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US military documents detail possible civilian casualties by Australian air raids in Iraq -

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MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: AM has obtained a US military document that contains details of possible civilian casualties during raids by Australian aircraft against Islamic State targets in Iraq.

The report from the US Central Command lists alleged civilian casualties by coalition aircraft in Syria and Iraq between October 2014 and April this year.

The document comes to light as the Australian Government considers extending its mission against IS into Syria.

Michael Edwards has this exclusive report.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The ADF (Australian Defence Force) gives regular briefings to the media about its mission. This usually covers the number of airstrikes carried out and the amount of bombs dropped.

Little is known about any civilian casualties but AM has obtained a US Central Command document that lists a number of alleged incidents in which civilians may have been hurt by Coalition airstrikes.

Chris Woods is a London-based investigative journalist who covers the war against Islamic State.

CHRIS WOODS: These are internal investigations that we were never aware of triggered for example by pilots reporting something happening on a mission or people reviewing video feeds of missions after the event.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Of the 45 allegations, two of the incidents involve Australian aircraft.

One is said to have taken place on December the 21st, 2014. The report details an Australian raid on a suspected Islamic State weapons factory.

It says that 10 minutes after the last bomb was dropped, a woman and child were observed walking through the targeted area.

A man then arrived and took the child away on a motorbike. The woman was seen walking to a median strip, where she laid down.

CHRIS WOODS: The woman and child in this case could have been in reasonable proximity, certainly could have been traumatised by it. We don't know.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The US Central Command stated there was insufficient evidence to warrant further inquiry.

The Australian military appears to have agreed with that assessment.

As most of the areas under attack are controlled by Islamic State, it is difficult for coalition forces to verify any allegations of civilians being hurt.

The document was obtained from the US Military via a Freedom of Information request by the blogsite War is Boring.

Chris Woods says in his experience Australia is one of the more cautious countries when it comes to releasing information about civilian casualties.

CHRIS WOODS: We do think it probably is going to make a couple of coalition members including Australia a little bit uncomfortable but that's because of their own issues around secrecy which we ourselves have some issue with.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The document also lists another incident of possible civilian casualties where Australian fighter jets were present.

According to Professor Roger Shanahan, a former army officer who is now a security analyst at the Lowy Institute, civilian casualties are a sad fact of any military operation.

ROGER SHANAHAN: I don't think there has ever been a war devoid of civilian casualties.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Professor Shanahan has told AM it takes meticulous investigation to find out what has actually happened on a battlefield and he says initial reports can often be wrong.

ROGER SHANAHAN: One of the characteristics certainly of the coalition and of Australia to take allegations of civilian casualties very seriously.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: And that is Roger Shanahan and Michael Edwards with that report.