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'I'd wiped out half a family': F-16 pilot grapples with guilt after a bungled bombing mission in Iraq killed at least 4 civilians

'I'd wiped out half a family': F-16 pilot grapples with guilt after a bungled bombing mission in Iraq killed at least 4 civilians
Mindaugas Kulbis/AP



A former Dutch F-16 fighter pilot who bombed a civilian home in Iraq said he is grappling with his actions that led to the deaths of at least four civilians in 2015.




The pilot, who goes by the pseudonym "Stefan," recounted the events surrounding his bombing mission to two Netherlands-based journalists in the De Telegraaf.




"You think to yourself: 'It can't be, surely?' I felt nauseous when I heard the news," Stefan said. "I feel jointly responsible. I dropped that bomb and pressed the button. I ended the lives of people who had nothing to do with [our mission]. It was slap in the face. It went against everything we were there for."




Stefan said he viewed drone footage of the bombing on YouTube and struggled with the incident, which was researched by The New York Times. The Times's story included pictures of the civilian family members who were killed.




"One evening I was sat clicking on the internet. I saw the photo and thought: that's my target," Stefan said. "At that moment, I knew it would have been self-torture to look further but I thought if I looked away at that point, that it would be cowardly."




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A Dutch F-16 fighter pilot who bombed a civilian home in Iraq thought to be an ISIS car bomb factory said he has been grappling with causing the deaths of at least four civilians on September 20, 2015.
The pilot, who goes by the pseudonym "Stefan," recounted the events surrounding his bombing mission to two Netherlands-based journalists, Olof Van Joolen and Silvan Schoonhoven, in the De Telegraaf.
"I was the mission commander, I'd done all the planning," he said in De Telegraaf. "Everything until the debriefing was successful."
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