in the attack and can no longer walk due to the severe injuries he sustained.

“In view of the special aspects and circumstances of this concrete, specific case and the debate, it had been decided for humanitarian reasons, to proceed to the voluntary offer of compensation,” the Dutch defence minister, Ank Bijleveld, said in a letter to parliament.

“Mr Razzo’s house, and his brother’s home next door, were destroyed in the early hours of 20 September 2015 during a precision strike based on faulty intelligence that the two buildings were an ISIS bomb-making facility,” said the letter.

The pilot involved in the air raid agreed to be interviewed anonymously by Dutch media last year, which made the compensation claim possible. Coalition forces had also posted a video of the attack on YouTube.

The battle to retake Mosul from the extremist militant group left much of the city in ruins.

The offer to compensate Mr Razzo followed a Skype meeting between him and Dutch defence ministry officials in June, his lawyer in the Netherlands, Liesbeth Zegveld, told The Guardian. 

“On that occasion the ministry offered its apologies to Razzo. It was all a mistake. I then detailed the damages in a letter. The minister subsequently offered roughly the amount demanded. In the shadowy air war against ISIS, in which civilian casualties are generally not reported or denied, this is a unique case, for the Netherlands, but also for the coalition and other countries participating in the coalition against ISIS,” she said.

The amount of the compensation was not disclosed but it is understood to be about €1 million (Dh4.3m), the Guardian said.

Ms Zegvel said the fact that no court intervention was needed and the amount pledged made Mr Razzo's case "unique".

“When I opened the letter containing the response of the ministry to our claim, I first could not believe what I read. I represent war victims for over 20 years now. I called Basim, he was driving, he had to stop. He had tears in his eyes," she said.

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