BAGHDAD - Residents are fleeing Samarra city in the face of fierce fighting
between US forces and resistance groups.
New defiance is rising against US forces following military "crimes,"
fleeing residents say.
"On Sunday the 26th of August, there was fierce fighting between armed
men and American forces in the Armooshiya district, and I saw Americans evacuate
many of their soldiers by stretchers," a man who fled Samarra for Baghdad,
speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. "As usual, Americans took
revenge by bombing the district."
A woman who also fled Samarra for the capital in recent days, who gave her
name as Iman, told IPS that the US military had "committed another crime
in the medicine factory residence area" when "they bombed a house
there and killed a woman with her seven children."
The Sunni and anti-occupation Muslim Scholars Association issued a statement
confirming these two assaults, and condemning the "ugly crimes" of
occupation forces in Samarra. The Association accused the US military of attempting
to break the spirit of Iraqis who reject the US occupation.
"They think their crimes would stop Iraqis from demanding their rights
for liberty and prosperity, but the results are always different from what the
American leaders hope," Sheikh Taha from the Muslim Scholars' Association
told IPS in Baghdad.
"They are only pushing more Iraqis to be armed against them, and you can
see that the facts on the ground are the opposite of what they tell their people.
Their soldiers are getting killed every day and they (US military) are losing
A young man spoke with IPS on condition of anonymity outside a Sunni mosque
in Baghdad where refugees from Samarra were arriving.
"We will be the thorn that makes Bush's life more difficult," he
told IPS. "I am only here to ensure the safety of my family, then I will
go back to my city to defend it against all strangers."
Located 125 km north of Baghdad, Samarra has seen fierce fighting between the
Iraqi resistance and US military units since the beginning of the US occupation
of Iraq in 2003.
The Sunni dominated city of 200,000 has suffered continuing raids by US and
Iraqi forces that have hit civilian life hard.
The resistance seems to have grown as the attacks have continued.
"Four years of occupation have caused this city a great deal of damage,"
Thul-Faqar Ali, a lawyer and human rights activist who fled Samarra to Baghdad
told IPS. "It is true that there was strong resistance to the occupation,
but most of those who got killed, injured or detained were innocent civilians.
The US occupation forces in Samarra were so brutal that they conducted many
executions on site."
One of the first instances of brutal US military execution of Iraqis in Samarra
came in 2004 when eyewitnesses told the press that US soldiers threw two young
men into the Tigris River and watched one of them drown.
Marwan Hassoun, the surviving Iraqi, later testified in a US military court
that he and his cousin were stopped on their return to Samarra and forced at
gunpoint into the Tigris River as US soldiers laughed. The cousin who died
was named as 19-year-old Zaidoun Fadel Hassoun.
"I could hear them laughing," Marwan told a reporter of the Jan.
3, 2004 incident, recalling how US soldiers pushed him and his cousin into
the river. "They were behaving like they were watching a comedy on stage."
A US Army sergeant involved in the incident, Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Perkins,
33, was later acquitted of involuntary manslaughter but convicted of assault.
Many other such instances have been reported since.
(Inter Press Service)