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House Panel to Examine Iraq Raid Probe

May 19, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A House committee will review the military’s investigation into a firefight in western Iraq involving U.S. Marines that left at least 15 civilians dead, the panel’s chairman said Friday.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said a committee hearing will not address the substance of the incident last November in Haditha but rather will review the process of how the investigation was carried out.

The military began the administrative investigation to review whether the Marines involved lied about what happened.

Hunter, the House Armed Services Committee chairman, said the results of the investigation are expected to be delivered to Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of Multi-national Corps Iraq, late next week, and a hearing could occur shortly thereafter.

On Wednesday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said the attack by Marines was far worse than originally reported. Murtha said Marines killed innocent women and children ``in cold blood″ and that nearly twice as many people were killed than first reported.

Military officials said Thursday their investigation of the matter was incomplete, but they did not dispute Murtha’s charge that the incident was more serious than initial reports indicated.

Officials have said 15 Iraqis, eight insurgents and a Marine were killed, and Hunter said he expected the report to show that ``in the neighborhood of 20 or so″ people died.

Separately, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service has launched a criminal investigation.

About a dozen Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, are being investigated for war crimes in connection with the firefight to determine if they violated the rules of military engagement.

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