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Haditha inquiry finds false reporting, mistaken assessment of deaths: Army official

[JURIST] The probe charged with finding out why top US military officials did not know about the alleged killings of 24 Iraqis by US Marines [JURIST news archive] in Haditha in November 2005 until February 2006 has uncovered two major failures in how the incident was handled, the Washington Post reported [text] Thursday. According to an anonymous military official, the investigation headed by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell has found that a Marine squad leader falsely told superiors that 15 Iraqis had been killed by the bomb that killed one of the Marines, and that the team of Marines who collected the bodies later should have realized and reported that the Iraqis were killed by gunshot, not by a bomb.

The report is not expected to find that a full-blown cover-up was under way, as US Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) charged [JURIST report] earlier this week, but will likely recommend more training for troops on appropriate conduct. Also Thursday, the top-ranking US officer in Iraq, Army Gen. George Casey [official profile], announced a "core values" training program, which will instruct every US soldier in Iraq on treating of civilians under the military's rules of engagement. A separate inquiry into the circumstances of the killings [JURIST report], run by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service [official website], will conclude this summer. The Pentagon's preliminary investigation in February and March found evidence that the killings were not provoked [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

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