Time: 15 Iraqi civilians dead; U.S. Marines under investigation

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Time magazine has reported that the U.S. military is investigating allegations of United States Marines killing civilians in response to the death of a U.S. Marine. The Marine was killed when a roadside improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy. His fellow Marines are alleged to have entered homes in a western Iraqi town and shot and killed fifteen members of two families in retaliation, including a three-year-old girl.

Time claims to have a videotape showing the results of the Marines' assault, describing it as "graphic documentation," but has stated that the evidence is inconclusive; it does not prove the guilt of the Marines involved. The military's own reconstruction of events, as well as the eyewitness accounts of residents whom Time interviewed, portrays a violent response by a group of U.S. Marines who believed they were under fire and had lost one of their own.

Last week the U.S. military announced that Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has been handed the matter to determine whether the troops deliberately targeted civilians and broke the laws of war. Military Officials initially indicated that 15 Iraqi civilians had died when gunmen attacked a convoy with small arms fire, prompting the Marines to return fire. U.S. Marines have also claimed that the civilians were used as shields by insurgents and that the fault lies with the insurgents.

Relatives of the victims have been paid USD $2,500 for each of the 15 dead civilians by the United States.