Jordan Times, Wednesday, April 2, 2003
HILLA (AFP) Reports of coalition forces killing dozens of Iraqi civilians on Tuesday stoked growing international unease at the US-led war, already high after seven women and children were shot dead at a US checkpoint in central Iraq.
Thirty-three people, including women and children, died and 310 were wounded in a "coalition" bombing on the outskirts of the farming town of Hilla, 80 kilometres south of the capital on Tuesday, local hospital director, Murtada Abbas, said.
He was speaking at the Hilla hospital where a large number of children lay wounded under blankets on the floor due to a shortage of beds.
Fifteen members of one family were killed nearby late Monday when their pickup truck was blown up by a rocket from a US Apache helicopter in the region of Haidariya near Hilla, the sole survivor of the attack told AFP.
Razak Al Kazem Al Khafaji, sitting among 15 coffins in the local hospital, said he lost his wife, six children, his father, his mother, his three brothers and their wives.
The British and US air strikes on Baghdad accounted for a further 19 people dead and more than 100 wounded since Monday evening, Information Minister Mohammad Said Al Sahhaf said on the 13th day of the US-led war launched with the declared aim of ousting President Saddam Hussein and disarming Iraq.
US troops admitted killing seven women and children when they opened fire Monday on a civilian vehicle at a military checkpoint manned by the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Najaf, 150 kilometres south of Baghdad.
International commentators and officials agreed that killing civilians, together with the continual bombing on Baghdad, were likely to fuel vocal international opposition to the war and deal a severe blow to the US-led forces' bid to win the trust of the Iraqi people.
"If such scenes become routine... the political war for Iraq could be lost even before the military one is won," The New York Times warned in an editorial.
The British government admitted for the first time that Iraqi civilians may see US-British forces as villains not "liberators."
"We know that for the moment we will be seen as the villains. We knew that from the reaction before the conflict started," Home Secretary David Blunkett told BBC television late Monday.
In Brussels, the European Commission called the checkpoint killings "a horrible and tragic incident... It is not an isolated incident. Too many civilians have already lost their lives in this war.
US Navy Lieutenant Commander Charles Owens, speaking at operational headquarters in Qatar, said US troops opened fire "as a last resort" after the civilian vehicle failed to stop at a military post despite "repeated warning shots" fired by US troops. Four people in the vehicle escaped unharmed.
The Washington Post quoted US Army 3rd Division Captain Ronny Johnson as shouting over the radio to his men after the shooting: "You just (expletive) killed a family because you didn't fire a warning shot soon enough."
A US military investigation has been opened.
In Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said US President George W. Bush "regretted" the deaths of Iraqi civilians but "recognises that most innocents have been lost in this war at the hands of Saddam Hussein and his henchmen."
Published on Friday, February 14, 2003 by the Boston Globe
by Derrick Z. Jackson
BETH OSBORNE DAPONTE is concerned that the White House has not told Americans how it will avoid massive deaths to civilians in an invasion of Iraq. Her concern should be alarming. Daponte was the woman who a decade ago was nearly fired by the government for her estimates on the Iraqi civilian death toll in the first Gulf War. ''Right now, it's just like it was in 1991,'' Daponte said by telephone. ''People were sold on the idea of clean war.''
Daponte showed how dirty the first war really was. She was an analyst in the Census Bureau's international division, whose normal job is to estimate the populations of other nations. Up until then, the senior President Bush, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, and the Pentagon refused to make any public estimates of the Iraqi dead.
Daponte, a Middle East analyst, was assigned to come up with an estimate. She estimated that a total of 158,000 Iraqis were killed, with only 40,000 of them being soldiers in battle. The far greater death toll came afterward; Daponte estimated that 70,000 Iraqis died through easily preventable diseases that were suddenly made lingering and lethal by the bombing by the United States and its allies of water and power supplies, sewage systems, and roads.
Of the estimated 158,000 deaths, Daponte concluded that nearly 40,000 of the victims were women and 32,000 were children.
After the Associated Press ran the estimate in January 1992, Daponte was told by the Census Bureau that she was going to be fired on the basis of issuing "false information," "untrustworthiness," and "unreliability."
The Census Bureau backed down after Daponte received swift and strong support from civil libertarians and statisticians. A year later she published an even more refined report with even more grotesque numbers. In a study published in the quarterly publication of the Physicians for Social Responsibility, Daponte estimated the final death toll to be 205,500. The war itself resulted in 56,000 deaths to soldiers and 3,500 to civilians. Another 35,000 people died in internal postwar fighting. The biggest single number of deaths again was to civilians after the destruction of the nation's infrastructure: 111,000.
In Daponte's second analysis, the number of women who died from health effects of the war went down, to 16,500, but the number of children who died soared to 70,000. In addition, 8,500 senior citizens died. If that number is anywhere close to true, that means that far more Iraqi children died than Iraqi soldiers.
Daponte now teaches population and policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Her estimates tell a story of two wars. "What I showed was that it was true, we did minimize casualties from direct war effects," she said. "There were relatively few deaths from hitting wrong targets. But what I also showed was the indirect casualties could be much greater. It is no different than as when the infrastructure of a city with the population of Washington or Boston is taken away by an earthquake."
Those deaths occurred in what was a war meant only to force Iraq out of Kuwait and back behind its own borders. The war that the junior President Bush is threatening promises to strike deep into the heart of Iraq. Any sane person would bet that the civilian casualties this time will be much worse.
Because of that prospect, Daponte thinks the White House owes the nation projections of the damage to Iraq so Americans can make their own calculations of whether we have done everything to avoid war. Projections will be tough to come by: The White House has returned to Bush family control, and Dick Cheney has moved up from secretary of defense to vice president. Secrecy has already been established as a hallmark of the Bush administration, and if the Census Bureau back then was prepared to squash truth seekers like Daponte, one can assume that the current corps of government demographers are already looking over their shoulders.
"If you are not having a discussion about civilian casualties, we are probably not having a true discussion of whether this war is the best thing we can do," Daponte said. "If our goal is to eliminate Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, I haven't seen any detailed plans on how we do that without destroying the infrastructure for the people of Iraq. . . . The idea of deaths in the drumbeat toward war just isn't there. It isn't part of the discourse on either side. It's as if the less that it is talked about, the assumption is zero deaths."
Daponte said if Americans make the leap into war with that kind of calculation, "that's the incorrect leap." When she says ''we need to be very careful about not buying everything that the government is saying,'' she is her own best evidence. When she did her calculations a decade ago, the government's response was to "kill the messenger. They wanted to keep that discussion off the table."
By NIKO PRICE, Associated Press Writer , December 10, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi Health Ministry officials ordered a halt to a count of civilian casualties from the war and told workers not to release figures already compiled, the head of the ministry's statistics department told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The health minister, Dr. Khodeir Abbas, denied that he or the U.S.-led occupation authority had anything to do with the order, and said he didn't even know about the survey of deaths, which number in the thousands.
Dr. Nagham Mohsen, the head of the ministry's statistics department, said the order came from the ministry's director of planning, Dr. Nazar Shabandar, who told her it was on behalf of Abbas. She said the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, which oversees the ministry, didn't like the idea of the count either.
"We have stopped the collection of this information because our minister didn't agree with it," she said, adding: "The CPA doesn't want this to be done."
Abbas, whose secretary said he was out of the country, sent an e-mail denying the charge.
"I have no knowledge of a civilian war casualty survey even being started by the Ministry of Health, much less stopping it," he wrote. "The CPA did not direct me to stop any such survey either."
"Plain and simple, this is false information," he added.
Despite Abbas' comments, the Health Ministry's civilian death toll count had been reported by news media as early as August, and the count was widely anticipated by human rights organizations. The ministry issued a preliminary figure of 1,764 deaths during the summer.
A spokesman for the CPA confirmed the authenticity of the e-mail, saying the occupation authority contacted the minister by phone and asked him to respond. The CPA didn't provide a phone number, and the minister didn't respond to e-mails requesting further comment.
The CPA spokesman said the coalition had no comment.
Shabandar's office said he was attending a conference in Egypt.
The U.S. military doesn't count civilian casualties from its wars, saying only that it tries to minimize civilian deaths.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, called that policy irresponsible.
"That deliberate ignorance of the past risks condemning the U.S. military to repeating its mistakes into the future and needlessly risking further civilian deaths," he said by telephone from New York.
Roth said the government doesn't count because "politically, it's embarrassing to talk about civilian casualties in one's war effort."
The Associated Press conducted a major investigation of Iraq's wartime civilian casualties, documenting the deaths of 3,240 civilians between March 20 and April 20. That investigation, conducted in May and June, surveyed about half of Iraq's hospitals, and reported that the real number of civilian deaths was sure to be much higher.
The Health Ministry's count, which was to be based on the records of all Iraq's hospitals, promised to be more complete.
The ministry began its survey at the end of July, when shaky nationwide communication links began to improve. It sent letters to all hospitals and clinics in Iraq, asking them to send back details of civilians killed or wounded in the war, ministry officials said then.
Many hospitals responded with statistics, Mohsen said, but last month Shabandar told her that Abbas wanted the count halted. He also told her not to release the information she had already collected, she said.
"He told me, `You should move far away from this subject,'" Mohsen said. "I don't know why."
Abbas, the minister, suggested such a study wouldn't be feasible.
"It would be almost impossible to conduct such a survey, because hospitals cannot distinguish between deaths that resulted from the coalition's efforts in the war, common crime among Iraqis, or deaths resulting from Saddam's brutal regime," he wrote.
In fact, the ministry didn't plan to distinguish between casualties caused by U.S. and Iraqi attacks. The AP survey didn't make the distinction either, instead counting all civilian deaths in the war.
Mohsen insisted that despite communications that remain poor and incomplete record-keeping by some hospitals, the statistics she received indicated that a significant count could have been completed.
"I could do it if the CPA and our minister agree that I can," she said in an interview in English.
The number of U.S. soldiers killed in the war is well documented. The Pentagon says 115 American military personnel were killed in combat from the start of the war to May 1, when President Bush declared major combat over, and 195 since. Saddam Hussein's regime fell April 9.
Iraqi civilians, too, have continued to die both in U.S. raids of suspected insurgent hideouts and in the rebels' attacks.
April 2 2003, 11:38 AM
Razaq Al Kazem Al Khafaji grieves over the bodies of his children in Hilla in the southern province of Babylon on Tuesday. Khafaji lost 15 members (including six children) of his family as his car was bombed by coalition helicopters while fleeing Haidariya towards Babylon. Thirty-three civilians were killed and 310 wounded in a US-British bombing of the residential area of Nader south of the city of Hilla, 80km south of Baghdad (photo by Karim SAHIB/AFP)
An Iraqi mother in a van fired on by US soldiers says she saw her two young daughters decapitated in the incident that also killed her son and eight other members of her family.
The children's father, who was also in the van, said US soldiers fired on them as they fled towards a checkpoint because they thought a leaflet dropped by US helicopters told them to "be safe", and they believed that meant getting out of their village to Karbala.
Bakhat Hassan - who lost his daughters, aged two and five, his three-year-old son, his parents, two older brothers, their wives and two nieces aged 12 and 15, in the incident - said US soldiers at an earlier checkpoint had waved them through.
As they approached another checkpoint 40km south of Karbala, they waved again at the American soldiers.
"We were thinking these Americans want us to be safe," Hassan said through an Army translator at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital set up at a vast Army support camp near Najaf.
The soldiers didn't wave back. They fired.
"I saw the heads of my two little girls come off," Hassan's heavily pregnant wife, Lamea, 36, said numbly.
She repeated herself in a flat, even voice: "My girls - I watched their heads come off their bodies. My son is dead."
US officials originally gave the death toll from the incident as seven, but reporters at the scene placed it at 10. And Bakhat Hassan terrible toll was 11 members of his family.
Hassan's father died at the Army hospital later.
US officials said the soldiers at an Army checkpoint who opened fire were following orders not to let vehicles approach checkpoints.
On Saturday, a suicide bomber had killed four US soldiers outside Najaf.
Details emerging from interviews with survivors of yesterday's incident tell a distressing tale of a family fleeing towards what they thought would be safety, tragically misunderstanding instructions.
Hassan's father, in his 60s, wore his best clothes for the trip through the American lines: a pinstriped suit.
"To look American," Hassan said.
An Army report written last night cited "a miscommunication with civilians" as the cause of the incident.
Hassan, his wife and another of his brothers are in intensive care at the MASH unit.
Another brother, sister-in-law and a seven-year-old child were released to bury the dead.
The Shi'ite family of 17 was packed into a 1974 Land Rover, so crowded that Bakhat, 35, was outside on the rear bumper hanging on to the back door.
Everyone else was piled on one another's laps in three sets of seats.
They were fleeing their farm town southeast of Karbala, where US attack helicopters had fired missiles and rockets the day before.
Helicopters also had dropped leaflets on the town: a drawing of a family sitting at a table eating and smiling with a message written in Arabic.
Sergeant 1st Class Stephen Furbush, an Army intelligence analyst, said the message read: "To be safe, stay put."
But Hassan said he and his father thought it just said: "Be safe".
To them, that meant getting away from the helicopters firing rockets and missiles.
His father drove. They planned to go to Karbala. They stopped at an Army checkpoint on the northbound road near Sahara, about 40km south of Karbala, and were told to go on, Hassan said.
But "the Iraqi family misunderstood" what the soldiers were saying, Furbush said.
A few kilometres later, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle came into view. The family waved as it came closer. The soldiers opened fire.
Hassan remembers an Army medic at the scene of the killings speaking Arabic.
"He told us it was a mistake and the soldiers were sorry," Hassan said.
"They believed it was a van of suicide bombers," Furbush said.
Hassan, his wife, his father and a brother were airlifted to the MASH unit.
Three doctors and three nurses worked on the father for four hours but he died despite their efforts.
Today, Hassan and his wife remain at the unit. He has staples in his head. She has a mangled hand and shrapnel in her face and shoulder.
Major Scott McDannold, an anaesthesiologist, said Hassan's brother, lying nearby, wouldn't make it. He is on a respirator with a broken neck.
On March 16, Hassan and his family began to harvest tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions and eggplant. It was a healthy crop, and they expected a good year.
"We had hope," he said. "But then you Americans came to bring us democracy and our hope ended."
Lamea is nine months pregnant.
"It would be better not to have the baby," she said.
"Our lives are over."
April 5, 2003 — 10.00am
The Sydney Morning Herald
Is there ever an "acceptable number" of civilian deaths in wartime? If there is, what is it? The ABC's Kerry O'Brien asked John Howard 11 questions on national television this week. The one about civilian deaths was the first. O'Brien asked it after Howard had said earlier that the civilian death toll in Iraq, so far, was "low". So what, asked O'Brien, was an "acceptable number" of such deaths?
To his shame and, you would hope, our mutual rage and disgust, Howard's answer was of the kind now everyday currency in the propaganda war that's become every bit as slimy and deceitful as the invasion of Iraq itself.
What our Prime Minister said was: "Kerry, I can't ever put a figure on that. Any death is tragic, and I also said that last week. I note, by way of an independent observation, that a spokesman for the International Red Cross said on the ABC AM program this morning that the hospital system in Baghdad appeared to be coping quite well with the level of civilian casualties. Now, I thought that was an interesting comment, because the International Red Cross is a respected, neutral organisation; it can't be accused of painting it one way or the other. I do know the efforts being taken by the coalition to avoid casualties is quite unprecedented. I believe those efforts should go on, and certainly, as far as Australia is concerned, the targeting policies that we have adopted in relation to the bombing we've participated in, those policies are going to be maintained; and I would expect the Americans and the British would stick to their approach, because there are ethics of war and they do need to be maintained."
Oh really, Prime Minister?
That Howard seeks to justify the level of Iraqi civilian casualties from US and British bombs and missiles on the grounds the Red Cross says Baghdad's hospitals "are coping" is the sort of appalling remark you'd expect from one of the more lunatic radio jocks, not the Prime Minister of this country. It suggests it matters less how many civilians are killed or maimed, just so long as the Iraqi medical system and its hospitals can "cope" with the casualty lists.
Similarly, to pretend there are "ethics of war" observed by the three invading nations is as glib as the assertion that US and British forces are making "unprecedented efforts" to "avoid [civilian] casualties". The trigger-happy atrocities by the American military against their British allies and the Iraqi population at large, as well as the stepped-up aerial and artillery assault on Iraq's cities, raises the question of just how great the civilian casualty lists would be if these "unprecedented efforts" were not being observed.
Unfortunately for Howard, a series of the war's most horrific incidents involving civilians occurred the same day as O'Brien's interview. The resultant front-page headlines on all major Australian newspapers, including the Herald, on Wednesday morning reflected the carnage by "jittery US marines" in the worst incident.
But these first reports included only brief details of the Iraqi deaths. That detail arrived at midday Wednesday in a story filed to all Australian news outlets on the AAP service. The author was an American, Meg Laughlin, of the Knight-Ridder (KRT) group of newspapers, the second-largest (31 dailies) in the US. Laughlin was sent to Iraq from KRT's Washington bureau. Her story appeared in Australia on AAP like this: "Wednesday, 2 Apr 2003 at 11:19am; category, overseas news; low priority; story no 6717. Mid: Iraqi family who lost 11 to US fire were fleeing to safety.
"By Meg Laughlin
"Near Najaf, Iraq, April 1, KRT - An Iraqi mother in a van fired on by US soldiers says she saw her two young daughters decapitated in the incident that also killed her son and eight other members of her family. The children's father, who was also in the van, said US soldiers fired on them as they fled towards a checkpoint because they thought a leaflet dropped by US helicopters told them to 'be safe', and they believed that meant getting out of their village. Bakhat Hassan - who lost his daughters, aged two and five, his three-year-old son, his parents, two older brothers, their wives and two nieces, aged 12 and 15, in the incident - said US soldiers at an earlier checkpoint had waved them through.
"As they approached another checkpoint, they waved again at the American soldiers. 'We were thinking these Americans want us safe,' Hassan said through a army translator at a mobile army surgical hospital set up at a vast army support camp near Najaf. The soldiers didn't wave back. They fired. 'I saw the heads of my two little girls come off,' Hassan's heavily pregnant wife, Lamea, 36, said numbly. US officials originally gave the death toll as seven, but reporters at the scene placed it at 10. Hassan's father died at the army hospital later.
"US officials said the soldiers at an army checkpoint who opened fire were following orders not to let vehicles approach. On Saturday a suicide bomber had killed four US soldiers outside Najaf. Details emerging from interviews with survivors of yesterday's incident tell a distressing tale of a family fleeing towards what they thought would be safety, tragically misunderstanding instructions. An army report written last night cited 'a miscommunication with civilians' as the cause ..."
There was more, 800 words in all. Much of the detail described the dreadful wounds. Three of the uninjured extended family - 17 people had packed into the old LandRover - were "released" to bury the dead to stop dogs mauling the bodies.
And what was the the family fleeing to "safety" from in the first place?
"Their farm town where US attack helicopters had fired missiles and rockets the day before," Laughlin wrote. Tragedy upon tragedy. Judge for yourself "the ethics of war" and what your Prime Minister calls the "unprecedented efforts" of US and British forces to avoid civilian casualties.
So what did our papers do with Laughlin's story?
It never saw a front page anywhere. The Herald and The Canberra Times ignored it. Murdoch's Daily Telegraph rewrote it to a third its length on the bottom of page five under the byline of one of its own reporters. The Age in Melbourne ran it on page four under Laughlin's name but deleted all reference to the two little girls being "decapitated" and the mother seeing their "heads come off." To Age readers over breakfast the little girls simply "died." Brisbane's Courier-Mail buried eight paragraphs, unattributed, on page eight, in a story that included a second "incident" in which an Iraqi claimed 15 of his family died after his truck was hit by a rocket from a US helicopter near Nasiriyah ("Coalition forces target only legitimate military targets and go to great lengths to minimise civilian casualties," US central command said in a statement).
Only two city dailies published Laughlin's story in full. The Herald Sun in Melbourne (page 11) and The Advertiser in Adelaide (page eight), two Murdoch tabloids, gave Laughlin full attribution. But The Advertiser rewrote the lead, heroically: "Bakhat Hassan thought he was driving his family to safety - away from the bombs, away from the bloodshed. Instead, on the road to freedom, American soldiers who were supposed to be saving his country blew away all that Mr Hassan held precious to him. In a continuous burst of M16 gunfire ..." Meg Laughlin wouldn't have recognised it.
So what was the big story that day (Thursday)?
Of course - "the daring rescue of Private First Class Jessica Lynch", the blonde, 19-year-old American military supply clerk captured and listed as missing for more than a week, "spirited to safety by US special forces who swooped on Saddam hospital in Nasiriyah at midday on Tuesday," the day after most of Bakhat Hassan's family died at the US army checkpoint a bit further to the north.
Australia's media couldn't get enough of the story. It blitzed television bulletins and all newspaper front pages on Thursday. One pretty, live, teenage US soldier is worth more than a family of 11 dead Iraqi civilians any day, thank you, even when they include decapitated children as young as two and five.
Specially in the propaganda war.
I wish we'd known about the Iraqi family and Laughlin's story on Monday night when O'Brien denuded our Prime Minister on national television. How Howard would have rationalised the deaths we can only guess. But it would not have been the fault of the young, trigger-happy US marines. Good heavens, no. As General Peter Cosgrove, our most senior soldier and the military's best PR salesman, put it later, we "deplore and regret" all civilian deaths, and "do our best to minimise them," but "when you have people who deliberately use the population as part of the shield and protection of their violent acts, then there will be mistakes."
Always, and for everything, it is Saddam Hussein's fault.
O'Brien asked Howard on Monday night: "The bottom line, when we're talking about ethics, is still, I guess, the ethics of invading a sovereign nation that poses no direct threat to you or to America or to Britain, knowing that an incalculable number of innocent civilians will be killed or maimed." Howard was unfazed.
He trotted out the same old wool about "weapons of mass destruction," even though after more than two weeks of war, British and US forces have found absolutely nothing, as yet, of Iraqi biological and chemical weapons.
But while PFC Jessica Lynch, in the best Wag the Dog tradition, brightens a military tragedy already boring the television masses, who cares?
7th May 2003
The Pentagon says 1: Iraq Body Count says at least 200.
An independent research organisation has published detailed evidence of at least 200 civilians killed by coalition cluster bombs since the start of the Iraq War (full details at www.iraqbodycount.net/editorial.htm.
The Pentagon has admitted only one recorded case of a civilian death from cluster munitions in Iraq this year. This extraordinarily low number has been greeted with widespread incredulity. Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth has condemned it as a "whitewash". Amnesty International has called for an independent investigation to be held into coalition use of cluster munitions. So far, however, such critics have not been able to draw on a firm counter-estimate of the numbers so far recorded killed.
To begin to fill this informational vacuum an international research team yesterday published the world's first comprehensive numerical analysis of cluster-related deaths.
Since the start of hostilities Iraq Body Count has been building up a meticulous and exhaustive compilation of every reported civilian death in Iraq caused by coalition military action. It has based its work on corroborated reports in key media sources published worldwide. The research team has updated its estimates on a daily basis by adding to a constantly growing on-line data-base (www.iraqbodycount.net/bodycount.htm) which now reports over 100 separate incidents involving up to 2700 civilian deaths in total.
Among these incidents are included reliable reports of at least 200 civilian deaths due to cluster bombs, with up to a further 172 deaths which were probably caused by cluster bombs. Of these 372 deaths, 147 have been caused by detonation of unexploded or "dud" munitions, with around half this number being children.
Many of the press reports from which the data have been extracted contain graphic eyewitness details of injuries and mutilations confirmed by doctors as being typical of cluster bombs, including dismemberment and decapitation, and the riddling of the body with deep shrapnel wounds.
Authors John Sloboda and Hamit Dardagan said "Public concern about the possible misuse of these savagely indiscriminate weapons is rapidly mounting. Our research reveals the shocking disparity between what the world's press has already reported and what the Pentagon is prepared to admit. Those who are genuinely concerned about civilian casualties, and interested in minimising them, can no longer plead ignorance."
For more information contact Hamit Dardagan (0207 912 1072), John Sloboda (077 879 75689); Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thu April 3, 2003 12:30 PM
By Samia Nakhoul
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The moaning of Aisha Ahmed, eight, fills the hospital's emergency ward.
One of hundreds of child victims in the 15-day-old U.S.-led war in Iraq, she lost one eye and her face and body are peppered with wounds from what must have been a storm of shrapnel.
"Mummy! I want my mummy. Where is my mummy?" Aisha kept muttering. Yet neither the nurse nor the neighbor trying to comfort her dared to answer.
Her four-year-old brother Mohammad died and her mother and other brother were in critical condition undergoing surgery for head and chest injuries. Her father and two sisters were all badly injured and in another hospital.
A neighbor said he saw missiles crash into Radwaniyeh, a remote area near Baghdad's airport on Wednesday morning.
To their misfortune, they live in an area that -- apart from their farm -- has a presidential palace complex and military positions. A total of 12 children and six adults were struck.
U.S. war headquarters in Qatar said that a farm at Radwaniyeh doubled as a military "command and control facility." Washington says it seeks to minimize civilian casualties in its war to oust President Saddam Hussein.
Aisha was with her cousin and neighbors playing in the garden during a lull in the fighting when a missile struck, the neighbor said.
"We heard the planes and then the big explosion. We saw these houses in flames, and ran to rescue them and get them out from under the rubble. We did not expect them to hit civilians during a lull," the neighbor said.
MANY VICTIMS CHILDREN
Aisha lay with dry blood on her clothes and her moans turned to screams when nurses tried to lift her to the operating theater for head surgery.
Doctor Ahmed Abdel Amir said children were bound to make up a large number of casualties because they are such a big proportion of Iraq's 26 million population.
Another child, Mohammad Kazem, seven, lay in the next bed with serum tubes strapped to him. He was hit by shrapnel in the stomach when a missile crashed near his home west of Baghdad.
"He is so terrified now. He trembles when he hears explosions. I keep on trying to calm him down. I keep telling him that nothing will happen to him any more.
"Whenever he hears the thud of explosions he grabs me. I stay hugging him and patting him until the bombings stop," said his mother, Madiha Mohsen Ali, 40.
"He does not sleep or eat. The only question he keeps asking is: 'mummy when will this banging stop?" she added.
Such scenes have become part of daily life in Iraq since the U.S.-led war started with a fierce air attack and a ground invasion on March 20.
Since then, U.S. planes have flown thousands of sorties, destroying Iraq's military buildings, infrastructure and ministries and sometimes civilian homes.
Most said the war, in which Iraq said 1,250 civilians were killed and 5,000 wounded, was particularly hard on children.
Mohammad al-Jammal, six, was also screaming from his wounds. He too had been standing outside his house when a missile struck, killing two people and sending shrapnel into his stomach, opening it to the intestines.
He lay with his father and mother reading Koranic prayers for him. They said he would be all right because "God is looking after him."
Mothers at the hospital compare notes on their children's traumas. Many speak of their terrified children crying relentlessly, trembling when they hear the bombings. They say their children refuse to eat or sleep.
They say their children are bewildered and depressed. There is little for them to do to get through the day and many fear the night when the bombardment normally resumes.
05 April 2003, The Independent, UK
130,000 British and American troops are in action in Iraq from a total force of 250,000 in the Gulf. The Allies have launched 725 Tomahawk cruise missiles, flown 18,000 sorties, dropped 50 cluster bombs and discharged 12,000 precision-guided munitions. There have been an estimated 1,252 Iraqi civilian deaths, 57 Kurdish deaths and 5,103 civilian injuries. 88 Allied troops have been killed in the conflict, 27 of whom are British. At least 12 Allied soldiers are missing, 34 Allied soldiers have been killed in 'friendly fire' incidents or battlefield accidents. 9 journalists have been killed or are unaccounted for. There have been 2 suicide attacks on US troops, killing 7 soldiers. 8,023 Iraqi combatants have been taken prisoner of war. So far, 0 weapons of mass destruction have been found. 1,500,000 people in southern Iraq have no access to clean water. 200,000 children in southern Iraq are at risk of death from diarrhoea. 17,000,000 Iraqis are reliant on food aid, which has now been stopped. 600 oil wells and refineries are now under British and American control. 80bn dollars has been set aside by US Congress to meet the cost of war. A capital city of 5,000,000 people now stands between the Allied forces and their 1 objective: the removal of Saddam Hussein.
April 5, 2003
From The Mirror, UK, and Anton Antonowicz in Baghdad. Picture by Mike Moore
An old man cries over the coffin of his daughter. His wife and younger daughter sit in the dirt outside the mortuary in shock and abject sadness. It is only an hour and 20 minutes since Nadia Khalaf died, too early for total grief to set in. But time enough to know their lives have been shattered forever.
We discovered them during a random visit to Al Kindhi Hospital in North East Baghdad at 1pm. The doctors did not know we were coming - we had an official guide and we were free to choose which hospital.
Nadia was lying on a stretcher beside the stone mortuary slab. Her heart lay on her chest, ripped from her body by a missile which smashed through the bedroom window of the family's flat nearby in Palestine Street.
Her father Najem Khalaf stood beside her corpse. And I shall try to write what he and his family said in exactly the order they said it. I shall try because I hope it will better convey the bewilderment and horror that broke on one Iraqi household yesterday.
"A shell came down into the room as she was standing by the dressing-table," Najem says. "My daughter had just completed her PhD in Psychology and was waiting for her first job. She was born in 1970. She was 33. She was very clever.
"Everyone said I have a fabulous daughter. She spent all her time studying. Her head buried in books. She didn't have a care about going out enjoying herself. My other daughter is the same. She has a Master's degree in English and teaches at the university. Me? I'm just a lorry driver. A simple man."
He holds out his dead daughter's identity card for us to see. His fingers are covered in her blood. I go to offer my condolence to his other daughter Alia, who is 35.
"I don't know what humanity Bush is calling for," she says in English, "Is this the humanity which lost my sister?
"We are a working class family which made two academics. It was never easy for my parents or for us. We struggled to get where we are. Our flat is rented, not owned. I receive 75,000 dinars a month as a university teacher, my main subject Shakespeare. The flat costs 35,000 monthly - about $12. We were hoping to get ourselves a proper home when Nadia started working. Now look."
Her mother Fawzia raises her hand as if beseeching me. But words fail her and she begins to sob again.
"We have been looking only for peace and security," Alia says, "We were not interested in collecting money, buying costly clothes. We didn't care about dresses. Just peace and security. Not this."
Both women were still in their nightclothes, dressing gowns loose around them. They said they had risen late because of all the shelling overnight. Like everyone else, they were talking about the electricity being cut off on Thursday night.
Nadia was joking about going for a shower. Alia told her she'd probably be away for three hours... just waiting for some water.
They were laughing. "I didn't hear any sound," Alia says, "Suddenly a shell or bomb or something came through the room. I fell to the floor. My mouth was full of dust. I was swallowing dust. Then I looked at her.
"The missile, something big and unexploded, had come through her chest and her heart. She was covered in blood, unconscious. I ran down to the street, Daddy and Mummy behind me, screaming for an ambulance. There wasn't any. A neighbour said he would drive us here to the hospital.
"We all knew it was too late. But we hoped, we hoped."
I tell her that the International Red Cross have said that the majority of civilian casualties have been caused by falling anti-aircraft shells. "I don't know. I don't know. But it is war which has done this. And that war was started by Bush," she says, "Believe me. We have no emnity for foreign people. We never will. We just want to live our lives."
A group of men help to put the corpse in a simple wooden coffin. Najem weeps as he kneels before his daughter. His wife and daughter climb into the back of the blue car. The other men place the coffin on the roof rack, put on the lid and secure it with bindings.
Alia asks that I send her a copy of this story and I promise somehow to do so. It seems to give her some consolation. The only sort, apart from the spoken word, which I can offer.
And so they leave. Three people driven by a neighbour with their precious daughter strapped to the roof.
Our guide says they will now wash her body, drape it in white and before dusk lay her in the ground.
It has been one of the saddest episodes I have ever witnessed in my 26 years reporting for this newspaper.
May 1 2003, Mirror (UK)
From Chris Hughes In Al-Fallujah.
It started when a young boy hurled a sandal at a US jeep - it ended with two Iraqis dead and 16 seriously injured. I watched in horror as American troops opened fire on a crowd of 1,000 unarmed people here yesterday. Many, including children, were cut down by a 20-second burst of automatic gunfire during a demonstration against the killing of 13 protesters at the Al-Kaahd school on Monday.
They had been whipped into a frenzy by religious leaders. The crowd were facing down a military compound of tanks and machine-gun posts. The youngster had apparently lobbed his shoe at the jeep - with a M2 heavy machine gun post on the back - as it drove past in a convoy of other vehicles. A soldier operating the weapon suddenly ducked, raised it on its pivot then pressed his thumb on the trigger.
Mirror photographer Julian Andrews and I were standing about six feet from the vehicle when the first shots rang out, without warning. We dived for cover under the compound wall as troops within the crowd opened fire. The convoy accelerated away from the scene. Iraqis in the line of fire dived for cover, hugging the dust to escape being hit.
We could hear the bullets screaming over our heads. Explosions of sand erupted from the ground - if the rounds failed to hit a demonstrator first. Seconds later the shooting stopped and the screaming and wailing began. One of the dead, a young man, lay face up, half his head missing, first black blood, then red spilling into the dirt. His friends screamed at us in anger, then looked at the grim sight in disbelief.
A boy of 11 lay shouting in agony before being carted off in a car to a hospital already jam-packed with Iraqis hurt in Monday's incident. Cars pulled up like taxis to take the dead and injured to hospital, as if they had been waiting for this to happen. A man dressed like a sheik took off his headcloth to wave and direct traffic around the injured. The sickening scenes of death and pain were the culmination of a day of tension in Al-Fallujah sparked by Monday's killings.
The baying crowd had marched 500 yards from the school to a local Ba'ath party HQ. We joined them, asking questions and taking pictures, as Apache helicopters circled above. The crowd waved their fists at the gunships angrily and shouted: "Go home America, go home America." We rounded a corner and saw edgy-looking soldiers lined up along the street in between a dozen armoured vehicles. All of them had automatic weapons pointing in the firing position.
As the crowd - 10 deep and about 100 yards long - marched towards the US positions, chanting "Allah is great, go home Americans", the troops reversed into the compound. On the roof of the two-storey fortress, ringed by a seven-foot high brick wall, razor wire and with several tanks inside, around 20 soldiers ran to the edge and took up positions. A machine gun post at one of the corners swivelled round, taking aim at the crowd which pulled to a halt.
We heard no warning to disperse and saw no guns or knives among the Iraqis whose religious and tribal leaders kept shouting through loud hailers to remain peaceful. In the baking heat and with the deafening noise of helicopters the tension reached breaking point. Julian and I ran towards the compound to get away from the crowd as dozens of troops started taking aim at them, others peering at them through binoculars. Tribal leaders struggled to contain the mob which was reaching a frenzy.
A dozen ran through the cordon of elders, several hurling what appeared to be rocks at troops. Some of the stones just reached the compound walls. Many threw sandals - a popular Iraqi insult. A convoy of Bradley military jeeps passed by, the Iraqis hurling insults at them, slapping the sides of the vehicles with their sandals, tribal leaders begging them to retreat. The main body of demonstrators jeered the passing US troops pointing their thumbs down to mock them.
Then came the gunfire - and the death and the agony. After the shootings the American soldiers looked at the appalling scene through their binoculars and set up new positions, still training their guns at us. An angry mob battered an Arab TV crew van, pulling out recording equipment and hurling it at the compound. Those left standing - now apparently insane with anger - ran at the fortress battering its walls with their fists. Many had tears pouring down their faces.
Still no shots from the Iraqis and still no sign of the man with the AK47 who the US later claimed had let off a shot at the convoy. I counted at least four or five soldiers with binoculars staring at the crowd for weapons but we saw no guns amongst the injured or dropped on the ground. A local told us the crowd would turn on foreigners so we left and went to the hospital.
There, half an hour later, another chanting mob was carrying an open coffin of one of the dead, chanting "Islam, Islam, Islam, death to the Americans". We left when we were spat at by a wailing woman dressed in black robes. US troops had been accused of a bloody massacre over the killings of the 13 Iraqis outside the school on Monday. Three of the dead were said to be boys under 11.
At least 75 locals were injured in a 30-minute gun battle after soldiers claimed they were shot at by protesters. Demonstrators claimed they were trying to reclaim the school from the Americans who had occupied it as a military HQ. The crowd had defied a night-time curfew to carry out the protest.
April Hurley, MD, Iraq Peace Team
24 March 2003
Nine year old, Rana Adnan needs oxygen for a chest laceration and lung contusion with a concussion, head laceration, and shrapnel in her left arm. In America, the saying goes goes: If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.In Bagdhad, at Al Kindi Hospital Emergency, Fatima Abdullah is screaming in outrage: "Why do you do this to us??!"
Her 8-year-old, Fatehah is dead, two other daughters are on stretchers wounded by a missle that crushed her uncle's home where they were staying outside Baghdad, near the Diala Bridge. An extended farming family, they have suffered with sanctions and ecomonic devastation shrinking their stock of animals to one cow, a donkey and chickens; they are barely able to feed themselves. Muhammed, the four-year-old crying in her arms has cuts from shrapnel and debris criss-crossing the right side of his face and head, eyelids swollen shut.
Nada Adnan, 13 years old and a student at high school for girls, states "I wish that God would take Bush. Why did he do this to us? to me?". She has an open gash on her right cranium with underlying fracture and a large, deep shrapnel gauged cut into her upper left thigh. She has no narcotic relief and cries out as aides press guaze into her leg wound. 9 year old, Rana Adnan needs oxygen for a chest laceration and lung contusion with a concussion, head laceration, and shrapnel in her left arm.
And then there is Nahla Harbi who was a passenger driving away from Bagdad with her two year old in her arms when a military school for boys was hit and the explosion rolled the car fracturing both of her legs. Her child sustained head injuries. Less than 100 meters from Alyermouk Hospital and a school, bombing crushed the foot of 28 year old man who was walking outside his home.
And the list keeps going on. A 70 year old man shopping for food for his family now has a compound fracture of his left upper arm, chest wound through his lung requiring a chest tube and making answers and complaints more dificult. He has rage and opinions, just as the multitude of families do these several days. How can I explain reasons to them? They know that Bush's Administration is interested in oil control and that they have no interest in democracy for these people. Why don't Americans know this? Why did we elect this man without human feelings, they ask.
It's not easy being an American in a Baghdad Emergency room seeing victims and their families. I wish that George Bush was here with his answers to their outrage. Nada Adman, 13, has an open gash on her right cranium with underlying fracture and a large, deep shrapnel gauged cut into her upper left thigh.
April Hurley is a physician from Santa Rosa, California. She is currently living in Baghdad with the Voices in the Wilderness' Iraq Peace Team, a group of international peaceworkers remaining in Iraq through the war, in order to be a voice for the Iraqi people in the West. The Iraq Peace Team can be reached at email@example.com
Sunday April 6, 2003
His father. His mother. Two sisters. A brother. And an uncle. All dead. That was the price of war for 15-year-old Omar when the vehicle he was riding in failed to stop at a U.S. checkpoint five miles from Baghdad. Even the Marines were weeping in sympathy.
Was it worth it? For Omar, a 15-year-old orphaned by US Marines on Friday night, his shirt and trousers saturated with his parents' blood, the answer was no. For Corpsman Thomas Smith, a few days short of his 22nd birthday, exhausted and unbelieving after a day and night of mayhem which had seen three Marines killed, himself almost among them, the answer was yes.
For the senior Iraqi commander, dead in the dirt at the side of the road next to the white Toyota in which he had tried to escape, who knows? The second hand on his watch was still ticking, but the hour and minute hands had stopped at 2 am.
US intelligence sources quickly identified the man as the operations officer of the Special Republican Guards.
If George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein have anything in common, it is that the lives of Omar, Smith and the Iraqi officer are petty cash in their grand accounting of the balance of war. They cannot smell the dead rotting in the heat along the route of the Marines' final charge to the gates of Baghdad; there is no way to make them look Omar in the eye as he stares through his tears at the embarrassed, awkward foreigners who shot his mother and father. The boy did not know whether to be enraged or engulfed in sobbing, so he was both, and neither would help him.
Here, at a crossroads five miles east of the Iraqi capital, Marines shot dead eight civilians and injured seven more, including a child who was shot in the face. All the civilians were travelling out of Baghdad on Friday night in vehicles which, the Marines say, refused to stop when challenged - in English - and, when warning shots were fired, accelerated.
Fearful that they were being attacked by suicide bombers, the Marines shot to immobilise the vehicles. Result? Besides Omar's father and mother, two of his sisters, one brother and an uncle were killed when the bus and truck in which they were travelling were punctured by gunfire. The children were aged three, six and 10.
Aleya, Omar's aunt, walked barefoot through shattered windscreen glass yesterday and climbed into the cab of the truck, which was being repaired to make it roadworthy. She was close to hysterics and past caring about minor physical pain. 'People cry for one dead person. Who am I going to cry for?', she screamed through her weeping.
Omar held up his clothes, dyed a hideous purple-brown colour with the blood in the night. His features kept twisting into the face of the about- to-cry. At one point he scampered to the edge of the road to lift the blanket over the face of his father before the Marines led him away.
In the end the corpses, including one the Marines had begun to bury, were carried by the Iraqis and the Marines to the back of the truck for the family to take away and inter. When Aleya went with a medic to change the dressing on the badly shot-up face of Omar's baby brother, Ali, she confided that she had seen one of the Marines weep in sympathy at the family's grief.
The driver of one of the civilian vehicles claimed that they did stop. But Corporal Adam Clark, one of the Marines manning the checkpoint, his face strained and pale and his hands sealed in stained rubber gloves, said: 'We gave them warning shots. A lot of them. And they didn't stop. That first truck right there just about ran over our forward troops.
'It's not a good day when you carry dead people out of vehicles. What can you do?'
Another of the Marines, Lance Corporal Eric Jewell, said: 'We didn't know what was in that bus. It may sound bad, but I'd rather see more of them dead than any of my friends... Everyone understands the word 'stop,' right?'
Baghdad, 16 April 2003
Urgent statement and appeal by Medical Aid for the Third World
As medical doctors, we cannot remain silent in the face of the enormous suffering of the Iraqi civilian population, brought about by the US-British bombings, invasion and occupation. We have seen hundreds of civilians, including many children, injured and killed, often by prohibited weapons such as cluster bombs. We have seen how ambulances and civilian cars have been hit by US troops.
We have experienced how patients and health workers had difficulties passing US military checkpoints and reaching medical facilities. We now see how the Iraqi civilian hospitals and other medical facilities are plundered and neglected. Many Iraqi health professionals can no longer report to work. Without electricity, safe water supply and the provision of medicines and other medical supplies, many patients are simply left to die.
As health professionals and as human beings, we cannot tolerate this situation. We therefore issue the following statement and appeal:
1. The current humanitarian catastrophe is entirely and solely the responsibility of the US and British authorities, who launched a war of aggression against Iraq in complete violation of international law.
2. In the course of their war, the US and British troops have grossly and repeatedly violated international humanitarian law (Articles 10, 12, 15, 21, 35, 36, 41, 45, 47, 48 and 51of Protocol I additional to the Geneva Conventions).
3. A genuine and lasting solution to the humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq can only be realized after the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all US and British occupation troops and the full restoration of Iraq's sovereignty on the entire Iraqi territory and on the basis of the Iraqi people's own free will.
4. The US and Great Britain should be made to pay for all direct and indirect damages and suffering their war has inflicted upon the Iraqi people, country and society.
5. In the meantime, as occupying powers, the US and Great Britain have the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population (Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention). They likewise have the duty of ensuring and maintaining, with the cooperation of national and local authorities, the medical and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene in the occupied territory. They must allow medical personnel to carry out their duties. (Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention)
6. We call on the relevant UN agencies, such as the UNFP, Unicef and the WHO, to immediately resume their humanitarian operations in Iraq. A firefighter does not wait until the house has burnt down completely, but takes risks in order to fight the fire and avoid the complete collapse of the building.
7. We support all spontaneous and organized initiatives of the Iraqi population to denounce the US and British occupation and to demand that the US and British authorities fulfill their duties under international humanitarian law.
8. We support each initiative that aims to bring US General Tommy Franks and other US and British military authorities and personnel before a court of justice to make them answer for their violations of international humanitarian law.
Upon the request of direct victims of US violations of international humanitarian law, among them patients and medical personnel, we have asked the well-known Belgian human rights lawyer Mr. Jan Fermon to explore the concrete possibilities of charging US General Tommy Franks in a Belgian court for war crimes, on the basis of the Belgian law of universal competence.
Geert Van Moorter, M.D., emergency physician, in Baghdad since 16 March
Colette Moulaert, M.D., pediatrician, in Baghdad from 16 March to 13 April
Harrie Dewitte, M.D., in Baghdad from 6 to 13
April Claire Geraets, M.D., in Baghdad since 6 April
Bert De Belder, M.D., coordinator of Medical Aid for the Third World in Brussels, Belgium
Wednesday October 29, 2003
A study produced by an independent US thinktank said yesterday. Up to 4,300 of the dead were civilian noncombatants. The report, by Project on Defence Alternatives, a research institute from Cambridge, Massachussets, offers the most comprehensive account so far of how many Iraqis died. The toll of Iraq's war dead covered by the report is limited to the early stages of the war, from March 19 when American tanks crossed the Kuwaiti border, to April 20, when US troops had consolidated their hold on Baghdad.
Researchers drew on hospital records, official US military statistics, news reports, and survey methodology to arrive at their figures. They were also able to make use of two earlier studies on Iraq's war dead from Iraq Body Count, a website which has kept a running total of those killed, and the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, which has sought to count the dead and injured of the war in order to pursue compensation claims for their families. The new report, which estimates Iraq's war dead at between 10,800 and 15,100, uses a far more rigorous definition of civilian than the other studies to arrive at a figure of between 3,200 and 4,300 civilian noncombatants.
It breaks down the combat deaths of up to 10,800 Iraqis who fought the American invasion. The figures include regular Iraqi troops, as well as members of the Ba'ath party and other militias. The killing was concentrated - with heavy casualties at the southern entrances of Baghdad - but as many as 80% of the Iraqi army units survived the war relatively unscathed, in part because troops deserted. As many as 5,726 Iraqis were killed in the US assault on Baghdad, when the streets of the Iraqi capital were strewn with the bodies of people trying to flee the fighting.
As many as 3,531 - more than half - of the dead in the assault on the capital were noncombatant civilians, according to the report. Overall in Iraq, the ratio of civilian to military deaths is almost twice as high as it was in the last Gulf war in 1991. The overall toll of the first war was far higher - with estimates of 20,000 Iraqi soldiers and 3,500 civilians killed.
However, Operation Iraqi Freedom, as the US military calls this year's war, has proved far deadlier to Iraqi civilians both in absolute numbers, and in the proportion of noncombatant to military deaths. The findings defy the reasoning that precision-guided weapons spare civilian lives. According to the author of the study, Carol Conetta, 68% of the munitions used in this war were precision-guided, compared with 6.5 % in 1991.
However, he argued yesterday that his report demonstrated that sophisticated weaponry did not necessarily offer protection to civilians in war zones. "Many of the recent wars have been fought with the notion of a new type of warfare that produce very low civilian casualties. What we see here is that in fact we don't have that magic bullet," he said. "In this war in particular we see that improved capabilities in precision attacks have been used to pursue more ambitious objectives rather than achieve lower numbers of civilian dead."
the Human Cost (March
19- April 20, 2003)
Total war dead (Iraq): Between 10,800 and 15,100, with a midpoint of 12,950
Combatants killed (Iraq): Between 7,600 and 10,800, with a midpoint of 9,200
Noncombatants killed (Iraq): Between 3,200 and 4,300, with a midpoint of 3,750
War dead (Baghdad): Between 4,376 and 5,726, with a midpoint of 5,051
Combatants killed (Baghdad): Between 2,224 and 3,531, with a midpoint of 2,878
Noncombatants killed (Baghdad): Between 1,990 and 2,357, with a midpoint of 2,174
Source: Project on Defence Alternatives research
Sat March 29, 2003 11:17 AM ET
By Samia Nakhoul
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Almost every house in Baghdad's poor al-Shula neighborhood had a horror story to tell on Saturday after death rained from the night sky. The United States said it was checking to see whether one of its missiles or bombs had caused the shattering explosion that killed at least 62 people on Friday evening in the heart of Baghdad.
To the traumatized residents of the Shi'ite Muslim neighborhood, the conclusions of that inquiry meant little. At the house of Sumaya Abed, the scene was one of devastation. She was delirious with grief. "Ali, Hussein and Mohammad are gone. My three boys are dead," a sobbing Abed repeated over and over again.
"Oh God! To whom shall we turn in our sorrow? Oh God! To whom shall we address our grief? We're just poor people who wanted to live in peace," said Abed, 53. Dozens of black-garbed women relatives, friends and neighbors sat by her side, weeping and trying to comfort her. But words could do little.
The distraught mother said Ali, 20, Hussein, 18, and Mohammad, 11, were killed by pieces of shrapnel that cut though their chests and heads. "My Mohammad was born in the first war and he died in the second war. Oh my God!," she cried. She was pregnant with the 11-year-old during the 1991 Gulf War.
"What is left for me to live for? My whole life has been destroyed. I nursed them all my life and they're gone now." It is some irony that Iraq's Shi'ite majority is supposed to be one of beneficiaries of the U.S. drive to overthrow President Saddam Hussein, a member of the dominant Sunni Muslim minority.
Shacks at the crowded neighborhood's tiny market were torn into pieces of shattered wood and twisted metal. The smell from broken sewers mixed with the odor of rotting fruit and charred human remains. People described horror scenes of dismembered bodies littering the streets. "There was a big explosion and smoke. Nobody could see anything. People started running in panic and screaming. Nobody could tell who had died and who remained alive," said Karim Hmayed, 45, a merchant.
SORROW AND FURY
In another bereaved household nearby, Arouba Khodeir, 39, was wailing hysterically and hitting herself in the face and chest, as women around her were trying to calm her down. Her son Karar, 11, died outside the house with his friends. "My son had his head blown off," screamed Khodeir. "Why are they hitting the people? Why are they killing the children? Why are they doing his to us?
"Why are they attacking civilians? Didn't Bush say on TV that he won't attack civilians. But these people who died are all civilians? Is this a target?" she wailed, pointing at the dried blood of her son still splashed on the walls. In Shula, sorrow at the loss of loved ones was mixed with fury at President Bush, who has promised to limit the loss of innocent civilian life. But many were also angry that Iraqi missile launchers and anti-aircraft guns were apparently sited in their residential neighborhood.
One harrowing story was told at the house of Hasna Shallum where women had gathered to mourn the death of her 20-year-old daughter Shaza. Shaza was holding her baby and walking with two relatives when the explosion sent a shard of shrapnel through her neck.
Six-month-old Fatma was found alive in her dead mother's arms and brought by neighbors to her grandmother. The wails of the mourners drowned the cries of the hungry infant. Survivors said most of those killed were so poor they had risked their lives to use a lull in the U.S.-British strikes to set up their stalls to try to make a living.
"We did not want war. This war was imposed on us by force. We are poor people who just want to live in peace," said one of the mourners, Hamdiya Abbas, 45, whose three sons are soldiers. Television pictures of bodies and damage in Iraq have fueled Arab anger against the U.S.-led invasion which Washington says is not aimed at ordinary Iraqis but at Saddam.
Civilian casualties could further sap U.S. efforts to win Iraqi hearts and minds. At least 15 people died when a previous missile hit Baghdad's al-Shaab Shi'ite district on Wednesday. The U.S. military said it was not clear who was responsible. Struck by the worst civilian casualty toll so far, Shula residents voiced despair and anger at the indifference of the world which they said has failed to stop the carnage.
"We are helpless people. It is all out of our hands. Why cannot the world find a solution?" said Zahra, 50. "The whole world is watching us die and is doing nothing to help us."
Ciar Byrne, Media
Friday June 27, 2003
BBC world affairs editor John Simpson has called on the US government to investigate why more journalists were killed by American soldiers than by any other means during the Iraq war.
Simpson blamed the deaths of many of the journalists - what he called "the ultimate act of censorship" - on the system of embedding, which meant that journalists operating independently of US and British troops became "potential targets".
Of the 16 journalists who lost their lives within the space of just 21 days in the Gulf conflict, five died as a result of "depressingly explainable" accidents, three were killed by the Iraqis and seven died at the hands of the American forces, according to Simpson.
The sixteenth, Australian photojournalist Paul Moran, died when a suicide bomber blew him up in northern Iraq.
"In this war, the Americans were more than twice as dangerous to the proper exercise of journalism, the freedom of reporters to see for themselves what was happening, as the Iraqis were," said Simpson, delivering the Reuters memorial lecture today at St Catherine's College, Oxford.
The veteran war correspondent was himself injured in a "friendly fire" incident, in which the BBC's Kurdish translator, Kamran Abdurrazak Muhammed, was killed by a bomb dropped by a US warplane....
Wed April 2, 2003 06:53 AM ET
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. aircraft hit a Red Crescent maternity hospital in Baghdad, the city's trade fair, and other civilian buildings on Wednesday, killing several people and wounding at least 25, hospital sources and a Reuters witness said.
The attacks occurred at 9:30 a.m. and caught motorists by surprise as they ventured out during a lull in the bombing. At least five cars were crushed with drivers burned to death inside, Reuters correspondent Samia Nakhoul said.
At least three doctors and nurses working at the Iraqi Red Crescent hospital were wounded in the blasts. Among the wounded were patients who had come to hospital for help.
The missiles obliterated wings of Baghdad's trade fair building, which lies next to a government security office that was apparently missed in the bombings.
Sun April 6, 2003 07:49 AM ET
By Samia Nakhoul
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Ali Ismaeel Abbas, 12, was fast asleep when war shattered his life. A missile obliterated his home and most of his family, leaving him orphaned, badly burned and blowing off both his arms.
"It was midnight when the missile fell on us. My father, my mother and my brother died. My mother was five months pregnant," the traumatized boy told Reuters at Baghdad's Kindi hospital.
"Our neighbors pulled me out and brought me here. I was unconscious," he said on Sunday.
In addition to the tragedy of losing his parents, he faces the horror of living handicapped. Thinking about his uncertain future he timidly asked whether he could get artificial arms.
"Can you help get my arms back? Do you think the doctors can get me another pair of hands?" Abbas asked. "If I don't get a pair of hands I will commit suicide," he said with tears spilling down his cheeks.
His aunt, three cousins and three other relatives staying with them were also killed in this week's missile strikes on their house in Diala Bridge district east of Baghdad.
"We didn't want war. I was scared of this war," said Abbas. "Our house was just a poor shack, why did they want to bomb us?" said the young boy, unaware that the area in which he lived was surrounded by military installations.
With a childhood lost and a future clouded by disaster and disability, Abbas poured his heart out as he lay in bed with an improvised wooden cage over his chest to stop his burned flesh touching the bed covers.
"I wanted to become an army officer when I grow up, but not anymore. Now I want to become a doctor, but how can I? I don't have hands," he said.
His aunt, Jamila Abbas, 53, looked after him, feeding him, washing him, comforting him with prayers and repeatedly telling him his parents had gone to heaven.
Abbas' suffering offered one snapshot of the daily horrors afflicting Iraqi civilians in the devastating U.S.-led war to remove President Saddam Hussein.
At the Kindi hospital, staff were overwhelmed by the sharp rise in casualties since U.S. ground troops moved north to Baghdad on Thursday and intensified their aerial assault.
Ambulance after ambulance raced in with casualties from around the capital. Victim after victim was rushed in, many carried in bed sheets after the stretchers ran out. Doctors struggled to find them beds.
Staff had no time even to clean the blood from trolleys.
Patients' screams and parents' cries echoed across the ward.
With many staff unable to reach the hospital due to the bombing, doctors worked round the clock performing surgery, taking blood, giving injections and ferrying the wounded.
Doctor Osama Saleh al-Duleimi, an orthopedic surgeon and assistant director at Kindi, said they were overloaded and suffering shortages of anesthesia, pain killers and staff.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been touring hospitals to provide first aid and surgery kits.
"So far hospitals had equipment and medicine to cope but were overwhelmed by the sheer number of casualties coming in at the same time. During fierce bombardment, hospitals received up to 100 casualties per hour," ICRC spokesman Roland Huguenin-Benjamin told Reuters on Sunday.
He said hospitals were well-organized and were so far coping, but voiced concern in case the fighting dragged on.
Doctors who treated Iraqi victims of two previous wars say they are taken aback by the injuries they have seen. Most suffered massive trauma and fatal wounds, including head, abdominal and limb injuries from lethal weapons, they said.
"I've been a doctor for 25 years and this is the worst I've seen in terms of the number of casualties and fatal wounds," said Duleimi, 48, who witnessed the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War and the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait.
"This is a disaster because they're attacking civilians. We are receiving a lot of civilian casualties," he added.
Washington says it has tried to minimize civilian casualties in its war to oust Saddam but doctors insist many of the victims are civilians caught in aerial and artillery bombardment.
There is no independent figure for casualties but hospital sources put them at hundreds of dead and thousands of wounded.
"This war is more destructive than all the previous wars. In the previous battles, the weapons seemed merely disabling; now they're much more lethal," Doctor Sadek al-Mukhtar said.
"Before the war I did not regard America as my enemy. Now I do. There are the military and there are the civilians. War should be against the military. America is killing civilians."