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November 16, 2004

'Success' in Fallujah, Failure Elsewhere


by Dahr Jamail

BAGHDAD - Everyone saw it coming, only the U.S. forces did not: humanitarian disaster in Fallujah, and stronger resistance against U.S. and allied occupying forces all around Iraq.

The real face of the "success" of the U.S. military assault in Fallujah is now beginning to present itself. Thousands of families remain trapped inside Fallujah with no food, clean water, or medical assistance.

No one can say how many of the 1,200 "rebels" U.S. forces claim to have killed inside Fallujah are civilians, or whether the death toll is higher.

The Iraqi Red Crescent Society, which is supported by the Red Cross and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has called the situation in Fallujah a "big disaster."

The Iraqi Red Crescent has several teams of relief workers and doctors, and truckloads of food waiting for the authorization from the U.S.-backed interim government and the U.S. military, but they have not been allowed in.

The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) has expressed grave concern for the civilians left in the city. "All those taking part in the combat have a responsibility to spare civilians and give access to the wounded," ICRC spokesman Rana Sidani said in a statement.

U.S. forces have said they will now carry out "humanitarian" tasks on their own. It could be too late, going by the people's voices that are now emerging.

Muna Salim, who managed to flee the city with her sister after the rest of their family was killed by U.S. bombs, said Fallujah had turned from a battlefield to a ghost town in recent days.

"Most families stayed inside their houses all the time," she said after reaching Baghdad. "We were always very hungry because we didn't want to eat our food or drink all of the water. We never knew if we would be able to get more, so we tried to be careful." She could not bring herself to talk of the killings.

"The Americans didn't care about us," said a young refugee who gave his name only as Ahmed. He arrived in Baghdad with most of his family three days back. "All the medical people left the city and the only people in the city are Fallujans or from Ramadi or other cities who came to try to help us."

People in Fallujah had been left helpless, he said. "Anyone who left their house would either be shot by American snipers or recruited by the mujahedin," he said. "So we stayed inside most of the time and prayed. The more the bombs exploded, the more we prayed and cried."

Ahmed says he did not expect to survive. "Every night we said good-bye to one another because we expected to die," he said. "You could see areas where all the houses were flattened, there was just nothing left. We could get water at times, but there was no electricity ever."

U.S. forces had bombed families in their homes, he said. "Even those of us who do not fight, we are suffering so much because of the U.S. bombs and tanks. Can't they see this is turning so many people against them?"

The Iraqi resistance has taken control of many cities across Iraq following the U.S. siege of Fallujah. Despite U.S. military claims of being in control of Mosul in the north, al-Jazeera reported that the U.S. military, Iraqi police, and National Guardsmen have disappeared from the streets, and armed men wearing masks are wandering freely around.

A freelance journalist in the city told al-Jazeera on telephone from the city: "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." The U.S. military says it has taken back control of Mosul police stations and other areas. Iraqi rebels are now also in control of large areas of Ramadi, Samarra, Haditha, Baquba, Hiyt, Qaim, Latifiyah, Taji, and Khaldiyah. Fighting has been reported also in the Shia holy city Kerbala.

The uprising has spread across the capital as well. The districts al-Dora, al-Amiriyah, Abu Ghraib, al-Adhamiya, and Khan Dhari are now largely controlled by resistance fighters.

U.S. military vehicles have been damaged and destroyed near the city Hiyt. Fighting has spread to the normally peaceful town Hilla, just south of Baghdad.

"The security situation there has gone from bad to worse," Ali Abdulla, a 35-year-old carpenter from Hilla said. "You can hear the fighting all around the city now, and the resistance is fighting against the Polish very fiercely."

Abdulla said this was the first time there had been fighting between Polish troops and resistance fighters.

(Inter Press Service)

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    Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Dahr Jamail writes about the effects of the US occupation on the people of Iraq, since the mainstream media in the US has in large part, he believes, failed to do so.

    Dahr has spent a total of 5 months in occupied Iraq, and plans on returning in October to continue reporting on the occupation. One of only a few independent reporters in Iraq, Dahr will be using the DahrJamailIraq.com website and mailing list to disseminate his dispatches and will continue as special correspondent for Flashpoints Radio.

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