Father of slain Truro soldier disputes friendly-fire claims in Wikileaks documents - NEWS 95.7
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Father of slain Truro soldier disputes friendly-fire claims in Wikileaks documents

The fallout from the leak of more than 90,000 secret US military documents about the war in Afghanistan has found its way to Nova Scotia.

The father of a Canadian soldier from Truro who was killed in the war-torn country calls an assertion in the documents about his son’s death false.

Warrant Officer Frank Mellish, 38, was killed Sept. 3, 2006 along with three other Canadian soldiers.

His father, Barry Mellish, tells CTV he is angered by the release of the documents, which suggest his son died because of friendly fire from US forces.

Mellish says several sources, including a number of his son’s comrades, have told him Frank died in a firefight with insurgents.

“Sgt. Major John Barnes was standing between my son and Pte. Cushley when they were killed and he was injured,” says Barry. “We spent seven days with John. He was very open and honest with us, and he told us what happened.”

More than 90,000 secret U.S. military documents were put on WikiLeaks Monday. Many of the pages included in the leak are raw intelligence reports of which most are unedited.

Barry says the leak has caused a renewed grief for his wife, his daughter-in-law and his grandsons.

“The last 24 hours now has been really hard, we’ve been dealing with our grief,” he says.

Mellish isn’t alone in discrediting the friendly-fire assertion. Former chief of defence (Ret.) Gen. Rick Hillier says it’s patently untrue.

“We had hundreds of witnesses to the accidents that took place on the ground,” says Hillier. “Sadly, we know from those hundreds of folks involved that the lives of those four soldiers questioned in the document were lost because of enemy fire and not because of friendly fire.”

Hillier says the pages included in the leak are likely a first draft, which, due to the massive beauracracy involved in the war, are usually erroneous.

“We had this absolutely iron-clad rule,” he says. “First reports are always wrong, second reports are always wrong and usually third reports are wrong.”

The U.S. Defence Department has launched an investigation hoping to find the source of the leak.

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