4-11-04 (CBS/AP) More
than 600 Iraqis have been killed in fighting in Fallujah since Marines
began a siege against Sunni insurgents in the city a week ago [in
retaliation for the deaths of 4 Americans], the head of the city's
main hospital said Sunday.
Asked about the report of 600 dead, Marine Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne said, “What
I think you will find is 95 percent of those were military age males
that were killed in the fighting.”
Statistics and names of the dead were gathered from four main clinics
around the city and from Fallujah General Hospital, said the hospital's
director, Rafie al-Issawi.
The dead totaled more than 600, most of them women, children
and elderly, since the siege of Fallujah began early Monday,
he said. Bodies were being buried in two soccer fields [mass
graves], one of which was visited by an Associated Press reporter.
Row after row of graves filled the field.
The total number of dead in the city may be even higher than the hospital's
tally, al-Issawi said. “We have reports of an unknown number
of dead being buried in people's homes without coming to the clinics,” the
hospital director said.
Bodies were being buried in Fallujah’s soccer fields as residents
took advantage of a pause in fighting since Friday to tend to casualties.
At one of the fields, dubbed the “Graveyard of the Martyrs” by
residents, an AP reporter saw rows of freshly dug graves with wooden
planks for headstones over an area about 30 yards wide by more than
Some of the headstones had names of women and other names were noted
as children. Khalaf al-Jumaili, a volunteer helping bury bodies at
the field, said more than 300 people had been interred there.
Asked Sunday about the number of Iraqi casualties in Fallujah, Brig.
Gen. Mark Kimmitt referred reporters to Marine spokesmen. But he
insisted that Marines are “tremendously precise” in their
operations and suggested insurgents were hiding among civilians,
causing civilian deaths.
Nearly a third of Fallujah's 200,000 people fled the city during the
lull in fighting.
During the past week's fighting, Marines and insurgents have battled
in residential neighborhoods, sometimes around mosques, with the Marines
calling in tanks and helicopter gunships for support. AC-130 warplanes
have also been used, and Marine snipers have taken up positions on