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U.S. Marines rally round Iraq probe comrade||
US Marines have rallied round a comrade under investigation
for killing a wounded Iraqi during the offensive in Fallujah,
saying he was probably under combat stress in unpredictable
Marines interviewed on Tuesday said they did not see the shooting as a scandal, rather the act of a comrade who faced intense pressure during the effort to quell the insurgency in the city.
"I can see why he would do it. He was probably running around being shot at for days on end in Fallujah. There should be an investigation but they should look into the circumstances," Lance Corporal Christopher Hanson said.
"I would have shot the insurgent too. Two shots to the head," Sergeant Nicholas Graham said.
"You can't trust these people. He should not be investigated. He did nothing wrong."
The military command launched an
investigation after video footage showed the US Marine shooting a
wounded and unarmed man in a mosque in the city on Saturday.
A second group of Marines entered the mosque on Saturday after reports it had been reoccupied. Footage from the embedded television crew showed the five still in the mosque, although several appeared to be close to death, Sites said.
He said a Marine noticed one prisoner was still breathing.
A Marine can be heard saying on the pool footage provided to Reuters Television: "He's f***ing faking he's dead."
"The Marine then raises his rifle and fires into the man's head," Sites said.
NBC said the Marine, who had reportedly been shot in the face himself the previous day, said immediately after the shooting: "Well, he's dead now."
THOROUGH PROBE PROMISED
The Marine commander in Falluja, Lieutenant General John Sattler, said his men followed the law of conflict and held themselves to a high standard of accountability.
"The facts of this case will be thoroughly pursued to make an informed decision and to protect the rights of all persons involved," he said.
Marines have repeatedly described the rebels they fought against in Falluja as ruthless fighters who didn't play by the rules. They say the investigation is politically motivated.
"It's all political. This Marine has been under attack for days. It has nothing to do with what he did," said Corporal Keith Hoy, 23.
Rights group Amnesty International said on Monday both sides in the Falluja fighting had broken the rules of war governing the protection of civilians and wounded combatants.
Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Garza, 30, favored an investigation but like other Marines said the Pentagon should weigh its decision carefully.
"He should have captured him. Maybe the insurgent had some valuable information. There may have been mitigating circumstances. Maybe his two buddies died in Falluja," he said.
Sites said: "I have witnessed the Marines behaving as a disciplined and professional force throughout this offensive. In this particular case, it certainly was a confusing situation to say the least."
The U.S. military has been embarrassed by scandals in Iraq, most prominently the Abu Ghraib affair in which at least eight U.S. soldiers have been tried or face courts-martial over the abuse of prisoners at the jail outside Baghdad.
There have also been several cases in which soldiers have been charged with wrongfully killing Iraqis during operations. Reuters)
|Video shows Hassan being killed|
Nov 16 — Kidnapped aid worker Margaret Hassan was
believed to be dead Tuesday after a video received by Al-Jazeera
television showed a hooded figure shooting a blindfolded woman in
The British government and Hassan's family in London said they believed the longtime director of CARE in Iraq was the victim. CARE said it was in mourning for the 59-year-old Briton who worked for decades providing food, medicine and humanitarian aid to Iraqis.
The video shows a militant firing a pistol into the head of a blindfolded woman wearing an orange jumpsuit, Al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout said. "She was presumed to be Mrs. Hassan," he told The Associated Press.
The station initially said it would air parts of the video, but Ballout then said it would not.