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Pentagon: Iraqi forces engaged in 'deadly deception'

Pentagon calls deaths of Syrian civilians 'regrettable'

Maj. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, left, and Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke address reporters.
Maj. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, left, and Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke address reporters.

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The Pentagon says Iraqis have engaged in 'deadly deception' by feigning surrender and using human shields. CNN's Jamie McIntyre reports.
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Iraqi troops south of Baghdad using civilians to protect themselves.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pentagon officials lashed out Monday at the "deadly deception" of the Iraqi regime on the battlefield, saying that Iraqi troops are engaged in "serious violations of the laws of war" by falsely indicating their willingness to surrender or by fighting U.S. and allied troops in civilian clothes.

"Known as perfidy or treachery, such acts are strictly prohibited because they make it extraordinarily difficult for coalition forces to accept surrendering forces or protect civilians," said Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke.

Not yet a week into the war in Iraq, Pentagon officials expressed optimism about the progress of the military campaign, despite a weekend of significant coalition casualties and a U.S. bomb strike this morning that killed some Syrian civilians. The Pentagon expressed its regret for those deaths.

"The despicable behavior of the Iraqi regime has in no way stopped the progress of the coalition," Clarke said. "Control of the country continues to slip away from the Iraqi regime, and coalition forces are closing in on Baghdad."

Coalition forces are 200 miles within Iraqi territory, said Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

To date, coalition forces have launched or dropped 2,000 precision-guided weapons against Iraqi forces, McChrystal said. Sunday, he said, more than 1,000 sorties were flown.

One of the bombs hit a bus carrying Syrian civilians in northwestern Iraq. Five were killed.

Syrian officials said the dead were among 37 passengers on a bus about 100 miles south of the Iraq-Syrian border.

At the Pentagon, McChrystal said the raid's intended target was a bridge and that the bus came into view only after a bomb had been released.

"Unintended casualties like this are regrettable," McChrystal said. "We extend our sympathies to the families of those civilians who were accidentally killed."

Pentagon officials took issue with Iraqi's treatment of captured U.S. forces, saying the airing of taped interviews with some of them was a violation of the Geneva Conventions. By contrast, Clarke said about 50 Iraqis, soldiers and civilians, were aboard U.S. naval vessels receiving medical care and treatment.

Pressed about casualties suffered by coalition forces, Clarke said the losses have to be put in the broader context of the war.

"We said repeatedly that one of the reasons you work so hard to avoid going to war is because bad things happen and people die and that is awful, but if you have context on this plan, it is going, according to most people who have the right kind of context, about as we expected," she said.

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