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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Ethics lessons for US Iraq troops
Bodies of Haditha victims
The US says it is still investigating what happened at Haditha
US-led troops in Iraq are to undergo ethical training in the wake of the alleged murder of civilians in Haditha.

For the next 30 days, they will receive lessons in "core warrior values", a military statement said.

Correspondents say Haditha, where US marines are suspected of massacring up to 24 Iraqi civilians, could have a huge effect on US public opinion.

The Iraqi prime minister has condemned the suspected massacre, adding he would conduct his own investigation.

As military professionals, it is important that we take time to reflect on the values that separate us from our enemies
Lt-Gen Peter Chiarelli
Multinational Corps commander

"The cabinet... denounces these practices and will form an investigative committee," said Nouri Maliki.

In a separate incident, US forces were accused of shooting dead a pregnant woman as she was rushed to hospital.

The US military says at least three other cases of alleged misconduct are being investigated, though no details have been given.

'Professional values'

The news of ethical training for US-led troops is likely to be greeted with cynicism by many Iraqis, the BBC's Ian Pannell in Baghdad says, as the troops have long been accused of deliberately targeting civilians.

November 2005: Initial US military report
One US marine killed in roadside bomb, two injured
Explosion also kills 15 Iraqi civilians
Eight insurgents killed in fire-fight following blast
January 2006: US military preliminary investigation
One US marine killed in roadside bomb, two injured
Fifteen civilians accidentally killed by US fire amid battle with insurgents
March 2006: US military begins criminal investigation

Lieutenant-General Peter Chiarelli, commander of the Multinational Corps in Iraq, said in a statement that 99.9% of his troops "perform their jobs magnificently every day".

"Unfortunately, there are a few individuals who sometimes choose the wrong path," he said.

He said the training would emphasise "professional military values and the importance of disciplined, professional conduct in combat" as well as Iraqi cultural expectations, according to the statement.

"As military professionals, it is important that we take time to reflect on the values that separate us from our enemies. The challenge for us is to make sure the actions of a few do not tarnish the good work of the many," the statement continued.

US coalition spokesman Major General William Caldwell said it was intended to "reinforce and sustain" the training that every member of the force received before arriving in Iraq.

US President George W Bush has said he is "troubled" by the reports of the Haditha killings.

Two US investigations are under way - one into the incident itself, and another into whether there was a cover up by the marines.

They are close to completion, a Pentagon spokesman has said.

Media interest

Over the past few days the American media have been dominated by pictures of and interviews with Iraqis in Haditha, says the BBC's Andy Gallacher.

When my father opened [the door] they shot him and then again. Then they threw a hand grenade into the bathroom... The Americans carried on shooting.
Safa Younis
Haditha survivor

Politicians fear that the repercussions could be far worse than the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, he adds.

At the time of the killings in Haditha, last November, the military said the civilians were killed as a result of either a roadside bomb or a gun battle that erupted afterwards.

But reports from Iraqi witnesses and in the US media allege that marines went on a rampage, killing civilians, including women and children, without provocation, after one of their colleagues was killed by the bomb.

US media quoting military sources have said several marines are likely to be charged with murder.

Coalition spokesman on purpose of the training

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