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Marines conducting Operation Steel Curtain in western Iraq have reported at least one instance of civilians being killed during clearing operations near Husaybah.

According to a Marine Corps release late Thursday, at least one family was killed during a U.S. airstrike on their house, which insurgents had commandeered minutes before as a fighting position.

The situation began when an elderly Iraqi man asked Marines and Iraqi soldiers for help recovering civilians trapped in a building hit by U.S. airstrikes in the city. An adult male and a young girl were pulled from the rubble in al Qaim, and taken to a medical facility.

The man told the troops that insurgents had burst in the house during the fighting, shot two people inside, and locked the rest of the family in a room on the lower level of the house. The insurgents then allegedly used the house as a fighting position against advancing Iraqi and U.S. troops.

Air support was called in, and the house was destroyed.

Five bodies have been recovered from the house, officials said, but it was unclear how many were family members and how many were insurgents. “The soldiers and Marines had no knowledge of the civilians being held hostage in the home at the time of the attack,” the Marine Corps release read.

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