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US Investigation Reveals New Details of Civilian Deaths in Haditha

A published report on the killing of Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines in Haditha in 2005 says witnesses saw the troops pull five unarmed Iraqis from a passing taxi and shoot them dead at point-blank range.

The report obtained by The Washington Post newspaper reveals previously undisclosed details about the incident in Haditha. That incident occurred shortly after a roadside bomb killed one Marine and wounded two others.

According to the Post article, an Iraqi soldier at the scene told U.S. military investigators the Marines were acting crazy leading up to the incident.

The shootings were the first of several violent reactions attributed to U.S. Marines that day, leaving 24 Iraqi civilians dead in Haditha. Many of those killed were women and children.

Last month, the squad leader and three other Marines were charged with murder in connection with the civilian deaths.

The newspaper says the U.S. military report includes hundreds of witness interviews, including those with U.S. Marines, Iraqi soldiers and civilian survivors.

The Post says the investigation report contains conflicting testimony about the killings, but provides evidence the Marines did not respond to the roadside bomb attack of their comrades within U.S. military rules of engagement.

If convicted, the four Marines charged with murder face possible life in prison.

Defense attorneys say the Marines behaved appropriately in a chaotic battlefield situation.