A US-led raid in the southern Iraqi city of Kut last month, in which an Iraqi woman was killed in the crossfire, prompted protests in the streets. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called the operation a crime and demanded that the American soldiers involved be turned over to Iraqi courts, saying the raid violated the terms of the security agreement.
US officials say they had valid warrants for the operation targeting suspected members of Iranian-funded Shiite militias involved in weapons smuggling. One suspect was killed in the raid and six others detained before Iraqi authorities ordered their release.
One US military official said that although Iraqi authorities had been notified of the raid in advance, those authorities maintained they had not approved it. He said the US side believed it was exercising its right to self-defense under the agreement when the raid turned violent.
The US military offered condolences and was believed to have paid compensation to the family of the woman killed.
"Kut shone a brighter light on the complexity of what we are facing," says the senior US commander.
US extension in volatile areas?
Senior Iraqi military officials are expected to recommend to Mr. Maliki that US combat forces remain in those areas to help fight an ongoing insurgency. Maliki publicly has said he will not extend the deadline but privately is believed to be willing to consider it. As commander in chief of the Iraqi Security Forces, Maliki has the final decision on whether to ask US forces to stay.