‘Unusual Weapons’ Used in Fallujah

2004-12-09

Richard Moore

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http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/112804X.shtml

Also see below: 
Falluja's Health Damage *

  'Unusual Weapons' Used in Fallujah
 By Dahr Jamail
 Inter Press Service

 Friday 26 November 2004

Baghdad - The U.S. military has used poison gas and other
non-conventional weapons against civilians in Fallujah,
eyewitnesses report..

"Poisonous gases have been used in Fallujah," 35-year-old
trader from Fallujah Abu Hammad told IPS. "They used
everything -- tanks, artillery, infantry, poison gas. Fallujah
has been bombed to the ground."

Hammad is from the Julan district of Fallujah where some of
the heaviest fighting occurred. Other residents of that area
report the use of illegal weapons.

"They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom
cloud," Abu Sabah, another Fallujah refugee from the Julan
area told IPS. "Then small pieces fall from the air with long
tails of smoke behind them."

He said pieces of these bombs exploded into large fires that
burnt the skin even when water was thrown on the burns.
Phosphorous weapons as well as napalm are known to cause such
effects. "People suffered so much from these," he said.

Macabre accounts of killing of civilians are emerging through
the cordon U.S. forces are still maintaining around Fallujah.

"Doctors in Fallujah are reporting to me that there are
patients in the hospital there who were forced out by the
Americans," said Mehdi Abdulla, a 33-year-old ambulance driver
at a hospital in Baghdad. "Some doctors there told me they had
a major operation going, but the soldiers took the doctors
away and left the patient to die."

Kassem Mohammed Ahmed who escaped from Fallujah a little over
a week ago told IPS he witnessed many atrocities committed by
U.S. soldiers in the city.

"I watched them roll over wounded people in the street with
tanks," he said. "This happened so many times."

Abdul Razaq Ismail who escaped from Fallujah two weeks back
said soldiers had used tanks to pull bodies to the soccer
stadium to be buried. "I saw dead bodies on the ground and
nobody could bury them because of the American snipers," he
said. "The Americans were dropping some of the bodies into the
Euphrates near Fallujah."

Abu Hammad said he saw people attempt to swim across the
Euphrates to escape the siege. "The Americans shot them with
rifles from the shore," he said. "Even if some of them were
holding a white flag or white clothes over their heads to show
they are not fighters, they were all shotŠ"

Hammad said he had seen elderly women carrying white flags
shot by U.S. soldiers. "Even the wounded people were killed.
The Americans made announcements for people to come to one
mosque if they wanted to leave Fallujah, and even the people
who went there carrying white flags were killed."

Another Fallujah resident Khalil (40) told IPS he saw
civilians shot as they held up makeshift white flags. "They
shot women and old men in the streets," he said. "Then they
shot anyone who tried to get their bodies Š Fallujah is
suffering too much, it is almost gone now."

Refugees had moved to another kind of misery now, he said.
"It's a disaster living here at this camp," Khalil said. "We
are living like dogs and the kids do not have enough clothes."

Spokesman for the Iraqi Red Crescent in Baghdad Abdel Hamid
Salim told IPS that none of their relief teams had been
allowed into Fallujah, and that the military had said it would
be at least two more weeks before any refugees would be
allowed back into the city.

"There is still heavy fighting in Fallujah," said Salim. "And
the Americans won't let us in so we can help people."

In many camps around Fallujah and throughout Baghdad, refugees
are living without enough food, clothing and shelter. Relief
groups estimate there are at least 15,000 refugee families in
temporary shelters outside Fallujah.

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  Falluja's Health Damage
 By Miles Schuman
 The Nation

 Friday 26 November 2004

While the North American news media have focused on the
military triumph of US Marines in Falluja, little attention
has been paid to reports that US armed forces killed scores of
patients in an attack on a Falluja health center and have
deprived civilians of medical care, food and water.

Although the US military has dismissed accounts of the health
center bombing as "unsubstantiated," in fact they are credible
and come from multiple sources. Dr. Sami al-Jumaili described
how US warplanes bombed the Central Health Centre in which he
was working at 5:30 am on November 9. The clinic had been
treating many of the city's sick and wounded after US forces
took over the main hospital at the start of the invasion.
According to Dr. al-Jumaili, US warplanes dropped three bombs
on the clinic, where approximately sixty patients--many of
whom had serious injuries from US aerial bombings and attacks
- were being treated.

Dr. al-Jumaili reports that thirty-five patients were killed
in the airstrike, including two girls and three boys under the
age of 10. In addition, he said, fifteen medics, four nurses
and five health support staff were killed, among them health
aides Sami Omar and Omar Mahmoud, nurses Ali Amini and Omar
Ahmed, and physicians Muhammad Abbas, Hamid Rabia, Saluan
al-Kubaissy and Mustafa Sheriff.

Although the deaths of these individual health workers could
not be independently confirmed, Dr. al-Jumaili's account is
echoed by Fadhil Badrani, an Iraqi reporter for Reuters and
the BBC. Reached by phone in Falluja, Badrani estimated that
forty patients and fifteen health workers had been killed in
the bombing. Dr. Eiman al-Ani of Falluja General Hospital, who
said he reached the site shortly after the attack, said that
the entire health center had collapsed on the patients.

It was well-known that the Falluja facility was a health
center operating as a small hospital, a protected institution
under international law. According to James Ross of Human
Rights Watch, "the onus would be on the US government to
demonstrate that the hospital was being used for military
purposes and that its response was proportionate. Even if
there were snipers there, it would never justify destroying a
hospital."

US airstrikes also leveled a warehouse in which medical
supplies were stored next to the health center, Dr. al-Jumaili
reports. Ambulances from the city had been confiscated by the
government, he says, and the only vehicle left was targeted by
US fire, killing the driver and wounding a paramedic. Hamid
Salaman of the Falluja General Hospital told the Associated
Press that five patients in the ambulance were killed.

US and allied Iraqi military forces stormed the Falluja
General Hospital, which is on the perimeter of the city, at
the beginning of the assault, claiming it was under insurgent
control and was a center of propaganda about civilian
casualties during last April's attack on the city. The
soldiers encountered no resistance. Dr. Rafe Chiad, the
hospital's director, reached by phone, stated emphatically
that it is a neutral institution, providing humanitarian aid.
According to Dr. Chiad, the US military has prevented hospital
physicians, including a team of surgeons, anesthesiologists,
internists and general practitioners, from entering Falluja.
US authorities have denied all requests to send doctors,
ambulances, medical equipment and supplies from the hospital
into the city to tend to the wounded, he said. Now the city's
only health facility is a small Iraqi military clinic, which
is inaccessible to most of the city's remaining population
because of its distance from many neighborhoods and the
dangers posed by US snipers and crossfire.

"Falluja is dying," said Dr. al-Ani. "We want to save whoever
we can." Jim Welsh, health and human rights coordinator for
Amnesty International in London, notes that under the Geneva
Conventions, "medical personnel cannot be forced to refrain
from providing healthcare which they believe is their ethical
responsibility." The 173-bed Falluja General Hospital remains
empty, according to Dr. Chiad.

The Iraqi Red Crescent Society has called the health
conditions in and around Falluja "catastrophic." One hospital
staff member who recently left the city reports that there
were severe outbreaks of diarrheal infections among the
population, with children and the elderly dying from
infectious disease, starvation and dehydration in greater
numbers each day. Dr. al-Jumaili, Dr. al-Ani and journalist
Badrani each stated that the wounded and children are dying
because of lack of medical attention and water. In one case,
according to Dr. al-Jumaili, three children died of
dehydration when their father was unable to find water for
them. The US forces cut off the city's water supply before
launching their assault.

"The people are dying because they are injured, have nothing
to eat or drink, almost no healthcare," said Dr. al-Ani. "The
small rations of food and water handed out by the US soldiers
cannot provide for the population." For the thousands living
in makeshift camps outside the city, according to Firdus
al-Ubadi of the Red Crescent Society, hygiene and health
conditions are as precarious as in Falluja. There are no oral
rehydration solutions or salts for those who are dehydrated,
she says.

These reports demand an immediate international response, an
end to assaults on Falluja's civilian population and the free
passage of medical aid, food and water. Louise Arbour, the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has vowed
to investigate "violations of the rules of war designed to
protect civilians and combatants" in Falluja and to bring the
perpetrators to justice. The San Francisco-based Association
of Humanitarian Lawyers has petitioned the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American
States to investigate the deaths. The bombing of hospitalized
patients, forced starvation and dehydration, denial of
medicines and health services to the sick and wounded must be
recognized for what they are: war crimes and crimes against
humanity.

Miles Schuman is a family physician and member of the medical
network of the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture.

© Copyright 2004 by TruthOut.org
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