BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military told CNN it is investigating an incident in March near Balad in which Iraqi civilians were killed during a U.S. raid.
The probe comes amid concern over U.S. military conduct in Iraq, stoked by claims of a massacre by Marines of 24 civilians in Haditha last November.
This latest incident under investigation took place on March 15 in the Abu Seffa district in the town of Ishaqi, 10 miles north of Balad.
Iraqi police said 11 people were killed in a U.S.-led raid against a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq site, including five children -- the youngest 6 months old -- four women, and two men were killed. The U.S. military provided a lower casualty count, saying an insurgent, two women and a child were killed.
This in addition to a CNN television report this morning that there are soldiers who may be charged as early as today with murder for yet another incident of killing civilians. I do not know the details of when and where that incident took place, but it appears not to be related to the Haditha killings.
These stories are devastating for the US presence in Iraq. If we ever had a chance to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, it is gone. However, we have no good options. There is no chance of turning over the occupation to an international force- who would want to take that on given what we've seen over the past couple of years? If we continue our presence, we continue to be an irritant which will cause more violence. If we leave on a very short timetable, the likelihood of complete civil war would seem great. No good options remain.
The best I think we could do at this point would be a major change in allocation of resources and focus- away from combat troops (although not reducing their presence for the time being) and introducing substantial numbers of people who can effectively and quickly train Iraqi forces. My reading has led me to believe that this program of developing Iraqi security forces has been the victim of serious underinvestment. That policy needs to be changed immediately in order to bring about the quickest possible withdrawal of US ground forces. As always, I contend that such a withdrawal can only be done with the maximum concern for the security of Iraqi civilians, too many of whom have already died in sectarian violence and civil war.
This is the thorniest of all possible situations, it seems to me. But, it is the fruit of the poisonous tree- the poisonous tree being the decision to invade Iraq in the first place.
Regarding the 3rd case about which I knew little when I posted this morning, CNN.com reports the following now...
SAN DIEGO, California (AP) -- Military prosecutors plan to file murder, kidnapping and conspiracy charges against seven Marines and a Navy corpsman in the shooting death of an Iraqi man in April, a defense lawyer said Thursday.
The eight men are being held in the brig at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base north of San Diego, said Jeremiah Sullivan III, who represents one of the men.
The Iraqi man reportedly was dragged from his home west of Baghdad and shot. Both the Los Angeles Times and NBC News said troops may have planted an AK-47 and shovel near the body to make it appear the man was an insurgent burying a roadside bomb.