Monday, October 25, 2010

Iraq war logs: Apache crew killed insurgents who tried to surrender

US military legal adviser told helicopter crew that Iraqi men were valid targets as they could not surrender to aircraft

David Leigh,, Friday 22 October 2010

A US military Apache helicopter releases an anti missile decoy flair as it files over Baghdad, Iraq. Photograph: Marko Drobnjakovic/AP

A US gunship crew was cleared to attack two insurgents on the ground even though the pilots had reported that the men were trying to surrender, the leaked Iraq war logs reveal.

The Apache helicopter pilots killed both Iraqi men after being advised by a US military lawyer that they could not surrender to an aircraft and therefore remained valid targets. A leading military law expert consulted by the Guardian has questioned this legal advice.

The Guardian can also reveal that the helicopter involved in the incident in 2007 had the same call sign – Crazyhorse 18 – as the Apache whose crew later mistakenly killed two Reuters journalists and injured two children in a notorious shooting in urban Baghdad. The killings drew worldwide condemnation in April this year when WikiLeaks obtained video footage taken from the helicopter’s gun camera and released it on the internet.

It has not been possible to establish whether the same personnel were involved in both attacks.

According to the account of the earlier incident in the leaked logs, the insurgents had jumped out of their truck after it came under fire from the Apache. “They came out wanting to surrender,” Crazyhorse 18 signalled.

Clearance to kill came back from an unnamed lawyer at the nearby Taji airbase. “Lawyer states they can not surrender to aircraft and are still valid targets,” the log entry says.

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