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US military coping with allegations of atrocities in Iraq

Written by: Staff
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Washington, July 8 (UNI) United States military has come under severe criticism for allegedly committing a series of atrocities by its personnel to Iraqi civilians during the past few months.

Last November, there were allegations that US Marines killed 15 civilians, including seven women and three children in the town of Haditha, apparently in a rage over the death of one of their colleagues.

Another group of Marines allegedly killed an Iraqi man in Hamdaniya this April when they were looking for another man.

Earlier in March, five US soldiers led by army private Steven D Green were accused of murdering a family of four and raping a 15-year-old girl in Mahmoudiya.

US military officials, however, said Green had been discharged because of an ''anti-social personality disorder.'' Green, a high-school dropout from a broken home who joined the Army to get some direction, is now facing trial for rape and four counts of murder in a federal court in Charlotte, North Carolina, rather than a military court. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The 21-year-old Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne Division personnel could get death penalty if convicted in the horrific crime that has strained the US military's already troubled relations with the Iraqi people and sent shock waves around the world.

According to the Washington Post, Green hatched a plot to commit the crime making it appear that it was done by insurgents.

Pentagon sources said if the reports of the incidents are true they were terrible, but said official criminal investigations were yet to be completed.

''Every allegation of wrongdoing by US military forces is taken very seriously,'' the sources said. ''It's investigated thoroughly and when we find people that have done something that's inconsistent with the values and laws of this country, we take appropriate action and hold people accountable.'' Officials will not speculate about why these alleged incidents have apparently happened even as several Marines and soldiers have been taken into custody and investigations continue.

Outside analysts, however, suggest it could be related to the stress of combat, the length of the war in Iraq, training deficiencies and many other factors.

Officials emphasized that hundreds of thousands of troops have served honourably in Iraq and more than 2,500 have died trying to secure the country's freedom. But they also say, if any of the alleged atrocities are proved, action would be taken against the guilty, those responsible would be punished and steps would also be taken to prevent future occurrences of such incidents.

UNI XC PDS VP0725

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