The investigative organization WikiLeaks 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. At the time, the Pentagon said U.S. troops were hit by rocket-propelled grenades (RPG's) and small arms fire while caught in a clash with insurgents.
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 described the U.S. troops as callous and the shootings as "another day at the office."
"The behavior of the pilots is like they're playing a video game," said Assange, who would 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. (Herald Sun)
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