Washington: The Iraqi officer who ordered the detention of US soldiers last week after they killed three Iraqis while pursuing insurgents acted in error and was "out of line”, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said.
The officer "did not understand the agreement" governing US military activities since American combat troops withdrew from Iraqi cities last month, Maliki said in an interview.
The agreement "clearly states that American forces have the right to defend themselves, and that`s what they did," the Prime Minister was quoted as saying by `The Washington Post`.
Four Iraqis, including two children, were also injured when US forces returned fire and raided nearby houses after insurgents attacked their convoy in the Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib on Tuesday.
Maliki, who was here on his week-long US visit, said he had telephoned Baghdad and "made clear that they understand that this demand of handing over the people who killed the Iraqis was wrong."
The last week incident marked a potential escalation of tensions between both countries` forces as they struggle with differing interpretations of the six-month-old military agreement.
The accord, implemented since January, turns over all security responsibility to the Iraqi forces, and it provides for a phased US withdrawal, including last month`s pullout from urban areas and the complete departure of American forces by the end of 2011.