U.S. Military Denies New Abuse Allegations at Ishaqi


Horrific images of Iraqi adults and children have fueled new allegations that U.S. troops killed civilians in the Iraqi town of Ishaqi. But ABC News has learned that military officials have completed their investigation and concluded that U.S. forces followed the rules of engagement.

A senior Pentagon official told ABC News the investigation concluded that the allegations of intentional killings of civilians by American forces are unfounded.

Military commanders in Iraq launched an investigation soon after the mid-March raid in the village of Ishaqi, about 50 miles north of Baghdad.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell will make a statement about the Ishaqi allegations today in Baghdad, ABC News has learned.

In Ishaqi, American forces were going after a high-value terrorist target they succeeded in apprehending. The U.S. military reported in March that four people died when the troops destroyed a house from the air and ground.

But previously unaired video shot by an AP Television News cameraman at the time shows at least five children dead, several with obvious bullet wounds to the head. One adult male is also seen dead.

"Children were stuck in the room, alone and surrounded," an unidentified man said on the video.

A total of 11 people died, according to Iraqis on the scene. The Iraqis said the people were killed by U.S. troops before the house was destroyed.

Other Incidents in Question

The allegations in Ishaqi surfaced amid several other alleged incidents that have raised questions about the behavior of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Military sources told ABC News that charges will likely be filed against officers up the chain of command in connection with the killing of 24 civilians by U.S. Marines in Haditha, Iraq, in November 2005.

Among those who may be charged are senior officers whom officials believe were not on the scene at the time of the killings but should have been aware that something had happened and done something about it.

On Thursday, the White House confirmed that an investigation began nearly three months after the Haditha killings, after Time Magazine showed a video to a military spokesman.

Until then, the military insisted the civilians in Haditha had been killed by a roadside bomb.

Two Women Killed

On Wednesday in Samarra, a pregnant woman named Nahiba Jassim and her cousin, Saliha Hassan, were killed by gunfire when their car entered what the U.S. military called a clearly marked, prohibited area near a checkpoint and observation post manned by coalition forces.

According to the military, the driver of the car ignored signals and commands to stop, so troops fired shots to disable the vehicle.

Facing a constant threat of deadly attacks by insurgents, American forces in Iraq are allowed to fire in self-defense if they believe they are in danger.

One of the survivors of the incident told ABC News they were rushing the pregnant woman to the hospital because she was about to give birth and they didn't know the road was blocked.

Jassim's brother was driving, and he said the soldiers shot straight into their vehicle.

"I didn't see any warning," he says. "I was driving at speed, and they started shooting at us."

Doctors at the hospital tried to save Jassim's baby but failed.

The U.S. military generally compensates the family of any civilian who is killed inadvertently by American forces. It's not known if this will apply in this case.

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