BEIRUT — Oh, man. The BBC is reporting another possible massacre of Iraqi civilians, this time in Ishaqi, 60 miles north of Baghdad. Up to 11 people may have been “deliberately shot” by U.S. troops.
The video appears to challenge the US military’s account of events that took place in the town of Ishaqi in March.
The US said at the time four people died during a military operation, but Iraqi police claimed that US troops had deliberately shot the 11 people.
A spokesman for US forces in Iraq told the BBC an inquiry was under way.
The military says it was a firefight with Iraqi insurgents, and in the course of the battle a house collapsed under heavy fire, killing a suspect, two women and a child. But Iraqi police said the Americans rounded up 11 people and shot them in the house. They then blew up the building.
The BBC says the tape, provided by a hardline Sunni group opposed to the occupation, showed bodies with clear gunshot wounds and appeared to be genuine.
Now, just because a Sunni group supplied this video doesn’t mean it should be discounted. Greeted with skepticism, yes, discounted, no. The group that brought the Haditha video to our attention at TIME was a Sunni NGO opposed to the American presence, and Haditha looks to be exactly as they described it: a massacre. Also, it makes absolute sense that a Sunni group would be the messenger. Thanks to the rampant sectarianism, only Sunni groups can operate in Sunni areas, and they’re bearing the brunt of the violence from the U.S.
So why don’t they play up the horrors of the Shi’ite groups that are also massacring Sunni families? Well, it wouldn’t do any good. Anyone think the Iraqi government is going to be particularly responsive when the Shi’ite prime minister (Jaafari) appointed a Shi’ite Interior Minister (Jabr) who “packed his ministry with Shi’ite death squads”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/2006/03/neither_a_good_war_nor_a_badr.php while America dithered and/or trained them? Of course not.
But, also, this is what happens when democracies go to war in a media age: The innocents — or aggrieved — take their case to the American people. If their own government won’t protect them, perhaps the people that elected the government that put their government in place will. It’s a vain hope, I know, but what else do they have left?
*UPDATE 6/2/06 8:16:40 PM +0200:* “U.S. military denies allegations of Ishaqi massacre”:http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=2032795&page=1.
ABC News has learned that military officials have completed their investigation and concluded that U.S. forces followed the rules of engagement.
A senior Pentagon official told ABC News the investigation concluded that the allegations of intentional killings of civilians by American forces are unfounded.