UPDATE:Marchers break through US roadblocks
April 9, 2004
THOUSANDS of Sunni and Shiite Muslims forced their way through US military checkpoints Thursday to ferry food and medical supplies to the besieged Sunni bastion of Fallujah where US marines are trying to crush insurgents.
Troops in armoured vehicles tried to stop the convoy of cars and pedestrians from reaching the town located 50 kilometers west of Baghdad.
But US forces were overwhelmed as residents of villages west of the capital came to the convoy’s assistance, hurling insults and stones at the beleaguered troops.
Some 20 kilometers west of Baghdad, a US patrol was attacked just moments before the Iraqi marchers arrived. Armed insurgents could be seen dancing around two blazing military vehicles.
Two US Humvees tried to stop the marchers but were forced to drive off as residents joined the marchers, shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greater).
US troops again blocked the highway further west, but were forced to let the Iraqis past as they came under a hail of stones.
Sitting on top of supply trucks, young men also hurled empty bottles of water and waved their shoes in sign of disdain at the US troops.
The cross-community demonstration of support for Fallujah had been organized by Baghdad clerics both Sunni and Shiite amid reports that the death toll in the town had reached 105 since late Tuesday.
Thousands of Iraqis are at the gates of Fallujah, many arriving in a convoy from Baghdad carrying food, water, and blood for the city’s residents.***
Thousands of Iraqis
meanwhile forced their way through a checkpoint on the Fallujah road, most on foot followed by cars full of food and medical supplies for residents of the besieged city.
“Our families in Fallujah
, remember that our dead go to heaven and theirs to hell,” read a banner held by the marchers who had gathered early Thursday at the Um al-Qora mosque in west Baghdad where people donated food, drinks and medicine.
“No Sunnis, no Shiites, yes for Islamic unity. We are Sunni and Shiite brothers and will never sell our country,” they chanted.
The marchers carried Iraqi flags as well as portraits of Sunni Palestinian Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the head of the Hamas movement killed last month by Israel, and Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose forces were fighting the US-led coalition.
“Allahu Akbar,” or “God is greatest” sounded from the Um al-Qora mosque as people made the donations.
Sheikh Ahmad Abdel Ghafur al-Samarai, the mosque imam and a member of the Committee of Religious Clerics, said that “Baghdad residents decided to send initially 90 cars with food and medicines to Fallujah families.”
“The Iraqi Red Crescent got a permission from the coalition, following negotiations over one day and one night to bring these supplies into the city,” he said.
“We want to express solidarity with our brothers who are being bombed by warplanes and tanks. People donated these things, and women even sold their jewelry,” he said.
“It is a form of jihad (religious war) which can also come in the form of demonstrations, donations and fighting. The people who are occupied have the right to fight occupation, whatever the means they use,” he said.
He called on the US army to stop the operation in the city.