- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2006

1:41 p.m.

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government today announced its own investigation into reports that U.S. Marines killed unarmed civilians last year, and the No. 2 general in Iraq ordered American commanders to hold ethical training on battlefield conduct.

The decision to begin an Iraqi inquiry into the killings was made at a Cabinet meeting, said Adnan al-Kazimi, an adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The investigation will be carried out by a special committee made up of the Justice and Human Rights ministries along with security officials, Mr. al-Kazimi said.

The U.S. military already is conducting at least two investigations into the Nov. 19 killings of 24 persons in Haditha, including women and children, following a bomb attack on a military convoy in which a Marine died.

Military investigators have evidence that points toward unprovoked killings by Marines in Haditha, a senior defense official said last week.

“We do want to express our deepest condolences to the families who lost a loved one in Haditha,” Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, spokesman for the Multi-National Force-Iraq, said in a Baghdad press conference. “The coalition does not and will not tolerate any unethical or criminal behavior. All allegations of such activity will be fully investigated.”

Mr. al-Maliki said he had asked a ministerial committee to hold talks with the U.S. military to set ground rules for raids and detentions.

When asked about Iraqi complaints that the actions of U.S. forces show no regard for Iraqi lives during raids and detentions, Mr. al-Maliki said he objected to such practices.

“We cannot forgive violations of the dignity of the Iraqi people,” he said at a press conference. He also said the Cabinet had agreed to issue a statement denouncing such practices.

Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the commander of Multi National Corps-Iraq, the tactical unit of the Multi-National Force that is responsible for command and control of Iraq operations, said the ethical training would emphasize “professional military values and the importance of disciplined, professional conduct in combat” as well as Iraqi cultural expectations.

“As military professionals, it is important that we take time to reflect on the values that separate us from our enemies,” he said. “The challenge for us is to make sure the actions of a few do not tarnish the good work of the many.”

The training will be conducted in units in the next 30 days and will be aimed at reinforcing training service members received before their deployment, he said.


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