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US Marines in Iraq caught killing Iraqi families for fun

US military probes Iraq killings

US military investigators have flown to Iraq to study reports that marines shot dead at least 15 civilians, including seven women and three children.

The incident is said to have happened in Haditha on 19 November 2005.

The military's initial claim that the civilians died in a roadside blast was disproved by an earlier investigation.

Investigators will now ask if the civilians died in crossfire or were targeted in a vengeful killing spree, prompted by the death of a marine.

Iraqis often accuse US troops fighting insurgents of committing war crimes.

Local residents in Haditha say the marines went on the rampage after one of their number was killed in a roadside blast and another two were injured.

They say the soldiers began shooting passers-by and the inhabitants of nearby homes dead.

'Collateral damage'

A military report at the time had said insurgents opened fire from all directions after the roadside explosion and the marines responded, killing eight fighters.

In the report, the deaths of 15 civilians were blamed on the initial blast.

Locals offered a different version of events, and the case was taken up by US news weekly, Time.

Time reporter Bobby Ghosh told the BBC a videotape, given to the magazine by an Iraqi human rights group, had shown the civilians "could not have been killed by a roadside bomb".

"Their bodies were riddled with bullets," he said. "There was evidence there had been gunfire inside their homes, there were blood spatters inside their homes."

The magazine says it presented its findings to the US military, which investigated the incident in January.

The preliminary investigation established that two Iraqi families were indeed killed by the marines, though it described the deaths as collateral damage.

Time says there is not enough evidence to show US soldiers deliberately targeted the civilians.

Now the case has been referred for criminal investigation by the US navy to establish whether the 12 marines involved were guilty of misconduct.

Human rights organisations have already said that if the 15 civilians were killed deliberately it would be the worst such case that has come to light.

There have been many allegations from Iraqi civilians that similar behaviour by US troops has caused numerous civilian deaths in combat situations, especially during the offensives at Falluja and elsewhere.


BBC News, "US military probes Iraq killings", 21 March 2006.


The Independent, "US troops investigated over Iraqi massacres", 22 March 2006.
    The growing evidence of retaliatory killings of unarmed Iraqi families, often including children, by US soldiers seemingly bent on punishing Iraqis after an attack, will spark comparisons with the massacre of Vietnamese villagers at My Lai in 1968.
    In the most recent incident, in the town of Ishaqi north of Baghdad last week, Iraqi police said that US troops had shot 11 people, including five children, in their home. The local police chief, Colonel Farouq Hussein, said that all the dead had been shot in the head, according to autopsies. "It's a clear and perfect crime," he said. In an incident in the town of Haditha in western Iraq on 19 November last year, US soldiers went on a rampage in a village after a bomb attack and killed at least 15 civilians, according to witnesses and local officials cited by Time magazine in an investigation.
    The US military first claimed a roadside bomb had killed a US Marine, Miguel Tarrazas, along with 15 Iraqi civilians caught in the blast. Later, a military statement said "gunmen attacked the convoy with small-arms fire" and in returning fire the Marines killed eight insurgents.
    But after Time presented the US military with what Iraqis said had happened, an official investigation found that 15 of the civilians had been deliberately killed by US soldiers.

"The Insider" mailing list article, 21 March 2006.

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Tags: Iraq, US Marines, murdered, Iraqi, families, killed, women, children, shot, homes, revenge, rampage, American, soldiers, war crimes, mass murder, massacre, executions, shot, head, , conspiracy theories.

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