Leaked UN letter may be trouble for US/Iraq talks

Iraq`s government said today it will investigate the new allegations.

Baghdad: Negotiations to keep US troops in
Iraq came under new strain on Friday in the wake of WikiLeaks`
release of a UN letter alleging that an Iraqi family was
handcuffed and shot in the head in a 2006 raid by American
forces, not accidentally killed in an airstrike.

Iraq`s government said today it will investigate the new
allegations. And some officials said that the document was
reason enough for Iraq to force the American military to leave
instead of signing a deal allowing troops to stay beyond a
year-end departure deadline.

On March 15, 2006, US troops searching for an al-Qaida
cell converged on a house in Ishaqi, about 50 miles (80
kilometers) north of Baghdad. The US military said the troops
were hit by gunfire from inside the house, and called in an
airstrike after a gun battle, destroying the house.

Twelve days later, UN investigator Philip Alston sent a
letter to US.officials saying autopsies by the morgue at
nearby Tikrit Hospital had "revealed that all corpses were
shot in the head and handcuffed." Alston provided no details
about the source of his information.

Images taken by an AP photographer shortly after the raid
in Ishaqi showed the bodies of at least two men and three
children, none in handcuffs, laid out in blankets outside the
house. Footage shot by an AP Television News cameraman at the
time showed at least five children dead. At least one adult
male and four of the children had deep wounds to the head that
could have been caused by bullets or shrapnel. One child had
an obvious entry wound to the side. The interiors of the walls
left standing were pocked with bullet holes.

The US military investigated the incident and said on
June 2, 2006 that, while as many as nine civilians may have
been killed, the commander had followed the rules of
engagement, and Iraqi allegations that the family was executed
were false.

The issue moved back into the public eye in Iraq and
around the world this week as media including McClatchy
Newspapers published reports on Alston`s cable, which was
released by the anti-secrecy website this summer in a trove of
confidential US government documents, many of them classified.



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