Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Iraqis decry U.S. atrocities
5/16/2006 1:00:00 PM GMT

Top Sunni clerics accused U.S. occupation forces of committing an “atrocity” that killed 25 civilians near Baghdad, Reuters news agency reported

The U.S. army said its forces killed 41 rebels during raids over the weekend in the rural area around Latifya and Yusifiya, south of the Iraqi capital.

A military statement said several Iraqi women and children were “inadvertently wounded by shrapnel" and treated in the site or evacuated, and didn’t mention civilian deaths.

But the Muslim Clerics Association, the main Sunni Arab religious grouping, which often attacks the U.S. occupation, said 25 Iraqi civilians were killed in the recent military operations.

"We hold the Iraqi government and the occupiers responsible for this brutal atrocity”, the association said in a statement.

There have been previous accusations by Iraqi officials that U.S. occupation forces caused numerous civilian deaths since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, especially during the deadly offensive on Fallujah in November 2004.

The recent complaint came at a critical time as Iraq’s new Prime Minister Nour Maliki is trying to form a national unity government, which can help curb sectarian violence that surged in Iraq after the Feb. 22 bombing of a major Shia shrine.

However, after hundreds of deaths and with tens of thousands of people having escaped their homes, some question whether a unity government can reverse a slide to civil war.

In other violence, more than six Iraqi civilians were killed and four wounded Tuesday in Baghdad’s Dora district during clashes between rebels and Iraqi police, officials said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. army said that three soldiers have been killed in roadside bombings over the past two days. One died Tuesday near Rasheed airfield, a former Iraqi air force installation in southern Baghdad. The two others were killed Monday when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad.

The latest deaths bring the total U.S. death toll in Iraq to at least 2,448 since the start of the invasion.

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