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U.S. investigates reports of civilian deaths in airstrikes

Published Jan. 7, 2015

Washington

U.S. investigates reports of civilian deaths in airstrikes

The U.S. military is investigating credible reports of civilian casualties in the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon press secretary said Tuesday, a shift after months in which defense officials said they were aware of none. Rear Adm. John Kirby disclosed the investigations, telling reporters at the Pentagon that the U.S. Central Command is leading the review. Centcom officials said they have investigated the credibility of 18 separate allegations of coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria resulting in civilian casualties between Aug. 8 and Dec. 30, and they determined 13 were not credible. Five more remain under review, including two — one in Iraq and one in Syria — described as credible that began as "the direct result of our own internal review process," Army Maj. Curtis Kellogg, a Centcom spokesman, said in a statement. The review of the other three allegations are still in initial phases, he added.

Atlanta

Fire chief fired over his antigay views

Atlanta fire Chief Kelvin Cochran — who had been suspended for a month for inflammatory remarks in a self-published religious book — was fired Tuesday by Mayor Kasim Reed. Cochran's book, Who Told You That You Are Naked?, describes homosexuality as a "perversion" akin to bestiality and pederasty. Cochran said it was not his intent to be "hurtful to anyone" when expressing his religious views in his book. Reed said he decided to terminate Cochran not just because the fire chief didn't consult him before publishing the book, but also spoke out about his suspension despite being told to remain quiet during an investigation into his leadership.

Washington

Man claims to be a top Kony defector

U.S. forces in Africa have taken into custody a man claiming to be a top member of Lord's Resistance Army, the Obama administration said Tuesday, saying the defection could be a "historic blow" to Joseph Kony's nearly three-decade rebellion. The man surrendered to U.S. military personnel in the Central African Republic, where they are helping African troops hunt for Kony and his fighters, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. The man said he was an LRA defector and later identified himself as senior commander Dominic Ongwen. Kony is accused of some of the world's worst atrocities including mass killings and keeping girls as sex slaves.

San Francisco

Man left suicide note before police shot him

A man who was shot and killed by San Francisco police officers on Sunday had several suicide notes on his phone, including one addressed to police officers, authorities say. The note read: "You did nothing wrong. You ended the life of a man who was too much of a coward to do it himself." Police say the man refused to leave a private parking lot when ordered to by officers and pulled up his sweater to show the butt of a gun tucked into his waistband. When he reached for the gun, the officers fired. His weapon turned out to be a pellet gun.

Elsewhere

Rochester, N.Y.: The driver of a bus taking students to a Rochester elementary school Tuesday apparently suffered a fatal heart attack before the vehicle collided with another school bus and a tree, sending eight students and another adult to the hospital, officials said.

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Indonesia: Divers plunged into the choppy waters early today to search for two large objects suspected of being chunks of the fuselage of the AirAsia plane that crashed more than one week ago, an Indonesian official said.

United Nations: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said Tuesday that the state of Palestine will join the International Criminal Court on April 1, a high-stakes move that will enable the Palestinians to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel.

China: A solemn memorial service was held in Shanghai on Tuesday for the 36 people who were killed during an outdoor New Year's Eve gathering.

Times wires

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