Ramadi Becomes Another Fallujah


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

   Inter Press Service News Agency
Wednesday, June 07, 2006   05:57 GMT    
Ramadi Becomes Another Fallujah

Brian Conley

AMMAN, Jun 5 (IPS) - These days, Ramadi is nearly impossible to enter. Against 
the backdrop of the Haditha massacre, IPS has received reports of civilians 
killed by snipers, and homes occupied with American snipers on their roof, while
families were detained downstairs.

One man, who wishes to be known simply as 'an Iraqi friend,' met with IPS in 
Amman to describe the situation in Ramadi and detail recent events there as he 
saw them.

"To enter Ramadi (about 100 km west of Baghdad) you have to pass the bridge on 
the Euphrates and the electrical station for Ramadi. This is occupied by the 
U.S. troops. The checkpoint is there, the glass factory nearby is occupied by 
American snipers. Here they inspect cars and you will need more than four hours 
just to pass the bridge."

Reports from Ramadi have been few and far between in recent months, and always 
filed by reporters embedded with U.S. troops working in the area.

Witnesses interviewed by IPS in Amman provided a nuanced picture of the 
situation, one that is very different from the military focus of embedded 

Their stories describe death happening any moment, without signals or warning.

"On the side of the main street you will find destroyed buildings, and military 
tents on the buildings for snipers. Be careful, if you hear any sound of 
fighting, hide in the side roads, park your car there and get in any house and 
hide, because snipers will kill anyone who moves, even if the fighting is in 
another area."

Sheikh Majeed al-Ga'oud is from Wahaj al-Iraq village just outside Ramadi, and 
visits the city regularly. He also described snipers killing without discretion.

"The American snipers don't make any distinction between civilians or fighters, 
anything that moves, he shoots immediately. This is a very dirty thing, they are
killing lots of civilians who are not fighters."

According to the Iraqi friend, many people have been killed in Ramadi because 
they simply do not know which parts of the city are now no-go zones.

One such area is the main street through Ramadi. After the first traffic light 
you are not allowed to proceed forward, only to the right or left.

"The way is blocked, not by concrete, but by snipers. Anyone who goes ahead in 
the street will be killed. There's no sign that it's not allowed, but it's known
to the local people. Many people came to visit us from Baghdad. They didn't know
this and they went ahead a few metres and were killed."

Sheikh Majeed was in Ramadi just a few days before speaking to IPS in Amman. He 
described a city where the fighters are very much in control.

"They are controlling the ground and they are very self-confident. They don't 
cover their faces with masks, and the Americans are running away from them. The 
Americans cannot win an infantry war with them, so they began using massive 
airpower to bomb them.."

While in Ramadi, he saw many damaged homes, and said there were no civil 
services functioning.

"You will see that they bombed the power stations, water treatment facilities, 
and water pipes. This house is destroyed, that house is destroyed. You will see 
poverty everywhere. The things that the simplest human in the world must have, 
you won't have it there."

The Iraqi friend described a similar situation. "I saw four houses until now, 
but I didn't see all of Ramadi, it's a big town. There are also houses destroyed
in the farms, I saw some, but most of them I couldn't see it because they are 
huge farms."

Ramadi is at present cut off from the rest of Iraq. Within, sometimes the 
electricity works, and some homes have generators, but the local phone service 
has been completely destroyed.

"The phone station was attacked by U.S. troops, and now even the building is 
completely destroyed. And the train station also, one hundred percent destroyed,
day after day F16s bomb it."

Life in Ramadi has not always been this difficult. When Baghdad fell, Ramadi had
not yet been entered. When Baghdad was wracked by lawlessness and theft, Ramadi 
remained relatively calm.

"It was a very quiet city, there was order," Sheikh Majeed said. "Though there 
are many different tribes there, and there is tension between the tribes, there 
was order. They respected each other, they respected the law."

The Iraqi friend suggested why Ramadi remained calm and, unlike Baghdad, was not
entered in the first days of the occupation.

"They made a deal with the tribes to not enter the city. But the political 
parties spoiled this agreement. They wanted to control Ramadi, so they gave 
wrong information to Americans. There was a small demonstration but not by 
Saddam loyalists; it was a peaceful demonstration against the occupation."

After this demonstration of just 30 people, the agreement was broken and the 
military invaded Ramadi. Iraqis were killed, and following tribal policies of 
revenge, a cycle of violence began.

Qasem Dulaimi, who lives in Ramadi, told IPS his home was occupied by American 
and Iraqi troops in May.

"They crushed the main doors and entered the house. I got out of my room and 
said some words in English, 'we are a peaceful family, ok its ok'." But the 
family members were locked up in a small room downstairs.

"From time to time we heard shooting from our roof. They used our house as a 
killing tool, they used the roof as a killing tool."

Eventually his family was released and the American troops moved on.

The Iraqi friend witnessed the killing of a young boy. "He was going to his 
school at about eight in the morning, carrying his books and crossing the 
street. Suddenly he fell down. I thought he just had a problem in his leg and 
fell, but he stayed for a long time like this. I knew or I felt there was a 
sniper who shot him."

Stories such as this one are common amongst Ramadi's residents.

"Haithem, one of the brothers of this kid, tried to find a way and took two 
steps to take the boy away. Snipers shot and missed him. So he didn't try again.
The boy remained there four hours, bleeding. He had been shot in the head." 

Copyright © 2006 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved.

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