Konformist: Fallujah Massacre PT 3

Submitted by Editor on Wed, 24/11/2004 - 01:58

Many sections of Falluja have been destroyed

A spokesman for the Falluja resistance says US forces are at an impasse in the city, and denies the US offensive against the town has succeeded.

November 22, 2004

Robert Sterling
Editor, The Konformist

Iraqis dispute US progress in Falluja

Saturday 13 November 2004

Speaking to Aljazeera by telephone on Saturday, the spokesman said the US military was suffering increasing numbers of casualties.

"The announcement of the end of the military offensive is proof that American forces are in an impasse ... the American criminals and the Iraqi apostates have suffered more than 150 killed and more than 270 wounded," said Abu Saad al-Dlimi, spokesman of the Shura (consultative) Council of the Muhajidin in Falluja.

Earlier, US-backed Iraqi government officials pronounced the conclusion of a massive six-day US offensive on Falluja.

"Today alone, young freedom fighters have been able to torch more than 12 [American military] vehicles," said the resistance spokesman, adding that the situation had not changed for the past three days.

"US forces are still outside the [northwestern] Julan neighbourhood. US forces were not able to gain one metre of this district," Dlimi added.

"US forces are meeting with fierce resistance from inside Falluja districts ... and are surrounded. They are under missile and artillery fire," he said.

Only pockets left

A senior Iraqi official said earlier on Saturday that the battle to retake the city was over, with more than 1000 fighters killed, but that the country's most wanted man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had fled.

Fighters and journalists say US troops are facing fierce resistance

"Operation Fajr (Dawn) has been achieved and only the malignant pockets remain that we are dealing with through a clean-up operation," Qasim Dawud, a minister of state, said.

The US military, which spearheaded the six-day assault, said commanders on the ground had yet to declare the operation over.

But a US officer said on Sunday that fighters were showing much less resistance than before.

"Two days ago they were coming out and fighting us. Last night they were running. It looks like we are about to break their will," tank company commander Captain Robert Bodisch said.


Dlimi rejected Dawud's assertions.

"The number of martyrs among young fighters does not exceed 100, the others are unarmed civilians who were crushed by American tanks," said Dlimi.

"If (the Americans) say they have wrapped up operations in Falluja, we are telling them that if that is true allow all satellite networks to enter the city this night so the world can see what is really happening in the streets of Falluja.

"Everything they are announcing is disinformation. Falluja is the theatre of butchery and destruction. Today they bombed the only telecommunications centre which provided links between Falluja and the outside world. Americans are criminals," said the spokesman.

So many pockets

Local journalist in Falluja, Haza al-Afify, told Aljazeera: "Fierce clashes are still under way at the northern and northwestern edges of Julan neighbourhood. Fighting is also raging in the southern and southeastern neighbourhoods, particularly at al-Shuhada neighbourhood and the industrial quarter.

"What we have heard on ending military operations as stated by the Iraqi State Minister for Defence Qasim Dawud does not bear credibility in relation to the reality of the situation on the ground.

"Fierce clashes are still continuing in several neighbourhoods. If these neighbourhoods are mere pockets, Falluja will be harbouring so many pockets."

He added that while US tanks and armoured vehicles had the main roads under control, the narrow alleys were still out of reach to US forces.

"I assure you that the reality of the current situation does not imply a halt to military operations, he said."


A city in ruins, sky thick with smoke: 'let's kick ass ... the American way'

Lindsey Hilsum joins the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force as it advances into Falluja

Sunday November 14, 2004

The Observer

In the huge, muddy field which serves as a forward base, Major- General Richard Natonski prepared his troops for the battle ahead. 'We're goin' in to raise the Eye-raqi flag above Falluja - to give it back to the Fallujans,' he shouted, the eyes of the entire 1st Marine Division on him.

Pausing to remember the marine corps who fought in Vietnam, Korea and the two world wars, they then stood to attention and launched into the marine hymn.

'Only two songs send a shiver up my spine,' said one marine, his face scored with the pockmarks and confidence of youth. 'The marine hymn, and that song by Toby Keith after 9/11 which says "we're gonna kick you up the ass - that's the American way".'

Then the unit was on its way to war. Twenty-five behemoths - tanks and amphibious assault vehicles - lumbered through the desert towards the small, poor, dusty city which has become the symbol of America's failure in Iraq. The idea that Falluja will one day rank as a military victory to rival Hue City, Vietnam, may at present seem ludicrous - but such is the significance the Americans place on this battle.

They need to wrest back Falluja not simply to quell the insurgency but also to show the 'hajis' - as they call the rebels - that they cannot match the mighty US Army.

'After we take Falluja, the terrorists will have no sanctuary, nowhere to hide,' said Major General Natonski, commander of the 1st Marine Division.

No soldier can fight unless he hates the enemy - which makes the message that this is all for the Iraqi people difficult to absorb.

'I guess there are some good people - it's jus' that we don' have nothin' to do with them,' mused a marine as he and his colleagues sorted their kit and cleaned their M16 assault rifles. 'I see the little kids in the cars and I feel sorry for them, but when they turn 16 they're evil.'

On Sunday night they slept in the desert - infantry under the skies, trackers in vehicles. By the time they woke on Monday, other units had seized the hospital and installations on the west of the Euphrates. But the main assault east of the river was still to come.

As they advanced on the city's north-western outskirts, black smoke from earlier artillery and bombing barrages smeared the horizon. On entering Falluja, marines burst into an apartment building, evacuating residents. A huddle of women and children were shepherded away, the women pulling their headscarves tighter, the children staring wide-eyed at the huge, muddy green juggernauts standing outside their home.

At a railway, the column came to a halt. The road bridge beneath could be booby trapped; or there could be an ambush lying in wait. Explosives were laid across the rails and two holes were blown in the breach - one as a feint, one for real. Engines roaring, the huge vehicles then rolled up and over the railway embankment and into a cemetery, where they parked up until dawn.

The following day, the real fighting began. Over the week, the two units I'm accompanying have lost at least two marines and seen several injured in the push through the Jolan district, a rebel stronghold. Captain Brian Chontosh says about a dozen men have been captured and a similar number killed. 'The resistance is in pockets,' he adds. 'There's nowhere for them to go now but jail or Allah.'

The resistance is heard but not seen. On the first day, every time a helicopter gunship flew over, it would meet a barrage of AK-47 fire as the insurgents took wild pot shots. The fire simply alerted the Americans to their positions. By the second day, airpower was scarcely used at all. It was the turn of the foot soldiers, amphibious vehicles providing covering fire.

Marines went house to house, knocking down doors, searching for insurgents and arms. Jolan is deserted. It's possible that insurgents forced people from their houses weeks ago.

One man said they had forced him to keep arms in his house, threatening to take him to the rebel leader Omar Hadid to have his throat slit if he refused. He knelt blindfolded against a wall, waiting for the marines to take him for interrogation by the omi nously-named 'exploitation teams'. Intelligence from prisoners has been vital in locating arms stores.

The amphibious vehicles push down walls, and street stalls and cars go up in spectacular explosions. The attitude is that overwhelming force is necessary.

In one house, marines came across the bodies of five Iraqi men, shot in the back of the head. Their story will probably never be known. Much of Falluja is now in ruins. Every day, the marines open up with mortars, mini grenade launchers, machine guns and tank rounds, aiming to kill anyone hiding behind a wall or in a house.

On Friday, in the debris, they found a family: mother, father and five children. Alive. 'We heard on the radio it would be safer to stay at home,' said Usil Abdul, nursing her baby. The children sat on a sofa in a house marines had taken as a base. They accepted sweets and drinks and chatted to soldiers, seemingly unfazed by four days of bombing and mortar fire.

Other residents may be less sanguine when they return to see the wreckage. Marines lounge in the armchairs of Falluja's elite, blowing smoke rings and eating snacks. One stuck a paper flower behind his ear and posed for the camera before changing his mind - 'I don't want people to think I'm gay!'

Walls have been destroyed to clear lines of fire and terraces are littered with spent cartridge cases, rubble and half-eaten ready-to- eat meals. While some may blame the insurgents for bringing this upon the city, many will point to the Americans.

Despite reports of 'heavy fighting', the overwhelming majority of the firing has been one way. Twenty four US soldiers have died and more than 200 injured. An unknown number of Iraqi soldiers have also died. But the resistance in Falluja was sporadic. Insurgent leaders probably fled several weeks before the onslaught. The marines will claim this as a major triumph in the war on terror but if the insurgency merely shifts elsewhere, they may find Falluja is an empty victory.

· Lindsey Hilsum is Channel 4 News's International Editor


AP Photographer Flees Fallujah
US Snipers Slaughter Civilians Crossing Euphrates

By Katarina Kratovac
Associated Press Writer


BAGHDAD, Iraq - In the weeks before the crushing military assault on his hometown, Bilal Hussein sent his parents and brother away from Fallujah to stay with relatives.

The 33-year-old Associated Press photographer stayed behind to capture insider images during the siege of the former insurgent stronghold.

"Everyone in Fallujah knew it was coming. I had been taking pictures for days," he said. "I thought I could go on doing it."

In the hours and days that followed, heavy bombing raids and thunderous artillery shelling turned Hussein's northern Jolan neighborhood into a zone of rubble and death. The walls of his house were pockmarked by coalition fire.

"Destruction was everywhere. I saw people lying dead in the streets, wounded were bleeding and there was no one to come and help them. Even the civilians who stayed in Fallujah were too afraid to go out," he said.

"There was no medicine, water, no electricity nor food for days."

By Tuesday afternoon, as U.S. forces and Iraqi rebels engaged in fierce clashes in the heart of his neighborhood, Hussein snapped.

"U.S. soldiers began to open fire on the houses, so I decided that it was very dangerous to stay in my house," he said.

Hussein said he panicked, seizing on a plan to escape across the Euphrates River, which flows on the western side of the city

"I wasn't really thinking," he said. "Suddenly, I just had to get out. I didn't think there was any other choice."

In the rush, Hussein left behind his camera lens and a satellite telephone for transmitting his images. His lens, marked with the distinctive AP logo, was discovered two days later by U.S. Marines next to a dead man's body in a house in Jolan.

AP colleagues in the Baghdad bureau, who by then had not heard from Hussein in 48 hours, became even more worried.

Hussein moved from house to house " dodging gunfire " and reached the river.

"I decided to swim ... but I changed my mind after seeing U.S. helicopters firing on and killing people who tried to cross the river."

He watched horrified as a family of five was shot dead as they tried to cross. Then, he "helped bury a man by the river bank, with my own hands."

"I kept walking along the river for two hours and I could still see some U.S. snipers ready to shoot anyone who might swim. I quit the idea of crossing the river and walked for about five hours through orchards."

He met a peasant family, who gave him refuge in their house for two days. Hussein knew a driver in the region and sent a message to another AP colleague, Ali Ahmed, in nearby Ramadi.

Ahmed relayed the news that Hussein was alive to AP's Baghdad bureau. He sent a second message back to Hussein that a fisherman in nearby Habaniyah would ferry the photographer to safety by boat.

"At the end of the boat ride, Ali was waiting for me. He took me to Baghdad, to my office."

Sitting safely in the AP's offices, a haggard-looking Hussein offered a tired smile of relief.

"It was a terrible experience in which I learned that life is precious," he said. "I am happy that I am still alive after being close to death during these past days."


Allawi Doesn't Believe Any Civilians Died In Fallujah
Fallujah Fighting Persists - Aid Convoy Rejected

By Michael Georgy and Omar Anwar


FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. warplanes, artillery and mortars struck areas across Falluja on Monday as groups of diehard insurgents held out to the last in the week-long battle.

The U.S. military says it has taken full control of Falluja, but scattered spots of resistance remain, particularly in southern parts. Large areas of the city lie in ruins, devastated by the ferocity of the U.S. military's seven-day onslaught.

A Reuters correspondent who drove from north to south saw bloated and decomposing bodies in the streets, smashed homes, ruined mosques and power and telephone lines hanging uselessly.

Iraq's Red Crescent group has sent seven truck-loads of food and medicine to the city, but the U.S. forces have held up the aid at Falluja's main hospital, on the western outskirts.

A U.S. Marine commander said American forces were working to deliver assistance in the city themselves. Any Iraqis needing help would be told to go to the hospital, he said.

Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has said he doesn't believe any civilians were killed in the offensive, which has left 38 U.S. soldiers, 6 Iraqi troops and more than 1,200 insurgents dead. But witness accounts contradicted him.

A member of an Iraqi relief committee told Al Jazeera television he saw 22 bodies buried in rubble of one street in Falluja's northern Jolan district on Sunday.

"Of the 22 bodies, five were found in one house as well as two children whose ages did not exceed 15 and a man with an artificial leg," Mohammed Farhan Awad said.

"Some of the bodies we found had been eaten by stray dogs and cats. It was a very painful sight."

No help has reached civilians in Falluja since the assault began last Monday. Aid agencies have described the situation as a humanitarian disaster, basing their view on the accounts of refugees who have fled and images broadcast on television.

The Iraqi Red Crescent says it knows of at least 150 families trapped inside Falluja in desperate need of aid. One father of seven contacted by Reuters on Sunday said his children were sick from diarrhea and had not eaten for days.


GIs Leave Dead Wounded Civilians Everywhere
Slash And Burn

By Dhar Jamail


To see photos for this entry, click here:

She lays dazed in the crowded hospital room, languidly waving her bruised arm at the flies. Her shins, shattered by bullets from US soldiers when they fired through the front door of her house, are both covered by casts. Small plastic drainage backs filled with red fluid sit upon her abdomen, where she took shrapnel from another bullet.

Fatima Harouz, 12 years old, lives in Latifiya, a city just south of Baghdad. Just three days ago soldiers attacked her home. Her mother, standing with us says, "They attacked our home and there weren't even any resistance fighters in our area." Her brother was shot and killed, and his wife was wounded as their home was ransacked by soldiers. "Before they left, they killed all of our chickens," added Fatima's mother, her eyes a mixture of fear, shock and rage.

A doctor standing with us, after listening to Fatima's mother tell their story, looks at me and sternly asks, "This is the freedomin their Disney Land are there kids just like this?"

Another young woman, Rana Obeidy, was walking home with her brother two nights ago. She assumes the soldiers shot her and her brother because he was carrying a bottle of soda. This happened in Baghdad. She has a chest wound where a bullet grazed her, unlike her little brother who is dead.

Laying in a bed near Rana is Hanna, 14 years old. She has a gash on her right leg from the bullet of a US soldier. Her family was in a taxi in Baghdad this morning which was driving near a US patrol when a soldier opened fire on the car.

Her father's shirt is spotted with blood from his head which was wounded when the taxi crashed.

In another room a small boy from Fallujah lays on his stomach. Shrapnel from a grenade thrown into their home by a US soldier entered his body through his back, and implanted near his kidney.

An operation successfully removed the shrapnel. His father was killed by what his mother called, "the haphazard shooting of the Americans." The boy, Amin, lies in his bed vacillating between crying with pain and playing with is toy car.

It's one case after another of people from Baghdad, Fallujah, Latifiya, Balad, Ramadi, Samarra, Baqubafrom all over Iraq, who have been injured by the heavy-handed tactics of American soldiers fighting a no-win guerilla war spawned from an illegal invasion based on lies. Their barbaric acts of retaliation have become the daily reality for Iraqis, who continue to take the brunt of the frustration and rage of the soldiers.

Out in front of the hospital three Humvees pull up as soldiers alert the hospital staff that some of the wounded from outside of Fallujah will be brought there. One of the staff begins to yell at the soldier who is doing the talking, while a soldier manning a machine gun atop a Humvee with his face completely covered by an olive balaclava and goggles looks on.

"We don't need you here! Get the fuck out of here! Bring back Saddam! Even he was better than you animals! We don't want to die by your hands, so get out of here! We can take care of our own people!"

The translator with the soldiers does not translate this. Instead he watches with a face of stone.

The survivors of those killed and wounded by the US military in Iraq, as well as those who care for them, are left with feelings of bitter anguish, grief, rage and vengeance.

This afternoon at a small, but busy supply center set up in Baghdad to distribute goods to refugees from Fallujah, the stories the haggard survivors are telling are nearly unimaginable.

"They kicked all the journalists out of Fallujah so they could do whatever they want," says Kassem Mohammed Ahmed, who just escaped from Fallujah three days ago, "The first thing they did is they bombed the hospitals because that is where the wounded have to go. Now we see that wounded people are in the street and the soldiers are rolling over them with tanks. This happened so many times. What you see on the TV is nothing-that is just one camera. What you cannot see is so much."

While Kassem speaks of the television footage, there are also stories of soldiers not discriminating between civilians and resistance fighters.

Another man, Abdul Razaq Ismail arrived from Fallujah last week.

While distributing supplies to other refugees he says, "There are dead bodies on the ground and nobody can bury them. The Americans are dropping some of the bodies into the Euphrates River near Fallujah. They are pulling the bodies with tanks and leaving them at the soccer stadium."

Nearby is another man in tears as he listens, nodding his head. He can't stop crying, but after a little while says he wants to talk to us.

"They bombed my neighborhood and we used car jacks to raise the blocks of concrete to get dead children out from under them."

Another refugee, Abu Sabah, an older man wearing a torn shirt and dusty pants tells of how he escaped with his family while soldiers shot bullets over their heads, but killed his cousin.

"They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud," he said, having just arrived yesterday, "Then small pieces fell from the air with long tails of smoke behind them. These exploded on the ground with large fires that burnt for half an hour. They used these near the train tracks. You could hear these dropped from a large airplane and the bombs were the size of a tank. When anyone touched those fires, their body burned for hours."

The comparison of Iraq to Vietnam is becoming more valid by the day here.

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