October 12, 2007 in Nation/World

U.N. says Iraq crisis deepening

Washington Post The Spokesman-Review
Associated Press photo

An Iraqi woman carries an aid package distributed by the al-Sadr office Baghdad on Thursday. The al-Sadr office donated food to people to welcome the start of the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday.Associated Press
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Related news

Blackwater contradicted

» BAGHDAD – Blackwater USA guards shot at Iraqi civilians as they tried to drive away from a Baghdad square on Sept. 16, according to a report compiled by the first U.S. soldiers to arrive at the scene, where they found no evidence that Iraqis had fired weapons.

» “It appeared to me they were fleeing the scene when they were engaged. It had every indication of an excessive shooting,” said Lt. Col. Mike Tarsa.

» The soldiers’ accounts – based upon their observations at the scene, eyewitness interviews and discussions with Iraqi police – contradict Blackwater’s assertion that its guards were defending themselves after being fired upon by Iraqi police and gunmen.

BAGHDAD – A United Nations report issued Thursday outlined an “ever deepening humanitarian crisis” in Iraq, with thousands of people driven from their homes each month, ongoing indiscriminate killings, and “routine torture” in Iraqi prisons.

Meanwhile, a U.S. airstrike Thursday killed 15 civilians – nine women and six children – and 19 suspected insurgents, the military said. “We regret that civilians are hurt or killed while Coalition forces search to rid Iraq of terrorism,” Maj. Brad Leighton, a U.S. military spokesman, said in a statement.

The assessment by the U.N. Assistance Mission to Iraq, which covered a three-month period ending June 30, found that civilians were suffering “devastating consequences” from violence across the country. It documented more than 100 civilians allegedly killed by U.S.-led forces during airstrikes or raids.

The report described Iraq in more dire terms than last month’s congressional testimony from top U.S. military and embassy officials, which stressed improvements in the security situation.

“The killings are still taking place, the torture is still being reported, the due process issues are still unresolved,” said Ivana Vuco, a U.N. human rights officer in Baghdad.

The first draft of the U.N. report was completed in August, but the U.N. delayed releasing the final version for more than a month following a request by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, according to a confidential account by a senior U.N. official. Crocker insisted that Iraq be given time to respond to the allegations, the account said.

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