Iraqi Leader: Civilian Deaths a 'Horrible Crime'
In Iraq, anger is building over the alleged killings of Iraqi civilians by U.S. forces. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has condemned the deaths of two dozen civilians in Haditha last fall as "a horrible crime." In addition, seven U.S. Marines and a sailor could be charged with murder, kidnapping or conspiracy in connection with a single Iraqi death in April.
Friday, the U.S. military confirmed that it was investigating a third incident -- and then late today a defense official said an internal review found no misconduct on the part of U.S. forces in that case.
Until now, Iraqis have largely ignored the controversy over the alleged killing of unarmed civilians in Haditha by U.S. Marines last November. As for the second investigation, in which one Iraqi man was killed in the village of Hamandiya, west of Baghdad, most Iraqis have never even heard of the town, let alone the incident.
But now there are at least three incidents in the news, and with each new set of allegations, the question of the treatment of Iraqi civilians at the hands of the U.S. military is getting more attention here -- especially at the highest levels.
Prime Minister Maliki has ordered an Iraqi investigation into the Haditha deaths, prompting a visit from the U.S. ambassador and the top American general in Iraq to assure Maliki that he would be kept informed.
The latest incident to come into the news is from a village called Ishaqi, about 50 miles north of the capital. In mid-March, U.S. forces raided a house there, stating they were after a man suspected of supporting al-Qaida in Iraq, the terrorist group headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The military said four people died when the house collapsed after a heavy firefight, and the suspect was arrested.
U.S. officials confirm that they are investigating an incident in the town of Ishaqi north of Baghdad last March. Eleven Iraqis, including five children, were reportedly killed during a raid by U.S. troops aimed at capturing an al-Qaida militant.
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