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US Killing of Civilians "Fact of Life" in Iraq: Iraqis
BAGHDAD, May29 , 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – The killing of two dozen Iraqi civilians in cold-blood by US occupation forces near the western Iraqi city of Haditha last November is part of pattern of US behavior in the country, Iraqis have commented on what would be the worst case of abuse by American soldiers in Iraq since the2003 invasion.
"The American soldier has become an expert in killing," Abdel Salam Al- Qubaisy, spokesman for the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), told Reuters Sunday, May28 .
He said the Haditha incident was only part of a pattern of US behavior in Iraq.
"This must be considered a war crime and the commanders tried," he added.
At a barber shop nearby, Ahmed Abdel Rahman could not recall a single one of his talkative customers mentioning Haditha.
One of them, Salah Mohammed, said such violence was common.
"This sort of thing isn't unusual," he said, blaming the prevailing insecurity on the US occupation.
Haditha residents have described how two families, including young children and women, were shot dead in their homes after a Marine was killed by a roadside bomb on November19 .
The military initially said the bomb also killed the civilians. Only the emergence of a film of the bodies led to an inquiry by Time magazine that in turn prompted a US probe into the incident.
Iraqi media and politicians have paid scant attention to details leaking out in Washington as they have got accustomed to such incidents day in and day out.
"The US forces have committed more crimes against the Iraqi people than appears in the media," lawyer Abd Mohammed Falah told Reuters.
Mohammed Jawdaat,47 , like many Iraqis, can recount an incident in which he says he saw US forces open fire on civilians.
"Six months ago a car pulled out of a street towards an American convoy and a soldier just opened fire," Jawdaat said.
"The driver was shot in the head and the person behind was killed too. They were innocents. There were no warning shots and the Americans didn't even stop. The police took the wounded."
Imad Mohammed, a teenager selling newspapers at a Baghdad intersection, said he had not seen Haditha on any front page.
"The Americans see a Muslim go into a mosque and just assume he is a terrorist.
"They either arrest him or blow it up."
Congressman John Murtha accused Sunday the US military of trying to "cover up" the civilian killings in Iraq at the hands of US forces.
Asked if he believed there had been a cover-up, Murtha, a prominent critic of the US administration over the Iraq war, told ABC: "No question about it."
"We don't know how far it goes. I mean, it goes right up the chain of command, right up to General Pace. When did he know about it?" Murtha questioned, referring to the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Peter Pace.
Pace is the US' top military officer and a senior advisor to Rumsfeld.
"Who ordered the cover-up? I'm sure he (Pace) didn't, but what ... who said, we're not going to publicize this thing?" Murtha said.
Murtha said the civilian killings have done more damage to America's aims in Iraq than the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.
"We're set back every time something like this happens," he said. "This is worse than Abu Ghraib."