The commander of coalition forces in Iraq has called for an investigation into circumstances surrounding the deaths of three male detainees that reportedly occurred on or about May 9, an Army news release said.

The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command was asked by Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, commander of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq, to look into the incident, which a corps news release stated took place in the southern part of Salah ad Din province, north of Baghdad.

The investigation was instigated in the wake of reported suspicions by Army personnel about the deaths, the release stated.

Pentagon officials told the Los Angeles Times that they could provide few details about the deaths of the Iraqis, who were killed at a checkpoint in the province’s southern region. The military is investigating whether they were threatening American troops or whether the troops acted improperly and had no cause to use force against the civilians, an official said.

Salah ad Din, which includes former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, begins about 40 miles north of Baghdad and is part of an area overseen by the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. Pentagon officials said they were unable to say whether the forces involved in the killings were Army personnel or members of another service.

The investigation comes two weeks after Chiarelli ordered all troops in MNC-I to receive training during the next 30 days on moral and ethical conduct during wartime, and in the midst of the controversy surrounding U.S. Marine involvement in the fall 2005 deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in the city of Haditha, which lies less than 50 miles from Salah ad Din’s western border.

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