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Military Clears U.S. Forces in One Iraq Death Probe
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Military Clears U.S. Forces in One Iraq Death Probe



This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Scott Simon is on jury duty. I'm Lynn Neary. The U.S. military is continuing to investigate allegations that U.S. troops killed 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha and an unarmed man in the town of Hamandiya. But military officials say they have closed the investigation into an alleged incident in Ishaqi and cleared U.S. forces of wrongdoing. NPR's Tom Bowman has the latest.

TOM BOWMAN reporting:

The incident in Ishaqi occurred in mid-March. The Pentagon says four people died when their house collapsed following a heavy firefight. U.S. troops were searching for a suspected terrorist. Iraqis, however, said 11 died, including several children. They say all died of bullet wounds, and the Americans then demolished the house. Military officials reported Friday that they completed their investigation into the Ishaqi incident and found no wrongdoing by U.S. forces. They say proper procedures were followed.

Ishaqi is the latest in a string of allegations that U.S. forces have, on several occasions, intentionally killed Iraqi civilians. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is traveling in Asia, says incidents such as those under investigation shouldn't happen. They are the result of battling a stubborn insurgency.

Defense Secretary DONALD RUMSFELD (United States): The problem is, people are getting killed during this period, and coalition forces and Iraqis, innocent Iraqis are getting killed, and that's unfortunate.

BOWMAN: In addition to Ishaqi, the military is investigating the death of an unarmed Iraqi in Hamandiya, a town just west of Baghdad. Seven Marines and a Navy medic could face murder charges as soon as next week. That's according to a government official and a lawyer involved in the case.

Finally, there is Haditha, a town that sits on the Euphrates River, 140 miles north of the capital. On November 19th, four Marine Humvees rolled into town. One was struck by a roadside bomb, killing Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas, Jr., a squad member from El Paso. Two other Marines were wounded. Sources familiar with the investigation say the Marines then went on a rampage. Marines said they were taking fire. But sources say Marines first killed five unarmed Iraqis in a taxi. Then the squad moved through four houses, killing everyone in side. All told, 24 civilians were killed, including 11 women and children.

The results of the Haditha investigation are expected sometime this month. Top military leaders are troubled by the allegations. They have ordered all soldiers in Iraq to get special training in moral and ethical standards on the battlefield.

Tom Bowman, NPR News, the Pentagon.

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