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US squadron linked to wave of killings

A US Apache helicopter squadron involved in the killing of two journalists in Iraq has been implicated in a string of fatal attacks, according to documents published by Wikileaks.

The documents outline a series of attacks by Crazy Horse 18, along with Crazy Horse 20 and 21.

It is not clear whether the call-sign "Crazy Horse" relates to a particular crew or particular helicopters. Crazy Horse 18 was the call-sign used by a helicopter crew which, after taking legal advice, refused to accept the surrender of two insurgents who had been firing mortars. It killed both men as they sought shelter during the attack in February 2007.

In June that year, Crazy Horse 18 fired on two trucks it thought were carrying missiles, despite recording that it had seen four women in a nearby house waving a white sheet. Six "enemy" died. In another incident the same month, Crazy Horse 18 fired at a suspect van from which material was being unloaded into a car, and stayed on location "due to possible collateral damage" -- a euphemism for civilian casualties.

Later in July, Crazy Horse 20 and 21 were called in to attack insurgents gathering at or near a mosque. The "unconfirmed" casualty list gave a total of 12 dead insurgents and 14 dead civilians. Photographs taken of the survivors leaving the mosque showed no weapons.

Crazy Horse 18 was featured in a video released earlier this year showing the killing of a number of civilians, including children and two journalists who worked for the Reuters news agency, in Baghdad in 2007. The aircraft were from the 227th Aviation Regiment.

US troops are described as complicit in other crimes listed in the leaked documents. They are recorded as threatening to turn over suspects to the Wolf Brigade, a feared police group trained by the Americans and widely accused of torturing and even killing detainees. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent