Iraq PM worried about US troops killing civilians
IRAQ: Iraq?s new prime minister, clearly determined to assert his
sovereign authority, said his patience was wearing thin with excuses
from U.S. troops that they kill civilians ?by mistake?.
Vowing to demand answers about the deaths of civilians in the town of
Haditha last year, Nuri al-Maliki said: ?We are worried about the
increase in ?mistakes?.
?I am not saying that they are intentional. But it is worrying for
us,? he told Reuters in an interview.
Maliki also pledged to disband militias, and said he was ready to
overrule squabbling parties in his coalition by naming his own choices
as ministers of defence and the interior.
Speaking in his office in Baghdad, the straight-talking Islamist who
spent years waging war on Saddam Hussein from exile in Syria said he
would fly to Iraq?s second city Basra to end faction fighting among
?There?s no way we can leave Basra, the gateway to Iraq, our imports
and exports, at the mercy of criminal, terrorist gangs. We will use
force against these gangs,? said Maliki.
He vowed to investigate killings of Iraqi civilians in the western
town of Haditha last November after local witnesses said they were shot
U.S. defence officials have said charges including murder may be
brought against Marines following a U.S. investigation into the 24
civilian deaths in Haditha, a stronghold of the Sunni Arab insurgency.
?There is a limit to the acceptable excuses. Yes a mistake may happen
but there is an acceptable limit to mistakes,? Maliki said. ?We will ask
for answers not only about Haditha but about any operation ... in which
killing happened by mistake and we will hold those who did it
Many Iraqis believe unjustified killings by U.S. troops are common,
though few have been confirmed by investigations.
Meanwhile the White House pledged that the public would be told
everything learned during a probe into reports that U.S. Marines may
have killed two dozen Iraqi civilians in the Iraqi city of Haditha last
The Nov. 19 deaths have led to comparisons from U.S. commentators of
the March 16, 1968, killing of unarmed civilians by U.S. troops in the
Vietnamese village of My Lai.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said the Defense Department was
investigating the incident and that he had been assured that ?when this
comes out, all the details will be made available to the public, so
we?ll have a picture of what happened.? Baghdad, Washington, Wednesday,