Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Falluja report

The Iraqi Red Crescent Society has delivered aid for the first time directly to families stranded by fighting in Falluja.

A Red Crescent team delivered food and water to five families in a battered northern Falluja neighbourhood on Thursday after US marines patrolling the area found them hiding in their homes.

The organisation estimates that only 150 to 175 families stayed in Falluja after the start of the US-led offensive on 8 November, and civilians living in the ruined city have become desperate for water and blankets.


Aid convoys were able to enter Falluja on Wednesday and Monday, but only toured the town, and were unable to move freely and find any of the civilians who needed assistance.


US marines have hinted that it could take more than two months to restore basic services such as water and electricity in the devastated town.


Meanwhile, there are increasing concerns for Falluja residents who left the town before the devastating US offensive.

Shaikh Muhammad Shawki al-Abdali, who lives in a cluster of hamlets just outside Falluja, said many of the 250 families who sought refuge in his village did not have shelter.

The villagers of nearby al-Subaihat said they welcomed the displaced with open arms.

"Friends of mine gave these poor people a room in their house, others gave them mattresses and food," 25-year-old Khalid Jiad said.

"But now there isn't much we can still do for them because we barely have any sugar, flour and rice left. We are almost in the same state as them."

Aljazeera article

The US military has prevented an aid convoy from reaching the besieged city of Falluja, a doctor based in Baghdad who accompanied the convoy says.

"The Iraqi ministry of health asked us to go to Falluja. When we were on our way, the US army stopped our convoy, and carried out a search," said Dr Ibrahim al-Kubaisi.

"After we waited in the US base, located near Falluja, for four hours, a doctor told us that they had agreed with the Iraqi ministry of health to send a medical team to Falluja but only after eight or nine days.

"There is a terrible crime going in Falluja and they do not want anybody to know.


"US forces allow people to go into al-Hadra al-Muhammadiya area, in Falluja, but they prohibited anybody to enter al-Julan, al-Askari and al-Senai neighbourhoods.

Aljazeera article

There are at least 150 families trapped within the city, and the military refuses to let any of them out. While a few ambulances were allowed into one section of the city a few days ago, there are at least three main neighborhoods that the military is keeping a tight lid on. Refugees continue to report the use of napalm and phosphorous weapons-of seeing dead bodies with no bullet holes in them, just scorched patches of skin.


Meanwhile, the military refused to allow yet another aid convoy into Fallujah. They were turned back because the military personnel told them the Ministry of Health would be allowed to send a relief convoy in ''8 or 9 days.''


While the humanitarian crisis facing families who remain trapped inside Fallujah grinds on, US-backed interim prime minister Ayad Allawi announced yesterday that the crime rate in Fallujah was down after the US siege of the city.

Iraq Dispatches post


Sunday, November 28, 2004

Falluja's refugees

At one refugee camp for Fallujans we learn it is closed-because a man named Kais Al-Nazzal who owns an apartment building in Baghdad has taken responsibility of the 100 refugee families at the Amiriyah camp and housed, fed and clothed them. An act of beauty amidst the tragedy of occupied Iraq.

Most of the aid going to the refugees is coming from Iraqis, rather than NGO’s or certainly not the MOH. Back at the MOH Shehab Ahmed Jassim, who is in charge of managing the refugee crisis, said they had provided everything the refugees needed. That they’d sent 20 ambulances to the general hospital in Fallujah.

What he neglected to say was that most Fallujans have been unable to reach the main hospital due to ongoing fighting and most being too afraid of detainment by soldiers or Iraqi National Guardsmen to seek medical help. The ambulances returned to Baghdad.

“During the Najaf fighting, things were not like this,” said a doctor I interviewed later, “There were delegations, moveable operating theaters, and plenty of help for them there which was allowed, but for Fallujah, they have done next to nothing. Why?”

Every doctor I’ve interviewed concerning the situation in Fallujah has shared similar sentiments. Theories abound as to why.
  Dahr Jamail post

A 35 year-old merchant from Fallujah, Abu Hammad, starts telling us what he experienced, and barely breathes while doing so because he is so enraged.

“The American warplanes came continuously through the night and bombed everywhere in Fallujah! It did not stop even for a moment! If the American forces did not find a target to bomb, they used sound bombs just to terrorize the people and children. The city stayed in fear; I cannot give a picture of how panicked everyone was.”


Abu Hammad continues, “Most of the innocent people there stayed in mosques to be closer to God for safety. Even the wounded people were killed. Old ladies with white flags were killed by the Americans! The Americans announced for people to come to a certain mosque if they wanted to leave Fallujah, and even the people who went there carrying white flags were killed!”


“There was no food, no electricity, no water,” continues Abu Hammad, “We couldn’t even light a candle because the Americans would see it and kill us.”


He continues on, “There are bodies the Americans threw in the river. I saw them do this! And anyone who stayed thought they would be killed by the Americans, so they tried to swim across the river. Even then the Americans shot them with rifles from the shore! Even if some of them were holding a white flag or white clothes over their heads to show they are not fighters, they were all shot! Even people who couldn’t swim tried to cross the river! They drowned rather than staying to be killed by the Americans.”

  Dahr Jamail post

Further reports of napalm in Falluja

The U.S. military is secretly using banned napalm gas and other outlawed weapons against civilians in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, eyewitnesses reported.

Residents in Fallujah reported that innocent civilians have been killed by napalm attacks, a poisonous cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel which makes the human body melt.


Other residents of that area also said that banned weapons were used. Abu Sabah, said; ''They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud - then small pieces fall from the air with long tails of smoke behind them."

He said that pieces of these strange bombs explode into large fires that burn the skin even when water is thrown on the burns.

Phosphorous arms and the napalm gas are known to have such effects.


Kassem Mohammed Ahmed, who fled Fallujah last week, said that he witnessed many atrocities committed by U.S. troops in the shattered city. "I watched them roll over wounded people in the street with tanks," he said. "This happened so many times."


On Saturday, Labor MPs have demanded that British Prime Minister confront the Commons over the use of the deadly gas in Fallujah.

Halifax Labor MP Alice Mahon said: "I am calling on Mr. Blair to make an emergency statement to the Commons to explain why this is happening. It begs the question: 'Did we know about this hideous weapon's use in Iraq?'"

Furious critics have also demanded that Blair threatens the U.S. to pullout British forces from Iraq unless the U.S. stops using the world’s deadliest weapon.

The United Nations banned the use of the napalm gas against civilians in 1980 after pictures of a naked wounded girl in Vietnam shocked the world.

The United States, which didn't endorse the convention, is the only nation in the world still using the deadly weapon.

Aljazeera article

Arab report from Falluja

Last evening, after US forces outside Fallujah took heavy rocket fire from the Lions of Fallujah, occupation forces pulled their units that were surrounding the western sector of the city back in the direction of the US base at al-Habbaniyah.

In a dispatch posted at 9pm Mecca time, Friday night, Mafkarat al-Islam's correspondent reported that US forces outside Fallujah were subjected to heavy Mujahideen bombardments, firing Grad and Tariq rockets that resulted in their withdrawal from the area. JUS also received information from sources close to the Mujahideen that US forces were indeed pulling back at al-Habbaniyah

This is the first report of a US retreat from any of the sectors of the occupation lines that ring Fallujah since the siege began some weeks ago. US forces also withdrew from check points on the old bridge and the new bridge west of the city.


The limitation of US forces has become widely apparent over the past few days as Mujahideen outside the city were able to break through US lines on three occasions; once by swimming the river and twice through what was referred to as the strongly fortified northwestern part of the city.

Mafkarat al-Islam reports that the Mujahideen have managed to cut all US supply lines on all land routes that support the US lines around the city.


As of the time of this filing, Mujahideen control over 65% percent of Fallujah.


Another development has been the withdrawal of US snipers from the streets overlooking the Euphrates Rive and the city is now exposed from the west according to Mafkarat al-Islam who reported the first US withdrawal from Fallujah during the first siege of the city last April. At that time, Mafkarat al-Islam's reports were met with disbelief and condemnation as other media simply echoed official US claims of nonstop "victory" and "advance" however they were ultimately proven correct.

On Saturday, JUS received reports from both Mafkarat al-Islam's and our own sources that, while the information is slightly different, both conclude that US forces has withdrawn in some areas.

  Rense article

Saturday, November 27, 2004

We're the "good guys"

Although the US military has dismissed accounts of the health center bombing as "unsubstantiated," in fact they are credible and come from multiple sources. Dr. Sami al-Jumaili described how US warplanes bombed the Central Health Centre in which he was working at 5:30 am on November 9. The clinic had been treating many of the city's sick and wounded after US forces took over the main hospital at the start of the invasion. According to Dr. al-Jumaili, US warplanes dropped three bombs on the clinic, where approximately sixty patients--many of whom had serious injuries from US aerial bombings and attacks--were being treated.

Dr. al-Jumaili reports that thirty-five patients were killed in the airstrike, including two girls and three boys under the age of 10. In addition, he said, fifteen medics, four nurses and five health support staff were killed, among them health aides Sami Omar and Omar Mahmoud, nurses Ali Amini and Omar Ahmed, and physicians Muhammad Abbas, Hamid Rabia, Saluan al-Kubaissy and Mustafa Sheriff.

Although the deaths of these individual health workers could not be independently confirmed, Dr. al-Jumaili's account is echoed by Fadhil Badrani, an Iraqi reporter for Reuters and the BBC.


US airstrikes also leveled a warehouse in which medical supplies were stored next to the health center, Dr. al-Jumaili reports. Ambulances from the city had been confiscated by the government, he says, and the only vehicle left was targeted by US fire, killing the driver and wounding a paramedic. Hamid Salaman of the Falluja General Hospital told the Associated Press that five patients in the ambulance were killed.


The Iraqi Red Crescent Society has called the health conditions in and around Falluja "catastrophic." One hospital staff member who recently left the city reports that there were severe outbreaks of diarrheal infections among the population, with children and the elderly dying from infectious disease, starvation and dehydration in greater numbers each day. Dr. al-Jumaili, Dr. al-Ani and journalist Badrani each stated that the wounded and children are dying because of lack of medical attention and water. In one case, according to Dr. al-Jumaili, three children died of dehydration when their father was unable to find water for them. The US forces cut off the city's water supply before launching their assault.

  Information Clearinghouse article

Friday, November 26, 2004

From Falluja to Mosul and back again

In early November, insurgents carried out a series of co-ordinated attacks against local police stations.

They occupied and ransacked buildings, taking with them anything worth keeping including uniforms, weapons, radios and police cars.

The attacks caused the police force to collapse. The chief of police has left his job.

US commanders estimate that more than three quarters of local policemen are no longer showing up for work.


The attacks on police stations punched a hole through the US strategy for Mosul.

US forces had wanted to take a back seat in policing and controlling this city. They wanted Iraqi forces to do the job themselves.


Many of the US troops in Mosul have only been here for about a month.

Few have learned more than a few words of Arabic. Few have any direct contact with the local population.


This is the city where US forces killed the sons of Saddam.

Last year the Americans thought they had fought off their enemies and freed Mosul for good.

But now the city is back under nightly curfew. Many Iraqis still live amid fear and uncertainty.

And the Americans have found their way into another fight.

  BBC News article

Bring 'em on, eh?

U.S. forces found 13 more bodies in and around the northern city of Mosul, the military said Friday, bringing to 35 the number of corpses discovered in the past week in the area shaken by an insurgent uprising.


U.S. military said that 11 of the 35 bodies found have been identified as members of the Iraqi security forces, who have been targeted by insurgents. The others have not been identified.


Meanwhile, Iraqi forces arrested four insurgents who said they were planning attacks against coalition bases and police stations in the southern city of Basra, officials said Friday, a day after a joint British-Iraqi operation netted three dozen men in the area.

Iraqi National Guardsmen arrested the four after a brief gunfight at the Al-Yarmouk Hotel. Three of the men came from Fallujah and the fourth from Samarra, according to an Iraqi National Guard official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The four men told Iraqi officials they were planning a series of attacks in southern Basra, which is the headquarters for some 8,500 British troops, in an attempt to relieve the U.S. military pressure on Fallujah.


In Fallujah, insurgents ambushed U.S. troops as they entered a home during house-to-house searches in the former rebel bastion, killing two Marines and wounding three others, the U.S. military said Friday.

Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said the Marines responded with gunfire, killing three rebels hiding inside.

  ABC News article

Anyone left in Falluja is now considered a "rebel", no doubt. If you were a Fallujan, after the past two weeks of seeing everyone shot on sight, and hearing how they also shoot and kill the wounded, I don't think you would wait for the the troops to open fire on you once they get inside your home either, not if you had a gun, and apparently every Fallujan home has at least one. The report says they have finished "clearing" half the city in their house-to-house operation. Mission Not-Quite-Accomplished.

"There will be efforts to disrupt the elections," England said on a visit to Marines at a camp outside Fallujah. "The insurgents don't want the elections to be held and certainly not that they be successful. But we will prevail. We will provide the necessary stability."

And the Sunnis boycotting the elections - will they be considered insurgents as well?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

World reaction to Falluja assault

World revulsion against the US attack on Fallujah reached a crescendo during the past five days, with significant street protests breaking out in the Middle East and Latin America. Turkey, Palestine and Libya in the region, and Chile in the New World saw thousands of angry protesters come out against the US.
Juan Cole post

Gee, you hear anything about any of that?

No wonder Bunnypants was so scared to be without his SS bodyguard in Chile.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Falluja report

NEAR FALLUJAH, Iraq, Nov. 22 (Xinhuanet) -- Fierce clashes between US-led forces and defenders of Fallujah renewed Monday Morning as relief teams were struggling to enter the battle-torn central Iraqi city.


Residents outside the city said the US forces let a relief team to enter the city on Sunday, but later they opened fire at the convoy, killing one member of the team and forcing them to withdrawamid growing fears of human crisis in Fallujah.

Xinhuanet article

The US military says Marines in Fallujah have shot and killed an insurgent who engaged them as he was faking being dead, a week after footage of a marine killing an apparently unarmed and wounded Iraqi caused a stir in the region.

"Marines from the 1st Marine Division shot and killed an insurgent who while faking dead opened fire on the marines who were conducting a security and clearing patrol through the streets," a military statement said.


Military sources had said that the rules of engagement were looser during the operation launched in Fallujah, for fear that rebels would be disguised, fake death or wear suicide explosives belts.

The US military and Iraqi government troops are still carrying house-to-house searches in the rebel bastion but two weeks after it was launched, the largest post-Saddam military operation in Iraq is all but over.

ABC News article

And related....

In Mosul...

A senior Sunni Muslim cleric has been killed in a drive-by shooting in the northern city of Mosul, medical sources say.


The cleric was a member of influential Iraqi Muslim body the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), and the brother of the organisation's spokesman in Baghdad, Muhammad Bashar al-Faidhi.

The AMS has called for a boycott of elections planned for 30 January. It says its members have been targeted by US and Iraqi security forces and also by armed fighters trying to fuel sectarian unrest.


Also in Mosul, four bodies, at least three of them Iraqi soldiers, were found in the past 24 hours by the US military, a US army officer said on Monday.

"We found them at 2300 (2000 GMT on Sunday). They had been dead for at least a couple of hours and their bodies set against the sidewalk, shot in the head and hands tied," Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kurilla said, adding that three of them were confirmed as being Iraqi soldiers.

Aljazeera article

In Tikrit...

Meanwhile, US forces arrested five Iraqi policemen and confiscated their weapons at a checkpoint in Ishaqi district south of Tikrit.
Aljazeera article

In Ramadi...

Insurgents launched a deadly ambush Sunday in the guerrilla stronghold of Ramadi, killing eight Iraqi National Guardsmen and injuring 18 others, police said.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer article

US marines have killed several Iraqi civilians after opening fire at a bus which drove through a checkpoint in the city of Ramadi, the US military and Iraqi police say.

Police said seven died on Saturday while the military said three.

"The driver ignored verbal warning and several warning shots," the military said in a statement.

"As US marines in the vicinity of the checkpoint attempted to disable the van, the van accelerated toward the marines. The marines then fired upon the vehicle to protect themselves and the integrity of the checkpoint."

Aljazeera article

In Samarra...

In Samarra, another mainly Sunni city north of Baghdad, three Iraqis were killed and six others wounded in fierce clashes between fighters and US troops, medical sources said.
Aljazeera article

In Baghdad...

Baghdad has been rocked by daily violence, including car bomb, roadside bomb, rocket and mortar attacks mainly aimed at US or Iraqi military targets but which often kill Iraqi civilians.
Aljazeera article

Two foreigners, at least one of them British, were arrested in Baghdad after a ministerial bodyguard was shot dead, a senior police source has said.

Shooting broke out when an advance party of the interim interior minister's security detail came upon a civilian vehicle whose occupants they felt were behaving suspiciously, the source said.

It is not clear who fired first, but the Iraqi driver of the vehicle and one of minister Falah al-Naqib's guards were killed and another bodyguard wounded.

Aljazeera article

Reporter Kevin Sites tells his story

It's time you to have the facts from me, in my own words, about what I saw -- without imposing on that Marine -- guilt or innocence or anything in between. I want you to read my account and make up your own minds about whether you think what I did was right or wrong. All the other armchair analysts don't mean a damn to me.

Here it goes.

Go to Sites' website to read the rest of his account of the Marine who shot the wounded prisoners in a Falluja mosque last week.<

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Falluja report: more mass graves, dead bodies, scavengers, and continued fighting

Residents of a village neighbouring Falluja have told Aljazeera that they helped bury the bodies of 73 women and children who were burnt to death by a US bombing attack.

"We buried them here, but we could not identify them because they were charred by the use of napalm bombs used by the Americans," said one resident of Saqlawiya in footage aired on Aljazeera on Sunday.

There have been no reports of the US military using napalm in Falluja and no independent verification of the claims.

The resident told Aljazeera all the bodies were buried in a single grave.

Late last week, US troops in Falluja called on some residents who had fled the fighting to return and help bury the dead.

However, according to other residents who managed to flee the fighting after US forces entered the city, hundreds more bodies still lay in the streets and were being fed on by packs of wild dogs.


Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Falluja remained too dangerous to secure proper retrieval and burial of corpses.


"The city is still suffering shortage of public services. There is no water or electricity. There is no way to offer medical treatment for the injured families still surrounded inside the city," he added.

  Aljazeera article

Another truckload of bodies reached the outskirts of the city for burial Friday in a ceremony marked by anger at U.S. troops, who say they killed 1,200 Iraqi and foreign fighters.

With Marines scouring the largely deserted city house by house and occasionally clashing with remnants of the insurgent force, travel in or out is limited but the Americans have allowed local voluntary organizations to retrieve some bodies.

Two dozen arrived on a truck at the dusty outlying village of Saqlawiya Friday, greeted by a crowd of about 150 men who removed the corpses from military body bags to try to identify them and to bury them in shrouds, according to Muslim custom.

Amid the flies and stench of the blackened and bloated bodies, apparently dead for many days, identification was next to impossible but most appeared to be of men of fighting age and at least one wore an ammunition vest.

U.S. commanders say they do not believe civilians were killed during the offensive begun 11 days ago.


As onlookers stood in line to hear the traditional prayers for the dead, the preacher also called for revenge on Americans and their Iraqi allies, who believe the assault on Falluja has "broken the back" of the Sunni Muslim insurgency.

"We ask you God to be merciful," the preacher chanted.

"Shake the earth beneath the feet of the Americans, shake the earth beneath the feet of the Crusaders, shake the earth beneath the feet of the hypocrites that help them.

"God grant victory to Iraq."

  ABC News article

On the eve of the assault on Falluja, the US military ordered troops to shoot any male on the street between the ages of 15 and 50 if they were seen as a security threat, regardless of whether they had a weapon.

"You are killers, not murderers. You are warriors not war criminals. Don't cross that line."

Those were the words of a US officer to his men before they took part in the recent assault on the Iraqi city of Falluja.


"The enemy can dress as a woman, the enemy can be faking to be dead," said one company commander to his marines before entering the heart of the city. "So shoot everything that moves and everything that doesn't move," he said.

The photographer embedded with this unit, which carried out some of the most dangerous missions on the frontlines of the Falluja battle, said the rules of engagement were gradually modified as the situation evolved.

"A marine was killed when a unit entered a house. They pulled out and dynamited the building, but when they moved back in, an arm stuck out from under the rubble and threw a grenade," he said.

The photographer, who did not wish to identify his unit, said the fear of human bombers combined with the discovery that fighters were taking amphetamines and adrenaline prompted his platoon to take new measures.

"From that point on, the rule was the so-called 'double tap': two bullets in every body," he said.

The night before the assault began, the order came down that troops could shoot any male on the street between the ages of 15 and 50 if they were viewed as a security threat, regardless of whether they had a weapon.

When marines asked a gunnery sergeant for clarification, he told his men if they saw any military-aged males on the street "Drop 'em."


After one marine was killed and five were wounded on the second day of the assault, the military command ordered platoons to spray homes with machine-gun and tank fire before entering them, in an effort to kill members of the resistance lurking inside waiting for them.

  Brunei Direct article

Yes, after telling the civilians in Falluja to stay inside their houses and they would be safe.

FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. Marines searching from house to house in Falluja are finding weapons caches everywhere from an upscale villa to the homes of Iraqi policemen.


Rebel snipers fire on search parties eager to stabilise Falluja after seizing control. Some houses are booby-trapped. Some weapons are hidden behind paintings, in air conditioning units and in couches -- and the arms supply seems endless.


"We found policemen with mortars and mines and surface-to-air missiles. What policeman do you know that needs that?" said 2nd Lieutenant James Collins, 23, of Jamesville, North Carolina.

  Reuters article

Oh, you mean it isn't foreign fighters? You mean the very Iraqis we claim to be training to help us "stabilize" the country are fighting us? Oh, no, I'm sure you don't mean that.

Here's a look at it from Jamaica...

As for the city's inhabitants, the US military repeatedly assured the world that some 250,000 of its 300,000 population (again, those neatly rounded figures!) had fled Falluja in advance. But where exactly they fled to - that, we have not been told. A quarter of a million people is a lot of people! Where are they now; and how have they been accessing the bare necessities of life?


A Bush-supporting US congressman, whose name I sorely regret having missed, had no doubt his finest moment when he told CNN that among the many benefits Fallujans would reap from this heraldic harvest of blood and concrete was 'the tremendous number of jobs' they were going to get when the rebuilding of the city begins. (Bet you never thought of that antidote to unemployment, Mr Patterson - flatten downtown Kingston and then rebuild it!)

If fewer people made it out of the city than claimed, look at it this way....there will be less job competition for rebuilding. Continue reading 'The battle for Falluja' in the Jamaican Observer.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Aljazeera updates on Falluja

ICRC blasts 'inhumanity' of Falluja battles

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) slammed the "utter contempt" for humanity shown by all sides in Iraq amid fierce fighting in Falluja.

Residents who fled the city gathered at a cemetery near the town of al-Saqlawiya, north of Falluja, in an attempt to identify the bodies. The Central Committee for Relief Aid transported the corpses by truck to the cemetery.

Fighting continues in Falluja, despite claims by US marines that they have wiped out "insurgents".


"As hostilities continue in Falluja and elsewhere, every day seems to bring news of yet another act of utter contempt for the most basic tenet of humanity: the obligation to protect human life and dignity," he said.

"For the parties to this conflict, complying with international humanitarian law is an obligation, not an option," Kraehenbuehl said in an unusually tough statement by the relief agency.

International law?

Outcome of US Falluja assault disputed

[W]hile 10 days of fighting had deprived fighters a safe haven, a spokesman for interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi conceded that many of the city's resistance had dispersed, posing threats elsewhere that US and Iraqi authorities would have to counter.

Furthermore, a report leaked to The New York Times, quoting US marine officers in Falluja, warned of the outstanding resilience of fighters opposed to the presence of foreign troops in Iraq.

Fighters would continue to disrupt efforts to set up reliable Iraqi security forces and to hold an election in late January, the marine intelligence report was quoted as saying.

That would put pressure on US forces, who have already had to return troops from Falluja to other northern and western areas where some in the once dominant Sunni Muslim minority fear elections will hand power to Iraq's Shia majority.


"They have been saying that Falluja is the source of and therefore the solution to their problems. The violence in Mosul has shown that to be a crassly stupid thing to say," Toby Dodge, an Iraq analyst at Queen Mary University of London, said.

"Insurgency is a national phenomenon fuelled by alienation. I don't think this war is winnable because they have alienated the base of support across Iraqi society."


Meanwhile, attacks on US forces and Iraqi police continued unabated throughout Iraq.

And, the related stories....

Clashes intensify in Mosul

The bodies of nine purported members of the Iraqi National Guard have been found in Mosul, where clashes between the troops, supported by US forces, and armed fighters continued for a third day.


The men, discovered in an industrial area not far from the scene of some of the worst clashes in Mosul, appeared to have been executed, as they all had a bullet in the head and their bodies were also badly burned.

Fighting rages in Baghdad

Three Iraqi policemen have been killed in heavy fighting out between armed fighters and Iraqi National Guards supported by US troops in western Baghdad.


An Iraqi journalist in the area, Ziad Badruldin, told Aljazeera that he saw the al-Aadhamiya police station up in flames.

Badruldin, however, also said there are reports that the three were killed when their car was set ablaze near the al-Aadhamiya bridge.

Clashes, the reporter said, had also occurred in Antar Square. Other confrontations occurred in al-Gazaliya, al-Amariya and Haifa Street.

Badruldin said he saw destroyed US vehicles near the Abu Hanifa mosque.

Aljazeera aired video of a US armoured vehicle, believed to be a Hummer, destroyed by armed fighters in the clashes. Its occupants are believed to have been killed, but there has been no comment from US military authorities on the incident.


Another Iraqi journalist Ziad al-Samarrai told Aljazeera that fierce clashes were spreading to other districts of the city including al-Dura.


In related incidents, two blasts rocked Baghdad on Saturday morning.


Aljazeera has also learned that an unknown armed group shot and killed an advisor to the interim Iraqi Ministry of Works and Public Affairs on Saturday in Baghdad.

Dr Amal Abd al-Hamid, her secretary, driver and bodyguard were all killed in the attack in the al-Qadisiyah neighbourhood.

Also on Saturday, five students were detained by Iraqi police at the Technology University of Baghdad. The arrest came in the wake of a demonstration at the university which called for an end to the "massacres and atrocities" committed in Falluja.

Iraqi groups call for election boycott

A group of national, political and religious groups in Iraq, including the Association of Muslim Scholars, have decided to boycott the elections due to be held early next year.

US to bolster troop strength in Iraq

[Lieutenant General Lance Smith, deputy commander of the US Central Command] Smith also dropped hints that elections may not be held in Falluja.

"And so it could be that even without, say, a city like Falluja voting, that there will be adequate representation by the Sunnis to feel or look like it was legitimate representation for all the parties involved."


The United States plans to extend tours of duty of more troops in Iraq to increase force levels through January elections, a top US general has said.


Smith...said on Friday that additional troops may also be deployed if necessary to secure the country before the vote.

"We are talking mainly about extending some units," Smith said. "We will make further assessment as we get a little bit closer and understand what the impact of Falluja has been in the entire country."


Elections may be held without certain problematic sectors voting, and more troops are going to be staying longer, and possibly more troops sent over.

Nicely done. Very nice indeed. Mission accomplished.

Falluja: Mission accomplished

American military officials said Thursday that they had discovered a house in the devastated city of Falluja that appeared to have been a headquarters for guerrillas of the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

An American commander also said the weeklong offensive to take the city had "broken the back of the insurgency."

Despite that assessment, gun battles and mortar fire continued to shake the city, and the commander, Lt. Gen. John Sattler of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, said it would be "some time" before it was safe enough to allow many of Falluja's 300,000 residents to return.
  NY Times article

Some more of those mexed missages.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

From Falluja to Mosul

And other stops along the way (Ramadi, Baghdad, Baiji, et al.)...

November 18: Marine intelligence officials have issued a report warning that any significant withdrawal of troops from the Iraqi city of Fallujah would strengthen the insurgency.

The assessment, distributed to senior Marine and Army officers in Iraq (news - web sites), also said that despite the heavy fighting with coalition forces, the insurgents would continue to increase in number, carrying out attacks and fomenting unrest in the area.

One officer said the seven-page classified report -- parts of which were provided to Thursday's edition of The New York Times -- was "brutally honest" and appears to contradict the US government's victorious account of the US-led fight against insurgents in Fallujah and other parts of northern Iraq.

Iraq Net article

The administration is lying to us. Well, what a frickin' surprise.

The pessimistic analysis was prepared by intelligence officers in the First Marine Expeditionary Force, or I MEF, last weekend as the offensive in Falluja was winding down.

Senior military officials in Iraq and Washington disputed the findings of the report, describing it as a subjective judgement of some Marines that did not reflect the views of all intelligence officials and commanders in Iraq.

Another surprise.

Rebels attacked the provincial governor's office in Iraq's third city of Mosul on Thursday, killing one of his bodyguards and wounding four more, the U.S. military said.


Insurgents fired 10 mortar rounds at the governor's office in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, setting ablaze a fuel tanker parked nearby, a U.S. military spokeswoman said.


Rebels also fired six mortar rounds at a U.S. military base in Mosul, but there were no injuries.

Iraq Net article

Falluja "restoration"

The first steps toward reconstruction in Fallujah were taken Wednesday, and they were taken at a run, while crouching.

Two dozen members of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Engineer Group crunched over gravel, charred shell casings and broken glass, rifles out as they bounded down a war-torn street that was once a commercial strip.

They duck-walked through eerily empty streets as the sounds of a nearby gunfight echoed off the buildings and alleyways.


Seizing their first objective, teams of rifle-toting engineers crouched behind cover and pointed M-16s in all directions. One man produced a pry bar, another a sturdy shovel. Together they heaved up a sewer cover.


During a lull, one gravelly voice broke the silence, "Does the word `apocalyptic' apply?"

Continue reading...<

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Falluja arithmetic

A Greg Palast email.

Monday's New York Times, page 1:

"American commanders said 38 service members had been killed and 275 wounded in the Falluja assault."

Monday's New York Times, page 11:

"The American military hospital here reported that it had treated 419 American soldiers since the siege of Falluja began."

Questions for the class:

1. If 275 soldiers were wounded in Falluja and 419 are treated for wounds, how many were shot on the plane ride to Germany?

2. We're told only 275 soldiers were wounded but 419 treated for wounds; and we're told that 38 soldiers died. So how many will be buried?

3. How long have these Times reporters been embedded with with military? Bonus question: When will they get out of bed with the military?

Monday's New York Times, page 1:

"The commanders estimated that 1,200 to 1,600 insurgents had been killed."

Monday's New York Times, page 11:

"Nowhere to be found: the remains of the insurgents that the tanks had been sent in to destroy. ...The absence of insurgent bodies in Falluja has remained an enduring mystery."

NOT in the New York Times:

"Every time I hear the news
That old feeling comes back on;
We're waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the Big Fool says to push on."

- Pete Seeger, 1967

From Dahr Jamail in Iraq, IPS...

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of U.S. military reprisal, a high-ranking official with the Red Cross in Baghdad told IPS that "at least 800 civilians" have been killed in Fallujah so far.

His estimate is based on reports from Red Crescent aid workers stationed around the embattled city, from residents within the city and from refugees, he said.

"Several of our Red Cross workers have just returned from Fallujah since the Americans won't let them into the city," he said. "And they said the people they are tending to in the refugee camps set up in the desert outside the city are telling horrible stories of suffering and death inside Fallujah."

The official said that both Red Cross and Iraqi Red Crescent relief teams had asked the U.S. military in Fallujah to take in medical supplies to people trapped in the city, but their repeated requests had been turned down.

A convoy of relief supplies from both relief organisations continues to wait on the outskirts of the city for military permission to enter. They have appealed to the United Nations to intervene on their behalf.

"The Americans close their ears, and that is it," the Red Cross official said. "They won't even let us take supplies into Fallujah General Hospital."

The official estimated that at least 50,000 residents remain trapped within the city. They were too poor to leave, lacked friends or family outside the city and therefore had nowhere to go, or they simply had not had enough time to escape before the siege began, he said.

Aid workers in his organisation have reported that houses of civilians in Kharma, a small city near Fallujah, had been bombed by U.S. warplanes. In one instance a family of five was killed just two days ago, they reported.

"I don't know why the American leaders did not approach the Red Cross and ask us to deal with the families properly before the attacking began,â" said a Red Cross aid worker, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.


If the U.S. forces would call a temporary cease-fire -we could get our trucks in and get the civilians left in Fallujah who need medical care, we could get them out," he said.

Mosques have organised massive collections of food and relief supplies for Fallujah residents as they did last April when the city was under attack, but these supplies have not been allowed into the city either.


The situation within Fallujah is grim, he said. If help does not reach people soon, "the children who are trapped will most likely die."

He said the Ministry of Health in the U.S.-backed interim Iraqi government had stopped supplying hospitals and clinics in Fallujah two months before the current siege.

From Jim Krane, AP...

As fighting winds down, U.S. troops face an even more difficult mission in Fallujah winning the people's allegiance. Planners want to make sure the Fallujah battle doesn't mimic the U.S.-led invasion: a well-executed military assault followed by a flawed occupation.

As soon as the city settles down, U.S. leaders and their Iraqi government partners plan to bring in a new city government including a new mayor and police chief as well as thousands of Iraqi police and paramilitary forces whose job it will be to keep order.

I believe that is what is called disconnect from reality.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Falluja genocide political fallout

U.S. arrests Islamic leader in Iraq's puppet government
US forces have detained the deputy head of Iraq's interim parliament and senior member of the Iraqi Islamic Party in a dawn raid on his Baghdad home.

Nasir Ayif was taken into custody in the northwestern Jamiah neighbourhood in response to the party's opposition to the US-led offensive on Falluja, party official Iyad al-Samarrai said.


Last week, the Iraqi Islamic Party, one of the strongest Sunni political parties in the country, had withdrawn from the interim government to protest against the US assault on Falluja, saying it "has led and will lead to more killings and genocide without mercy from the Americans."


"This action is a kind of punishment to the Islamic Party because we object to what is happening in Iraq, especially Falluja, and to the security policies adopted by the Americans and the Iraqi government," al-Samarrai was quoted as saying.

He told Aljazeera these kinds of arrests were always carried out "under the pretext of possession of weapons and explosives or carrying out anti-US actions".

Aljazeera article

Give us time. We'll get that sovereign government shaped the way we want it eventually.

Al-Samarrai said the detained official "spent the past few weeks devoting all his efforts to offering humanitarian aid to the families fleeing Falluja".

"His arrest may be an expression of dissatisfaction with the Islamic party's anti-US policies," the party official said.

Al-Samarrai said interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi had previously assigned Ayif to oversee the Falluja negotiations.

"Therefore, I call on Iyad Allawi to immediately do something and solve this issue."

Can't wait for that response.

Reports from Falluja

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Dr. Ahmed Ghanim's nightmarish week began with a phone call in the operating room of a triage center in downtown Fallujah.

On the line was the manager of the city's General Hospital. Iraqi national guardsmen and U.S. Marines, the manager said, had entered the hospital, handcuffed the doctors and were forcing the patients out to the parking lot.

The guardsmen "stole the mobile phones, the hospital safe where the money is kept and damaged the ambulances and cars," said Ghanim, an orthopedic surgeon who works at the hospital. "The Americans were more sympathetic with the hospital staff and . . . untied the doctors and allowed them to go outside with the patients."

But the worst was yet to come. In the coming days, Ghanim would narrowly escape a bombing, then run through his city's battle-torn streets. He would walk hungry and scared for miles, carrying with him memories of the people he could not save.
Continue reading...

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.

US Marines pointed their assault rifles down abandoned streets, past Fallujah's simple amusement park, now deserted. 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.
Continue reading...

Water supplies to Tall Afar, Samarra and Fallujah have been cut off during US attacks in the past two months, affecting up to 750,000 civilians. This appears to form part of a deliberate US policy of denying water to the residents of cities under attack. If so, it has been adopted without a public debate, and without consulting Coalition partners. It is a serious breach of international humanitarian law, and is deepening Iraqi opposition to the United States, other coalition members, and the Iraqi government.

Tall Afar
On 19 September 2004, the Washington Post reported that US forces "had turned off" water supplies to Tall Afar "for at least three days". Turkish television reported
a statement from the Iraqi Turkoman Front that "Tall Afar is completely surrounded.
Entries and exits are banned. The water shortage is very serious".

"Water and electricity [were] cut off" during the assault on Samarra on Friday 1
October 2004, according to Knight Ridder Newspapers and the Independent.
The Washington Post explicitly blames "U.S. forces" for this.

On 16 October the Washington Post reported that:
"Electricity and water were cut off to the city [Fallujah] just as a fresh wave of strikes
began Thursday night, an action that U.S. forces also took at the start of assaults on
Najaf and Samarra."

Residents of Fallujah have told the UN's Integrated Regional Information
Networks that "hey had no food or clean water and did not have time to store
enough to hold out through the impending battle". The water shortage has
been confirmed by other civilians fleeing Fallujahxiv, Fadhil Badrani, a BBC
journalist in Falluja, confirmed on 8 November that "he water supply has been cut

Other cases
There have been allegations that the water supply was cut off during the assault
on Najaf in August 2004, and during the invasion of Basra in 2003. We have not
investigated these claims.
Continue reading (pdf)...

Monday, November 15, 2004

Falluja - take no prisoners

A spokesman for the U.S. Marines says an investigation is underway into a videotaped incident in a Fallujah mosque, in which pool television pictures broadcast Monday appear to show a Marine shooting and killing a wounded and apparently unarmed Iraqi prisoner.

The shooting Saturday was videotaped by pool correspondent Kevin Sites, who said three other previously wounded prisoners in the mosque apparently were shot again by Marines inside the mosque.

The incident played out as the Marines 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, returned to the unidentified Fallujah mosque Saturday. Sites was embedded with the unit.

CBS News article

So I guess we won't even be getting embedded reports any more.

Sites reported a Marine in the same unit had been killed just a day earlier as he tended to the booby-trapped dead body of an insurgent.

The Marine in the mosque videotape is reported to be in custody now as authorities investigate whether the shooting was self-defense or a criminal act.

Extenuating circumstances. Self-defense.

The events on the videotape began as some of the Marines from the unit accompanied by Sites approached the mosque on Saturday, a day after it was stormed by other Marines.

Gunfire can be heard from inside the mosque, and at its entrance, Marines who were already in the building emerge. They are asked by an approaching Marine lieutenant if there were insurgents inside and if the Marines had shot any of them. A Marine can be heard responding affirmatively. The lieutenant then asks if they were armed and a fellow Marine shrugs.

Sites' account said the wounded men, who he said were prisoners and who were hurt in the previous day's attack, had been shot again by the Marines on the Saturday visit.

The videotape showed two of the wounded men propped against the wall and Sites said they were bleeding to death. According to his report, a third wounded man appeared already dead, while a fourth was severely wounded but breathing.

Falluja's history

Juan Cole reports:

Most Americans do not realize that Fallujah is celebrated in Iraqi history and poetry for its defiance of the British in the Great Rebellion of 1920. The 1920 revolution against the British is key to modern Iraqi history. One of the guerrilla groups taking hostages named itself the "1920 Revolution Brigades." Western journalists who don't know Iraqi history have routinely mistranslated the name of this group.

For the history of Fallujah in anti-colonialism, see Rashid Khalidi's article in In These Times.

Meanwhile, The Guardian hints around that the number of civilian casualties in the US assault on the city is enormous and will only come out as hospital authorities begin counting the dead and wounded.

Most Americans don't know diddly squat about Falluja or Iraq. (And that includes me, although I have learned a lot.) All indicators are that more foreigners of nearly every country know more about Americans' own history than they do! Good thing we have heavy weaponry and nukes backing up our ignorance.

Courtesy In These Times

Falluja war crimes

Although Allawi's declaration of martial law timed with the crushing of Falluja removed the technicality of war crimes for some things (like shooting anyone on sight), check out Zeynep's post on our illegal, immoral tactics in razing that city.

This morning in Iraq

"As we come down to the final fight, the last vestiges of enemy resistance that are continuing to fight have better equipment and tactics and they are prepared to fight to the death," Sattler was cited as saying. "The perception and reality of Fallujah as a safe haven for terrorists will be gone by the time this operation is completed."


The Iraqi government and coalition forces are taking "all necessary steps'' to meet the humanitarian needs of civilians in Fallujah, the Pentagon said on its Web site.

Fallujah General Hospital is fully staffed and has medical supplies, water and food, the military said.

Of course it stands across the river and has been roadblocked from the city and used as a U.S. military base for a week, and the Iraqi Red Crescent (parallel to Red Cross) was (apparently) only allowed into the city with food, water and medicine yesterday. (Although the quoted Bloomberg report is still claiming they have no access. And this article as well says they were refused admittance and turned back Monday - which is today, so perhaps the city's inhabitants never did get any aid.)

On Monday, U.S. forces resumed heavy airstrikes and artillery fire, with warplanes making between 20-30 bombing sorties in Fallujah and surrounding areas. U.S. ground forces were trying to corner the remaining resistance in the city.
Star Tribune article

"The final fight." And I suppose the Iraqi police, who have been deserting in droves and/or turning to fight with the resistance, are going to set up shop in Falluja after this final fight and maintain order? Or maybe it's going to be a unit from the Iraqi National Guard, which purportedly is mostly Kurds, who take up the job of keeping the peace there?

Well, whatever, once we leave off the daily airstrikes.....oh wait. Never mind.


Iraq's interim government and its U.S. backers said Phallus was the epicenter of the insurgency in Iraq, from where most of the bombings, killings and kidnappings that have swept the country were masterminded.
MSNBC article

Now there's an appropriate translation in names for an epicenter of war. However, I thought the masterminding was supposed to be coming from Falluja, which was supposedly why we have to flatten it. WTF?

In Baqubah, north of Baghdad, U.S. warplanes today carried out two strikes on insurgents who have clashed with Iraqi security forces in the city, Agence France-Presse reported. About 20 insurgents were killed, AFP said, citing an unidentified U.S. military official. In southern Baghdad, a mortar attack killed seven Iraqis and wounded seven others, the Associated Press reported, citing residents and hospital officials.
Bloomberg article


Fierce battles between insurgents and U.S. and Iraqi forces killed at least nine people Monday in Baqouba - the latest in a wave of clashes that has swept Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland even as American forces move against the last remaining pockets of resistance in Fallujah.

The fighting took place in Baqouba and neighboring town of Buhriz, about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. American aircraft dropped two 500 pound bombs on an insurgent position.

Star Tribune article

Gunmen carried out near-simultaneous attacks on a police station and an Iraqi National Guard headquarters in Suwayrah, about 25 miles south of Baghdad, police said. Two policemen and five National Guardsmen were killed.


In the insurgent-heavy city of Ramadi, 70 miles west of the capital, heavy fighting erupted on Monday between militants and U.S. forces, residents said.

Sunni clerics at several mosques called on residents to kick out bands of armed men who have come from outside the city, claiming that the clashes inside Ramada are having a negative impact on the economic situation of citizens.

North of Ramadi, a U.S. convoy came under attack near the town of Baghdadi, with one Humvee destroyed, according to a Baghdadi police Lt. Mohammed Abdel Karim.


A gunbattle erupted Sunday between militants and U.S. troops in the main market in the northern town of Beiji [a northern city that houses Iraq's biggest oil refinery source], killing at least six people and wounding 20 others, according to witnesses.

Star Tribune article

On to Mosul...

AS Iraqi leaders trumpeted a swift victory in Fallujah, insurgents pressed claims on the northern city of Mosul, which is fast becoming Iraq's latest front.

An outbreak of rebel attacks on police stations and government buildings has paralysed parts of the city.

Corpses have been splayed on city streets. Police have said they fear going back to their jobs.

Families are fleeing en masse, but insurgents have assured city bureaucrats that it is safe to return to work, that rebels will secure city streets.

Herald Sun - Australia - article

U.S. troops fought insurgents on the streets of Iraq's third-largest city on Monday, where violence has surged during a week-long offensive to capture the city of Fallujah from rebels.

Isolated pockets of fighting occurred mainly in the west and southwest of Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.


"I expect the next few days will bring some hard fighting," U.S. northern commander Brigadier General Carter Ham said in a statement. "The situation in Mosul is tense, but certainly not desperate."

MSNBC article

Well, it's early yet.

All Falluja posts

US doctors treat a blindfolded Iraqi prisoner's broken leg.
Picture: AP

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Falluja update

When the report came out on Monday last week that curfews were called and Allawi was shutting down the airport for 48 hours and closing the Syrian and Jordanian borders as the U.S.-led assault on Falluja was officially "ratcheted up", it seemed to me that the implication was they were expecting it to be over in two days. This weekend's news looks a little different. Pehaps I was just misreading the signal, but my faith in the government's propensity to boast and then change stories or make excuses is unshaken.

The U.S. military's ground and air assault of Fallujah has gone quicker than expected, with the entire city occupied after six days of fighting, Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski said Sunday.

Natonski, who designed the ground attack, said he and other planners took lessons from the failed three-week U.S. assault on the city in April, which was called off by the Bush administration after a worldwide outcry over civilians deaths.


"Had we done in April what we did now, the results would've been the same," Natonski said during a visit to the U.S. Marines' 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Brigade, the unit charged with isolating Fallujah under a security cordon.


Natonski described the six days of ground war as a "flawless execution of the plan we drew up. We are actually ahead of schedule."

Several pre-assault tactics made the battle easier than expected, he said.

Canada.com article

Yes, I think one of those tactics was to broadcast for weeks before the invasion that it was coming so that many of the leaders and other "bad guys" could get on out of the city, along with half the population. That was helpful. Another tactic of choking off food and water supplies and cutting off hospital access was helpful in that it debilitated many of the people still occupying the city. A third tactic of laying down daily airstrikes ahead of the ground forces' entry to bomb to rubble those who remained was also quite helpful. Goes a lot quicker if most of the people are gone.

Another key tactic was choking off the city, the responsibility of the 2nd Brigade of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division, Natonski said.

That move prevented insurgents from slipping out of the city during the assault, although many, including top leaders like Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Sheik Abdullah al-Janabi and Omar al-Hadid, are thought to have fled.

"We never expected them to be there. We're not after Zarqawi. We're after insurgents in general," Natonski said.

Well, that's a rich admission. We're not after the guy we continue to insist is the mastermind of all the attacks across the whole of Iraq. Perhaps because he doesn't exist. And perhaps, if he does and he was in Falluja (something the Iraqis have been denying ever since they were first attacked), the previous weeks of warnings without blocking off the city made it a stroll in the park for him to get out. Eh? Do Americans never wise up to this military drivel? Do the military commanders and officers believe it themselves? I know some don't.

On Sunday, U.S. Marines and Army units were still battling gritty bands of defenders scattered in buildings and bunkers across the Sunni Muslim stronghold. Behind them, Iraqi troops were enmeshed in the painstaking task of clearing weapons and fighters from every room of Fallujah's estimated 50,000 buildings.

U.S. forces now occupy -but have yet to subdue -the entire city. U.S. officers said that it still could take several days of fighting to clear the final pockets of resistance.

But that doesn't seem to prevent us from announcing "mission accomplished" and having all the "reporters" file stories that Falluja is a done deal.

In the central Iraqi town of Buhriz, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Baghdad, demonstrators marched to protest the Fallujah offensive and denounce Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi.

Associated Press Television News footage showed some armed men, heads covered with black hoods and brandishing Kalashnikov rifles, among the marchers. The demonstrators, estimated by police to number between 60 and 70, carried banners calling Allawi a "thug" and "traitor."

Another "pocket" to be dealt with.

After troops uproot the insurgents, contractors are supposed to swarm into Fallujah to cart away rubble, repair buildings, and fix the city's utilities, Wilson and Natonski said.

Score another one for Halliburton.

The Iraqi government has already picked leaders for Fallujah, and thousands of Iraqi police and paramilitary forces have been recruited to try to impose order.

They may be a little "ahead of schedule" on picking leaders, too. (Something I'm sure is going to go over big with the Fallujans whose sole purpose since the U.S. invaded Iraq is to remain free of occupying leadership.) Because, rosy reports of "mission accomplished" notwithstanding, the fighting in Falluja is anything but over.

On Sunday eyewitnesses reported a large explosion in Baghdad near hotels frequented by foreigners while Aljazeera reported the downing of a US helicopter near Falluja.
Aljazeera article

The American-led assault on the city is in its fifth day.

A BBC correspondent in the city centre says US marines are still under sniper attack at their main base.

BBC article

[T]he main European military hospital of the US military said US soldiers wounded in Iraq have been arriving for treatment since the Falluja offensive at more than double the previous rate.
Aljazeera article

Keep in mind that the hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, is not the destination of lightly wounded soldiers.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Iraq...

US helicopter and tank fire blasted a building harbouring suspected insurgents near the restive city of Baiji, also north of the Iraqi capital, killing several rebels, a US military spokesman said.
I Africa article

As American marines have blasted their way through Falluja, another insurgent outpost has grown stronger 30 miles down the road in Ramadi.

Insurgent attacks against American troops here have markedly intensified in the past two weeks, and enemy combatants are now conducting a more determined battle, commanders say.

"My personal take is that Ramadi is a less-publicized Falluja, in the sense of the combat you face every time you go into town," said Capt. Ben Siebold, a company commander in an Army battalion stationed in the downtown at a small and aptly named base, Combat Outpost. "In the time I've been here, the nature of the enemy has changed," he said. "He's more determined, more organized and a little bit better shot."

According to commanders in Ramadi, the heightened violence here is an outgrowth of the siege of Falluja and the holy fasting month of Ramadan. They say some insurgent fighters from Falluja have migrated to Ramadi, a city of 400,000 on the Euphrates that is the capital of the sprawling Anbar Province, which covers most of western Iraq.


"Ramadi is really out of control, and they needed another infantry battalion in the city," said Lt. Col. Justin Gubler, commander of the First Battalion, 503rd Infantry, at Combat Outpost. Up to 150 foreign fighters are in the city, he said. "We've seen an increase in their proficiency and their will to fight."

NY Times article

Middle East expert Juan Cole has today's AP roundup....:

AP rounds up Saturday's events in Iraq. Explosions went off in Baghdad and at the Green Zone, apparently not far from caretaker Prime Miniter Iyad Allawi.

Guerrillas at Mosul detonated a car bomb as an Iraqi national guard unit from Kirkuk went by, injuring seven of them.

Guerrillas at largely Turkmen Tel Afar also clashed with US troops.

The US arrested 4 Sunni clerics from the Association of Muslim Scholars.

Ash-Sharq al-Awsat reports that a Communist representative in the 100-member National Council in Iraq, which serves as a sort of interim parliament, was assassinated while traveling in the north near Kirkuk on Saturday. This would be like a senator being assassinated in the United States.

...and news from Mosul in yesterday's post:

Az-Zaman reports that telephone calls with residents of Mosul reveal that the guerrillas who took control of the city's streets the day before yesterday have burned all the police stations in the city and have released from jails all the criminals that had been incarcerated in them. In the center of Mosul, eyewitnesses said, the offices of government service agencies and economic targets had been set ablaze. A number of shops were attacked and/or looted.

Armed men roamed the streets and manned checkpoints between city quarters. Mosque preachers called on Mosul residents to flood into the streets to protect their quarters and government offices and shops. The main streets seemed deserted. American troops had withdrawn from the center of the city, but maintained control of bridges.

All signs of Iraqi national guardsmen and police had disappeared. The police chief of Ninevah province resigned (other reports say he was fired by the Allawi government).

US military spokesmen denied that guerrillas were in control of the city, and maintained that US troops and Iraqi national guardsmen continued to advance into it. US warplanes repeatedly bombed suspected safe houses of the guerrillas. Guerrillas had killed one American serviceman in Mosul on Thursday.

A troubling bit of ethnic politics emerged when it became apparent that the remaining Iraqi troops fighting alongside the Americans against guerrillas in Mosul were mostly Kurds. Mosul, a city of about 1 million, is largely Sunni Arab but is up north near the Kurdish areas. Arab-Kurdish relations hit a new nadir at the news, and AP reported that "Gunmen attacked the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party in an hourlong battle that a party official said left six assailants dead." This attack on the PUK HQ was probably in revenge for the Kurdish national guardsmen cooperating with US troops.

Little Fallujan girls
Photo courtesy Aljazeera

Shia authority condemns Falluja attacks

Baghdad's highest Shia authority has denounced the US military assault on Falluja and called on all Iraqi religious authorities to support the Iraqi people.


Al-Khalissi said he and his faction fully support the religious decree issued by Iraq's influential Sunni Muslim authority, the Association of Muslim Scholars, in which it prohibited Iraqis from participating in the US attack on Falluja.

"I am here today as a Shia figure belonging to a prominent Shia religious family to confirm that Iraqi Sunni Muslims are our brothers and dear countrymen. We lived since the dawn of Islam in this country as brothers.

"We back our brotherly Sunni Muslims in the city of Falluja and nothing on earth will spoil our brotherhood with them."

  Aljazeera article

Well, the Great Uniter has succeed in one thing that might not have happened if he hadn't invaded Iraq - uniting the religious Shias and secular Sunnis.

For its part, the movement of the Iraqi Muslim Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr said it has suspended its support for the forthcoming election in January 2005.

Refusing Iraqi Red Crescent admission to Falluja

Yesterday I posted that the one good piece of news was that the U.S. military had decided to let the Iraqi equivalent of the Red Cross deliver humanitarian supplies to the people of Falluja who are without water, food or medicine. It looks like that might have been a mistaken report. Today, they are appealing to the (useless) UN:

"There is no need to bring [Red Crescent] supplies in because we have supplies of our own for the people," said US marine Colonel Mike Shupp.

"Now that the bridge (into Falluja) is open I will bring out casualties and all aid work can be done here (at Falluja's hospital)," he added.

He said he had not heard of any Iraqi civilians being trapped inside the city and did not think that was the case.

But aid workers say there are still hundreds of families left in the city, which has been pummelled by sustained aerial bombardment and artillery fire in recent days.

"We know of at least 157 families inside Falluja who need our help," said Firdus al-Ubadi of the Iraqi Red Crescent.


The Iraqi Red Crescent sent seven trucks and ambulances to Falluja on Saturday, hoping to get food, blankets, water purification tablets and medicine to hundreds of families trapped inside the city during the past six days of fighting.

"There is no need to bring [Red Crescent] supplies in because we have supplies of our own for the people," said US marine Colonel Mike Shupp.

"None of the injured residents are being allowed to come to the hospital, while those outside are not allowed to go into the town," Abu Fahd said.

"The town is suffering from cuts in power and water supplies. There are no medicines or ambulances either.

"The injured and the dead are now on the streets. Many families want to get out of their houses, but they have no alternative shelters to go into," he said.

"The US forces have prevented us from entering the town claiming it is not safe. US forces have said they control 80% of the town."

"I have asked them to allow the relief team into the areas they control, to offer humanitarian aid for women, children and the elderly, and transfer the injured to the hospital, but they have refused," Abu Fahd said.

Aljazeera article

Update 3:45pm:ABC is reporting today that the Red Crescent was permitted to go through.

Here's the Reuters report:

An Iraqi Red Crescent aid convoy has entered Falluja with the first humanitarian goods to reach the city since a U.S.-led offensive began five days ago, a Red Crescent spokeswoman says.

"They are in the city," Firdoos al-Abadi said on Saturday.

She said 30 volunteers with five trucks and three ambulances had driven into the city, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad, after an initial delay at a U.S. checkpoint.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Here we go again

THE United States and the Iraqi interim government have claimed "mission accomplished" in the battle for the rebel stronghold of Fallujah.
  Sunday Herald article

One can only hope that Butthead McChimp will don his flight suit and head on over there.

Genocide in Iraq

Some interivew excerpts with journalist Fahil Badrani in Falluja:

The BBC News website spoke by phone to Fadhil Badrani, an Iraqi journalist and resident of Falluja who reports regularly for Reuters and the BBC World Service in Arabic.

We are publishing his and other eyewitness accounts from the city in order to provide the fullest possible range of perspectives from those who are there:

[November 11:]

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.


I tried to flee the city last night but I could not get very far. It was too dangerous.


Without water and electricity, we feel completely cut off from everyone else.


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.


[November 10:]

I think 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.

The fighters have told me they are prepared to resist the Americans until the death.

They say they are fighting not just for Falluja, but for all Iraq.

In the Hasbiyyah area, I counted the bodies of at least six US soldiers lying on the ground.

Some of them were badly mangled with various bits blown off. Others were in better condition, as if they had taken small-arms fire.

I noticed two of the US soldiers were still clutching their guns tightly across their chests. But most of their weapons were missing.

Some of the dead are beginning to rot in the streets.

But the living do not exactly smell great either - I have not had a bath for a week.


[October 18:]

Hospitals have all but run out of supplies and most people know this.

But still the injured are being taken there - just so that they can be near the doctors and receive some comfort.

The Iraqi health ministry has not sent any extra supplies.

Food supplies are also running out. All shops are shut.

Some people who fled the city a few days ago have begun returning because they ran out of food.


Iraq War vet speaks out

Former Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey, a 12-year Marine veteran, lives in Waynesville, North Carolina, a small town in the Smoky Mountains just outside of Ashville, where he spoke to the World Socialist Web Site. He is one of a growing number of American soldiers returning from Iraq who have become outspoken opponents of the war.

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.


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.


"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'm sorry, but I have to stop right here and interrupt. That's not a cultural miscue. That's insane. Surely there are military policy makers and trainers in the Marines who are old enough to recognize the American Black Panthers' most famous gesture. Surely there are some who have seen this gesture used around the globe. How can the Marines encourage their troops to use such an obviously well-known gesture of solidarity for another purpose in communicating in a foreign land? What the hell is wrong with an open-faced palm? Now that's a universal gesture that means stop. Are the Marines so precious they think the world should know their own little club signals?

There is just so much wrong with that. The more I read about our military, the more amazed I am that they manage to survive.

"We are committing genocide in Iraq, and that is the intention."

Read the rest of this incredible interview yourself here.

...or do what you want...you will anyway.

Falluja to Mosul - ongoing

In the northern city of Mosul, a car bomb exploded as a convoy of Iraqi National Guards passed by in the eastern part of the city, witnesses said. In recent days, an armed uprising in sympathy with Fallujah's insurgents has killed 10 Iraqi National Guards and one American soldier since Thursday, the U.S. military said.

The region's governor blamed the uprising on ''the betrayal of some police members'' and said National Guard units had arrived to help quell the violence. Also, a U.S. infantry battalion was diverted from Fallujah and sent back to Mosul because of insurgent attacks in that northern city.


Overnight, two city mosques were hit by airstrikes after troops reported sniper fire from inside. On Saturday, two Marines were killed by a homemade bomb southeast of Fallujah.

Boston.com article

Something tells me the "insurgents" are far more organized than the U.S. military would like to believe. Maybe the belief in Allah's rewards to martyrs makes it possible for the resistance to lead the Marines around by the nose, spreading out and slipping back in, spreading out again, each group waiting its turn to play its part, each member willing to wait patiently for the time to die in glory for country and Allah. Police volunteers patiently biding their time within the ranks of Allawi's U.S.-sponsored brigades and then "betraying" them when the time is ripe. On the other hand, maybe they just get scared when the fighting approaches. Yeah, that's probably it. After all, we know the insurgents don't stand and fight like real men.

Insurgents appeared to be taking advantage of the thinning out of American troop strength around Fallujah as U.S. commanders report an increase in small-scale rebel attacks.


Overnight, two city mosques were hit by airstrikes after troops reported sniper fire from inside. On Saturday, two Marines were killed by a homemade bomb southeast of Fallujah.


A U.S. warplane dropped a 500-pound bomb to destroy an insurgent tunnel network in the city Saturday, according to CNN embedded correspondent Jane Arraf.

U.S. officials said they hoped the attack would be the final assault on Fallujah, followed by a house-to-house clearing operation to search for boobytraps, weapons and guerrillas hiding in the rubble.


A four-vehicle convoy of the Iraqi Red Crescent carrying humanitarian assistance arrived at the heart of Fallujah on Saturday after the Iraqi and American troops allowed them to pass.

Well, that is one bit of better, if not good, news.

In Fallujah, Saif al-Deen al-Baghdadi, an official of the insurgents' political office, urged militants to fight U.S. forces outside Fallujah.

''I call upon the scores or hundreds of the brothers from the mujahedeen ... to press the American forces outside'' Fallujah, al-Baghdadi said in a telephone interview late Friday with Al-Jazeera television.

''We chose the path of armed jihad and say clearly that ridding Iraq of the occupation will not be done by ballots. Ayad Allawi's government ... represents the fundamentalist right-wing of the White House and not the Iraqi people,'' he said a reference to Iraq's prime minister, who gave to the go-ahead for the Fallujah invasion.


Meanwhile, the U.S. military said four American helicopters had been hit by insurgent ground fire in two separate attacks near Fallujah. Their uninjured crews were able to return to base safely.

Earlier this week, three helicopters were downed by ground fire during the Fallujah operation.


U.S. and Iraqi forces launched their mass ground assault against Fallujah late Monday after the city's hardline clerical leadership refused to hand over extremists, including Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has a $25 million bounty on his head from the Americans.

The clerics insisted al-Zarqawi was not there.


Dawoud said Saturday that al-Zarqawi and Fallujah leader Abdullah al-Janabi ''have escaped.''

And how handy for the possibly one-legged, possibly dead, possibly non-existent, but certainly U.S-assisted in that he was let go three previous times, Zarqawi that the U.S. announced its big attack on Falluja for days before moving in, permitting anyone who wanted to get out plenty of time to do so.

All Falluja posts

Update 11/14: The permission for Iraq's Red Crescent to deliver humanitarian aid may have been a premature report.

From Falluja to Mosul - Part II

The army diverted a battalion of soldiers to Mosul on Thursday, it was disclosed on Saturday.


Fallujah was covered in smoke midday Saturday as U.S. artillery, tanks and soldiers launched what military hoped would be the final attack.


Iraqi insurgents have been shooting at U.S. helicopters, hitting two on Saturday. But none of the crew were hurt, and U.S. casualties total 24 dead since the attack began. Five Iraqi government soldiers have also been killed.

More than 400 U.S. wounded have been airlifted to Germany.

Civilian casualties are not known.

CBC Canada article

Friday, November 12, 2004

From Falluja to Mosul

Journalists based in Mosul are telling Aljazeera that local anti-US fighters may have taken control of the northern Iraqi city, contrasting US military statements that the situation is under their control.


Eyewitnesses in Mosul told Aljazeera.net that major sections of the city had been seized by anti-US fighters who were seen patrolling the streets.

"They control the streets, no one is going out for fear of more US air strikes," Abd Allah Ghafar, a freelance journalist in the city told Aljazeera.net in a telephone interview.

"The situation is very bad, there is no security, only armed resistance groups on the streets and it seems there is no government in Mosul," he said.

Another Mosul-based journalist told Aljazeera that US armoured vehicles were forced to retreat from two main bridges they had blocked off after coming under a fierce mortar barrage and rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fire.


US military spokesman Captain Angela Bowman explained that retreat was carried out at the request of the governorate to allow civilians to attend weekly prayers at the mosques.


"In the southwestern area there are terrorists and insurgents on the streets but this is not city wide. We are still well in control," she said.

  Aljazeera article

The new Napalm; and Satan apparently hides in a hospital

"The enemy has got a face. He's called Satan. He lives in Falluja," declared a Marine lieutenant-colonel.

Two of three Fallujan clinics have been bombed, the brand new central hospital flattened, and the only remaining hospital taken over by the U.S. Marines at the outset of "Operation Phantom Fury".

Everything one needed to know about the true, unspinnable foreign policy of the second George W Bush administration is represented by the "capture" of the first strategic target in the assault on Fallujah: the general hospital, on the left bank of the Euphrates, now totally cut off from the city.


The assault, dubbed Operation Phantom Fury, perversely started on Laylat e-Qadr, the most important and holy night of the year for the Islamic world.

In terms of the information war, the hospital was indeed the most strategic of targets. During the first siege of Fallujah in April, doctors told independent media the real story about the suffering of civilian victims. So this time the Pentagon took no chances: no gory, disturbing photos of the elderly, women and children - the thousands unable to leave Fallujah in advance of this week's offensive, the civilian victims of the relentless bombing.

But this did not prevent the world from seeing doctors and patients at the hospital handcuffed to the floor - as if they were terrorists. Hospital director Dr Salih al-Issawi told Agence France-Presse that the Americans blocked him and other doctors from going to the center of Fallujah to help another clinic in distress; he also said an ambulance that tried to leave the hospital was shot at by the Americans - just like in April, when all ambulances were targeted. The Geneva Convention is explicit: in a war situation, hospitals and ambulances are neutral.


The main story playing in the Arab world in the past 24 hours is that of Mohammed Abboud - who saw his nine-year-old son bleed to death of shrapnel wounds when his house in Fallujah was hit because he could not venture out to go to a hospital. Abboud had to bury his son in his own garden.


There is no power, no water, shops are closed, food is scarce and practically no medical supplies remain, according to Dr Sami al-Jumaili, speaking to al-Jazeera. No more clinics are open throughout the city - and there is no possible way to estimate how many civilians are dead, blown up, burned or injured, although al-Jumaili tells of "scores of injured civilians". A brand-new clinic funded by a Saudi Islamic relief non-governmental agency was bombed by the Americans during the weekend, as well as a medical dispensary in the city center: this was apparently the last place where anybody could get any medical attention.

Asia Times article

Some of the heaviest damage was incurred Monday night by air and artillery attacks that coincided with the entry of ground troops into the city. U.S. warplanes dropped eight 2,000-pound bombs on the city overnight, and artillery boomed throughout the night and into the morning.

"Usually we keep the gloves on," said Army Capt. Erik Krivda, of Gaithersburg, Md., the senior officer in charge of the 1st Infantry Division's Task Force 2-2 tactical operations command center. "For this operation, we took the gloves off."

Some artillery guns fired white phosphorous rounds that create a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water. Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorous burns.

Kamal Hadeethi, a physician at a regional hospital, said, "The corpses of the mujahedeen which we received were burned, and some corpses were melted."
Olympian article

Not a lot about that in the mainstream media. Or this, which comes from Occupation Watch (probably raghead propaganda, eh?):

US troops are reportedly using chemical weapons and poisonous gas in its large-scale offensive on the Iraqi resistance bastion of Fallujah, a grim reminder of Saddam Hussein's alleged gassing of the Kurds in 1988.

"The US occupation troops are gassing resistance fighters and confronting them with internationally-banned chemical weapons," resistance sources told Al-Quds Press Wednesday, November 10.


"The US troops have sprayed chemical and nerve gases on resistance fighters, turning them hysteric in a heartbreaking scene," an Iraqi doctor, who requested anonymity, told Al-Quds Press.

"Some Fallujah residents have been further burnt beyond treatment by poisonous gases," added resistance fighters, who took part in Golan battles, northwest of Fallujah.

In August last year, the United States admitted dropping the internationally-banned incendiary weapon of napalm on Iraq, despite earlier denials by the Pentagon that the "horrible" weapon had not been used in the three-week invasion of Iraq.

After the offensive on Iraq ended on April 9 last year, Iraqis began to complain about unexploded cluster bombs that still litter their cities.

Ooops. Should have never admitted it. Oh well, we don't care.

The sources said that the media blackout, the banning of Al-Jazeera satellite channel and subjective embedded journalists played well into the hands of the US military.

Therefore, US troops opted for using internationally banned weapons to soften the praiseworthy resistance of Fallujah people.