Saturday, April 05, 2003


The Daily Mirror and Media Guardian's editors exchange friendly fire, and polar opposite viewpoints, on the war, in this article by the Guardian Unlimited:

"Dear Piers,
Doesn't the Mirror suffer from what you could call the Robin Cook problem, ie you have a vested interest in disaster? Robin fell into this trap in his Sunday Mirror piece, and had to backtrack. If you keep on using words like "obscene", "lie", "a mess", "worst nightmare", "chaos", you impel yourself into a position in which successes for the coalition are almost unwelcome. How do you resolve this?
Dear Charles,
Judging by today's Media Guardian's ICM poll on newspaper readers and their views on the war I fear we may both be suffering from what I call the "Bob Cunis" problem - with roughly the same number of readers of both papers seemingly pro and anti the war. Cunis was the New Zealand fast bowler whose performance one day at Lord's was so mediocre that it prompted commentator John Arlott to observe: "Cunis's bowling this morning has been rather like his surname . . . neither one thing nor the other."

As for our "vested interest in disaster", I can only say that nobody wishes us to be successful in this conflict now it has started more than me. But that doesn't mean I will change my mind that the political decision to prosecute Gulf war 2 was unethical, unlawful and, in terms of what it is already doing to stability in the Middle East and to the prospects of future world peace, utterly self-defeating in every sensible respect.

The Daily Mirror will continue to report this war as we see it, and as I sit here today I see a right bloody mess frankly. I wonder how long you can continue deploying phrases like "successful" and "going to plan" for a military campaign which is already looking worryingly bogged down and ill conceived. Or how many more times you can report stories like "Basra in huge uprising", "8,000 Iraqis surrender", "Chemical weapons factory found", "British soldiers executed" etc before the penny drops that the Pentagon and the British government are being as economical with the truth as the regime they profess to have a moral authority over."


The has an excellent article that provides feedback on this war from Vietnam Veterans, including analysis of military strategy:

"Hearts, minds and bodybags
Iraq can't be a Vietnam, pundits insist. Those who were there know better

James Fox
Saturday April 5, 2003
The Guardian

In Vietnam in 1972 there was a hearts and minds programme called chieu hoi to entice the population in the south to rally to the government. The late Gavin Young of the Observer quipped: "I think the Americans have bitten off more than they can chieu hoi ." Is this the case with Iraq if, whatever happens in Baghdad, liberation turns to occupation and resistance?
To lose the hearts and minds, which the Americans have surely done so far in Iraq, would surely be to lose the war, whatever the strategic results. But don't whisper "Vietnam", and certainly "quagmire", the word with which the Iraqis daily taunt the Americans. To do so in print has invited the reflex denial that the topography - desert versus jungle - is different and not good for guerrilla war; that Vietnam took 10 years to lose and we've been here two weeks. One historian wrote last week that the Iraqis were not "politicised as the Vietnamese were by the Vietcong", a startling observation given the evidence of recent days. Nationalism, patriotism and fatwas from the Arab world are surely enough. Iraqi strategists, according to one Arab editor, study Vietnam constantly. And they talk of it too. Not only will 100 Bin Ladens be unleashed by this struggle, they say, but "100 Vietnams". "Let our cities be our swamps and our buildings our jungles," Tariq Aziz told the Institute of Strategic Studies before war began. Yesterday Iraq's information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, talked of turning Iraq into "another Indochina". Has Baghdad become a mini Ho Chi Minh trail of hidden tunnels and arsenals?

George C Scott, as General Patton in the eponymous film, hisses: "Rommel, you sonofabitch, I read your book". The key book for the Iraqis was written by General Vo Nguyen Giap, the brilliant architect of the war against the French and the Americans. It was published in English in 1961, under the title People's War, People's Army, long before the US war in Vietnam hotted up. Though full of partyspeak, it shows how easy it is to hold up and demoralise a hugely superior army that has a long supply convoy. Giap exploited what he called "the contradictions of the aggressive colonial war". The invaders have to fan out and operate far from their bases. When they deploy, said Giap, "their broken-up units become easy prey". First harass the enemy, "rotting" away his rear and reserves, forcing him to deploy troops to defend bases and perimeters.

"Is the enemy strong?" wrote Giap. "One avoids him. Is he weak? One attacks him." There will never be enough troops to hold down the scattered guerrilla forces. General William Westmoreland, commander of US forces in Vietnam, estimated that he would have needed 2 million troops to "pacify" the country. At the peak of the war he had half that number. You can apply the principle to Baghdad or the country beyond - the topography matters less than the principle. Commanders talk of their puzzlement at Republican Guard units "melting away" after the onslaught of last week. Are they preparing a trap?

It was astonishing to read of the surprise on the part of the military at the Iraqis' methods. The commander of the Desert Rats said that their "terror tactics" were "outside the rules of war", although anyone who has attended a war knows there aren't any rules. Hue was the last pitched battle fought by the Americans during the 1968 Tet offensive. In that battle, 5,000 Vietcong infiltrators climbed out of their civilian clothes in the city to reveal their North Vietnamese uniforms. General Westmoreland complained that Tet "was characterised by treachery and deceitfulness" - the same outrageous methods Bush speaks about today.

The Americans were surprised and outraged by the Vietnamese tactics right to the end, consistently underestimating the North Vietnamese army's strength and determination. I remember the shock in 1972 when the North Vietnamese launched a fierce barrage far from its bases with deeply dug-in 130mm guns south of the demilitarised zone. Giap had stockpiled massive underground arsenals.

The Iraq campaign has swiftly changed from a "hearts and minds" operation of liberation to one of winning the war. The Anglo-American forces have not won the cooperation of the local population that is so vital for military-political control. From the Iraqi point of view, since you can't win, the only real weapon is the demoralisation of the enemy, keeping the war going as long as possible and uniting the population against them. Mark Franchetti reported vividly last weekend on frightened marines shooting up any taxi that moved, describing the fresh-faced soldiers he had met a few days ealier turning into scared, demoralised killers - echoes again of the Vietnam era."


The Dar Al-Hayat is reporting war casualty estimates, including those of civilians, as well as troop totals presently in Iraq:

"Numbers And Estimates From Iraq
Dar Al-Hayat 2003/04/05
The war in Iraq by the numbers:

- Casualties: Among U.S. troops, 67 dead, 16 missing and seven captured, according to the Pentagon. Among British troops, 27 dead, none missing or captured, according to British defense officials.

- Deployed: More than 300,000 troops are in the region, with about 255,000 from the United States, 45,000 British troops, 2,000 Australia troops, 400 Czech and Slovak troops, 200 Polish troops. Nearly 100,000 more U.S. forces on the way.

- Timeline: Friday is the 16th day of the war, which began in Iraq on March 20.

- Iraqi troops estimate: 350,000.

- Iraqi deaths: No estimate of military casualties. Iraq says nearly 500 civilians have been killed and more than 4,000 wounded since the war began.

- Bombs dropped: As of April 3, more than 750 cruise missiles fired and over 14,000 precision-guided munitions have been dropped on Iraq since the war began.

- Iraqi prisoners of war: U.S. forces are holding more than 4,500 prisoners of war, the U.S. Central Command said Wednesday, and U.S. Marines reported Friday that about 2,500 Republican Guards had surrendered. Early in the week, Britain said there were 8,000 Iraqi prisoners of war in all.

- Volunteers: An Iraqi official said 6,000 Arab volunteers have arrived to carry out suicide attacks against coalition forces.

- Oil: More than 600 oil wells and three oil refineries are under coalition control. There are approximately 50 oil trenches on fire around Baghdad.

- Areas either under coalition troops' control or surrounded by them: The airport, about 16 kilometers southwest of Baghdad, Umm Qasr, Safwan, Basra, Numaniyah, Rumeila, Hindiyah, Nasiriyah, Samawah, Najaf, Diwaniyah, Zubaydiyah and Kut."

©2003 Media Communications Group ãÌãæÚÉ ÇáÇÊÕÇáÇÊ ÇáÅÚáÇãíÉ


Two marine pilots died in helicoptor crash, according to the Guardian Unlimited:

In other developments overnight, the US says two marine pilots died when their Super Cobra attack helicopter crashed in central Iraq; and an American soldier, Sergeant Hasan Akbar, has been charged with the murder of two officers and 17 attempted murders in connection with the grenade attack at a US army camp in Kuwait on March 25.


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting Kerbala attacked to protect forces in Baghdad. No casualties yet reported:

"US aircraft and ground troops attacked the central Iraqi city of Kerbala today in an effort to protect US forces moving into Baghdad, US officers said.

Troops fought street-by-street battles with Iraqi paramilitaries in the narrow roads of the Shi'ite shrine city.

"It's freaky in there. Lots of bullets flying around. It's pretty scary," one evacuated US soldier told Reuters."


The Guardian Unlimited reports the International Committee of the Red Cross says Baghdad hospitals are overwhelmed:

Meanwhile the International Committee of the Red Cross said Baghdad's hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the almost continuous influx of war wounded.

The ICRC - virtually the only international aid organization in Iraq - said that four hospitals visited by its staff in the capital reported "several hundred war wounded patients as well as dozens of fatalities" from yesterday's fighting.


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting that British troops have found a makeshift morgue in southern Iraq:

The remains of as many as 200 people have been discovered in a "makeshift morgue" by British soldiers in southern Iraq. The skulls and bundles of bone in strips of military uniform, were dumped in plastic bags and unsealed hardboard coffins in an abandoned Iraqi military base on the outskirts of Zubayr.

A forensics team have been called in to investigate a possible atrocity perpetrated by Saddam Hussein's regime. One British officer said the bodies had been there some time and were unlikely to be related to this conflict.


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting thousands of civilians are fleeing Baghdad, possibly heading for Syria:

"Thousands of terrified civilians are fleeing Baghdad as US troops edge closer to the city.
Residents packed buses, cars and even horse-drawn carts with blankets and food in scorching temperatures as US forces prepared for a full-scale attack on Baghdad.
Witnesses said most appeared to be heading north-west of the city, possibly to seek refuge in neighbouring Syria.
There were also reports of Iraqi army vehicles embedding themselves in crowds of fleeing civilians for protection.
US Marine Captain Matt Watt told the Reuters news agency he had seen about 2,000 people heading south from Baghdad on Friday.
"We may find that as we roll north and get closer to the city we'll probably find more and more people pushing out. I really think that's going to clog up the roads and slow us down," he said.
"It's going to prevent us from engaging the enemy if we have all those civilians around us."


The is reporting a bloody battle for control of some roads leading into Baghdad:

"Journalists who toured the city found burnt-out tanks and armoured vehicles in the suburbs and saw blood-covered civilians being taken into a hospital.

News agencies reported that a force of about 30 tanks and armoured vehicles had moved into the city from the south. It appeared that after engaging Iraqi forces, the US troops drove out of the city to the west. It was not known if any remained behind.

Colonel David Perkins, of the US 3rd Infantry, told Sky News that more than 1,000 Iraqis were killed in the raid into Baghdad.

"We took a portion of the 2nd Brigade and we attacked down Route 8, the main road going into Baghdad, and we attacked all the way through the city and linked up back out at the airport.

"There was some very intense fighting, with just about every kind of weapons system you can imagine.

"It was a non-stop gauntlet of both heavy systems as well as light infantry on roofs, shooting down on top of tanks with RPGs (rocket propelled grenades) and machine guns, it was a full spectrum of very close urban combat.

"Now we basically own the main road going into Baghdad, so we've cut Baghdad in half, so to speak.

"We've taken out his defences, all his prepared organic defences are destroyed, we have destroyed probably in excess of 1,000 dismounted infantry. His defences are severely degraded," Col. Perkins said.

He added: "It's just part of an ongoing process to just chunk by chunk take the city over."

In marshy lands barely a mile south of Baghdad's city limits, US Marines fought a tense battle with militant forces loyal to Saddam. Marines with bayonets were in the reeds, lunging at the fighters. Many of the combatants were foreign - Jordanian, Egyptian and Sundanese. Iraqi officials have said there are thousands of such Arab volunteers in Baghdad.

The tension was palpable in Baghdad. As night fell, the streets were teeming with armed men - troops, militiamen, Baath party loyalists - who have taken positions on major intersections and on main roads leading to the southern, south-eastern and western exits of the city. Tanks and artillery were deployed inside the city.

Members of Saddam's Fedayeen, a militia led by Saddam Hussein's son Odai, appeared in the city centre for the first time since the war began. The secret police were easily identified by their distinctive black uniforms.

A convoy of police cars, sirens blaring and flying Iraqi flags, drove around the city centre trying to rally residents."


The Islamic Republic News Agency reports United Nations' concern over civilian casualties and the use of cluster bombs:

"Vienna, April 7, IRNA -- Geneva-based agencies of the United
Nations specialized in relief aid on Friday voiced alarm over the
number of civilian casualties in the war in Iraq and appealed for
respect for the Geneva conventions governing war.
"At the moment in Iraq the biggest public health problem is the
level of civilian casualties, there is no question about that," Iain
Simpson, a spokesman for the World Health Organization (WHO) told
a press conference in Geneva.
"The reports from Baghdad, Karbala and Hilla are very worrying
indeed," he said, insisting that aid agencies needed access to Iraq
to help the wounded.
Meanwhile spokesperson for the International Committee of the
Red Cross Antonella Notari said, "What concerns us most in Iraq at
the moment are the threats to safety and health of civilians, the two
things are closely linked."
"With particular incidents or any observations on the way war is
waged, we continue to have talks with the warring parties, but
confidentially," Notari insisted.
Apart from providing aid, the ICRC also has an internationally
recognized role as the guardian of the Geneva Conventions, which
protect civilians, wounded combatants and prisoners of war during
Notari said the ICRC's staff in Baghdad was now cut off from a
hospital at Hilla, south of Baghdad, where they had found 300 wounded.
The aid agencies were unable to give an estimate of the number
of people killed or wounded during the war.
The UN agencies in Geneva and the London-based Amnesty
International also voiced concern about the use of cluster bombs.
In the meantime, ICRC spokesperson warned that armies using them
were responsible for clearing any unexploded cluster bombs.
"I do notice that British forces confirmed the use of cluster
bombs outside of Basra," Notari said.
"In keeping with international humanitarian law we always appeal
that they be used well outside places where civilians live and work,"
she added.
The United Nations has failed to establish ceasefire to stop the
deadly war in Iraq which takes alarming tolls from both sides and has
no permission from the UN Security Council."

Friday, April 04, 2003


The is reporting that 7 civilians were shot as they failed to stop while approaching a checkpoint:

"Seven civilians, including three children, were killed by US Marines last night after they opened fire on a truck that refused to stop at a checkpoint south of Baghdad, an American television network reported.

The alleged incident was reported by an ABC News correspondent travelling with a marine unit early this morning.

The civilian Iraqis were in vehicles behind a military truck that refused to stop and tried to crash through the marines' roadblock. Pentagon officials said they had no immediate details of the incident."


The BBC is reporting that Medicine Sans Frontieres is suspending operations:

"Kuwait :: Paul Greer :: 2011 GMT

Medicins sans Frontieres has suspended its operation across the whole of Iraq following the disappearance of two team members.

The two, who have not been identified, were working in a hospital in the north-east of Baghdad. They have been missing since Wednesday evening."


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting that 2500 Republican Guard have surrendered to coalition forces:

"Thousands of Iraqis fled Baghdad on Friday as U.S. forces seized the international airport on the city's western edge and armored convoys pressed in from the south. Marines claimed the surrender of 2,500 troops of the now-shredded Republican Guard.

With his military reeling, Saddam Hussein appeared on television to urge Iraqis to fight. And Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf vowed ``very new, creative'' martyrdom operations - often a euphemism for suicide attacks - to annihilate the invaders."


The Guardian Unlimited reports this statement by British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon on the use of cluster bombs in Iraq:

"0800: The defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, defends the use of cluster bombs in Iraq, saying that ruling out their use would put British soldiers at risk. "The very strong military advice is that they are essential," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme."


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting these Iraqi and U.S. military casualties:

0917: British forces say they killed eight Iraqi militiamen today in a street battle on the edge of the southern city of Basra involving 10 British tanks and armoured vehicles.

0500: About 40 Iraqi soldiers are killed in a firefight after launching a counterattack against US troops fighting to secure Baghdad airport, according to US officers.

0400: US military officials claim 320 Iraqi soldiers have been killed in the battle for Saddam international airport.

0300: Central Command confirms two US casualties. A US arrmy soldier killed by friendly fire in central Iraq yesterday, while investigating an Iraqi tank. A US marine killed by his gun when the weapon accidentally discharged.

0300: Central Command confirms two US casualties. A US arrmy soldier killed by friendly fire in central Iraq yesterday, while investigating an Iraqi tank. A US marine killed by his gun when the weapon accidentally discharged.


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting this deadly, suicide attack incident:http:

1230: US Central Command says that a civilian car exploded in an apparent suicide attack near a coalition checkpoint in Iraq. Three coalition soldiers, a pregnant woman and the car's driver were killed in the incident, which occurred on Thursday evening 11 miles south-west of the Haditha Dam, the US said.



The Guardian Unlimited is reporting a U.S. reporter was killed today in a vehicular accident in Iraq
"A U.S. reporter has been killed in an accident involving a Humvee military jeep in Iraq, bringing the number of journalists who have died in the two-week-old Gulf conflict to four.
US military officials have confirmed that Michael Kelly, an editor-at-large for Atlantic Monthly and columnist for the Washington Post was killed, along with a soldier, while travelling with US forces in the region.

"This is the first friend and the best friend I made in journalism." said David Bradley, the chairman and owner of Atlantic Media said in a statement. "In that quarter of the heart, he can't be touched."

The cause of the accident is still under investigation, officials said."

Thursday, April 03, 2003


Here is an article written by Robert Fisk for the, on the use of cluster bombs in the town of Hillah, and the possible violation of international law. Dissident Voice has the article in its entirety:

"The wounds are vicious and deep, a rash of scarlet spots on the back and thighs or face, the shards of shrapnel from the cluster bombs buried an inch or more in the flesh. The wards of the Hillah teaching hospital are proof that something illegal – something quite outside the Geneva Conventions – occurred in the villages around the city once known as Babylon.

The wailing children, the young women with breast and leg wounds, the 10 patients upon whom doctors had to perform brain surgery to remove metal from their heads, talk of the days and nights when the explosives fell "like grapes" from the sky. Cluster bombs, the doctors say – and the detritus of the air raids around the hamlets of Nadr and Djifil and Akramin and Mahawil and Mohandesin and Hail Askeri shows that they are right.

Were they American or British aircraft that showered these villages with one of the most lethal weapons of modern warfare? The 61 dead who have passed through the Hillah hospital since Saturday night cannot tell us. Nor can the survivors who, in many cases, were sitting in their homes when the white canisters opened high above their village, spilling thousands of bomblets into the sky, exploding in the air, soaring through windows and doorways to burst indoors or bouncing off the roofs of the concrete huts to blow up later in the roadways.

Rahed Hakem remembers that it was 10.30am on Sunday when she was sitting in her home in Nadr, that she heard "the voice of explosions" and looked out of the door to see "the sky raining fire". She said the bomblets were a black-grey colour. Mohamed Moussa described the clusters of "little boxes" that fell out of the sky in the same village and thought they were silver-coloured. They fell like "small grapefruit," he said. "If it hadn't exploded and you touched it, it went off immediately," he said. "They exploded in the air and on the ground and we still have some in our home, unexploded."

Karima Mizler thought the bomblets had some kind of wires attached to them – perhaps the metal "butterfly" that contains sets of the tiny cluster bombs and springs open to release them in showers.

Some victims died at once, mostly women and children, some of whose blackened, decomposing remains lay in the tiny charnel house mortuary at the back of the Hillah hospital. The teaching college received more than 200 wounded since Saturday night – the 61 dead are only those who were brought to the hospital or who died during or after surgery, and many others are believed to have been buried in their home villages – and, of these, doctors say about 80 per cent were civilians.

Soldiers there certainly were, at least 40 if these statistics are to be believed, and amid the foul clothing of the dead outside the mortuary door I found a khaki military belt and a combat jacket. But village men can also be soldiers and both they and their wives and daughters insisted there were no military installations around their homes. True or false? Who is to know if a tank or a missile launcher was positioned in a nearby field – as they were along the highway north to Baghdad? But the Geneva Conventions demand protection for civilians even if they are intermingled with military personnel, and the use of cluster bombs in these villages – even if aimed at military targets – thus crosses the boundaries of international law."


Here is an article by the BBC regarding the use of cluster bombs by coalition forces:

"As British forces drop cluster bombs on Iraq, BBC News Online looks at where they have been used in the past and why.
Eighteen months ago, in western Afghanistan, a 15-year-old boy picked up what he thought was a packet of food - it blew his head off.

Sayyid Ahmad Sanef believed the bright yellow object lying on the ground near his home was one of the 37,000 plastic humanitarian aid packages of the same colour dropped on Afghanistan by US military aircraft - but it had come from a cluster bomb.

Cluster bombs contain as many as 200 smaller bomblets and up to 30% of these fail to explode on impact but, like landmines, remain deadly for many years.

This is particularly the case when the weapons are dropped from medium or high altitude.

This can cause the bomblets, which contain shrapnel and flammable material, to drift in the wind and land a long way from the intended target.

And they are more likely to kill children, who pick them up without knowing what they are, according to British charity Landmine Action.

The bomblets were mistaken for aid packages in Afghanistan

Director Richard Lloyd told BBC News Online: "As many are brightly-coloured and the size of a drinks can or toy, they are particularly attractive to children."

Landmine Action has joined with the British charity set up to commemorate the late Princess Diana in condemning the "appalling" use of cluster bombs by coalition forces in Iraq.

The chief executive of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, Andrew Purkis, urged people to "put pressure on governments to take responsibility for the clear-up of these indiscriminate weapons of war".

Nato governments and their military commanders generally argue cluster bombs are an effective and useful weapon in certain circumstances.

The UK military says its L20 bomblets have a "secondary arming device" to ensure any that do not explode immediately on impact do so within 15 seconds.

Ministry of Defence spokesman Matthew Marr told BBC News Online: "Cluster bombs are a lawful weapon and we are using them against legitimate military targets.

Fact file: Cluster bombs

"Their main benefit is the ability to attack a large-scale moving target, like a mechanised column in transit."

And using any other type of bomb to attack as wide a range of targets over as large an area would require "far greater tonnage of explosives, leading to far greater damage", he said.

But Mr Lloyd said: "As we know from Afghanistan, Kosovo and the last Gulf war, these weapons cannot be used in a way that discriminates between civilian and military targets and that is illegal under military and humanitarian international law."

Cluster bombs have killed nearly 2,000 Kuwaitis since the end of the 1991 Gulf war, according to Labour MP Joan Ruddock."


This is an article from the New York Times detailing one soldiers forced conscription into the Iraq army:

KRE, Iraq, April 2 — Fifteen days ago, a 20-year-old soldier said, Baath Party officials surrounded his home in southern Iraq, tied his hands behind his back and took him away as his mother wept.

Today, the soldier is hundreds of miles to the north, wounded and alone, a prisoner in a hospital in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

"I am not afraid," he said from his bed here, while Kurdish soldiers stood guard. "I only miss my father and mother."

With nearly all of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard divisions shifted south for the defense of Baghdad, most of an estimated 100,000 army conscripts like this one are left manning the front lines in northern Iraq.

An interview with this soldier, who refused to give his name for fear of reprisal against his family, offers a glimpse of life in Iraq's low-paid and ill-equipped regular army. Here in the north the soldiers are facing increasingly fierce bombardment from American and British planes and, at least in this case, death threats from Iraqi officers.

While none of the soldier's account could be independently verified, his physical state — gaunt, battered and pallid — was a testament, at least, to his suffering.

The soldier deserted from the army two years ago, he said, during his mandatory military service. Before he was arrested by the Baath officials last month, he had spent two years in hiding in his parents' home.

After his arrest, the young man was quickly taken to a nearby military base and given a rifle, and he was then shipped out with a unit to northern Iraq. There, the unit frequently changed positions, an effort, according to Kurdish officials, to limit the number of soldiers surrendering.

His life settled into a grim routine. The American bombing was fiercest in the morning and afternoon. "I can't count them," he said, referring to airstrikes. "I can tell you in just one day you are getting out of the bunker 10 to 15 times."

Their rations were meager, rice and bread. He had no appetite. "Death was always upon our heads," he said. "We never could eat." Many of his fellow soldiers wanted to desert, he said he believed.

Officers repeatedly pointed out a group of menacing military intelligence officials stationed behind him. They threatened the soldiers, saying, "If you run, this is the execution squad." But he never witnessed an execution, he said.

The young soldier is not sure how he got to the hospital. Doctors say a piece of shrapnel — maybe from an American bomb, maybe from a fellow Iraqi soldier's weapon — ripped a small hole in his head Tuesday afternoon.

Today, he complained of "terrible headaches" and of not being able to feel the left side of his body.

Curling his wiry body beneath a blanket, he appeared spent. A large bandage covered his head. An intravenous tube jutted from his sticklike arm. A scrape on his chin and a streak of dried blood on his nose marred his boyish face.

But he was composed, speaking in a soft and steady voice and pausing only occasionally to complain about pain. He should recover, his doctor said.

Despite all the suffering in Iraq, the soldier doubted that much would change.

His only concern, he added, was contacting his family. "I am very worried about my father and mother," he said.

The last thing the soldier said he remembered was following his commander's order for defending against an American air attack. He and other conscripts left their bunkers, spread out across an open area and lay face down on the ground. As allied jets roared overhead, he put his hands on top of his head and waited. He did not pray, he said. He thought of one thing: "death, nothing else."


This is an article from the New York Times detailing civilian casualties in the town of Hilla, and the indiscriminate killing of civilians there:


ILLA, Iraq, April 2 — The boy was bewildered, perhaps 10 or 11, separated from his parents, lying on a hospital gurney. All about was chaos, mothers weeping for their dead and wounded children, doctors and nurses shouting to be heard, coffins shouldered along the corridors to taxis that stacked two and three on their roofs at a time, serving as makeshift hearses.

It was never clear, in the confusion, if the boy was told why he had been asked to follow the nurse out of the ward, down the passageway, past the lamentations and the cursings, to the operating theater. He seemed frightened, and if he heard the question, he never gave his name, or any details of how he got his wound.

Once on the operating table, quickly anesthetized, he knew nothing. His wounded arm was unbandaged and amputated rapidly by the surgeon just below the elbow.

So it was today at the general hospital in Hilla, an hour's drive south of Baghdad, on the road to the site of the ancient town of Babylon, now a soulless re-creation of ancient glory, built as a backdrop to one of Saddam Hussein's ubiquitous palaces. Hilla itself is a nondescript place, a town between here and there, mostly a rambling huddle.

But today Hilla was a front-line city, only a few miles north of American troops advancing up the strategic highway to Baghdad — and a showcase of what Mr. Hussein's government wants the world to believe about the American way of war.

Officials marshaling the buses from the Palestine Hotel in the capital made it plain that, for them, the case was open and shut, an example of American weapons being used indiscriminately to kill civilians.

The story of the hospital, as survivors and physicians told it, was of incidents on Sunday or Monday or Tuesday — accounts were confused — in which civilians had come under attack from an American tank that fired on a bus and a car and from an American aircraft that dropped cluster bombs on an impoverished outlying district of Hilla. Dr. Saad al-Fallouji, the hospital's chief surgeon, said that on Tuesday alone, the hospital received 33 victims dead on arrival and 180 others who were wounded by American fire. "Most of them — no, all of them — were civilians," he said. "All of them were from Nadir village, women and children and men of all ages, mostly they had very serious injuries to their abdomens, to their intestines, to their chests and their heads. Many of the bodies were completely torn apart."

Western reporters asked him how he felt about the carnage. "I feel very angry about this," he replied. "Don't you feel angry too?"

Reporters had no difficulty confirming that there had been scores of casualties — the dead evident in the procession of coffins, and in the torn bodies that crowded the shelves of the large refrigerator in the hospital's front garden, the wounded filling every ward, many eager to recount how they had come under American fire. Information Ministry officials translated the accounts.

Hussein Ali Hussein, 26, a door-to-door gas salesman, lay on a bed, the stump of one leg covered in a bloody bandage, a mass of flies settling on the gauze. He said that he had been in a car that was hit by an American tank shell as he drove south toward Kifl, near Najaf.

"We believed the Americans, when they said they were not going to attack civilians," he said. "Why would the Americans do this to me?" As nurses arrived to wheel him away for surgery, he added: "But we Iraqis will never accept that this country is ruled by anybody but Iraqis, so we will fight to the last drop of our blood."

Another patient, Bassan Hoki, 38, said he was in the bus attack. Surgeons had amputated his right arm above the elbow, and seeping bandages covered deep wounds on both his legs. Mr. Hoki, with a neatly trimmed, gray-flecked beard, gesticulated with his remaining arm as he described seeing the tank from the window of the bus.

"There was no warning, they simply opened fire," he said."

He said that his mother, who was seated beside him, was killed instantly in the blast. "I looked around me, it seemed like everyone was dead," he said, "people's heads were snapped off their bodies. The bus was torn to pieces."

He said, "I have just one thing to say to George Bush. He is a criminal and a liar to talk of bringing us freedom. He attacks civilians for no reason. This is a crime, a crime, a crime."

It was difficult to mesh accounts from the hospital with the scenes where the attacks were said to have occurred. In Nadir, a sprawl of one- and two-story brick or mud homes astride the line of the American advance, reporters were shown the bus on which, doctors said, 18 people had been killed and 16 wounded by American tank fire. The bus stood in a clearing and reporters were led on a tour of sinuous alleyways to see the damage from what was described as the cluster bombing of an entire neighborhood.

From what officials at Nadir said and from what seemed probable to the eye, the attacks appeared to have been one. The bus, like the houses, appeared to have been hit not by a tank shell but by thousands of shards of shrapnel that had punctured it and shattered the windows but left the body mostly intact. Small, grayish-black pieces of unexploded ordnance, possibly a form of cluster bomb, lay scattered in profusion."


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting this update on U.S. war casualties:

"The US military today reported that a US marine was killed in Nassiriya when his machine gun got caught in power lines. The incident occurred on Monday, and the marine has not yet been named.

News of his death brings the official number of US casualties in the war to 51. This figure does not include the seven reported deaths in today's downing of a Black Hawk helicopter.

Of the 50 dead service members identified so far, 40 died in combat and 10 died in non-combat accidents, US officials said. Sixteen US soldiers are believed to be missing in action, with seven others being held as prisoners of war."

Also, more info on the downing of the Blackhawk Apache helicoptor, and the FA-18 Hornet aircraft that was also shot down:

"A US FA-18 Hornet warplane and a Black Hawk helicopter were shot down over southern Iraq, it was reported today.

The fate of the plane's pilot was not known, but the Pentagon said that up to seven soldiers had died in the helicopter. The plane was based on the aircraft carrier USS Kittyhawk.

The Hornet, the first fixed-wing coalition aircraft to be brought down by enemy fire since the war began two weeks ago, was downed by a surface-to-air missile, US TV networks said. The Pentagon said that the Black Hawk was hit by small arms fire.

The Black Hawk was brought down near Kerbala, the scene of fierce street-to-street skirmishes between the US 3rd Infantry Division and Iraqi Republican Guard troops. There was some confusion over the number of soldiers on board. Pentagon officials said there were 11, seven of whom were killed. Four were injured and rescued, it said."

Wednesday, April 02, 2003


This is an excellent article, written by Robert Frisk, who is in Baghdad and observing preparations to defend Baghdad:

"Like the Serb army in Kosovo, the Iraqis have proved masters of concealment. An innocent field fringed by palm trees turned out to be traversed with bunkers and hidden anti-aircraft guns. Vehicles were hidden under motorway bridges – which the Americans and British do not wish to destroy because they want to use them if they succeed in occupying Iraq – and fuel trucks dug in behind deep earth revetments. At a major traffic intersection, an anti-aircraft gun was mounted on a flat-bed truck and manned by two soldiers scanning the pale blue early summer skies.

Above the centre of Hillah, home to the ancient Sumerian Babylon, a distant American Awacs plane could be seen circling high in the heavens, its path followed by scores of militiamen and soldiers. Driving the long highway south by bus, I could see troops pointing skywards. If hanging concentrates a man's mind wonderfully, fearing an air strike has almost the same effect. Driving the highway, a lot of illusions are blown from the mind. There are markets in the small towns en route to Babylon, stalls with heaps of fruit and vegetables. The roads are crowded with buses, trucks and private cars – far outnumbering the truckloads of troops and, just occasionally, the sleek outline of a missile transporter with canvas covers wrapped tightly over the truck it is hauling."


I just heard this on the Fox news channel. I'm looking for online confirmation.

Then...the Agonist, an excellent, online war blog, says details are sketchy. The Apache helicoptor was downed by small arms fire near Karbala. Four wounded soldiers were rescued; seven killed.


Here is another excerpt from the beautifully written Iraq diaries:

Yesterday as we drove through the eerie lighting to see a farmhouse that had been demolished by a rocket, I commented that it would make good footage for a film entitled "The Last Days". Along with the dust was mixed a thick black smoke from deliberately lit oil fires around the perimeter of Baghdad. The theory is that the carbon molecules affect the passage of laser beams and so affect the accuracy of laser guided rockets which is cold comfort for those among whom the rocket lands! This to me highlights the rational irrationality of war. Stupidity is after all a rational process. The demolished farmhouse we visited, whose fault was it? Was it those who fired the rocket or those who lit the oil fires? Neither as far as I am concerned. The fault for me lies fairly and squarely with the mythmakers in the Administration the group of old men whose collective perspicacity wouldn't cover a pinhead and who never have experienced the horrors of war. Where you stand does determine what you see. Every viewpoint is from a point of view, and this is the advantage of being here. You don't see it on a television screen. You see it with your own eyes and the smell lingers in your nostrils. To most people this will be a war without death. To those of us who are here the sight and smell of it will never leave us.


The BBC reports the Red Cross has now been allowed into some towns south of Baghdad:

"Red Cross workers visit towns south of Baghdad for the first time and describe overwhelmed hospitals as being scenes of 'horror'."

Also, a British Soldier was killed in a "light vehicle accident", information offered in the same article:

"A British soldier is killed in an accident involving a light armoured vehicle - becoming the 27th UK serviceman to die in the Iraq conflict."

IRAQI MILITARY CASUALTIES IN DIWANIYAH is reporting Iraqi military casualties near Diwaniyah:

According to reports from Diwaniyah, US Marines deliberately provoked a firefight by moving into an area where they had come under fire before. The marines came under heavy fire from rocket-propelled grenades and machine-guns.

Iraqi Republican Guard troops and other fighters fired on the advancing marines from fortified bunkers and positions in buildings and behind vehicles. Corporal Patrick Irish of the US Marines said: "They were shooting from buildings, from dug-out positions, from holes, from everything. They would jump out to shoot. They were behind buses. You name it, they were there."

Although the Iraqis were outgunned by the heavily armed marines, the firefight went on for about 10 hours, according to Lieutenant-Colonel B P McCoy of the US Marines. They used 155mm artillery to destroy Iraqi tanks and mortar positions. "We hammered them pretty hard," said Lt-Col McCoy. At least 75 Iraqis were killed in fighting on Diwaniyah's outskirts and at least 44 soldiers, including some Republican Guard officers, were taken prisoner, Lt-Col McCoy said. There was no report of American casualties.


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting that BBC Cameraman Kaveh Golestan was killed in northern Iraq:

The BBC cameraman Kaveh Golestan has died while covering the war in Iraq after stepping on a mine.

Golestan, an Iranian national who had worked for the BBC in a freelance capacity for the past three years, was killed instantly when he stepped out of his car onto a mine.

He was travelling with the BBC producer Stuart Hughes, who has been taken by ambulance to the American military hospital in Sulaymaniya for treatment to a foot injury.


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting new casualty figures for overnight bombings, as reported by the Iraqi Information Minister:

"Iraq's information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, said overnight bombings by US-led forces killed 24 civilians and injured 186 across the country. In Baghdad, he said, 10 civilians had been killed and 90 wounded.

"No matter how many Iraqi civilians they kill, this will make us even stronger and even more determined to repel the invasion and to defeat them," Mr Sahaf said."


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting that a British Red Cross worker said a maternity hospital was not bombed, as reported earlier:

"However the British Red Cross denied an earlier report that a Red Crescent maternity hospital had been bombed and at least three doctors and nurses had been wounded.

He said: "A missile struck the building opposite and the blast was so strong that the windows and roof of the hospital were damaged. But no one inside the hospital was injured - the building was evacuated three days ago."


The is reporting details regarding the fight to encircle Baghdad with coalition forces:

"The Medina Division, one of the best trained and equipped in the Iraqi army, was claimed by Allied sources to be "50 per cent degraded" by daily bombing and missile attacks, which reached their climax at the beginning of this week."


The is reporting information that Britian may have lost soldiers in northern Iraq near Mosul:

"Fears were growing last night for up to 10 British soldiers who the Iraqis claimed had been killed in northern Iraq near Mosul. Mr Sahaf said Iraqi forces had thwarted a British landing in the Baaj district west of the city.

Pictures of Iraqis apparently driving a British Land Rover were shown on the al-Jazeera television network. Mr Sahaf said the Fedayeen militia "captured most of their equipment, their weapons, their armoured cars and vehicles".

CLUSTER BOMBS USED ON CIVILIANS IN HILLA offers more details of the attack on Hilla yesterday, that killed 33 civilians, according to hospital workers there:

"At least 11 civilians, nine of them children, were killed in Hilla in central Iraq yesterday, according to reporters in the town who said they appeared to be the victims of bombing.

Reporters from the Reuters news agency said they counted the bodies of 11 civilians and two Iraqi fighters in the Babylon suburb, 50 miles south of Baghdad. Nine of the dead were children, one a baby. Hospital workers said as many as 33 civilians were killed.

Terrifying film of women and children later emerged after Reuters and the Associated Press were permitted by the Iraqi authorities to take their cameras into the town. Their pictures – the first by Western news agencies from the Iraqi side of the battlefront – showed babies cut in half and children with amputation wounds, apparently caused by American shellfire and cluster bombs.

Much of the videotape was too terrible to show on television and the agencies' Baghdad editors felt able to send only a few minutes of a 21-minute tape that included a father holding out pieces of his baby and screaming "cowards, cowards'' into the camera. Two lorryloads of bodies, including women in flowered dresses, could be seen outside the Hilla hospital.

Dr Nazem el-Adali, who was trained in Edinburgh, said almost all the patients were victims of cluster bombs dropped around Hella and in the neighbouring village of Mazarak. One woman, Alia Mukhtaff, is seen lying wounded on a bed; she lost six of her children and her husband in the attacks. Another man is seen with an arm missing, and a second man, Majeed Djelil, whose wife and two of his children were killed, can be seen sitting next to his third and surviving child, whose foot is missing. The mortuary of the hospital, a butcher's shop of chopped up corpses, is seen briefly in the tape.

Iraqi officials have been insisting for 48 hours that the Americans have used cluster bombs on civilians in the region but this is the first time that evidence supporting these claims has come from Western news agencies. Most of the wounded said they were hit by American munitions and one man described how an American vehicle fired a shell into his family home. "I could see an American flag,'' he says."

MISSILE THAT EXPLODED IN BAGHDAD MARKETPLACE WAS AMERICAN is reporting that the missile that exploded in the baghdad marketplace on Friday night, killing 62, was American:

"The proof: marketplace deaths were caused by a US missile
By Cahal Milmo
02 April 2003

An American missile, identified from the remains of its serial number, was pinpointed yesterday as the cause of the explosion at a Baghdad market on Friday night that killed at least 62 Iraqis.

The codes on the foot-long shrapnel shard, seen by the Independent correspondent Robert Fisk at the scene of the bombing in the Shu'ale district, came from a weapon manufactured in Texas by Ray- theon, the world's biggest producer of "smart" armaments."


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting that the Republican Guard Unit of Baghdad was "destroyed" on Wednesday. No casualty figures yet reported:

"CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar (AP) - American forces, which crossed the Tigris River in the drive toward the Iraqi capital, destroyed the Baghdad Division of Iraq's Republican Guard, the U.S. Central Command said Wednesday.

U.S. forces had entered what U.S. commanders call a ``red zone'' near Baghdad, and Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks warned that it might be an area where the Iraqis would consider using chemical or other weapons of mass destruction."


The Guardian Unlimited offers a day-by-day report of all casualties, for the coalition forces, as well as what reports it could gather of Iraqi military casualties, since the war began, in this article:

"April 1

Number of casualties: no casualties confirmed.

Reported incidents of Iraqi military casualties

Iraqi military casualties: No reliable figures.
Coalition estimates: None given
Iraqi civilians killed: 565-724 Source:
Iraqi prisoners of war held: US and UK forces hold more than 3,500 prisoners. Source: Pentagon."


Reuters is reporting that a maternity hospital was bombed in Baghdad, killing several people and injuring at least 25:

"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."


Reuters is reporting two bodies of U.S. soldiers were found when Jessica Lynch was rescued:

"NEAR NASSIRIYA, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. special forces rescued a female U.S. Army soldier held captive for 10 days and recovered the bodies of two other soldiers in a midnight raid on an Iraqi hospital, officials said on Wednesday.

The rescued soldier was identified as Private First Class Jessica Lynch, 19, from Palestine, West Virginia. She was with a maintenance convoy ambushed by Iraqi forces on March 23."

In addition, the Guardian Unlimited is reporting a toal of 11 bodies found when Lynch was rescued, including the two bodies of U.S. soldiers:

"NASIRIYAH, Iraq (AP) - Eleven bodies - some of them believed to be Americans - were found with prisoner of war Pfc. Jessica Lynch when she was rescued in a U.S. commando raid on an Iraqi hospital, a military spokesman said Wednesday."

Tuesday, April 01, 2003


Reuters has this report:

"Coalition forces have conducted a successful rescue mission of a U.S. Army prisoner of war held captive in Iraq, Brigadier General Vincent Brooks told reporters in a prepared statement.

"The soldier has been returned to a Coalition-controlled area."

Brooks gave no further details but said more information would be released as soon as possible.

CNN identified the rescued person as Jessica Lynch, 19, from Palestine, West Virginia. CNN quoted Lynch's father as saying she had been taken to hospital.

It said in an unconfirmed report that Lynch had been rescued from Nassiriya, where five members of the U.S. 507th Maintenance Company went missing and were later shown on Iraqi state television on March 23."


Here is all the information you need to find out more about Electronic Iraq, Voices in the Wilderness, and the Electronic Intifada, and the Iraq Diaries. The Iraqi Diaries are published on Electronic Iraq. The Iraq Diaries are beautifully written, providing very personal, first-hand accounts of this war.


This is an excerpt from the first entry of the Iraq Diaries:

"Cannot sleep. The wild dogs of Baghdad are out, barking and laughing at the few cars that are still out on the street. I find the following quote in a book about Laozi, mystical Chinese philisopher, that seems appropriate to the times: "Vulgar people are clear, I alone am drowsy. Vulgar people are alert, I alone am muddled."


American news channels are reporting that a female pow has been rescued. No other details have yet been provided.

MORE ON ANSAR CASUALTIES reports these figures on Ansar casualties in fighting in the North:

"Total Ansar casualties are hard to determine; the PUK suggest as many as 250 were killed, another 150, including the leadership, were seen by villagers heading into Iran. The Iranians are said to have arrested them there, and the PUK have asked for them to be extradited to Kurdistan as criminals."

20 IRAQI SOLDIERS KILLED; ONE U.S. SOLDIER KILLED is reporting 20 Iraqi soldiers killed in Hindiyah:

"An armoured unit of the 3rd Infantry Division that rolled into Hindiyah, population 80,000, at dawn on Monday met stiff Iraqi resistance as it crossed a bridge on the Euphrates River.

At least 20 Iraqi soldiers were said to have been killed, and some members of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard captured. A battalion commander of the Guard's Nebuchadnezzar Division was also reported captured."

Also, in the same article:

"Amid pitched street battles in Najaf, one US soldier was killed yesterday, a military spokesman said, as the 101st Airborne Division's 1st and 2nd Brigades moved on the city from the north and south."


The killing of at least nine civilians at three checkpoints - by United States marines facing the threat of terrorist attacks - has severely damaged the allies' battle for Iraqi "hearts and minds".

And 15 members of a family killed yesterday when their utility truck was blown apart by a rocket from an Apache helicopter near Hilla, south of Baghdad, added to the toll of civilian to die at the hands of coalition forces, while a hospital director in Hilla said 33 civilians had been killed in bombing raids yesterday.

The family hit by the rocket was fleeing fighting between Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition in Nasiriyah, 350km south of Baghdad, when the US helicopter fired on the jeep in Haidariya at 6pm (0100 AEST), the sole survivor said.

Razek al-Kazem al-Khafaj showed an AFP photographer the coffins he said held the bodies of his wife, his six children, his father, mother and three brothers and their wives.

"Which one of them should I cry on?" Khafaj said, before throwing sand in his face "so I don't have to see" the remains of his 15 relatives before him.

A hospital director in Hilla, about 80km south of Baghdad, said 33 civilians, including children, were killed and 310 wounded in coalition bombing yesterday morning of the Nader residential area on the southern outskirts of the farming town.

US marines, meanwhile, captured a key canal bridge near Hilla today in their drive toward Baghdad, their officers said. An AFP correspondent travelling with the troops said they were backed by artillery and two B-52 heavy bombers.

Coalition troops have been instructed to assume the worst and to use tougher tactics to weed out militia guerillas.

The US military is investigating the killing by soldiers of at least seven women and children near Karbala, in central Iraq, when a four-wheel-drive carrying up to 15 people allegedly failed to stop at a checkpoint.

Nearby, a man died while his wife watched as soldiers fired on their car at another checkpoint.

In another checkpoint shooting yesterday, US marines killed an unarmed Iraqi south of Baghdad. The troops said they fired on a utility that sped towards them outside the southern town of Shatra, killing the driver and injuring his passenger. "I thought it was a suicide bomb," said one marine who opened fire.

Troops have been on edge after a suicide car-bomb attack at a checkpoint on Saturday killed four US soldiers. The next day, journalists with the 3rd Infantry Division reported that the rules of engagement appeared to have changed at checkpoints.

The New York Times reported one commander, Lieutenant Colonel Scott Rutter, as saying: "They have five seconds to turn around and get out of here. If they're there in five seconds, they're dead."

Yesterday, US defence officials insisted that the rules had not changed - rather, the existing ones had been tightened.

MARINE HANGED IN TOWN OF SHATRAH, ACCORDING TO MARINES is reporting Marines moved into the town of Shatrah to recover the body of one of their own:

"US Marines moved into the southern Iraqi town of Shatrah today to recover the body of a dead comrade which had been hanged in the town square, officers said.

Hundreds of troops were dispatched on the operation after intelligence reports indicated the body of a dead American, who was killed in a firefight last week, had been paraded through the streets and hanged in public.

"We would like to retrieve the body of the marine but it is not our sole purpose," said Lieutenant-Colonel Pete Owen, of the First Marine Expeditionary Force.

Military sources said another part of the operation was to arm local militias to fight against members of the ruling Baath party loyal to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Shatrah is some 40 km north of Nasiriyah, where Iraqi forces have been harassing US supply lines and putting up tough resistance for more than a week."


Dar al hayat reports heavy fighting around the cities of Nassiriya and Najif:http:

Iraq said its troops were battling U.S.-led invasion forces inside Nassiriya and on the city's outskirts on Tuesday and inflicting heavy casualties.

An Iraqi military spokesman speaking on television at almost 2 am stressed the fighting was still going on. He said the troops, ordinary people and Baath Party militia were involved in the fighting.

U.S. Marines fought their way across the city's bridges last Tuesday but did not take control of the city from mainly paramilitary fighters. Since then, Iraqi forces have carried out several ambushes in the area.

The spokesman also said the U.S. forces had launched an attack on Najaf in the past few hours. Fighters inside the city, some 160 km south of Baghdad, had forced them to retreat after suffering heavy losses, he said.


Reuters reports that 4 journalists missing one week ago have turned up safe in Jordan:

"Tue April 1, 2003 05:57 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Four journalists who disappeared from a Baghdad hotel a week ago while covering the U.S.-led war on Iraq turned up safe in Jordan on Tuesday after being held by Iraqi authorities.
Newsday newspaper reporter Matthew McAllester, 33, and photographer Moises Saman, 29, freelance photographer Molly Bingham, 34, of Louisville, Kentucky, and Danish freelance photographer Johan Spanner, 28, had vanished from their rooms at Palestine Hotel in Baghdad last Tuesday morning.

"We were held in prison, on no specific charges," McAllester said in a brief interview on Tuesday with CNN from inside a car. "It wasn't much fun, but we were not physically hurt...

"The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said two employees from Britain's Independent Television News (ITN), cameraman Fred Nerac, a French national, and translator Hussein Othman, of Lebanon, were still missing in the war. They were last seen in southern Iraq on March 22 when their car was fired on, killing ITN correspondent Terry Lloyd."


Rueters is reporting that Kirkuk is being heavily bombed by U.S. forces; no casualties reported yet:

"Kirkuk and Iraq's other main northern town of Mosul have been targeted in recent days as Washington slowly moves troops into the region to open a new front in its ground war against Iraq, which has been waged mainly from the south via Kuwait.

On Tuesday, warplanes also hit frontline Iraqi positions near Kifri, 60 miles southeast of Kirkuk.

Local television footage showed three Iraq soldiers running for cover when a cluster bomb threw up a huge wall of debris and black smoke behind them, forcing them to dive for cover.

In Baghdad on Tuesday, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf said Iraqi forces had thwarted a landing by British troops near Mosul.
This could not be independently confirmed. A British spokesman at the war headquarters in Qatar said he knew nothing about British forces attempting to land in northern Iraq."


Reuter's is reporting these civilian casualties for the past day:


Minister Sahaf said U.S.-led air raids over the past day had killed a total of 56 civilians throughout the country. Iraq has put the total civilian deaths to date at 653 but there was no way to independently verify this figure. Baghdad has issued no numbers of its military casualties.

Reuters reporters taken by Iraqi officials to a hospital in the town of Hilla saw 11 bodies, apparently civilians. Residents said they were killed when U.S. bombs hit the residential area. Sahaf said nine of the dead were children.

"What has he done wrong, what has he done wrong?" demanded the driver of the truck carrying the bodies, as he held the corpse of an infant.

At a televised news conference on Tuesday, Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan said 6,000 volunteer fighters had arrived in Iraq. More than half were suicide fighters.

He said: "They are a time bomb, you'll hear about them soon ... We want each and every one of these martyrs to do their duty and kill as many of these invading bastards as possible."

Many U.S. checkpoints are aimed at protecting long supply lines, often attacked by Iraqi forces and stretching some 220 miles back into Kuwait.

U.S. Marines on Tuesday shot dead an unarmed driver and badly wounded his passenger at a roadblock south of Baghdad."


Reuters is reporting these casualty numbers, reported by Iraq:

"The outskirts of Baghdad were again heavily bombed on Tuesday, particularly in the south. Huge plumes of white smoke rose on the horizon. Iraq said the latest attacks there had killed 24 civilians -- 19 overnight and five on Tuesday."


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting that two British soldiers were killed in vehicular accidents:,2763,927378,00.html

Two more British soldiers have been killed in southern Iraq, bringing the total British death toll to 27, it was announced tonight.

The latest death, of an unnamed soldier, came as the result of an accident involving a light armoured vehicle, the Ministry of Defence said. On Sunday Lance Corporal Shaun Andrew Brierley, of 212 Signal Squadron was also killed in a road accident.

Excluding the latest casualties, 25 British soldiers had died in the 13-day-old war so far, five in action and 20 in accidents or 'friendly fire'."

Monday, March 31, 2003


Every day I will print two excerpts from the Iraq diaries, until I catch up. They are truly excellent, first-hand accounts of the experience of this war for Iraqi civilians. The Iraq Diaries are printed by the Electronic Iraq, which was started by Voices in the Wilderness, a group composed of "veteran anti-war campaigners". I will have more on this group tomorrow.


More personal accounts of this war and civilian casualties, from the Iraq Diaries:

"I’m overwhelmed and tired. For three days now I’ve concentrated on visiting injured civilians in hospitals and seeing bombed sites.

This morning I accompanied April to the Al Kindi Hospital where we interviewed an extended family of 25 that had been living in six houses together on one farm just outside of Baghdad. At 6:00 PM yesterday, B-52s dropped cluster bombs on their farm, destroying all six houses, killing four and severely injuring many others. Even the farm animals were killed. We were told that yellow cylinders landed in their yard, and when they and the animals crept closer to investigate, the bombs detonated.

The father of one of these families, Saaed Shalish, age 36 – a farmer -- lost two sons but he has not yet been told. Doctors tell me that he’s in critical condition."


Iraq Diaries details civilian casualties:

"A missile hit the middle of the street outside the Omar Al Faroukh mosque on Palestine Street at about 4:15 this afternoon, just as people were leaving after prayers. Ahmed was walking out behind his friend Umar when he heard an explosion and saw his friend fall. Umar is a student at Rafidain College. He had fragments of shrapnel about 3cm long removed from his liver and abdomen. His lower ribs are fractured and his left hand has shrapnel wounds. His grandfather, Fuad Taher demands that Bush and Blair be charged and brought to court.

Another missile hit, close by, three minutes later. It wasn't clear from the friends and relatives in the hospital whether it hit the other side of the road or hit a building, but it was close by.

Akael Zuhair was standing in front of his house opposite the mosque: I'm not sure of it was the first or second missile that hurt him, but he's in a dangerous state in hospital, with shrapnel wounds to his left shoulder, left chest, right forearm and possibly a piece lodged in the frontal lobe of his brain. The doctors were waiting for a skull x ray to show whether the piercing was superficial or deep. He's 20."


The Iraq Diaries reports that members of an expelled peacekeeping team were injured in a car accident as they drove to the Jordanian border:

"They were a few hours from the Jordanian border traveling at about 80 miles per hour when a tire blew, causing the diver to lose control. The vehicle left the road and landed on its side at the bottom of a 10 foot ditch. The driver thought that the wheel had been shot by a nearby Allied plane, but the team thinks it was just as likely that the tire was destroyed by shrapnel or debris on the road from earlier Allied strikes.

They were able to open the doors on the top side of the vehicle and eventually were able to pull everyone out. Everyone was bruised, badly shaken, but all were conscious though it was clear that Weldon was badly injured, and Cliff was bleeding badly from a large gash in his head. The car was totaled, and the other two cars in the convoy were well out of sight down the road toward the Jordanian border and no one in the delegation had a satellite phone. Because of to the intensive US/British bombing, with very good reason, there were very few vehicles on the road between Baghdad and the Jordanian.

The group was just beginning to panic, when an Iraqi civilian car approached, pulled over and asked if he could help. Without a second thought, the driver packed the 5 additional passengers into his car and drove to the closest Iraqi town, Rutba, about 6 km from the site of the accident. Rutba is a city of about 20,000 people located 140 km east of the Jordanian Border. The group was astounded to see that this civilian town, with no apparent military structures had been devastated by US/British bombing three days earlier.

Much of the town was destroyed including the children's hospital in which two children were killed in the bombing. The group was taken to the only remaining functioning medical facility in town, a 20-foot X 20-foot four-bed clinic. The people of the town quickly gathered to inspect their uninvited foreign guests."


This is a worthwhile article to read in the Guardian Unlimited, as it addresses some of the claims made by the military in this war, claims that were later backed off of, including this "claim" that I reported earlier on this site:


Sunday March 30, 11.21am
British forces claim they have captured an Iraqi general following clashes with Iraqi units south of Basra. Group Captain Al Lockwood at central command war headquarters in Qatar confirms this on Sunday. "I don't know what unit [he was from]. I do know that we have a general," he said.

Sunday March 30, 1.05pm
Lockwood says the general, believed to be the highest ranking prisoner of war caught so far, will be pressed for strategic information. "We'll be asking him quite politely if he's willing assist us to continue our operations against the paramilitary forces in Basra," he said.

Sunday March 30, 6.39pm
Qatar-based satellite television channel al-Jazeera later quotes Lieutenant-General Walid Hamid Tawfiq, an Iraqi field commander in the Basra region, as denying that a general had been captured and a colonel killed.

Monday March 31, 12.55am
Military officials in Britain retract their earlier claims. "We do not have a prisoner of war of general rank," a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said. British military spokesman Major Will MacKinlay blames the confusion on "the fog of war" in an earlier interview on BBC television."


The Muslim News is reporting 20 civilians were killed in a missile attack on a farm Saturday night:

"Twenty people, including 11 children, were killed when a nighttime missile attack struck a farm near Baghdad, relatives told AFP.

Another 10 people were wounded, according to relatives who survived the Saturday night assault, which destroyed three homes in the Al-Janabiin suburb on the southeastern edge of Baghdad.

They said the dead also included seven women and two men belonging to five families.

The two relatives were the only residents to escape unharmed from the ruins of the homes, according to an AFP journalist on the scene.

Civilian casualities in Baghdad and its outskirts have mounted since the war's outbreak on March 20.

The US-led coalition has relentlessly bombed the southern rim of the city, where elite Republican Guard units are believed to be guarding the approach to President Saddam Hussein's seat of power.

The witnesses in Al-Janabiin, who showed an AFP journalist the debris from the attack, said a missile struck the farm leaving a trail of destruction over a wide area.

AFP journalists have witnessed five such incidents in which civilians were the primary victims of a coalition strike, reporting at least 70 dead and dozens of wounded.

Iraqi officials have said hundreds of civilians have been killed and wounded since the start of the war.

US and British war planners have declared their intent to minimize civilian casualities and accuse the Iraqi leadership of deliberately placing military targets such as weapons and ammunition in residential neighborhoods.

They have also suggested that some of the blasts might have been the result of misguided Iraqi anti-missile missiles."


The Electronic Iraq is reporting that three members of an Iraqi family in Baghdad last Tuesday were wounded in what appears to be a fragmentation bomb:

"BAGHDAD. After 11PM on Tuesday, March 25 what may have been an anti-personnel fragmentation bomb exploded in a Baghdad residential neighborhood adjacent to a secondary school. The blast primarily hit a private home at #74, Street # 3, District 317, in Al Tujjaar, in the Al Shaab area of North Baghdad. The house is next door to the Balquis Secondary School for Girls.

Three family members sleeping on a mattress in a second-floor bedroom were wounded. They were admitted to the Al Numaan Hospital. Muneed Abid Haamid, 25, remains hospitalized with wounds to his stomach, thighs, legs and foot.

Haamid's wife Sahhar, 23, and child Qaiser Muneeb, 6, reportedly were wounded in the legs. The mother and child have now been released from the hospital.

On Thursday, March 27, members of the Iraq Peace Team (IPT), visited the bombed house. IPT observed hundreds of small holes in the walls of the upstairs roof patio. Probing a sample of these holes the IPT team extracted uniform cubed metal pellets with sharp edges. The pellets were three to five millimeters thick.

Dr. Jaques Beres, a French surgeon working with French NGO AMI and staying at the Al Fanar Hotel, examined the pellets. Dr. Beres, who has extensive experience in war zones, confirmed to IPT that the pellets were from a fragmentation bomb.

IPT's Kathy Kelly said, "We urge all those responsible for upholding the UN Charter to investigate this apparent breach of the Geneva Conventions. We urge the US military to discontinue any further use of anti-personnel weapons. Such weapons directly and lethally discriminate against civilians."


In an article today by Reuters', an Iraqi civilian death total of 600 is reported:

"Iraq has said nearly 600 Iraqi civilians have been killed and over 4,500 wounded. It has not listed military casualties."


This incident was just announced today, reported in the Guardian Unlimited:

"A US tank plunged from a bridge into the Euphrates river last week in an incident in which all four crew died, US military officials announced today.

The driver was shot dead while driving over a bridge near Nassiriya on Thursday, apparently causing the accident in which the other three marines inside the tank drowned.

The tank and the dead marines were not pulled from the river until yesterday, US Central Command said. The incident occurred during a heavy sandstorm, Centcomm added."


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting that 35 Iraqi troops were killed today in fighting around Hindiya:

"Earlier in the day, 35 Iraqi troops were reported to have been killed as US forces fought to gain control of a key bridge over the Euphrates river at Hindiya, between Kerbala and Hilla.

The casualties were reported after coalition soldiers engaged in fierce street fighting with Iraqi paramilitaries and claimed to have captured dozens of members of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard."


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting that seven Iraqi women and children were killed in a van by U.S. forces:http:

"Seven Iraqi women and children were killed and two were injured this afternoon when US forces fired on their vehicle as it was leaving the city of Najaf, south west of Baghdad, the Pentagon said tonight.
Members of the 3rd Infantry Division shot at the van, which was carrying 13 civilian passengers, as it approached a checkpoint and refused to stop on its way out of the city.

US soldiers indicated at the vehicle to stop, at about 4.30pm local time (2.30pm BST), US central command said. When it did not do so they fired warning shots, before shooting first at the engine and then at the passenger compartment."


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting one U.S. marine is dead, and many Iraqi troops are dead:

"Further south, intense fighting continued during the day around the Shia Muslim holy city of Najaf as US forces advanced on the city. About 100 Iraqi paramilitary fighters were reported to have been killed, about 50 Iraqis captured and US soldier killed, US Central Command said."


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting three U.S. journalists are missing:

"1515: Three US journalists, including the photographer of former vice- president Al Gore, are missing in Iraq, their families say."


Last Friday, when it was reported one British soldiers was killed by friendly fire, and five wounded, it is also being reported in the Guardian Unlimited, that two Iraqi civilians were killed in that same incident:http:

"Last Friday morning, two American pilots turned their guns on a convoy of five British vehicles from the Household Cavalry, killing one man just three days shy of his 26th birthday, injuring four others and wiping out two armoured reconnaissance vehicles from the squadron's Two Troop. Two Iraqi civilians, waving a large white flag, were also killed."


These are the casualty numbers in a Guardian Unlimited article today:


· US - 38 killed (30 by hostile fire, 8 in accidents); 7 prisoners of war; 17 soldiers missing, according to US officials
· UK - 23 killed
· Iraqi military - thought to be at least 1,000
· Iraqi civilians (Iraqi claims) - about 425 killed,more than 4,000 missing
· Iraqi prisoners of war - 4,000, according to British and US officials

Sunday, March 30, 2003


According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, the death of a British journalist who fell from a roof may be a murder:

"Sulaimaniya, March 30, IRNA -- A British reporter was killed here on
Sunday in what seems to be an attempted murder.
Eyewitnesses told IRNA that the correspondent, working for the
British television news network ITN, had fallen from the window of his
room in Sarchenar Hotel in Sulaimaniya and had died immediately.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), who are in charge of the
security of foreign reporters in Iraq's Kurdistan, has yet to comment
on the incident.
The ITN correspondent is the second foreign reporter killed in the
area so far after the death last week of an ABC cameraman, Paul Moran."


The New York Times is reporting 176 Ansar fighters are reported killed in battle by Coalition and Kurdish forces:

"The Kurds said at least 176 Ansar fighters had died. About 150 more were said to have surrendered to the Iranian authorities at the border. Pockets of resistance in the mountains could be heard returning fire, but Kurdish military officers said the outcome seemed certain."


The Guardian Unlimited reports one U.K. marine was killed when his boat was ambushed:

"A British Royal Marine was killed in action in today when his boat was ambushed in southern Iraq.
Several others were injured in the attack on the Al Faw peninsula, which came as Royal Marines launched their biggest offensive of the war so far, seizing a suburb of Basra a few miles to the north and capturing a clutch of senior Iraqi army officers, according to the latest reports."


Reuters has this report on a helicoptor crash in southern Iraq, and injuries suffered by a would-be suicide attacker in Egypt:

"With casualties mounting, three U.S. troops were killed and a fourth was injured when a Marine helicopter crashed in southern Iraq. A U.S. spokesman said the helicopter was not brought down by hostile fire but provided no further details.

The U.S. military said 15 troops were injured on Sunday when a truck driven by a man wearing civilian clothes drove into a group of soldiers just outside a U.S. military base in Kuwait. The motives of the attacker, who was shot and wounded, were unclear but the incident followed a suicide attack inside Iraq on Saturday in which four U.S. soldiers died."


This is an article worth reading, from the Washington Post, regarding the civilians killed in the Baghdad marketplace on Friday, and general reactions to the war.

"March 29 -- A shuddering sense of outrage at President Bush and the United States fell over the Arab world today as television networks and newspapers reported a U.S. air assault that Iraqi officials said killed 58 people at a vegetable market in Baghdad.

"Monstrous martyrdom in Baghdad," said a huge headline in al-Dustur, a newspaper in Amman, Jordan.

"Dreadful massacre in Baghdad," read a banner headline in Egypt's mass circulation Akhbar al-Yawm newspaper. Photos of two young victims of the blast covered half its front page."


Folks, this is why I am doing this site, as hard as this is to read (from the Guardian Unlimited):

Confused frontline crossfire ripped apart a family yesterday after Iraqi soldiers appeared to force the four civilians towards US Marine positions.
A four-year-old girl, blood streaming from an eye wound, screamed for her dead mother while her father, shot in the leg, begged to be freed from the plastic handcuff slapped on him by the Marines, so he could hug his terrified younger daughter.

The Rahi family was treated by US medics after crawling towards a military checkpoint in the aftermath of heavy gunfire from US positions.

The Marines said they fired after Iraqi soldiers came behind the family car and fired through its windows, killing the wife of Haytham Rahi, a civil servant from the town of Rifa, to the south of the US positions where the shooting occurred. The firestorm the Marines unleashed killed two Iraqi soldiers and could have caused some of the injuries to the family. Three other Iraqi troops were taken prisoner.

US Marines are extremely wary of suicide bombings after an attack yesterday near Najaf killed four soldiers. They suspect treachery from surrendering Iraqis who, they say, have launched ambushes while pretending to give themselves up.

US commanders allege that Saddam Hussein's loyalists have terrorised families and used violence to prevent soldiers surrendering to the invading forces. 'I think they forced that family to come down here,' said Marine Captain Daniel Rose, who thought the civilians were being used to test US defences. 'We're going to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and they're using that against us.'


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting that yesterday a British soldier was killed by an American A10 tankbuster aircraft; five soldiers were wounded:

"British military officials last night launched their third "friendly fire" investigation in a week after an American A10 tankbuster aircraft shot dead one British soldier and injured five in southern Iraq.
The soldiers were on patrol in two armoured vehicles yesterday afternoon when the incident happened.
Two of the injured men were seriously hurt and the other three were described as walking wounded by military sources.

'We can confirm we are investigating an incident involving possible friendly fire as a matter of urgency,' a Ministry of Defence spokesman said last night.

Yesterday's death brings to 23 the number of British servicemen killed in the war so far. Only four have died in combat, with the rest killed in accidents or by 'friendly fire'."


Thanks to Joe for sending me this link to an article detailing the spam attacks on the Al Jazeera site. According to the article, the site will be down until some time in April.


Outside of the city of Basra yesterday an Iraqi general was captured, and an Iraqi colonel killed, according to this Guardian Unlimited article:

"British marines have captured an Iraqi general during fighting near Basra with troops entering towns on the southern outskirts of the city and reports of skirmishes near bridges to the west."


The Guardian Unlimited is reporting civilian casualties in Zafraniya:

Iraqi officials said that six civilians were killed and five wounded in an air raid on the industrial area of Zafraniya south of Baghdad. Reuters journalists taken to the scene saw wounded people in hospital.


Robert Fisk, writing for the, says Basra remains in firmly in the hands of the Iraqis, and includes detailed descriptions of civilian casualties allegedly due to allied bomging:

"A middle-aged man is carried into the hospital in pyjamas, soaked head to foot in blood. A little girl of perhaps four is brought into the operating room on a trolley, staring at a heap of her own intestines protruding from the left side of her stomach. A blue-uniformed doctor pours water over the little girl's guts and then gently applies a bandage before beginning surgery. A woman in black with what appears to be a stomach wound cries out as doctors try to strip her for surgery. In another sequence, a trail of blood leads from the impact of an incoming – presumably British – shell. Next to the crater is a pair of plastic slippers.

The al-Jazeera tapes, most of which have never been seen, are the first vivid proof that Basra remains totally outside British control. Not only is one of the city's main roads to Baghdad still open – this is how the three main tapes reached the Iraqi capital – but General Khaled Hatem is interviewed in a Basra street, surrounded by hundreds of his uniformed and armed troops, and telling al-Jazeera's reporter that his men will "never'' surrender to Iraq's enemies. Armed Baath Party militiamen can also be seen in the streets, where traffic cops are directing lorries and buses near the city's Sheraton Hotel."