New Allegations of Marine Misconduct in Haditha

ABCNEWS has learned of a new allegation of Marine criminal misconduct in the Iraqi town of Haditha.

Seventeen Marine reservists just returned from Iraq have been ordered to remain at Camp Lejeune while an investigation is conducted into an undisclosed case of criminal misconduct. So far officials are tight-lipped on the specifics of the allegation.

Haditha is the town in western Iraq made famous after allegations that another group of Marines killed 24 Iraqi civilians last November. That investigation continues and could possibly result in criminal charges for some of the dozen Marines implicated in the incident.

A damning review of the military chain of command's handling of that incident is also expected to be released by the end of the year.

The Marines in this new investigation are assigned to Bravo Company, 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion, a Marine Reserve unit based in Jacksonville, Fla.

While in Iraq they served as Dam Security Unit 2 and provided security at the hydroelectric dam in Haditha and along the nearby Euphrates River in river craft.

The unit returned from Iraq in late October after completing their seven-month tour of duty in Al Anbar Province in western Iraq.

There are approximately 24,000 Marines in Iraq, almost all of them serving in Al Anbar Province, the large province in Western Iraq where they have been fighting a strong insurgent presence.

The 92 members of Bravo Company arrived at Camp Lejeune in late October to begin their redeployment to Florida. Bravo Company returned home to Jacksonville on Sunday, except for the 17 who were left behind for further questioning.

This Saturday, the 17 Marines were ordered to remain on base for further questioning after allegations first surfaced of possible criminal misconduct. A Defense Official says the Marines are not restricted to quarters on the base, but currently have unassigned duties as the investigation progressses.

A Defense Department official says the fact there are 17 Marines doesn't mean they are all the subject of the investigation, but could be useful in "assisting with the investigation."

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