Iraqi doctors have accused the US military of committing a war crime after they destroyed a neighbourhood clinic during the assault on Fallujah.
Dr Saloum Ismael of Doctors for Iraqi Society says missile attacks on the Popular Clinic on 7 November killed a number of patients, staff and two senior doctors—an orthopaedic surgeon and a radiologist.
Amnesty International believes up to 20 Iraqi medical staff and dozens of civilians were killed in the attack.
Dr Ismael said, “This is a crime of the Americans in Fallujah. They have no respect for the doctors and their mission.”
The Fourth Geneva Convention classifies attacks on hospitals as a war crime.
Article 18 states, “Civilian hospitals organised to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the parties to the conflict.”
The US military claimed the clinic was treating wounded resistance fighters.
Civil rights groups based in Fallujah also accuse US forces and their Iraqi allies of blocking vital humanitarian and medical aid from entering the city.
The Study Centre of Human Rights and Democracy, based in Fallujah, said in a statement, “American forces are preventing any organisation from entering Fallujah to relieve the remaining civilians as well as the civilians who fled Fallujah to [the villages of] Saqlaweiya and Karma.”
Both villages were under the control of US forces and not involved in the fighting.
The human rights group also claims that interim prime minister Iyad Allawi “threatened the staff of [Fallujah’s main] hospital, warning them not speak one word about what they have seen of American war crimes”.
The main hospital was raided and closed on the eve of the assault. Last Sunday villagers from Saqlaweiya buried 73 women and children who were killed during the US assault. The villagers said the bodies were burnt beyond recognition.
The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates that about 800 civilians were killed in the assault.
But there are fears that up to 3,000 may be buried in the rubble of bombed buildings and homes.
Several days after the US declared it had taken control of the city hundreds of bodies still litter the narrow alleys.
While Fallujah’s citizens and defenders were dying of their injuries, wounded US soldiers were airlifted to the modern Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre in Germany.
No injured Iraqis, including those fighting alongside the US forces, were permitted treatment at the hospital.
Meanwhile Arab satellite station Al Jazeera claims that US soldiers were ordered to shoot anyone caught out in the streets, even if they were not armed.
One commander was caught by TV cameras telling his men, “The enemy can dress as a woman. The enemy can be faking to be dead.
“So shoot everything that moves and everything that doesn’t move.” US troops stopped all men “of fighting age” fleeing the city days before the assault began.
US soldiers taking part in the week-long battle are also beginning to speak out. One soldier involved in the last two days of fighting described the indiscriminate killing in the city and senior officers wanting “trigger time”—to join the fighting after the battle was over.
He told the anti-war GI Special, “I could see [helicopter gunships] hovering around the carnage, scanning the ground with an infrared spotlight that seemed to reach for miles.
“Once a target was identified, a rapid series of hollow blasts would echo through the skies.
“More artillery, more tanks, more machine-gun fire, ominous death-dealing fighter planes terminating whole city blocks at a time…this wasn’t a war, it was a massacre!”
“As I look back on the air strikes that lasted well into the next morning, I cannot help but to be both amazed by our modern technology and disgusted by its means.”
100,000 dead…hospitals bombed…mosques burning…Fallujah destroyed…wounded executed…
Demonstrate Saturday 27 November l 1.30pm Whitechapel – assemble Altab Ali park, Whitechapel (Aldgate East/whitechapel tube)
East London Communities in Solidarity with Iraq: Islamic Forum Europe, Young Muslims Organisation, Newham Monitoring Project, Newham Public Affairs Committee, East London Against State Terror, Muslim Association of Britain, Islamic Society of Britain, Dawatul-Islam, Muslim Eye Net, Bangla 2000, East London respect
Stop the War Coalition, Tower Hamlets CND www.stopwar.org.uk
Two inspiring strikes show the way forward
We shouldn’t let them hide from the truth