By Jamila Najmuddin
Sri Lanka has slammed the US saying it has blood on its hands after a shocking video showed a US aircraft firing indiscriminately towards civilians in Iraq killing atleast 25 of them including two journalists.
Government Defence Spokesperson Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told Daily Mirror online that while the US has been accusing Sri Lanka of human rights allegations and have repeatedly called for a war crime probe, they seem to have ‘conveniently forgotten’ its own issues in Iraq.
Minister Rambukwella also called on the US to conduct an investigation on it’s own troops before pointing fingers at developing countries.
“These are the world’s so called super powers. They have always tried to bully developing countries but have ignored the blood on their own hands. This is nothing new, it has been happening for years. They say we are guilty but we all know what happened in Iraq,” Minister Rambukwella said.
Further reacting strongly to the video Minister Rambukwella also questioned the UN on its silence and queried why the UN Secretary General was failing to appoint an expert panel to advise him on the US involvement in Iraq.
He also said that it was due to this reason, that the Sri Lankan government had always questioned the credibility of the ‘strong statements’ which were released by the west and the UN against Sri Lanka.
The investigative organization WikiLeaks, this week released military video of what it describes as three incidents of an “indiscriminate slaying” by U.S. forces near Baghdad on July 12, 2007.
WikiLeaks said the encounters killed as many as 25 civilians, including two Reuters journalists. The U.S. military said in a statement at the time that a total of 11 people died in the strikes conducted by U.S. and Iraqi forces.
The video is shot from two Apache helicopters on patrol in Iraq. The choppers were responding to reports of AK-47 gunfire in the suburb of New Baghdad when military personnel on board spotted a group of nine to 12 people walking through a courtyard.
The military contends that the U.S. followed the appropriate "Rules of Engagement" during the incidents.
The video shows military personnel aboard the Apaches indicating they spot the suspects toting several AK-47s and several RPG's. But WikiLeaks contends that the Reuters photographers were only carrying cameras, which the military mistook for weapons. The helicopters circle multiple times before opening fire.
In the second incident captured by the video, U.S. forces open fire again after a van arrives to pick up casualties from the first attack.
Later, American ground troops pull into the courtyard in an armored Humvee and appear to drive over one of the casualties.
Soon after, the same helicopters spot several individuals entering a nearby building. U.S. troops receive permission to strike again, this time with Hellfire missiles.
Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks, released the video at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He said the behaviour of the pilots is like they're playing a video game. He also did not say how WikiLeaks obtained the video.
A senior military official at the Department of Defense told Fox News on the condition of anonymity that "an investigation of the incidents confirmed our belief that these attacks were justified."
"The individuals who were killed, apart from the Reuters journalists, were involved in hostile activity," the official said. (Daily Mirror online)