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What about the children?
(Glenn Becker, Online Journal, November 17, 2004)
It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But some pictures are worth more than a cumulative amount of syllables. Two such pictures come to mind while recently scanning the web for information about the occupation of Iraq. The first picture seemed innocent enough at first. As the web page was slowly loading on the computer screen, one could see the seemingly sleeping face of an angelic looking Iraqi child of less than a year of age. The sweet and innocent image of this lovely child, however, became a picture of gruesome horror as it finally loaded onto the monitor screen. The second picture I came across on the Internet was even more blunt. This image was of a 7-year old Iraqi boy with two bandaged stumps where his arms used to be, his burned upper torso was almost completely covered in salve, and the look on his face was one of, not shock, but the total terror and horror of realizing what had happened to him. We here in the U.S. had better start to look inside ourselves for the reasons as to why we continue to allow our government to perpetuate their greedy and destructive policies of hegemony. If we refuse to acknowledge the unlawful and carnage filled desires of these megalomaniacal beasts, the time will surely come when what is sown shall be reaped. "He that lives by the sword shall perish by the sword." And the future images on the Internet may very well be those of us, and our children.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:15 PM
More blood, More chaos
(Iraq Dispatches, November 21, 2004)
In Ramadi today 6 civilians were killed in clashes between the resistance and military. . . . The military sealed the city, closing all the roads while announcing over loudspeakers for residents in the city to hand over "terrorists." . . . A man, woman and child died when the public bus they were riding in approached a US checkpoint there when they were riddled with bullets from anxious soldiers. A military spokesman said the bus was shot because it didn’t stop when they asked it to. . . . The city remains sealed by US forces as fierce clashes sporadically erupt across the area while the military decides how to handle yet another resistance controlled. . . . As the mass graves in Fallujah continue to be filled with countless corpses, sporadic fighting flashes throughout areas of the destroyed battleground. . . . "The Americans want every city in Iraq to be like Fallujah," said Abdulla Rahnan, a 40 year-old man on the street where I was taking tea not far from my hotel, "They want to kill us all-they are freeing us of our lives!" . . . His friend, remaining nameless, added, "Everyone here hates them because they are making mass graves faster than even Saddam!" . . . Over in Sadr City, the military are now sealing off neighborhoods doing home searches as well-this after having agreed to a deal with Sadr's Mehdi Army the fighters turned in many of their weapons and agreed to a truce. Last night a small boy was shot there because he was out after curfew. . . . Refugees from Fallujah have yet to be allowed to return to their city. . . . One of my friends here works on the election commission for Iraq-he stopped by tonight laughing at the new date which has been set for the election of January 30th. "They have this new date for their rigged elections," he rolls his eyes, "And nobody in Iraq believes their propaganda. Elections? Here? I don't know anyone who will vote. Perhaps the entire country can vote absentee for reason of car bomb!"
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posted by Lorenzo 11:41 AM
Robert Fisk: Who killed Margaret Hassan?
(Robert Fisk, The Independent, 17 November 2004)
And when it percolated through to Fallujah and Ramadi that the mere act of kidnapping Margaret Hassan was close to heresy, the combined resistance groups of Fallujah - and the message genuinely came from them - demanded her release. So, incredibly, did Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qa''ida man whom the Americans falsely claimed to be leading the Iraqi insurrection - but who has very definitely been involved in kidnapping and beheading foreigners. . . . Other abducted women - the two Italian aid workers, for example - were freed when their captors recognised their innocence. But not Margaret Hassan, even though she spoke fluent Arabic and could explain her work to her captors in their own language. . . . There was one mysterious video that floated to the surface this year, a group of armed men promising to seize Zarqawi, claiming he was anti-Iraqi, politely referring to the occupation armies as "the coalition forces''''. This was quickly nicknamed the "Allawi tape": after the US-appointed, ex-CIA agent and ex-Baathist who holds the title of "interim Prime Minister" in Iraq, the same Allawi who fatuously claimed there were no civilian deaths in Fallujah. . . . So, if anyone doubted the murderous nature of the insurgents, what better way to prove their viciousness than to produce evidence of Margaret Hassan''s murder? What more ruthless way could there be of demonstrating to the world that America and Allawi''s tinpot army were fighting "evil" in Fallujah and the other Iraqi cities that are now controlled by Washington''s enemies. . . . Even in the topsy-turvy world of Iraq, nobody is suggesting that people associated with the government of Mr Allawi had a hand in Margaret Hassan''s death. Iraq, after all, is awash with up to 20 insurgent groups but also with rival gangs of criminals seeking to extort money from hostage-taking. . . . But still the question has to be answered: who killed Margaret Hassan? . . . ''Our hearts are broken... her suffering has ended''
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posted by Lorenzo 12:46 PM
U.S. Forces Raid Mosque During Friday Prayers
(Dahr Jamail, November 19, 2004)
An eyewitness commentary to IPS through a U.S. raid on a Baghdad mosque Friday gives a vivid picture of what a 'successful raid' can be like. . . . U.S. soldiers raided the Abu Hanifa mosque in Baghdad during Friday prayers, killing at least four and wounding up to 20 worshippers. . . . At 12:30 pm local time, just after Imam Shaikh Muayid al-Adhami concluded his talk, about 50 U.S. soldiers with 20 Iraqi National Guardsmen (ING) entered the mosque, a witness reported. . . . "Everyone was there for Friday prayers, when five Humvees and several trucks carrying INGs entered," Abu Talat told IPS on phone from within the mosque while the raid was in progress. "Everyone starting yelling 'Allahu Akbar' (God is the greatest) because they were frightened. Then the soldiers started shooting the people praying!" . . . Talat said he was among a crowd of worshippers being held back at gunpoint by U.S. soldiers. Loud chanting of 'Allahu Akbar' could be heard in the background during his call. Women and children were sobbing, he said. . . . They have just shot and killed at least four of the people praying," he said in a panicked voice. "At least 10 other people are wounded now. We are on our bellies and in a very bad situation." . . . Talat gave his account over short phone calls. He said he was witnessing a horrific scene. . . . "We were here praying and now there are 50 here with their guns on us," he said. "They are holding our heads to the ground, and everyone is in chaos. This is the worst situation possible. They cannot see me talking to you. They are roughing up a blind man now." He evidently could talk no further then. . . . The soldiers later released women and children along with men who were related to them. Abu Talat was released because a boy told him to pretend to be his father. . . . Other witnesses gave similar accounts outside the mosque. "People were praying and the Americans invaded the mosque," Abdulla Ra'ad Aziz from the al-Adhamiya district of Baghdad told IPS. He had been released along with his wife and children. "Why are they killing people for praying?" He said that after the forces entered "they went to the back doors and we heard so many bullets of the guns -- it was a gun bigger than a Kalashnikov. There were wounded and dead, I saw them myself." . . . Some of the people who had been at prayer were ordered by soldiers to carry the dead and wounded out of the mosque, he said. . . . "One Iraqi National Guardsmen held his gun on people and yelled, 'I will kill you if you don't shut up'," said Rana Aziz, a mother who had been trapped in the mosque. So they made everyone lie down, then people got quiet, and they took the women and children out." . . . Soldiers denied Iraqi Red Crescent ambulances and medical teams access to the mosque. As doctors negotiated with U.S. soldiers outside, more gunfire was heard from inside. . . . About 30 men were led out with hoods over their heads and their hands tied behind them. Soldiers loaded them into a military vehicle and took them away around 3.15 pm. . . . A doctor with the Iraqi Red Crescent confirmed four dead and nine wounded worshippers. Pieces of brain were splattered on one of the walls inside the mosque while large blood stains covered carpets at several places.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:07 AM
Fallujah in Pictures
[COMMENT: The link above will take you to a page that is regularly refreshed with new photos from Fallujah. All Americans should take a look at these photos to get a better idea of what their government's policies are doing to people, including their own troops.]
(The following introductin is from the Web site.]
a brief note on why
i believe the american people are decent and not without humanity. they have not seen what is being done in their name. maybe we don't live in a world that can do without war. i do know that people need to know what war means before they decide.
a lot of people have sent me pictures of september 11th. please stop. i lived in lower manhattan on 9/11. i've seen it in real life.
the people in these pictures are just as important as the men and women that died on september 11th. a mother who loses her child suffers the same no matter what her nationality might be. she doesn't want a lecture on politics or religion. she wants her son back.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:51 AM
What Are the Iraqis To Tell Their Children About U.S. Atrocities?
(From Riverbend's "Baghdad Burning" blog, November 16, 2004)
We sat, horrified, stunned with the horror of the scene that unfolded in front of our eyes. . . . The room was silent at the end of the scene, with only the voice of the news anchor and the sobs of my aunt. My little cousin flinched and dropped her spoon, face frozen with shock, eyes wide with disbelief, glued to the television screen, "Is he dead? Did they kill him?" I swallowed hard, trying to gulp away the lump lodged in my throat and watched as my cousin buried his face in his hands, ashamed to look at his daughter. . . . "What was I supposed to tell them?" He asked, an hour later, after we had sent his two daughters to help their grandmother in the kitchen. "What am I supposed to tell them- 'Yes darling, they killed him- the Americans killed a wounded man; they are occupying our country, killing people and we are sitting here eating, drinking and watching tv'?" He shook his head, "How much more do they have to see? What is left for them to see?" . . . They killed a wounded man. It's hard to believe. They killed a man who was completely helpless- like he was some sort of diseased animal. I had read the articles and heard the stories of this happening before- wounded civilians being thrown on the side of the road or shot in cold blood- but to see it happening on television is something else- it makes me crazy with anger. . . . And what will happen now? A criminal investigation against a single Marine who did the shooting? Just like what happened with the Abu Ghraib atrocities? A couple of people will be blamed and the whole thing will be buried under the rubble of idiotic military psychologists, defense analysts, Pentagon officials and spokespeople and it will be forgotten. In the end, all anyone will remember is that a single Marine shot and killed a single Iraqi 'insurgent' and it won't matter anymore. . . . It's typical American technique- every single atrocity is lost and covered up by blaming a specific person and getting it over with. What people don't understand is that the whole military is infested with these psychopaths. In this last year we've seen murderers, torturers and xenophobes running around in tanks and guns. I don't care what does it: I don't care if it's the tension, the fear, the 'enemy'… it's murder. We are occupied by murderers. We're under the same pressure, as Iraqis, except that we weren't trained for this situation, and yet we're all expected to be benevolent and understanding and, above all, grateful. I'm feeling sick, depressed and frightened. I don't know what to say anymore… they aren't humans and they don't deserve any compassion. . . . So why is the world so obsessed with beheadings? How is this so very different? The difference is that the people who are doing the beheadings are extremists… the people slaughtering Iraqis- torturing in prisons and shooting wounded prisoners- are "American Heroes". Congratulations, you must be so proud of yourselves today.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:24 AM
Red Cross Estimates 800 Iraqi Civilians Killed in Fallujah
(Democracy Now!, November 17, 2004)
Independent journalist Dahr Jamail is reporting that Red Cross officials in Iraq are now estimating 800 Iraqi civilians have been killed during the siege on Fallujah. Jamail quotes an unnamed Red Cross official who insisted on remaining anonymous out of fear of US military reprisal. The US military has claimed that no civilians have been killed in the city even though the city of 300,000 has recently witnessed some of the most intense fighting of the Iraq war. The military has estimated 1200 fighters have been killed.
From Dahr Jamail's Blog
http://dahrjamailiraq.com/weblog/ . . . November 15, 2004: There is so much fighting and chaos around Iraq now that it is simply impossible to report everything, so I’ll just cover a few highlights. . . . Four oil wells in northern Iraq have been destroyed by the resistance, adding to the heinous fuel shortage that has wracked the country for weeks now. . . . Petrol lines in Baghdad continue to stretch for miles in places, making people angry and frustrated. Driving around the city is more and more difficult, as the petrol lines squeeze 2 and 3 lane roads down to a single lane, snarling traffic and raising tempers. . . . There are sporadic attacks continuing throughout the capital city day and night, as the Iraqi resistance continue to fight against the occupiers of their country. . . . Armed men continue to roam freely about the streets of Mosul and Ramadi in defiance of the US military, Iraqi National Guard (ING) and Iraqi Police (IP). A US convoy was attacked north of Ramadi and a Humvee was exploded; no word yet from the military on casualties. . . . In Baquba, about 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, another police station was attacked, 5 police vehicles torched along with several Iraqi National Guard trucks and the US base in the city was mortared. My friend in the area told me on the phone, "There were so many bullets Mr. Daher, I hid in my shop and God protected me, but it is crazy here. I want to come to Baghdad to see you, but there is no petrol in Baquba." . . . The horrendous humanitarian disaster of Fallujah drags on as the US military continues to refuse the entry of an Iraqi Red Crescent (IRC) convoy of relief supplies. The Red Crescent has appealed to the UN to intervene, but no such luck, nor does the military relent. . . . IP's, who are under U.S. control, have looted Fallujah General Hospital. . . . The military stopped the Red Crescent at the gates of the city and are not allowing them in. They allowed some bodies to be buried, but others are being eaten by dogs and cats in the streets, as reported by refugees just out of the city, as well as residents still trapped there. . . . The military said it saw no need for the IRC to deliver aid to people inside Fallujah because it did not think any civilians were still inside the city. Contradicting this claim, along with virtually every aid work, refugee, and resident of Fallujah was US Marine Col. Mike Shupp who said, "There is no need to bring [Red Crescent] supplies in because we have supplies of our own for the people." . . . IRC spokeswoman Firdu al-Ubadi added, "We know of at least 157 families inside Fallujah who need our help." . . . The media repression by the military around Fallujah continues to run thick, as a journalist for the al-Arabia network who attempted to get inside Fallujah was detained by the military. Meanwhile, al-Jazeera continues to run announcements over their satellite station, apologizing to its viewers for not having better coverage in Iraq due to their office being closed indefinitely several months ago by the US-backed interim government. . . . Nevertheless they continue to get the word out. They report today that Asma Khamis al-Muhannadi, a doctor who witnessed the US and Iraqi National Guard raid the general hospital said, "We were tied up and beaten despite being unarmed and having only our medical instruments." . . . She said the hospital was targeted by bombs and rockets during the initial siege of Fallujah, and troops dragged patients from their beds and pushed them against the wall. . . . Al-Muhannadi went on to say that all of them were put under intense inspection and, "Two female doctors were forced to totally undress." . . . She continued on, "I was with a woman in labor, she said, "The umbilical cord had not yet been cut. At that time, a US soldier shouted at one of the (Iraqi) national guards to arrest me and tie my hands while I was helping the mother to deliver. I will never forget this incident in my life." . . . Like I said, these are just some highlights.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:49 AM
Eyewitness: Falluja battle scars
(Paul Wood, BBC NEWS, 15 November 2004)
If you look outside of my window now, you can see a deserted street with about five bodies on it. . . . These bodies still have their weapons with them, because the marines think it's just too risky to go out a couple of hundred metres further from this base to take the weapons away. . . . The consequence of this, for the ordinary people of Falluja, is that for four days now there have been bodies lying in the streets. . . . It is starting to become a serious health risk. . . . I spoke to an officer who had been a little way out from the base and he said that cats and dogs are now starting to eat these bodies. . . . t is a quite horrific picture which I'm drawing but that is what awaits the people of Falluja when they come back. . . . Q: What resistance is there left? To what extent do the Americans now control the city? . . . They do pretty much control it, but there is still intense fighting going on. . . . Now remember that on Sunday, the Iraqi government declared mission accomplished. . . . Well, we're not quite there yet. . . . There are still injured coming into this base, yet you might hear occasionally at this base thunderous explosions - those are mortars firing volleys in support of the mission of the rest of this unit, which is now right in the south of the city. . . . The attack, to quote one officer this morning, "is being pressed very hard in the south of the city". . . . I went out with the marines doing a little bit of that on Friday and it was absolutely horrific. We took casualties on just 15 minutes into that fighting. The marines were being peppered with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades constantly. . . . They dragged these casualties on - one guy literally bled all over my right trouser leg as we brought him back. They both survived. . . . The character of the fighting is changed now, because they have pushed the insurgents right to the edge of Falluja. The insurgents have nowhere else to go - there's only desert and the US army beyond them. . . . I went out with the marines doing a little bit of that on Friday and it was absolutely horrific. We took casualties on just 15 minutes into that fighting. The marines were being peppered with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades constantly. . . . They dragged these casualties on - one guy literally bled all over my right trouser leg as we brought him back. They both survived. . . . The character of the fighting is changed now, because they have pushed the insurgents right to the edge of Falluja. The insurgents have nowhere else to go - there's only desert and the US army beyond them. . . . I don't know how people are going to feel when they see their city and they see the holes in the mosques and they see the destruction that has been wrought by this battle.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:59 PM
Fallujah lies in ruins, along with the lives of the wretched survivors
(Michael Georgy and Kim Sengupta, The Independent, 15 November 2004)
After six days of intense combat against the Fallujah insurgents, US warplanes, tanks and mortars have left a shattered landscape of gutted buildings, crushed cars and charred bodies. . . . A drive through the city revealed a picture of utter destruction, with concrete houses flattened, mosques in ruins, telegraph poles down, power and phone lines hanging slack and rubble and human remains littering the empty streets. The north-west Jolan district, once an insurgent stronghold, looked like a ghost town, the only sound the rumbling of tank tracks. . . . Four bloated and burnt bodies lay on the main street, not far from US tanks and soldiers. The stench of the remains hung heavy in the air, mixing with the dust. . . . Another body lay stretched out on the next block, its head blown off, perhaps in one of the countless explosions which rent the city day and night for nearly a week. Some bodies were so mutilated it was impossible to tell if they were civilians or militants, male or female. . . . The minarets of the city's dozens of mosques stood silent, no longer broadcasting the call to holy war that so often echoed across the rooftops, inspiring fighters to join the insurgency. . . . Restaurant signs were covered in soot. Pavements were crushed by 70-ton Abrams tanks, and rows of crumbling buildings stood on both sides of deserted streets. Upmarket homes with garages looked as if they had been abandoned for years. Cars lay crushed in the middle of streets. . . . The few civilians left in Fallujah talked of a city left in ruins not just by the six days of the ground assault, but the weeks of bombing that preceded the attack. . . . Residents have long been without electricity or water, abandoning their homes and congregating in the centre of the city as the US forces advanced from all sides. They had cowered in buildings as the battle unfolded past the windows. . . . The reaction of US troops to attacks, say residents, have been out of all proportion; shots by snipers have been answered by rounds from Abrams tanks, devastating buildings and, it is claimed, injuring and killing civilians. . . . About 200,000 refugees fled the fighting, and there have been outbreaks of typhoid and other diseases. . . . People leaving the city described rotting corpses being piled up and thousands still trapped inside their homes, many of them wounded and without access to food, water or medical aid. . . . Escaping residents described incidents in which non-combatants, including women and children, were killed by shrapnel or hit by bombs. In one case last week, a nine-year-old boy was hit in the stomach by shrapnel. Unable to reach a hospital, he died hours later from blood loss. His father had to bury his body in their garden. . . . Those trapped inside the city say they are reaching a point of desperation. "Our situation is very hard," said Abu Mustafa, contacted by telephone in the central Hay al-Dubat neighbourhood. "We don't have food or water," he told Reuters. "My seven children all have severe diarrhoea. One of my sons was wounded by shrapnel last night and he's bleeding, but I can't do anything to help him." . . . As the fighting died down yesterday he said: "They are also destroying cars, because they think every car has a bomb in it. People have moved from the edges of the city into the centre, and they are staying on the ground floors of buildings. There will be nothing left of Fallujah by the time they finish. They have already destroyed so many homes with their bombings from the air, and now we are having this from tanks and big guns." . . . Mohammed Younis, a former policeman, said: "The Americans and [Iyad] Allawi [Iraq's interim Prime Minister] have been saying that Fallujah is full of foreign fighters. That is not true; they left a long time ago. You will find them in other places, in Baghdad. We have been saying to Allawi and the Americans that they are not here, but they do not believe us." . . . Last week a report collated by the UN said 20 doctors had died during a US air strike on a clinic and there have been numerous reports of the US dropping huge bombs.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:30 PM
Iraq aflame over mass killings in Fallujah
(James Cogan, wsws.org, 13 November 2004)
What is taking place is not so much a battle as a homicidal rampage by the US military against every Iraqi male trapped inside the city. Since the assault began on Sunday, Fallujah men aged between 15 and 55 have been prevented from leaving. As American bombs and shells rained down, they were left little choice but to fight for their lives against the advancing US troops. . . . An Iraqi journalist in Fallujah told Associated Press: "The Americans are shooting anything that moves." . . . The US forces have carried out a massive and indiscriminate bombardment from the air, making no attempt to avoid casualties among the estimated 100,000 civilians still in Fallujah. The city, a Los Angeles Times reporter wrote, is "a tableau of destroyed buildings, burned-out cars, battered mosques and piles of rubble". . . . Iraqi fighters, armed with little more than AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers, have fought a heroic defence against the overwhelming American firepower. To dislodge just one Iraqi sniper holding up US marines on Wednesday, an embedded New York Times journalist reported that a three-storey complex was hit with two 500-pound bombs, 35 155mm artillery shells, 10 120mm shells from Abram tanks and some 30,000 rounds from machine guns and small arms. The building, the journalist noted, was left a "smoking ruin". . . . Every building in the captured areas of the city is being searched by US or interim government Iraqi troops. From the footage coming out of Fallujah, the method of 'searching" by the American troops is to hurl grenades and pour machine gun fire into houses before entering. Every male found alive is being dragged away, bound and hooded, to detention centres. . . . There is every reason to believe that the number of Iraqi dead in Fallujah -- when the toll is finally able to be counted -- will be in the thousands. Hundreds of fighters and civilians are likely buried beneath collapsed buildings. Embedded journalists have noted the stench of decomposing bodies that hangs over the city. A crime of immense proportions has been perpetrated and it will be neither forgotten nor forgiven. . . . There have been virtually no medical personnel to treat Iraqis injured by the relentless American onslaught. A number of Iraqi doctors and nurses were killed on Monday in a US airstrike on one of the few functioning clinics in the city. A second clinic was destroyed later in the week. . . . Abbas Ali, a doctor in the city, told Al Jazeerah on Friday: "I'm one of the few medical cadres that survived last Monday from the massacre. We are in a very tragic situation. Hundreds of dead bodies are spread in the streets. Even the injured are still there. We cannot transfer them. We cannot do anything to save them. . . . "We call on all organisations and the whole world to help us. The US forces have told us through loudspeakers to get out and raise white flags. But all the city’s areas are under fierce bombing. We don’t know what to do. Stay in our place, which is under bombardment, or get out and get shot?" . . . The Iraqi Red Crescent Society has been denied entry into the city. Fardous al-Ubaidi, a spokeswoman for the organisation, told Associated Press: "There is no water, no food, no medicine, no electricity and no fuel and when we asked for permission, we were only allowed to approach the Fallujah outskirts but had no access to Fallujah itself." Thousands of elderly, women and children who have escaped since the assault began remain in refugee camps on the city’s fringes, without access to clean water or sanitation. . . . The reality is that Fallujah is being destroyed precisely because the resistance fighters in the city had demanded liberty -- from the US occupation of Iraq. The city’s council refused to recognise the legitimacy of the US-installed puppet interim government headed by CIA asset Iyad Allawi, and had upheld the moral and political right of Iraqis to conduct an armed struggle against the American invasion. . . . The US military has not been able to produce any credible evidence supporting the months of propaganda -- which was consistently denied by Fallujah’s leaders -- that hundreds of foreign terrorists, led by Jordanian extremist Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi, were holding the city "hostage". The people who have fought and died in Fallujah have been overwhelmingly Iraqis defending their homes. . . . Over the next two months, the US military has been ordered to slaughter or drive underground all opposition to the occupation and to Allawi's regime, and to ensure that the only participants in sham elections planned for late January are pro-US parties and groups. Attacks are being prepared against 21 cities and towns where resistance is widespread. . . . The assault on Fallujah, however, has inflamed the Sunni regions of central and northern Iraq and is presenting the US occupation with the most serious military challenge since it began. Fighting or increased attacks on occupation troops are being reported in Ramadi, Samarra, Tikrit, Kirkuk, Baquaba and Baghdad, where a US helicopter was shot down overnight. . . . In the biggest blow to the occupation, the centre of Mosul, with a population approaching three million, has been taken over in the last several days by hundreds of Iraqi resistance fighters. US air strikes are now being carried out against the city, and hundreds of extra troops rushed to the area. . . . American troops arrested leading Sunni cleric Mahdi al-Sumaydai in Baghdad yesterday after he made a call for Iraqis to rise up against the occupation. US forces also raided the home of Harith al-Dhari, the head of the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, which is calling for a boycott of the elections over the atrocities being committed in Fallujah. . . . The main Shiite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has remained silent throughout the bloodbath in Fallujah, is coming under pressure to condemn it. Before his arrest, al-Sumaydai stated: "We reproach Sistani for not officially taking a position on the offensive and we call on him to do so." . . . Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is also under pressure to issue a call for his supporters to resume fighting against the occupation. Sumaydai's statement reminded Shiites that the Sunni groups had spoken out in solidarity with Sadr's Mahdi Army fighters during the US assaults on the cities of Karbala and Najaf. . . . The US mass killings in Fallujah will prove to be a Pyrrhic victory. They have served only to broaden the resistance of the Iraqi people and deepen the revulsion and opposition internationally to the criminal war on Iraq.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:22 PM
The Destruction of Fallujah
(Edward Wong, The New York Times, 14 November 2004)
Neutralizing the threat from the green-domed mosque looked almost effortless. Marines in the dusty warrens of Falluja had been taking fire from one of its twin minarets. They called in air support. A 500-pound bomb slammed into a blue-tiled tower, obliterating a signature part of the Khulafa Al Rashid mosque, the city's most celebrated religious building. . . . As in a fevered dream, that and other scenes of destruction played out last week in Falluja before the eyes of American troops, residents and reporters. . . . given the track record of the Americans and their allies, military analysts say, the immediate goals in Falluja seem naďve, if not utterly inconsequential given the surging resistance across the Sunni-dominated regions of Iraq, almost certainly organized by the very leaders who fled Falluja before the offensive. . . . "Iraq is a complex problem," said Charles Pena, director of defense policy studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian research group based in Washington. "Our problem is that we keep leading people to believe that there are simple solutions." . . . "Our military action creates other problems that our military cannot solve," he said. "And we haven't been very good at fixing what we broke in Iraq." . . . American commanders say they had no illusions that the Falluja offensive would let them capture the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted man in Iraq, or break the back of the insurgency. . . . What they do not acknowledge is that seizing Falluja does not bring them much closer to solving the occupation's most intractable problem - how to get Sunni Arabs to overcome their feelings of disenfranchisement and accept the role of a minority in a democratic Iraqi state. . . . In anticipating a democracy, the Americans have signaled at every turn that they foresee power flowing to the majority Shiites, and the elections scheduled for January are a way to accomplish that in a manner that appears legitimate. Hammering Falluja is supposed to force insurgent Sunnis to realize the hopelessness of armed conflict and instead turn to the ballot box. . . . But it is not so easy to convince people with little concept of minority rights that a Western-style democracy will work for them. For Sunnis to accept this new style of government, they will have to be persuaded that their rights will still be respected by an American-backed Shiite-dominated ruling class . . . Installing a working Iraqi government and police force in Falluja is a less ambitious goal, but it too seems a stretch for the Americans. In the offensive, most of the Iraqi forces have done little actual fighting. They roll in after the Americans have already cleared city blocks of insurgents and are assigned to search buildings. . . . Some seem disoriented as they stand in the debris-strewn landscape, their brown uniforms spotless from not having done a lick of fighting. Little has changed since last May, when the First Armored Division laid siege to Karbala, and Iraqi security forces merely cleared weapons out of mosques. . . . In Mosul on Thursday, police officers at a half-dozen police stations scurried away as soon as insurgents began firing their rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikov rifles. Two weeks ago, bombings and mortar attacks left at least 30 dead in Samarra, only a month after American forces swept through the city and claimed a resounding victory. A senior American military officer in Baghdad admitted that after the Americans left, the insurgents were able to overwhelm the poorly trained Iraqi police. . . . In Samarra, the guerrillas evacuated before American armor rolled in, and then bided their time, which is the greatest advantage an insurgency has, because the occupying force at some point will depart. The insurgents don't need a safe haven like Falluja to run down the clock. "In fact, Maoist tactics would argue against trying to settle in a city and hold it at this stage of a weak insurgency, and for using the population as a sea to swim in,"
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posted by Lorenzo 12:29 PM
Iraq veteran says "We're committing genocide in Iraq"
(Jeff Riedel, wsws.org, 11 November 2004)
Massey entered Iraq as part of the initial US invasion in March 2003. He witnessed -- and in some cases participated in -- the killing of innocent civilians. During a single 48-hour period, he says, he saw as many as 30 civilians killed by US gunfire at highway checkpoints. . . . The brutality of the US military's retaliation against the growing resistance of the Iraqi people transformed his view of the occupation and changed him for life. Massey, horrified and unable to reconcile himself to what was taking place, began to speak out to his superiors. He was eventually medi-vaced out of Iraq and diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Labeled as a conscientious objector by his commanders, Massey sought legal counsel and won his honorable discharge in December 2003. . . . Massey's disillusionment with the military began as a recruiter, when he started to question the methods used by the Marines in preying on young people from economically depressed areas. His feelings would soon be deepened by his experience in Iraq. . . . "When I was on recruiting duty, I really began to question what was going on," he said. "I'm not going to say that the Marine Corps is all flat-out lies, but it is very misleading the way we enlist recruits. A lot of the kids joining the military are from the 'barrios' and 'hoods,' or the poor parts of the Appalachian Mountains, where we're sitting right here. Appalachia has some of the poorest counties in the country -- so they're sweeping them up. . . . "You know, these kids are just thankful that they've got some health care -- for a lot of them, the first time they even went to the dentist is when they joined the Marine Corps. Then you pump them full of patriotism and intangible benefits -- self-confidence and what not -- and now you're indoctrinating a young person with an ideology. . . . Boot camp is designed to dehumanize and desensitize a person to violence. I was a Marine Corps boot camp instructor for two-and-a-half years, and I know that it is designed to strip you down and rebuild you. . . . "Here's the problem in America, what we're living in is becoming an increasingly militaristic society, where poor people have been encouraged to sign up as the front line, Massey said. . . . "A large percentage of the so-called growth in this country is associated with the military. The bottom line is, for the Halliburtons and Enrons war is good, but for the poor and for all of the soldiers coming home, especially the ones coming home wounded, there's not much of a future. But for a lot of the kids getting ready to graduate high-school, the military is looking pretty good because their families have no money to send them to college." . . . In Iraq, Massey was brought face to face with this involvement. The initial invasion took on the character of a one-sided slaughter, with the world's strongest military power armed with the most technologically advanced weapons, on the one hand, and a disarmed and virtually defenseless military of a country already devastated by a decade of sanctions, on the other. . . . "We were like a bunch of cowboys who rode into town shooting up the place. I saw charred bodies in vehicles that were clearly not military vehicles. I saw people dead on the side of the road in civilian clothes. As a matter of fact, I only remember seeing a couple of bodies in military uniform the whole time." . . . "There wasn't a whole lot of direct fighting to speak of. There were some firefights -- I mean I had bullet holes in the side of my Humvee -- but it wasn't like major combat action. We took the highway the whole way up to Baghdad. They had no artillery; they had no air support. They were so weakened by all the sanctions. All of their equipment was in very bad shape. Most of their hardware was left over from the war against Iran. The first Gulf War just devastated them. I don't think they had the will or the opportunity to fight." . . . Massey said that the hostility of the Iraqi people to the presence of the US military grew exponentially over the time he was there in direct response to the brutal methods employed by American troops against the entire Iraqi population. . . . "As far as I'm concerned, the real war did not begin until they saw us murdering innocent civilians," he said. "I mean, they were witnessing their loved ones being murdered by US Marines. It's kind of hard to tell someone that they are being liberated when they just saw their child shot or lost their husband or grandmother." . . . Massey manned a number of US military checkpoints on Iraqi highways in the months following the invasion. He described how, when cars failed to stop, out of confusion or otherwise, the order was to 'light them up' or open fire. It was at one of the checkpoints that Massey's attitude toward the war reached its turning point. . . . "We signaled a car to stop and when it didn't we opened fire. They were innocent civilians. We found no weapons, no explosives -- nothing. Somehow, and I have no idea how he could have done it, but one guy got out of the car and he wasn't badly wounded. He was the brother of one of the men bleeding to death in the car. He looked at me and asked, 'Why did you kill my brother. What did he do to you?' There were 30-plus civilians killed over two days at these checkpoints." . . . Massey described the chaotic and reckless character of the roadside checkpoints and the indifference of the military leadership to the culture of the people that they were there supposedly to help. . . . "When you put your hand up in the air with a closed fist, in the Marines it means you want them to stop," he said. "But, as we later learned, it's actually the international sign of solidarity. It has a totally different meaning for the Iraqis -- to them it was a sign like hello. And that was just one example of how we were not trained properly to understand the cultural differences between us and them. . . . "The bottom line is they [the military command] don't see the need to teach culture and humanity to men whose singular purpose is to kill. And that was just one of the cultural miscues. I blame the top of the chain of command, from the President down to Tommy Franks [the former commander-in-chief of US occupation forces] to General [James] Mattis [commander of the First Marine Division]. They all knew that the military was not trained properly when it comes to dealing with Muslim culture and a foreign land. But that was not our purpose for being there." . . . In the midst of the widespread killing of civilians, Massey was struck by the callousness of the military command and the lack of humanitarian assistance they were offering the Iraqi people. This further deepened his doubts about the true purpose of the war. . . . "We actually left all of the humanitarian MRE's [Meals Ready to Eat] in Kuwait," he recalled. "We were supposed to give these out for relief, and we left them in Kuwait. They were just for show when the film crews came into the camps. We also had this big show with the medical supplies that we were prepping for Iraqi casualties. We were supposed to get in there and take care of them. . . . "But I'll give you an example of what we actually did. After we shot up this car with civilians, I called in the corpsmen to bring in stretchers. They came in and put two men on stretchers. Five minutes later, they brought them back and dumped their bodies on the side of the road. They were still alive. They were riddled with bullets-one guy was just rolling in agony on the side of the road."
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posted by Lorenzo 2:13 PM
A list of other links about Amerika'a War on Iraq
Falluja a 'Big Disaster,' Aid Needed - Red Crescent:
Aid agencies called on U.S. forces and the Iraqi government to allow them to deliver food, medicine and water to Falluja on Friday and said four days of intense fighting had turned the city into a "big disaster."
Pepe Escobar : Collective punishment, regrettable necessity :
Whenever a neo-colonial power - or a puppet politician like interim Iraqi Premier Iyad Allawi - orders the widespread bombing of civilian areas, as in Fallujah, the rationale invoked is "regrettable necessity". What is never mentioned is the real objective: collective punishment.
Fallujah's empty promise:
As battles go, Fallujah has been a big disappointment to the U.S. military, which had wanted to draw the Iraqi insurgents into a cataclysmic mistake
In Iraq it's hard to tell who's ahead :
A famous American statesman once wrote that a conventional army loses if it does not win whereas the guerrilla wins if he does not lose.
Kurds come under attack as rebels rampage in city :
US troops were drawn into a new offensive in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul yesterday to tackle a tide of insurgency unchecked by the military assault on Falluja.
GIs Force Men Fleeing Fallujah to Return:
Hundreds of men trying to flee the assault on Fallujah have been turned back by U.S. troops following orders to allow only women, children and the elderly to leave.
U.S. troops raid Baghdad mosque:
U.S.-led troops have stormed a Sunni Muslim mosque in Baghdad and arrested its radical preacher who has urged Iraqi forces not to fight alongside Americans attacking the rebel city of Falluja.
Twenty-Two U.S. Troops Killed in Falluja -U.S. General
Royal Marine Shot By U.S. Soldiers:
The Captain, who has not been named, was shot in the leg after panic-stricken US soldiers raked the military convoy he was travelling in with bullets.
Attack Kills One Soldier, Wounds 3 Others:
The unit came under attack by improvised explosive devices, small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.
U.S. Chopper Downed Near Baghdad:
Officials say militants hit the Army Black Hawk with anti-aircraft fire in Taji, about 12 miles north of the capital.
Dutch Troops to Withdraw from Iraq:
Dutch news agency ANP cited Defense Minister Henk Kamp on Friday as saying that the country's 1,350-contingent will leave the US-led multinational contingent.
Iraqi Government Fires Police Chiefs:
Mosul police chief Brig. Gen. Mohammed Kheiri Barhawi was fired after rebels launched widespread attacks Thursday in Iraq's third-largest city, according to deputy Gov. Khissrou Gouran.
Fallujah battle erupts, clashes in Baghdad:
Insurgents determined to show they are undeterred by the four-day-old offensive in Iraq's most rebellious city have hit back hard with attacks and bombings elsewhere, causing two days of bloody chaos in the northern city of Mosul.
Marine Loses Arm & Leg in Rocket Blast:
The 21-year-old lost his right arm and right leg when a rocket slammed into his vehicle.
Iraq group says kidnaps American man -Jazeera TV:
Iraqi insurgents have kidnapped an American who works as a manager at Baghdad airport, Al Jazeera television said today.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:20 PM
Falluja Eyewitness: Smoke and corpses
(BBC NEWS, 11 November 2004)
A row of palm trees used to run along the street outside my house - now only the trunks are left. . . . The upper half of each tree has vanished, blown away by mortar fire. . . . From my window, I can also make out that the minarets of several mosques have been toppled. . . . There are more and more dead bodies on the streets and the stench is unbearable. . . . Smoke is everywhere. . . . A house some doors from mine was hit during the bombardment on Wednesday night. A 13-year-old boy was killed. His name was Ghazi. . . . I tried to flee the city last night but I could not get very far. It was too dangerous. . . . I am getting used to the bombardment. I have learnt to sleep through the noise - the smaller bombs no longer bother me. . . . Without water and electricity, we feel completely cut off from everyone else. . . . I only found out Yasser Arafat had died because the BBC rang me. . . . It is hard to know how much people outside Falluja are aware of what is going on here. . . . I want them to know about conditions inside this city - there are dead women and children lying on the streets. . . . People are getting weaker from hunger. Many are dying from their injuries because there is no medical help left in the city whatsoever. . . . Some families have started burying their dead in their gardens. . . . There has been a lot of resistance in Jolan. . . . The Americans have taken over several high-rise buildings overlooking the district. . . . But the height has not helped them control the area because the streets of Jolan are very narrow and you cannot fire into them directly. . . . The US military moves along the main roads and avoids the side-streets. The soldiers do not leave their armoured vehicles and tanks. . . . If they get fired on, they fire back from their tanks or call in air-strikes. . . . I saw some Iraqi government soldiers on the ground earlier. . . . I don't know which part of the country these soldiers are from. They are definitely not from any of the western provinces such as al-Anbar. . . . I have heard people say they are from Kurdistan. . . . They are well co-ordinated. When the US forces pull back from an area, the Iraqi soldiers will take over there.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:17 PM
Graphic Video of US Marines Murdering a Wounded Iraqi
Take No Prisoners
Another proud moment in U.S. Military History. U.S. Marines execute an Iraqi to the cheers of fellow marines
[Click the link above to view this disgusting example of US war crimes in Iraq.
This video should only be viewed by a mature audience
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posted by Lorenzo 1:09 PM
Sharp Increase in US Casualties
(Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher, November 11, 2004)
Far from the battleground, and the eyes of reporters and cameramen, more than 400 wounded U.S. military personnel have been airlifted to Germany for medical treatment since the start of the Fallujah offensive . . . And they are completely missing from the American tragedy unfolding this week at the military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where most of the seriously wounded U.S. troops in Iraq are taken. As of early Saturday, according to hospital officials, at least 412 U.S. military personnel had been airlifted to the facility from Iraq since Monday, forcing them to add beds and expand their operations. . . . And the pace is only quickening. The number of arrivals this week stood at 227 on Thursday, for four days, but has jumped to 412 in just the two days since. . . . To be fair to the brave men and women serving in Iraq, shouldn't the press place a few embeds at Landstuhl? While American fatalities receive major play in press accounts, you have to look deeply to find the numbers on the wounded and maimed. You don't get airlifted to Landstuhl for a nick or scratch. A hospital spokeswoman told Stars and Stripes today that most of the damage came from burns, blasts and gunshots, with spinal and brain injuries and "traumatic amputations" among them. . . . As bad as it is in Fallujah, imagine if most of the rebels had actually stood and fought? Having been warned for weeks of the coming attack, and knowing it would be tied to the results of the U.S. election, many melted away, perhaps to Mosul. Of course, if the assault had not been postponed until after the White House was re-secured, perhaps that mass flight could have been prevented (not that any newspapers I've seen are pressing this point). . . . Even so, the American dead and injured toll is bad enough. . . . Spinner also relayed without comment the official military explanation for why it seized a Fallujah hospital, and tied up all its doctors, on the first day of the invasion: they had to make sure the docs were not "insurgents" and also, "One of the persistent problems for the military ... was the misreporting of civilian dead and wounded by the propaganda machines at the hospitals." . . . This comes just weeks after the Allawi government itself released figures showing thousands of civilian casualties in the country, with estimates from others reaching into the tens of thousands. . . . Given Gen. Myers' claims today of no civilian casualties in this week's assault, it is odd that the Marines told Spinner that they had secured the "propaganda" hospital first "to make sure that civilians had access to medical care during the offensive." . . . What's to be done if the chaos continues in Iraq? Thursday, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman joined his paper's editorial board in calling for more combat boots on the ground, two divisions worth. Now, where are those boots going to come from? The Times' editorial, earlier this week, suggested that all the military had to do was raise "recruitment quotas" and, presto, enlistees would appear. Why? With the promise of 40,000 more troops in Iraq, the editorial declared, these young men wouldn't worry so much about their safety if they got sent there. . . . Just don't show them any footage from Landstuhl.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:43 AM
Falluja resident tells of trauma
(BBC, 12 November 2004)
A five-year-old Iraqi girl has arrived in Britain, having been orphaned when a US missile destroyed her family's home in Falluja. Ayisha Saleem was brought here six days ago by her uncle, Mohammad, who decided to leave after the 4 October attack. . . . The US military says it used precision strikes to take out insurgents loyal to Abu Musab al-Zaqawi. . . . The attack happened before it stepped up its offensive on the city last week. . . . Mohammad said he was dazed when he first heard of the bombing. . . . Why would anybody demolish the house of an innocent family?" he asked. . . . He said that Ayisha has yet to ask about her mother, uncle and grandparents, but "she knows something has happened". . . . When he went to his sister's house, he said the experience was traumatic. . . . "I found her dead with her unborn baby and a three-year-old son. . . . "I started wrapping her in blankets but I collapsed. . . . "When I woke up I can't describe the feelings. I'll never see such a crime in my life, I don't think I'll see such a crime in the future." . . . He left Falluja shortly after, and said he cannot understand why others have stayed. . . . "When I left...Falluja I noticed many families still there. I noticed kids playing in the streets so I stopped. . . . "I asked 'why don't you leave, don't you know the Americans are coming?' . . . 'The guy told me 'we'll never leave Falluja'." . . . He is highly critical of the American military. . . . "I think this is mass destruction, a mass punishment for everyone in there. . . . "I think it's a crime against humanity." . . . Red Crescent spokeswoman Firdoos al-Ubadi said Falluja was a "disaster", with doctors unable to reach most Iraqi casualties and medical equipment virtually non-existent. . . . Residents trapped in the battered city said they could smell the stench of decomposing bodies.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:35 AM
A Thousand Fallujahs
(Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, November 12, 2004)
Once again the US has been caught in a giant spider's web. Fallujah now is a network: it's Baghdad, Ramadi, Samarra, Latifiyah, Kirkuk, Mosul. Streets on fire, everywhere: Hundreds, thousands of Fallujahs - the Mesopotamian echo of a thousand Vietnams. The Iraqi resistance has even regained control of a few Baghdad neighborhoods. . . . Baghdad residents say there are practically no US troops around, even as regular explosions can be heard all over the city. Baghdad sources confirm to Asia Times Online that the mujahideen now control parts of the southern suburb of ad-Durha, as well as Hur Rajab, Abu Ghraib, al-Abidi, as-Suwayrah, Salman Bak, Latifiyah and Yusufiyah - all in the Greater Baghdad area. This would be the first time since the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, that the resistance has been able to control these neighborhoods. . . . Massive US military might is useless against a mosque network in full gear. In a major development not reported by US corporate media, for the first time different factions of the resistance have released a joint statement, signed among others by Ansar as-Sunnah, al-Jaysh al-Islami, al-Jaysh as-Siri (known as the Secret Army), ar-Rayat as-Sawda (known as the Black Banners), the Lions of the Two Rivers, the Abu Baqr as-Siddiq Brigades, and crucially al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (Unity and Holy War) - the movement allegedly controlled by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The statement is being relayed all over the Sunni triangle through a network of mosques. The message is clear: the resistance is united. . . . Fallujah civilians have told families and friends in Baghdad that the US bombing has been worse than Baghdad suffered in March 2003. . . . The Fallujah resistance for its part seems to have made the crucial tactical decision of clearing two main roads - called Nisan 7 and Tharthar Street - thus drawing the Americans to a battle in the center of town. Baghdad sources close to the resistance say that now the Americans seem to be positioned exactly where the mujahideen want them. This is leading the resistance to insist they - and not the Americans, according to the current Pentagon spin - now control 70% of the city. . . . There are at least 120 mosques in Fallujah. A consensus is emerging that almost half of them have been smashed by air strikes and shelling by US tanks - something that will haunt the United States for ages. The mosques stopped broadcasting the five daily calls for prayer, but Fadhil Badrani, an Iraqi reporter for BBC World Service in Arabic and one of the very few media witnesses in Fallujah, writes that "every time a big bomb lands nearby, the cry rises from the minarets: 'Allahu Akbar' [God is Great]". . . . Badrani also disputes the Pentagon spin: "It is misleading to say the US controls 70% of the city because the fighters are constantly on the move. They go from street to street, attacking the army in some places, letting them through elsewhere so that they can attack them later. They say they are fighting not just for Fallujah, but for all Iraq." The mujahideen tactics are a rotating web - Ho Chi Minh's and Che Guevara's tactics applied to urban warfare by the desert: snipers on rooftops, snipers escaping on bicycles, mortar fire from behind abandoned houses, rocket-propelled-grenade attacks on tanks, Bradleys being ambushed, barrages of as many as 200 rockets, instant dispersal, "invisible" regrouping. . . . Iraq's borders with Syria and Jordan, all highways except a secondary road leading to the borders, plus Baghdad's airport, all remain closed. Baghdad in theory has become an island sealed off from the Sunni triangle - but not for the resistance, which keeps slipping inside. Hundreds of Iraqis are stuck on the Syrian border trying to go back home. . . . Riverbend, the Iraqi girl blogger quoted above, writes of "rumors that there are currently 100 cars ready to detonate in Mosul, being driven by suicide bombers looking for American convoys. So what happens when Mosul turns into another Fallujah? Will they also bomb it to the ground? I heard a report where they mentioned that Zarqawi 'had probably escaped from Fallujah' ... so where is he now? Mosul?" . . . He could well be in Ramadi, where hundreds of heavily armed mujahideen now control the city center - with no US troops in sight. . . . According to residents, the city is now littered with thousands of cluster bombs. In an explosive accusation - and not substantiated - an Iraqi doctor who requested anonymity has told al-Quds Press that "the US occupation troops are gassing resistance fighters and confronting them with internationally banned chemical weapons". The Washington Post has confirmed that US troops are firing white-phosphorus rounds that create a screen of fire impervious to water. . . . Ismail told Iraqi and Arab press that the number of wounded civilians is growing exponentially - and medical supplies are almost non-existent. He confirmed that US troops had arrested many members of the hospital's medical staff and had sealed the storage of medical supplies. . . . The wounded in Fallujah are in essence left to die. There is not a single surgeon in town. And practically no doctors as well, as the Pentagon decided to bomb both the al-Hadar Hospital and the Zayid Mobile Hospital. So far, the International Committee of the Red Cross has reacted with thunderous apathy. . . . the fact is the US does not control anything in Sunni Iraq. It does not control towns, cities, roads, and it barely controls the Green Zone, the American fortress in Baghdad that is the ultimate symbol of the occupation. . . . All this destruction - which any self-respecting international lawyer can argue is a war crime - for the Bush administration to send a brutal message: either you're with us or we'll smash you to pieces. . . . The Iraqi resistance does not care if thousands of mujahideen are smashed to pieces: it is actually gearing up for a major strategic victory. The strategy is twofold: half of the Fallujah resistance stayed behind, ready to die like martyrs, increasing the already boiling-point hatred of Americans in Iraq and the Middle East and boosting their urban support. The other half left before Phantom Fury and is already setting fires in Baghdad, Tikrit, Ramadi, Baquba, Balad, Kirkuk, Mosul and even Shi'ite Karbala. . . . There are unconfirmed reports that Sheikh Abdullah al-Janabi, the head of the mujahideen shura (council) in Fallujah and a very prominent AMS member, died when his mosque, Saad ibn Abi Wakkas, was bombed. . . . The Sunni Iraqi resistance is now configuring itself as a full-fledged revolution. According to sources in Baghdad, the leaders of the resistance believe there's no other way for them to expel the American invaders and subsequently be restored to power - especially because if elections are held in January, the Shi'ites are certain to win. Contemplating the dogs of civil war barking in the distance, no wonder Baghdad's al-Zaman newspaper is so somber: "Iraq will remain a sleeping volcano, even if the state of emergency is extended forever."
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posted by Lorenzo 10:22 AM
Baghdad Burning Blog
The bombs being dropped on Fallujah don't contain explosives, depleted uranium or anything harmful - they contain laughing gas - that would, of course, explain [Pentagon chief Donald] Rumsfeld's misplaced optimism about not killing civilians in Fallujah. Also, being a 'civilian' is a relative thing in a country occupied by Americans. You're only a civilian if you're on their side. If you translate for them, or serve them food in the Green Zone, or wipe their floors - you're an innocent civilian. Just about everyone else is an insurgent, unless they can get a job as a 'civilian'.
- Riverbend, an Iraqi civilian girl,
author of the blog Baghdad Burning
[COMMENT: This is an excellent blog. You owe it to yourself to check it out.]
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posted by Lorenzo 10:01 AM
US bombs Mosul as insurgents flock in
The US military said it attacked suspected rebel targets in Mosul with air and ground fire on Thursday after an upsurge in violence as gunmen were seen flocking into Iraq's main northern city. . . . Violence also flared in the refinery city of Baiji to the south where gunmen attacked the local administration building. . . . As night descended on Mosul the sound of explosions and gunfire echoed through the centre. . . . Only gunmen roamed the city's deserted streets, after a curfew was declared on Wednesday. . . . An AFP correspondent saw at least 12 pickup trucks filled with about 10 fighters each enter the city from the northwest from the towns of Rabia, Sinjar and Tal Afar. . . . But in simmering lawlessness on Thursday, masked rebels stormed into six Iraqi police stations in the city, 370 kilometres (230 miles) north of Baghdad, seizing weapons and torching buildings, an AFP correspondent said. . . . In what appeared to be a coordinated attack, armed men pulled up in front of police stations in various parts of the city, forcing policemen out. . . . Dozens of gunmen were seen fanning out on the city streets and some hunkered behind sandbags and fired mortar rounds on US and Iraqi forces stationed on four of Mosul's five main bridges. . . . Speaking on Monday, the same day that the massive offensive was launched on the Sunni Muslim stronghold of Fallujah, Iraq's Defence Minister Hazem Shaalan vowed to cleanse the predominantly Sunni Arab city of Mosul of Arab fighters. . . . "We will launch operations in Mosul, because some groupings that came from neighbouring western countries are trying to step up terror operations there," he said referring to Syria. . . . A US general also hinted at further offensives after the battle for Fallujah.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:48 PM
The real fury of Fallujah
(Pepe Escobar, AsiaTimes Online, November 10, 2004)
Senior scholar Sheikh Omar Said identifies three major strands in Fallujah - Sufism, the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafism, all united at the moment against the occupation. The city is being run by the mujahideen shura (council) - led by influential imams and mosque preachers like Abdullah al-Janabi, Zafir al-Obeidi and Omar Hadid. . . . Fallujah has four main clans: Zawbaa, al-Jamilat, Bu Eisa and al-Mahameda, plus many secondary clans like Tamim, Bani Kabis, al-Fayad, al-Aneen and al-Raween. Most of the clans are Sunni and originally came from the Arab peninsula. . . . The backbone of Fallujah is Islam and its tribal clans. Bravery is the common staple. Vendetta is a must. People prefer to die than to submit to a foreign invader: it's considered their Islamic duty. More than 20 prominent Saudi scholars recently qualified the resistance as a legitimate right and obligation. . . . The Fallujah mujahideen shura is a real unifying force. There are no "terrorists" in the midst of these resistance leaders, tribal chiefs and Sunni clerics - only Iraqis fighting a war of national liberation. . . . The local command in Fallujah is centered in two mosques: Saad ibn Abi Wakkas, run by imam Abdullah al-Janabi, and al-Hadra al-Mohammadiya, run by imam Zafir Al-Obeidi. Janabi controls the mujahideen shura and Obeidi controls the political shura, presided by Sheikh Tarlub Abdel Karim al-Alusi and uniting tribal and religious chiefs and city notables. Tarlub is the de facto political chief of the guerrillas in Fallujah - even though decisions are collective and the word of the imams and the emirs carries enormous power. . . . Asia Times Online sources in Baghdad close to the resistance in Fallujah confirm that Tarlub was saying as late as last week that the city would have preferred negotiations, but the Americans wanted a war. The sheikh also said that 80% of the youth of Fallujah had joined the resistance, as it would be a shame for their families if they were not committed to defend their city. . . . Even before Phantom Fury, American bombing had been killing Fallujah civilians for weeks. Now the Marines are invading hospitals, targeting ambulances and in the next few hours and days may even bomb mosques: so much for capturing Iraqi hearts and minds. The souk in the city center used to be open until noon and still had some food - but this was before Allawi cut off the roads from Fallujah to Baghdad and Ramadi. The hospitals are overflowing, but with no supplies, medicine and only occasional electricity. The brand new Nazzal hospital - funded by Saudi donors - was destroyed last Saturday by two American missiles. . . . The civilian victims of Phantom Fury can barely count on global public opinion expressing outrage. It didn't happen last April, under the first siege of Fallujah, and it didn't happen last August, when Najaf was attacked. According to a study published by the British medical paper The Lancet, the American invasion and occupation has caused at least 100,000 Iraqi deaths - September 11 dozens of times over. Fallujah may add one more September 11 to the list. More than half of the dead were women and children. . . . Top Sunni clerics all over the Sunni triangle and beyond have reminded Iraqis - as if they needed any reminding - that they should help the guerrillas to escape. On the jihadi front, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, the group linked to al-Qaeda which has claimed responsibility for the Madrid bombing, has already threatened the US with "unbearable hell" - and did not forget to hold the American electorate responsible for condoning Bush's Phantom Fury-style strategies. . . . Martial law means in practice a daily curfew, no political meetings and no free press - but the resistance won't go away. The dynamic is inexorable: Sunnis will increasingly view themselves as excluded from the new Iraq as Shi'ites keep gaining power. This is the road for civil war.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:26 PM
Plane loads of Fallujah wounded arriving at U.S. military hospital in Germany
(Panos Kakaviatos, Associated Press, 11/11/2004)
A steady stream of American wounded from the Fallujah offensive in Iraq have been arriving at the U.S. military's main hospital in Europe, prompting staff to expand bed capacity, officials said Thursday. . . . A planeload with 53 wounded from Iraq, most of them from Fallujah, arrived Thursday morning and another with 49 more was due in later in the day at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center totaling 102 for the day, spokeswoman Marie Shaw said. . . . Two more planeloads of wounded were expected Friday. . . . ''We are very busy,'' Shaw said. ''We have seen an increase of patient arrivals since the outbreak of the Fallujah conflict.'' . . . Landstuhl has long been a destination for seriously wounded but stable troops from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and usually treats between 30 and 50 injured military personnel per day, Shaw said. . . . The increase started Wednesday two days after the Fallujah offensive started when 64 wounded were brought in. . . . ''We've had more cases of bullet wounds than usual, though some have also suffered blast wounds from rocket-propelled grenades,'' he said. . . . There were several intensive care cases involving brain or spinal injuries or traumatic amputation of limbs, he said. Four such patients were brought in Thursday morning on the first plane and four more are expected from the second plane later Thursday, he said. . . . The military has reported 13 Americans killed in the Fallujah campaign, which began Monday night with thousands of U.S. Marines and soldiers and Iraqi troops pouring into the city. . . . He called Thursday ''probably one of the busiest days in quite some time,'' since he began working at the hospital in 2002. ''We are on contingency mode, a 60-hour work week,'' he said. . . . Two more planeloads of wounded were expected to arrive Friday. . . . Shaw said the hospital was expanding capacity to cope with the additional numbers of patients. ''We have expanded our intensive care unit here with about 10 more beds, and we have expanded our medical surgical wards with about 40 more beds,'' she said. . . . The hospital, the largest U.S. military medical facility outside the United States, now has 27 intensive care beds, including the expansion. . . . It is normally equipped with 162 beds, the hospital's Web site says, with an expansion capability of up to 310 beds. . . . All the wounded who have come so far from Fallujah are U.S. soldiers, although Americans are fighting alongside Iraqi forces there.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:16 AM
t r u t h o u t - Troops Under Heavy Fire in Fallujah, Two Helicopters Downed
(BBC, 11 November 2004)
US marines in Falluja have come under sustained attack from several different directions in the headquarters they have set up in the Iraqi city. . . . The BBC's Paul Wood, who is at the scene, said there was sniper fire from four or five points on the horizon. . . . The insurgents may have regrouped, he says, after US-led troops took over large parts of the city. . . . Another BBC correspondent says troops have pulled back from the city hospital, captured on Sunday night. . . . Meanwhile, two US Cobra helicopters were hit by small-arms and rocket fire in separate incidents and forced to land. . . . The crews of both aircraft were rescued unhurt, the US military said, but some reports suggest one of the pilots was hit with small-arms fire. . . . In Baghdad, at least 17 people were killed in a car bomb in a busy shopping area on Thursday morning. . . . Our correspondent says the US marines have had to call in four air strikes as they came under heavy fire in central Falluja. . . . Insurgents appear to have got to the perimeter of the headquarters, he says. . . . At the same time, a rifle company of marines has been pushing out into the city, going literally house to house to try to clear out the insurgents. . . . But the company came under continuous fire as soon as it left the base. . . . US-led forces said earlier on Thursday they had rid more than 70% of the city of insurgents in the battle. . . . The rebels are said to be disorganised and leaderless, but still dangerous. . . . The BBC's Paul Wood, who is embedded with US marines in Falluja, says pockets of resistance remain even in areas the US and Iraqi forces have captured. . . . Troops are coming under sniper fire all over the city, he says. . . . Villages to the west of the city, thought by the US to be clear of insurgents, are also reporting sniper, mortar and rocket-propelled grenade fire. . . . Concerns are growing about the humanitarian situation in and around Falluja. . . . Red Crescent spokeswoman Firdoos al-Ubadi said Falluja was a "disaster", with doctors unable to reach most Iraqi casualties and medical equipment virtually non-existent. . . . There is little information on the number of military or civilian casualties in Falluja.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:04 AM
Sunni Party Leaves Iraqi Government Over Falluja Attack
(Edward Wong, The New York Times, November 10, 2004)
In the first major political backlash over the assault on Falluja, the country's most prominent Sunni political party said Tuesday that it was withdrawing from the interim Iraqi government, while the leading group of Sunni clerics called for Iraqis to boycott the nationwide elections scheduled for early next year. . . . The moves seemed to promise that popular protest against the American-led attack on the city, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim, is likely to grow in coming days. . . . A widespread Sunni boycott of the January elections, if one comes to pass, would threaten the legitimacy of the outcome. It would also undermine the main rationale for the attack on Falluja: to drive insurgents out of the city so residents could freely take part in the elections. . . . "The clerics call on honorable Iraqis to boycott the upcoming election that is to be held over the bodies of the dead and the blood of the wounded in cities like Falluja," said Harith al-Dhari, director of the Muslim Scholars Association, a group of Sunni clerics that says it represents 3,000 mosques. . . . Just as ominous was the withdrawal of the Iraqi Islamic Party from the interim government. The party was a member of the Iraqi Governing Council set up by the Americans during the occupation and has been held up by American and Iraqi officials as a model of Sunni participation in the political future of the country. In recent weeks, its leader, Mohsen Abdul Hameed, had been saying he intended to take part in the elections. . . . "After the attack on Falluja, we decided to withdraw from the government because our presence in the government will be judged by history," Mr. Abdul Hameed, an interim National Assembly member, said Tuesday in a telephone interview. . . . The move so alarmed Prime Minister Ayad Allawi that he met privately with Mr. Abdul Hameed hours later. But the party stuck to its position, and an aide said in the afternoon that it was not clear that the group would take part in the elections. . . . Mr. Abdul Hameed's move "raises the question of whether a mass Sunni Arab boycott of the elections is in the offing, thus fatally weakening the legitimacy of any new government." . . . Adding to the growing tension, Moktada al-Sadr, the popular Shiite Muslim cleric who has led two uprisings against the Americans, said through a spokesman that the attack on Falluja "is an attack on all the Iraqi people," and that Iraqis must not help the American forces.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:51 PM
Bush's Christian Soldiers Destroy Falluja's Mosques
(Aljazeera, 10 November 2004)
Almost half of the mosques in the Iraqi town of Falluja have been destroyed, with US warplanes launching air strikes and fierce fighting on the ground continuing. . . . An Iraqi journalist told Aljazeera that US forces on Wednesday resumed attacks on the city, targeting Julan in the north-west to al-Jughaivi in the north-east. . . . Fadil al-Badrani said there are an estimated 120 mosques in the city. . . . "Almost half of the city's mosques have been destroyed after being targeted by US air and tank strikes," al-Badrani added. . . . Fierce clashes also erupted between armed fighters as the US forces thrust deeper into the city in the early hours, he said. . . . Machinegun, mortar and rocket fire shook the city as planes made several bombing runs over Julan district in the space of 15 minutes, a Reuters reporter said. . . . Smoke was rising from houses just beyond Falluja's captured rail station, where marines and Iraqi forces have a base. . . . Marines said their opponents showed no signs of giving up, even though US forces penetrated to the centre of the city, west of Baghdad, after an offensive launched on Monday night. . . . A tank platoon that moved along Falluja's main street saw fighters who had just come under mortar fire climb on to rooftops and fire rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and machineguns. . . . "There are lots of them. We took heavy fire," Gunnery Sergeant Ishmail Castillo told Reuters. "They opened up on my tank. They don't look like they are going to cave in." . . . Castillo said his tank had killed six fighters and that two marines were wounded in fighting. "One of the marines was hit in the head by RPG shrapnel," he said. . . . "They hit us from one area and then another right afterwards. There is in-depth organisation. There were small-arms attacks all night," he said. . . . Al-Badrani said US forces had taken some casualties. "Two US military tanks have been so far destroyed in Julan neighbourhood, where the most violent clashes are taking place," he said. . . . "Three US armoured vehicles have been also destroyed in other parts of the city. The clashes are very violent. Fighters have showed up from other neighbourhoods and streets the US forces are unfamiliar with. . . . "US forces entered central Falluja city at around 12:00 (Iraqi local time) but were fiercely attacked by the fighters," al-Badrani said. . . . "They withdrew from the area after half an hour, heading for their positions in the northern parts of the city," he added. . . . Residents told al-Badrani the crews of two US tanks deserted their vehicles in Julan, leaving them to be seized by fighters. . . . Marine tanks that pushed through central Falluja on Tuesday night encountered stiff resistance. . . . The Pentagon said on Tuesday evening that at least 10 US and two Iraqi soldiers had died in the offensive unleashed by 10,000 US soldiers and marines and 2000 Iraqi troops. . . . The assault on Falluja, where residents say wounded children are dying from lack of medical help, food shops are closed and power is cut, angered Muslim clerics who urged Iraqis to boycott January elections seen as vital to peace. . . . Al-Badrani said many civilians had died in indiscriminate bombing of the city and people had resorted to burying their dead in gardens. Many houses have been destroyed. . . . "You have to stop fighting for four or five hours," Adnan al-Dulaimi, a Sunni official in the Religious Affairs Ministry, told Allawi before the evening meal, a pool reporter said. . . . "There are a lot of injured that have to be taken care of. Give them time to rescue the injured. There are civilians getting killed in Falluja. You are responsible for their lives in front of God," Dulaimi declared. . . . In a move that could potentially undermine the 27 January polls, the Sunni body, the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), urged a boycott. . . . "The clerics call on the ... people of Iraq to boycott the coming elections that they want to hold on the remains of the dead and the blood of the wounded from Iraqi cities like Falluja and others," Harith al-Dhari, its top official, said. . . . Residents say scores of civilians died and for those struggling to live in the city, life is grim. . . . Many of the city's 300,000 people had fled to escape air strikes and artillery bombardments preceding the assault. The US military said about 150,000 residents had left. . . . Those left behind say they have no power and use kerosene lamps. They keep to ground floors for safety, some living in shattered homes because it is too dangerous to move.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:30 AM
The screams from Falluja will not be heard
(Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, November 8, 2004)
The silence from Falluja marks a new and agonising departure in the shape of 21st-century war. The horrifying shift in the last century was how, increasingly, war was waged against civilians: their proportion of the death toll rose from 50% to 90%. It prompted the development of a form of war-reporting, exemplified by Bosnia, which was not about the technology and hardware, but about human suffering, and which fuelled public outrage. No longer. The reporting of Falluja has lapsed back into the military machismo of an earlier age. This war against the defenceless will go unreported.. . . The reality is that a city can never be adequately described as a "militants' stronghold". It's a label designed to stiffen the heart of a soldier, but it is blinding us, the democracies that have inflicted this war, to the consequences of our actions. Falluja is still home to thousands of civilians. The numbers who have fled the prospective assault vary, but there could be 100,000 or more still in their homes. Typically, as in any war, those who don't get out of the way are a mixture of the most vulnerable - the elderly, the poor, the sick; the unlucky, who left it too late to get away; and the insanely brave, such as medical staff. . . . Nor does it seem possible that reporters still use the terms "softening up" or "precision" bombing. They achieve neither softening nor precision, as Falluja well knew long before George W Bush arrived in the White House. In the first Gulf war, an RAF laser-guided bomb intended for the city's bridge went astray and landed in a crowded market, killing up to 150. Last year, the killing of 15 civilians shortly after the US arrived in the city ensured that Falluja became a case study in how to win a war but lose the occupation. A catalogue of catastrophic blunders has transformed a relatively calm city with a strongly pro-US mayor into a battleground. . . . One last piece of fantasy is that there is unlikely to be anything "final" about this assault. Already military analysts acknowledge that a US victory in Falluja could have little effect on the spreading incidence of violence across Iraq. What the insurgents have already shown is that they are highly decentralised, and yet the quick copying of terrorist techniques indicates some degree of cooperation. Hopes of a peace seem remote; the future looks set for a chronic, intermittent civil war. By the time the bulldozers have ploughed their way through the centre of Falluja, attention could have shifted to another "final assault" on another "militant stronghold", as another city of homes, shops and children's playgrounds morphs into a battleground. . . . The recent comment of one Falluja resident is strikingly poignant: "Why," she asked wearily, "don't they go and fight in a desert away from houses and people?" Why indeed? Twentieth-century warfare ensured a remarkable historical inversion. Once the city had been the place of safety to retreat to in a time of war, the place of civilisation against the barbarian wilderness; but the invention of aerial bombardment turned the city into a target, a place of terror. . . . Assaults on cities serve symbolic purposes: they are set showpieces to demonstrate resolve and inculcate fear. To that end, large numbers of casualties are required: they are not an accidental byproduct but the aim. That was the thinking behind 9/11, and Falluja risks becoming a horrible mirror-image of that atrocity. Only by the shores of that dusty lake in Dreamland would it be possible to believe that the ruination of this city will do anything to enhance the legitimacy of the US occupation and of the Iraqi government it appointed.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:45 PM
'Scores of civilians' killed in Falluja
(Aljazeera, 09 November 2004)
Muhammad Abbud said he watched his nine-year-old son bleed to death at their Falluja home, unable to take him to hospital as fighting raged in the streets and bombs rained down on the Iraqi city. . . . In the midst of a US onslaught and hemmed in by a round-the-clock curfew, he said he had little choice but to bury his eldest son, Ghaith, in the garden. . . . "My son got shrapnel in his stomach when our house was hit at dawn, but we couldn't take him for treatment," said Abbud, a teacher. "We buried him in the garden because it was too dangerous to go out. We did not know how long the fighting would last." . . . Residents say scores of civilians have been killed or wounded in 24 hours of fighting since US-led forces pushed deep into the city on Monday evening. . . . Doctors said people brought in at least 15 dead civilians at the main clinic in Falluja on Monday. By Tuesday, there were no clinics open, residents said, and no way to count casualties. . . . Overnight US bombardments hit a clinic inside the Sunni Muslim city, killing doctores, nurses and patients, residents said. . . . Sami al-Jumaili, a doctor at Falluja Hospital, said the city was running out of medical supplies. . . . "There is not a single surgeon in Falluja. We had one ambulance hit by US fire and a doctor wounded. There are scores of injured civilians in their homes whom we can't move," he said by telephone from a house where he had gone to help the wounded. . . . "A 13-year-old child just died in my hands." . . . Residents say they have no power and are using kerosene lamps at night. They say they keep to ground floors for safety. Food shops have been closed for six days. . . . "My kids are hysterical with fear," said Farhan Salih. "They are traumatised by the sound but there is nowhere to take them."
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posted by Lorenzo 4:37 PM
US troops 'in centre of Falluja'
(The Guardian, November 9, 2004)
Troops 'control third of city' . . . Heavy street fighting . . . Clerics urge election boycott
There were conflicting reports about the strength of resistance troops faced in a push through the city's northern quarters. The Jolan district, a suspected rebel stronghold, provided less opposition than military planners expected but heavy battles raged elsewhere. . . . The fighting appeared to be easing towards the end of the day. Quil Lawrence, a BBC correspondent embedded with troops in Falluja, said: " You can see fierce fighting, though it has quietened down a little with the coming of darkness. The dark gives an advantage to the Americans because of their night vision equipment. . . . "I imagine there must be many casualties considering the amount of gunfire I've seen. The Americans launch about 500 rounds to the insurgents' one, pelleting the insurgent area." . . . Elsewhere in Iraq, insurgents attacked police stations around Baquba, north-east of Baghdad. . . . A group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is thought to be based in Falluja, said it carried out the attack. In another incident around 50 gunmen attacked a police station in Baghdad. In northern Iraq, a car bomb exploded at the entrance to an Iraqi national guard base close to an oil pumping station near the city of Kirkuk, killing three people. . . . Falluja is ringed by US forces, with British Black Watch soldiers guarding the roads to its south. Iraqi troops are following US forces into the city and securing captured ground. . . . US military officials said three troops had been killed and another 14 wounded in and around Falluja in the past 12 hours. There was no immediate information about civilian casualties. . . . Residents said a US air strike had destroyed a clinic that had been receiving casualties after US and Iraqi forces seized Falluja's main hospital yesterday. . . . Sami al-Jumaili, a doctor at the hospital who escaped arrest when it was taken by US troops, said the city was running out of medical supplies and only a few clinics remained open. . . . "There is not a single surgeon in Falluja. We had one ambulance hit by US fire and a doctor wounded," he told Reuters. "There are scores of injured civilians in their homes whom we can't move. A 13-year-old child just died in my hands." . . . Aid workers also expressed grave concern over the plight of tens of thousands of people fleeing the fighting. . . . An influential group of Sunni Muslim clerics called for a boycott of Iraq's national election in protest against the US-led attack on Falluja. The Association of Muslim Scholars said the vote for a new, permanent government - scheduled for January 27 - was being held "over the corpses of those killed in Falluja and the blood of the wounded". . . . The group said it held Mr Allawi's interim government fully responsible for "the war of annihilation that Falluja is being subjected to today at the hands of the occupation forces and the militias of some of the parties that are participating in the interim government". . . . The development will come as a blow to US and Iraqi officials, who have expressed concern that a lack of Sunni participation would raise question about the legitimacy of the vote. . . . The Muslim Council of Britain added its condemnation, saying it was "utterly appalled" by the attack on Falluja. A spokesman said: "We have long stated that the only solution in Iraq is for all foreign armies to leave and allow the Iraqis to determine their own affairs and regain control of their own territory and resources.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:10 AM
U.S.-led forces pound Fallujah
(Lebanon Daily Star, November 9, 2004)
When air attacks eased, artillery shells rained down. . . . Between thunderous explosions, a cleric with a booming voice at a distant mosque rallied militants for what could be Iraq's biggest battle since last year's U.S.-led invasion. . . . "God is greatest, oh martyrs," he said, telling fighters that waging holy war was an honor. "Rise up mujahideen." . . . The Sunni Muslim Clerics Association urged Iraqi security forces not to fight with U.S. troops in Fallujah and "to beware of making the grave mistake of invading Iraqi cities under the banner of forces who respect no religion or human rights." . . . A hospital doctor in Fallujah, Ahmed Ghanim, said 15 people had been killed and 20 wounded in the fighting. . . . In earlier skirmishes, multinational forces seized a hospital and two bridges on the western edge of the city. . . . Clashes with the insurgents holed up in Fallujah were fierce, with a barrage of rocket, mortar and gunfire raining down as they tried to raise the new Iraqi flag above the hospital. . . . The battle could prove the most intense since last year's war to topple Saddam Hussein, with 2,000 to 2,500 fighters, some loyal to Iraq's most wanted man Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, inside the city and prepared for brutal street fighting. . . . "The predictions are that they are going to stay and fight us here," said Major Todd Desgrosseilliers. A combined force of some 10,000 American and 2,000 Iraqi troops are involved in the offensive. . . . Rebels have transformed Fallujah into their fiefdom since a Marine assault in April ended in stalemate and left hundreds dead. It is estimated now that 80 to 90 percent of the city's 300,000 inhabitants have fled. . . . With instability still rife elsewhere in the country, an American soldier was killed when gunmen fired on a military patrol in eastern Baghdad, the U.S. military said. . . . And at least three people were killed and 45 wounded when two suspected car bombs exploded within minutes of each other outside two Christian churches in southern Baghdad. . . . Meanwhile, at least eight Iraqis were killed and more than a dozen people wounded, including a U.S. soldier, in attacks Monday in central and northern Iraq, officials said. . . . In the restive Sunni city of Ramadi, at least four Iraqis were killed and one wounded in a car bomb attack as a US convoy was passing, said police. . . . Near the city of Samarra north of Baghdad, two Iraqi contractors working with the Americans were killed and two others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle, a police spokesman said.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:43 PM
Assault on besieged Falluja under way
(Aljazeera, 08 November 2004)
US forces have struck a railway station inside Falluja with small arms and tank machinegun fire as fighting raged in the besieged Iraqi city. . . . US warplanes staged ferocious strikes on targets in Falluja after interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi gave US-led forces the go-ahead for a full-scale attack on city on Monday afternoon. . . . Aircraft struck about eight times in 20 minutes, sending huge plumes of smoke billowing up from the north-west of the city, where US-led forces are about to launch an offensive. . . . Medical sources told Aljazeera that 12 people had been killed and double that number injured during clashes between fighters and US forces. . . . Abu Bakr al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi journalist, told Aljazeera the clashes were the most violent the city has witnessed since April 2003. . . . "US tanks, armoured vehicles, F16 and C130 fighters are taking part in the attack on Falluja," al-Dulaimi said. . . . "Violent clashes are now going on in the western areas of the city. US forces are backed by tanks and helicopters", he added. . . . "Clashes have also erupted in Julan neighbourhood. Resistance in these areas is fierce," he said. "The city's defenders are responding to the US attacks with everything at their disposal." . . . US forces hit . . . According to the journalist, the clashes also spread to the western parts of the city including al-Jisrain area. US F16 fighters also bombed sites in northeast Falluja. . . . Fighters caused some damage to the advancing US forces hitting two tanks in the north western area of Saqlawiya and seven oil tankers in Qarma in the northeast. . . . "An unmanned aircraft was downed in central Falluja and a US military vehicle was burnt behind the new bridge," said al-Dulaimi. . . . Falluja's Shura (consultation) Mujahidin Council called for international intervention to halt the assault. It also called on the resistance fighters in other Iraqi cities to come to Falluja's aid. . . . Earlier on Monday, US marines seized control of land around the hospital on the western edge of the city, witnesses said. . . . Allawi [COMMENT: Who has been a CIA contract agent for many years.] said he had given US and Iraqi forces the green light to clear the rebel-held city of Falluja of "terrorists". . . . Sealed off . . . The US army closed all roads leading to the besieged city after Iraq's interim government declared a state of emergency throughout the country excluding Kurdish areas, sources told Aljazeera. . . . Nearly 20,000 US and Iraqi soldiers and marines are camped around the city awaiting orders to move in. . . . The US military says 1000 to 6000 fighters - Saddam Hussein supporters and foreign fighters led by al-Qaida ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - are holed up in Falluja's alleyways and on rooftops. . . . Peace talks between the interim government and Falluja have fallen through several times, most recently last month when Allawi threatened another attack if residents did not surrender al-Zarqawi and other suspected al-Qaida linked fighters. . . . But residents of Falluja say neither al-Zarqawi nor members of al-Qaida are in the city.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:20 PM
U.S. Forces Storm Into Western Fallujah
(Tini Tran, Mariam Fam, Katarina Kratovac and Maggie Michael, Associated Press, Nov 7, 2004)
U.S. forces stormed into western districts of Fallujah early Monday, seizing the main city hospital and securing two key bridges over the Euphrates river in what appeared to be the first stage of the long-expected assault on the insurgent stronghold. . . . An AC-130 gunship raked the city with 40 mm cannon fire as explosions from U.S. artillery lit up the night sky. Intermittent artillery fire blasted southern neighborhoods of Fallujah, and orange fireballs from high explosive airbursts could be seen above the rooftops. . . . U.S. officials said the toughest fight was yet to come when American forces enter the main part of the city on the east bank of the river, including the Jolan neighborhood where insurgent defenses are believed the strongest. . . . The initial attacks on Fallujah began just hours after the Iraqi government declared 60 days of emergency rule throughout most of the country as militants dramatically escalated attacks, killing at least 30 people, including two Americans. . . . Several hundred Iraqi troops were sent into Fallujah's main hospital after U.S. forces sealed off the area. The troops detained about 50 men of military age inside the hospital, but about half were later released. . . . The invaders used special tools, powered by .22 caliber blanks, to break open door locks. The rifle-like reports echoed through the facility. Many patients were herded into hallways and handcuffed until troops determined whether they were insurgents hiding in the hospital. . . . Dr. Salih al-Issawi, head of the hospital, said he had asked U.S. officers to allow doctors and ambulances go inside the main part of the city to help the wounded but they refused. There was no confirmation from the Americans. . . . "The American troops' attempt to take over the hospital was not right because they thought that they would halt medical assistance to the resistance," he said by telephone to a reporter inside the city. "But they did not realize that the hospital does not belong to anybody, especially the resistance." . . . The action began after sundown on the outskirts of the city, which has been sealed off by U.S. and Iraqi forces, and the minaret-studded skyline was lit up with huge flashes of light. . . . Flares were dropped to illuminate targets, and defenders fought back with heavy machine gunfire. Flaming red tracer rounds streaked through the sky from guerrilla positions inside the city, 40 miles west of Baghdad. . . . Before the assault began, U.S. commanders warned troops to expect the most brutal urban fighting since the Vietnam War. . . . Insurgents, meanwhile, waged a second day of multiple attacks across the restive Sunni Triangle north and west of Baghdad, storming police stations, assassinating government officials and setting off deadly car bombs. About 60 people have been killed and 75 injured in the two days of attacks. . . . At dawn, armed rebels stormed three police stations in Haditha and Haqlaniyah, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, killing 22 policemen. Some were lined up and shot execution-style, according to police and hospital officials. . . . Three attacks on U.S. convoys in and around Baghdad killed two American soldiers and wounded five others, the military said. . . . The widespread insurgent attacks seemed aimed at relieving the pressure on Fallujah, where about 10,000 American troops including two Marine battalions and an Army battalion were massed for the assault. Two Iraqi brigades also stood by. . . . All members of the Fallujah police and security services were suspended indefinitely and all roads into Fallujah and neighboring Ramadi were closed indefinitely. . . . U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and others have warned that a military offensive could trigger a wave of violence that would sabotage the January elections by alienating Sunnis, who form the core of the insurgency. About 60 percent of Iraq's 25 million people are Shiite. . . . The influential Sunni clerical Association of Muslim Scholars has threatened to call a boycott of elections if Fallujah is attacked. A public outcry over civilian casualties prompted the Bush administration to call off a siege in April, after which Fallujah fell under control of radical clerics. . . . U.S. jets have been pounding the rebel bastion for days, launching its heaviest airstrikes in six months on Saturday including five 500-pound bombs dropped on insurgent targets to soften up militants. . . . U.S. intelligence estimated about 3,000 insurgents have dug in behind defenses and booby traps in Fallujah, a city of about 300,000 that has become a symbol throughout the Islamic world of Iraqi resistance to the U.S.-led coalition. . . . Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent, the top enlisted Marine in Iraq, told troops the coming battle of Fallujah would be "no different" than the historic fights at Inchon in Korea, the flag-raising victory at Iwo Jima, or the bloody assault to dislodge North Vietnamese from the ancient citadel of Hue they seized in the 1968 Tet Offensive.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:44 PM
US forces seal off Falluja
(The Guardian, November 5, 2004)
After a night of air strikes, US forces sealed off the Iraqi rebel stronghold of Falluja today and a US commander said the long-expected offensive on the city would soon be underway. . . . Speaking near the city, which is around 50km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, US marine colonel Michael Shupp told Reuters: "We are making last preparations. It will be soon. We are just awaiting orders from prime minister [Ayad] Allawi." [COMMENT: Yeah, right, Allawi is calling the shots, and we're still going to find those WMDs.] . . . US soldiers blocked roads leading to Falluja overnight, including the highway leading to the border with Jordan and Syria, witnesses said. Syrian officials also said the Iraqis closed a crossing point on the border. . . . The air strikes targeted a system of barriers rigged with bombs in the south-eastern part of Falluja, the US marines said. They also said they targeted a command post and a weapons cache. . . . It also emerged today that insurgents had killed two US marines and wounded four others in fighting west of Baghdad yesterday, and that a third US soldier was killed by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad. . . . The reports of new US casualties follow yesterday's killing of three British Black Watch soldiers. The men were killed by a suicide car bomber at a checkpoint near their new base, Camp Dogwood, which is around 15km south of Baghdad. . . . The Black Watch regiment was redeployed from southern Iraq to an area south-east of Falluja after a US request to for British troops to relieve US marines expected to take part in the assault on the city. Part of the Black Watch's role is to stop militants escaping from the city and mounting patrols in the area around it.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:04 PM
Three British soldiers sent to high risk area killed
(Tini Tran, CBCNews, November 4, 2004)
Insurgents killed three British troops and wounded eight others from a unit sent to high-risk central Iraq to free U.S. forces for an assault on the militant stronghold Fallujah. . . . The three British soldiers were from the Black Watch regiment, which was moved from relatively quiet southern Iraq to the dangerous area just south of Baghdad so that American troops there could take part in an anticipated offensive against Fallujah and other insurgent strongholds north and west of the capital. . . . An Iraqi interpreter was also killed in the attack, British officials said. The deaths bring the total number of British troops killed in Iraq to 73 and was the worst single combat loss for the British since three Royal Military Police were killed in the southern city of Basra in August 2003. . . . British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed to a U.S. request to move British troops from relatively peaceful southern Iraq to the dangerous Baghdad area despite considerable opposition, even within his own Labour party. . . . Scottish Nationalist party spokesman Angus Robertson warned that the deaths would have "profound implications" for public opinion in Scotland, where the Black Watch regiment is recruited. . . . Elsewhere, an Iraqi National Guard patrol was attacked Thursday by a car bomb in Iskandariyah, 50 kilometres south of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 15, Iraqi hospital officials said. . . . A suicide car bomber killed three and wounded nine others when his explosive-laden vehicle barrelled into the city government offices in Dujail, 80 kilometres north of the capital, police said. . . . The wave of kidnappings continued with Al-Jazeera television airing video of three Jordanian truck drivers seized by the Army of Islam. They were part of a convoy of seven truckers who came under attack Tuesday near Fallujah, the Jordanian Truckers Association said. One driver was killed, two others are missing and a fourth escaped.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:49 PM
U.S. Soldiers Describe Looting of Iraq Explosives
(Mark Mazzetti, Los Angeles Times, 04 November 2004)
In the weeks after the fall of Baghdad, Iraqi looters loaded powerful explosives into pickup trucks and drove the material away from the Al Qaqaa ammunition site, according to a group of U.S. Army reservists and National Guardsmen who said they witnessed the looting. . . . The soldiers said about a dozen U.S. troops guarding the sprawling facility could not prevent the theft because they were outnumbered by looters. Soldiers with one unit - the 317th Support Center based in Wiesbaden, Germany - said they sent a message to commanders in Baghdad requesting help to secure the site but received no reply. . . . The witnesses' accounts of the looting, the first provided by U.S. soldiers, support claims that the American military failed to safeguard the munitions. . . . The soldiers, who belong to two different units, described how Iraqis plundered explosives from unsecured bunkers before driving off in Toyota trucks. . . . The U.S. troops said there was little they could do to prevent looting of the ammunition site, 30 miles south of Baghdad. . . . "We were running from one side of the compound to the other side, trying to kick people out," said one senior noncommissioned officer who was at the site in late April 2003. . . . "On our last day there, there were at least 100 vehicles waiting at the site for us to leave" so looters could come in and take munitions. . . . "It was complete chaos. It was looting like L.A. during the Rodney King riots," another officer said. . . . He and other soldiers who spoke to The Times asked not to be named, saying they feared retaliation from the Pentagon. . . . A Minnesota television station last week broadcast a video of U.S. troops with the 101st Airborne Division using tools to cut through wire seals left by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, at Al Qaqaa, evidence that the high-grade explosives remained inside at least one bunker weeks after the war began. . . . The video was taped April 18, 2003, while soldiers from the 101st Airborne searched Al Qaqaa for chemical and biological weapons. The IAEA had placed seals on nine of the bunkers at the complex, where inspectors had found high-grade explosives. . . . One soldier said U.S. forces watched the looters' trucks loaded with bags marked "hexamine" - a key ingredient for HMX - being driven away from the facility. Unsure what hexamine was, the troops later did an Internet search and learned of its explosive power. . . . "We found out this was stuff you don't smoke around," the soldier said. . . . According to a list of "talking points" circulated by the Pentagon last week, when U.S. military weapons hunters visited Al Qaqaa on May 8, 2003, they found that the facility "had been looted and stripped and vandalized." No IAEA-monitored material was found, the "talking points" stated. . . . A senior U.S. military intelligence official corroborated some aspects of the four soldiers' accounts. The official who tracked facilities believed to store chemical and biological weapons - none was ever found in Iraq - said that Al Qaqaa was "one of the top 200" suspect sites at the outset of the war. . . . Despite the stockpiles at the site, no U.S. forces were specifically assigned to guard Al Qaqaa - known to U.S. forces in Iraq as Objective Elm - after the 101st Airborne left the facility. . . . Members of the 258th Rear Area Operations Center, responsible for base security at nearby LSA Dogwood, came across the looting at Al Qaqaa during patrols through the area. The unit, which comprised 27 soldiers, enlisted the help of troops of the 317th Support in securing the site, the soldiers said. . . . The senior intelligence official said there was no order for any unit to secure Al Qaqaa. "No way," the officer said, adding that doing so would have diverted combat resources from the push toward Baghdad. . . . "It's all about combat power," the officer said, "and we were short combat power. . . . "If we had 150,000 soldiers, I'm not sure we could have secured" such sites, the officer said. "Securing connotes 24-hour presence," and only a few sites in Baghdad were thought to warrant such security. . . . According to Marine sources, when the 1st Marine Division took over, the combat unit didn't have enough troops to secure ammunition depots scattered across central and southern Iraq. The Al Qaqaa facility, they said, was of particular concern. . . . "That site was just abandoned by the 101st Airborne, and there was never a physical handoff by the 101st to the Marines. They just left," said a senior officer who worked in the top Marine command post in Iraq at the time. "We knew these sites were being looted, but there was nothing we could do about it." . . . During the same period, Marines came across another massive ammunition depot near the southern Iraqi town of Diwaniya, the senior officer said. They sent a message to the U.S. headquarters in Baghdad seeking guidance on how to keep the site from being plundered. . . . Commanders in Baghdad responded that the Marines should attempt to blow up the depot. The Marine officers responded that the site was too large to demolish. . . . Commanders in Baghdad "didn't have a good response to that," the officer said. "There was no plan to prevent these weapons from being used against us a year later."
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posted by Lorenzo 9:28 AM