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The Ishaqi incident refers to the reported mass murder of Iraqi civilians allegedly committed by United States forces in the town of Ishaqi in March 2006. After the incident, Iraqi police accused the US troops of rounding up and deliberately shooting 11 people, including five children and four women, before blowing up their house. A US military spokesman at the time responded that it was "highly unlikely that [the allegations] were true".[1] US authorities said they were involved in a firefight after a tip-off that an al-Qaeda cell leader, Ahmad Abdallah Muhammad Na'is al-Utaybi, was visiting the house. According to the Americans, the building collapsed under heavy fire, killing four people—a suspect, two women and a child.[2]

The incident immediately raised questions by U.N. investigators as revealed by diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks.[3] In June 2006 the US indicated they were re-investigating the incident,[4] after the BBC obtained a tape from "a hardline Sunni group" that appeared to contain evidence supporting the allegations of the Iraqi police.[2] The investigation found, on June 2, 2006 that US military personnel had followed the proper procedures and rules of engagement, and that they had done nothing wrong.[5] The Iraqi government immediately rejected the results of the US probe, stating they would continue their own investigation.[6]


On March 15, 2006, U.S. Forces raided a house owned by Faiz Harat Khalaf, about sixty miles north of Baghdad in the Abu Sifa area of Ishaqi, (eight miles north of the city of Balad). The raid targeted an Al-Qaeda operative believed to have been present in the residence. The forces approached the house at around 2:30 am and a firefight ensued between the troops and unknown gunmen inside the house. The U.S. troops were supported by helicopter gunships, which also fired on the house.

Matthew Schofield of Knight Ridder Newspapers, who described the incident in an article on March 16, 2006, reported that as a result of the raid eleven Iraqi civilians were killed:[1]

  • Turkiya Muhammed Ali, 75 years
  • Faiza Harat Khalaf, 30 years
  • Faiz Harat Khalaf, 28 years
  • Um Ahmad, 23 years
  • Sumaya Abdulrazak, 22 years
  • Aziz Khalil Jarmoot, 22 years
  • Hawra Harat Khalaf, 5 years
  • Asma Yousef Maruf, 5 years
  • Osama Yousef Maruf, 3 years
  • Aisha Harat Khalaf, 3 years
  • Husam Harat Khalaf, 6 months

It was also reported that an Iraqi police report, filed by Staff Colonel Fadhil Muhammed Khalaf, the Assistant Chief of the Joint Coordination Center claimed:

"The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 people, including 5 children, 4 women and 2 men, then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals."[7]

Knight Ridder Newspapers and Times Online interviewed the brother of the owner of the house, Ibraheem Hirat Khalaf, who claimed that he witnessed the assault from his home 100 yards (91 m) away. He said that the U.S. troops used six missiles from helicopters to destroy the house as they were leaving. Searching the wreckage, he found the body of his mother Turkiya, her face unrecognisable. “She had been shot with a dumdum bullet,” he claimed.[8]

A local police commander, Lt. Col. Farooq Hussain, interviewed by a Knight Ridder special correspondent in Ishaqi, said autopsies of the bodies performed at a hospital in Tikrit "revealed that all the victims had bullet shots in the head and all bodies were handcuffed." Amer Amery of Reuters reported Hussain saying that "autopsies had been carried out at Tikrit hospital and [had] found 'all the victims had gunshot wounds to the head'. The bodies, found with their hands bound, had been dumped in one room before the house was destroyed, Hussain said. Police had found spent American-issue cartridges in the rubble." [9] Schofield's story, which credited an Iraqi police report, was related on the U.S. radio program Democracy Now in March 2006.[10]

Another neighbour, Hassan Kurdi Mahassen, was woken by the sound of helicopters and saw soldiers entering Fayez's home after spraying it with such heavy fire that walls crumbled. Mahassen said that once the soldiers had left—after apparently dropping several grenades that caused part of the house to collapse—villagers searched under the rubble "and found them all buried in one room".

"Women and even the children were blindfolded and their hands bound. Some of their faces were totally disfigured. A lot of blood was on the floors and the walls."

Reuters also reported that Major Ali Ahmed of the Ishaqi police said U.S. forces had landed on the roof of the house in the early hours and shot the 11 occupants, including the five children. "After they left the house they blew it up," he said.

Television footage apparently from a local Iraqi station, "showed the bodies in the Tikrit morgue—five children, two men and four women. Their wounds were not clear though one infant had a gaping head wound." The Associated Press’ Hameed Rasheed was on the scene and took several images of the victims.[11]

US Military Response

Initial US Army reports quoted Major Tim Keefe, a US military spokesperson:

"A battle damage assessment, the initial reports, said that what they saw were four people killed - a woman and two children and an enemy - and they detained an enemy[...] A man suspected of being a "foreign fighter facilitator" was taken into coalition custody and is being questioned[...] I saw those [autopsy] photos and it didn't appear there were any handcuffs."[12]

A US Army press briefing on March 15, 2006 referred to the incident:

"Troops were engaged by enemy fire as they approached the building,” said Tech. Sgt. Stacy Simon, a military spokeswoman. "Coalition forces returned fire utilizing both air and ground assets."[13]

On March 21, 2006, MSNBC reported that the US Army was opening up an investigation due to this discrepancy:

"'Because of that discrepancy, we have opened an investigation,' Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson, a senior U.S. spokesman in Baghdad, said on Tuesday.[14]

The Pentagon investigation was closed in June 2006 and cleared the soldiers of wrongdoing. Major General William B. Caldwell, a senior US military spokesman, said in an official statement that "Allegations that the troops executed a family living in this safe house, and then hid the alleged crimes by directing an air strike, are absolutely false."[5]

Iraqi Government Response

Immediately after the US investigation was closed the Iraqi government responded by opening their own investigation, with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki aide Adnan al-Kazimi stating that the US report "was not fair for the Iraqi people and the children who were killed."[15] In September 2011, the Iraqi government reopened their investigation after Wikileaks published a leaked diplomatic cable regarding questions about the raid made by U.N. inspector Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions.[16]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Schofield, Matthew (March 19, 2006). "Iraqi police report details civilians' deaths at hands of U.S. troops". Knight Ridder Newspapers. Retrieved 2006-06-01. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "New 'Iraq massacre' tape emerges". BBC News. June 1, 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-01. 
  3. "WikiLeaks reveals Atrocities by US forces". Daily Mirror. September 1, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-02. 
  4. US probes new Iraq massacre claim, BBC News, June 2, 2006
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Troops cleared in Iraqi deaths in Ishaqi". Reuters.;_ylt=ApGH035BCr7Yve3.8TUlc5VX6GMA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl. Retrieved 2006-06-01. [dead link]
  6. Brian Brady, Furious Iraq demands apology as US troops are cleared of massacre,, June 4, 2006
  7. Matthew Schofield, Iraqi police report details civilians' deaths at hands of U.S. troops, Knight Ridder, March 19, 2006
  8. Hala Jaber and Tony Allen-Mills, Iraqis killed by US troops ‘on rampage’, Times Online, March 26, 2006
  9. Amer Amery, Iraqis say US raid on home killed 11 family members, Reuters, March 15, 2006
  10. Editor & Publisher,Press Accounts Suggest Military 'Cover-up' in Ishagi Killings, June 3, 2006
  11. 11 reported killed in U.S. raid north of Baghdad, AAP, March 15, 2006
  12. Julian Borger, Iraqi police claim US troops executed family, Guardian UK, March 21, 2006
  13. Ziad Khalaf, Raid kills 11, mostly women and children, Army Times, March 15, 2006
  14. U.S. probes charge troops killed Iraqi family, Reuters, March 21, 2006
  15. Jones, Holly (June 3, 2006). "Iraq denounces outcome of US Ishaqi probe, plans own investigation". Jurist. Retrieved 2011-09-02. 
  16. Gowen, Annie; Asaad Majeed (September 2, 2011). "Iraq to reopen probe of deadly 2006 Ishaqi raid". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-09-02. 

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