- Jul 6, 2005
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
- Very Liberal
Is this what we have become? Is this what is acceptable? Is this crap OK? Is this what we are supporting? Do you support murdering women and children?
Iraqis killed by US troops ‘on rampage’
Hala Jaber and Tony Allen-Mills, New York
Claims of atrocities by soldiers mount
THE villagers of Abu Sifa near the Iraqi town of Balad had become used to the sound of explosions at night as American forces searched the area for suspected insurgents. But one night two weeks ago Issa Harat Khalaf heard a different sound that chilled him to the bone.
Khalaf, a 33-year-old security officer guarding oil pipelines, saw a US helicopter land near his home. American soldiers stormed out of the Chinook and advanced on a house owned by Khalaf’s brother Fayez, firing as they went.
Khalaf ran from his own house and hid in a nearby grove of trees. He saw the soldiers enter his brother’s home and then heard the sound of women and children screaming.
“Then there was a lot of machinegun fire,” he said last week. After that there was the most frightening sound of all — silence, followed by explosions as the soldiers left the house.
Once the troops were gone, Khalaf and his fellow villagers began a frantic search through the ruins of his brother’s home. Abu Sifa was about to join a lengthening list of Iraqi communities claiming to have suffered from American atrocities.
According to Iraqi police, 11 bodies were pulled from the wreckage of the house, among them four women and five children aged between six months and five years. An official police report obtained by a US reporter for Knight Ridder newspapers said: “The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 people.”
The Abu Sifa deaths on March 15 were first reported last weekend on the day that Time magazine published the results of a 10-week investigation into an incident last November when US marines killed 15 civilians in their homes in the western Iraqi town of Haditha.
The two incidents are being investigated by US authorities, but persistent eyewitness accounts of rampaging attacks by American troops are fuelling human rights activists’ concerns that Pentagon commanders are failing to curb military excesses in Iraq.
The Pentagon claims to have investigated at least 600 cases of alleged abuse by American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to have disciplined or punished 230 soldiers for improper behaviour. But a study by three New York-based human rights groups, due to be published next month, will claim that most soldiers found guilty of abuse received only “administrative” discipline such as loss of rank or pay, confinement to base or periods of extra duty.
Of the 76 courts martial that the Pentagon is believed to have initiated, only a handful are known to have resulted in jail sentences of more than a year — notably including the architects of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison.
Most other cases ended with sentences of two, three or four months. “That’s not punishment, and that’s the problem,” said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch, which is compiling the study with two other groups.