A leading U.S. newspaper says the U.S. military paid out nearly $20 million in compensation for deaths of Iraqi civilians caught in the bloody fight against insurgent forces.
The New York Times says more than $9 million of that money was paid by U.S. Marines fighting in Iraq's violent Anbar province.
The newspaper says the figures were contained in a recent U.S. Defense Department report submitted to lawmakers.
The report does not include $38,000 in payments to relatives of up to 24 Iraqis allegedly killed by Marines in Haditha last November. That incident is currently under investigation by military authorities.
The military paid just $5 million in compensation in 2004. The Pentagon told the Times the increase is partly due to a policy clarification that allowed U.S. commanders in the field to pay the money with little oversight from senior officers.
Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli says the payments are not an admission of guilty, but are an effort by the U.S. to make amends to civilians who end up in the crossfire on the battlefield.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.