A center has opened in Baghdad’s Sadr City that U.S. officials say will accept claims filed by locals who have lost family members or suffered injuries or property losses in clashes between coalition forces and militants.
Fighting has escalated in impoverished Sadr City, where Shiite militants ambushed a U.S. patrol on Tuesday and more than 100 people were killed in fighting.
Members of the 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion and soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team established the claims center near a civil-military operations center, according to a news release issued by Multi-National Division–Baghdad.
Army Sgt. Brendan Piper, civil affairs specialist who is leading the claims process, says he verifies the claimant’s identity and ensures there is proper documentation. He then sends it to coalition officials for review to verify the incident involved coalition forces.
Once the claim is deemed accurate, a legal officer reviews the file and determines whether a claim should be paid, Piper said.
In the center’s first two days of operation, earlier this week, more than 50 people either filed a claim or obtained details about the process, Piper said. Four claims have been paid so far.
The claim center also helps citizens find family members who are detained, said Piper, who has access to a database of everyone who is detained, and where. The list is updated daily, officials say.