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Iraq: Rights Group Urges U.S. To Investigate Civilian Deaths

Baghdad, 21 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Human Rights Watch says the U.S. military has failed to conduct proper investigations into the killings of Iraqi civilians by its soldiers in Baghdad. In a new report, The New York-based rights group said it had confirmed the death of 20 civilians at the hands of U.S. forces between 1 May, when Washington declared major combat over, and the end of September. The group said it had collected "credible reports" of 94 civilian deaths in Baghdad which warranted investigation.

The report says the military has concluded only five high-level investigations into suspected unlawful deaths. In four cases, soldiers were found to have been acting "within the rules of engagement."

According to the independent Iraq Body Count project, between 7,000 and 9,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of "military intervention" since the start of the war on 20 March.

The U.S. military says it keeps no record of civilian deaths.