The role of private security firms in Iraq is to be reviewed after a fatal shooting incident involving guards from the American firm Blackwater. It follows the death of eight Iraqi civilians in a gunfight in Baghdad on Sunday.
The State Department has expressed regret over the incident which occured when a US convoy was allegedly attacked.
The Iraq government’s decision to expel all Blackwater staff, except those in custody, has been widely welcomed by many Iraqis who accuse the private security firms of acting with impunity.
Washington has launched its own inquiry and agreed that the guards should be held accountable if found guilty.
But State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, warned against jumping to conclusions:
“I think it’s important, for all involved, that we allow the investigation to take place, establish the facts, and then we’ll be able to come to some conclusion. But our people, wherever they may be, want to make sure that we operate in as safe a way as we possibly can, and also in a way that protects innocent life.”
Sunday’s shooting was the latest in a series of incidents in which Blackwater and other foreign contractors have been accused of killing Iraqi citizens.
None has faced charges or prosecution.