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Platoon commander defends Marine on trial in deaths of 24 Iraqis

The platoon commander on the day in 2005 when Marines killed 24 unarmed Iraqis was called as a prosecution witness Friday in the court martial of the squad leader, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich.

But the testimony of William Kallop seemed to bolster the case of the defense, not the prosecution in the closely watched trial at Camp Pendleton.

Wuterich and his squad did nothing wrong, Kallop testified.

U.S. combat troops are gone from Iraq, but the issues in the Wuterich trial are equally applicable to the war in Afghanistan: What are the rules when fighting an enemy that hides behind women and children? And how much risk should troops take in distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants when storming a “hostile” house?

The court martial, in which Wuterich faces charges of manslaughter, assault and dereliction of duty, resumes Tuesday with more prosecution witnesses.

-- Tony Perry at Camp Pendleton

Photo: William Kallop while on active-duty as a Marine lieutenant. Credit: Defendourmarines.com

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