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Video details US attack on Iraqi family
March 21, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A videotape taken by an Iraqi shows the aftermath of an alleged attack by U.S. troops on civilians in their homes in a western town last November: a blood-smeared bedroom floor and bits of what appear to be human flesh and bullet holes on the walls.

An Iraqi human rights group condemned the bloodshed in the town of Haditha, saying Tuesday that it could be "one of dozens of incidents that were not revealed."

The video, obtained by Time magazine and repeatedly aired by Arab televisions throughout the day, also showed bodies of women and children in plastic bags on the floor of what appeared to be a morgue. Men were seen standing in the middle of bodies, some of which were covered with blankets before being placed in a pickup truck.

The images were broadcast a day after residents of Haditha, 140 miles west of Baghdad, told The Associated Press that American troops entered homes and shot dead 15 members of two families, including a 3-year-old girl, after a roadside bomb killed a U.S. Marine.

Last week, the U.S. military announced that a dozen Marines are under investigation for possible war crimes in the Nov. 19 incident, which left at least 23 Iraqis dead in addition to the Marine.

Talal al-Zuhairi, who heads the Baghdad Center for Human Rights, said his organization feared the troops, if convicted, will not be punished severely enough.

"This incident shows that the forces are committing, every now and then, operations that harm civilians," al-Zuhairi told The Associated Press.

"What we are worried about today ... (is that) a U.S. soldier may be discharged from the military or jailed for two years," said al-Zuhairi. "This would in no way be sufficient punishment for wiping out a whole family or killing of a large number of people through an unjustifiable act."

The allegations against the Marines were first brought forward by Time, though the magazine noted that the available evidence did not prove conclusively that the Marines deliberately killed innocents.

The magazine said it obtained the video, taken by a Haditha journalism student inside the houses and local morgue, two months ago.

A U.S. military statement in November had described the incident as an ambush on a joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol that left 15 civilians, eight insurgents and a U.S. Marine dead in the bombing and a subsequent firefight. That statement said the 15 civilians were killed by the blast, a claim residents denied.

The residents said the only shooting done after the bombing was by U.S. forces.

Al-Zuhairi called on the Iraqi government to investigate.

"We hope that this scandal will produce a reaction among Iraq's politicians. They should review their calculations in dealing with American troops and take into consideration that deadly mistakes are committed against Iraqis," al-Zuhairi said.

Original Text