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Photos fuel probe into how Iraqi civilians died

From Barbara Starr
CNN

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Military investigators are reviewing photographs indicating that Iraqi civilians, including women and children, may have been shot deliberately by U.S. Marines in Haditha last November, according to a military source familiar with the ongoing investigation.

It is not clear how many photographs are being reviewed. But the source told CNN the photos are evidence that the Iraqis did not die in a roadside blast as the Marines had originally said.

The pictures were apparently taken at the time of the incident by the military unit, although not necessarily by any Marines directly involved.

The photographs are being examined for indications the 15 Iraqis may have been killed by close range gunshot wounds inflicted by the Marines.

"The photos are inconsistent with how the Marines claim the Iraqis died," the official said.

The original Marine Corps press release in November indicated the Iraqis had died in a roadside blast that killed a Marine in Haditha.

Several weeks ago, an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service was ordered after a journalist obtained information that the Iraqis may have been deliberately shot in three houses near the scene of the blast.

Videotape from a news agency has also surfaced showing evidence of blood-spattered walls.

The Marines said they had taken gunfire from the houses after the attack and they had done nothing more than return fire.

But the official said, "It's beginning to look like the Marines were overzealous."

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