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Fallujah

UNFINISHED CONTENT

here have several cases in which white phosphorus (WP) has been used as an anti-personnel weapon in Iraq by the United States military. Although initially denied, its use by the US was later confirmed by a United States army general serving in Iraq.

The Head of the Compensation Committee reveals in numbers the Fallujah Tragedy

Dr. Hafidh al-Dulaimi, the head of “the Commission for the Compensation of Fallujah citizens” has reported the following destruction that has been inflicted on Fallujah as a result of the American attack on it:
- 7000 totally destroyed, or nearly totally destroyed, homes in all districts of Fallujah.
- 8400 stores, workshops, clinics, warehouses, etc.. destroyed.
- 65 mosques and religious sanctuaries have been either totally demolished and leveled with the ground or whose minarets and inner halls have been demolished.
- 59 kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools and technical colleges have been destroyed.
- 13 government buildings have been leveled.
- Destruction of the two electricity substations, the three water purification plants, the two railroad stations and heavy damages to the sewage and rain drainage subsystems throughout the city.
- The total destruction of a bridge to the West of the city.
- The death of 100,000 domestic and wild animals due to chemical and/or gaseous munitions.
- The burning and destruction of four libraries that housed hundreds perhaps thousands of ancient Islamic manuscripts and books.
- The targeted destruction (which appears to be intentional) of the historical nearby site at Saqlawia and the castle of Abu al-Abbas al-Safah.
Dr. al-Dulaimi has asked all relevant international organization to visit and document the destruction to Fallujah.........

The Head of the Compensation Committee reveals in numbers the Fallujah Tragedy March 21, 2005 http://www.islammemo.cc/news/one_news.asp?IDNews=59994 Islam Memo news item in Arbic)

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m10630


http://ignoranceisfutile.wordpress.com/2008/08/01/proof-we-cant-trust-the-media-us-uses-wmds-part-1/




Fallujah Massacre

The build up and aftermath


Build Up

October 10, 2006
by Bernd Debusmann, Special Correspondent
Reuters
Excerpt from.
Two court cases slowly making their way through the U.S. legal system have opened a window on the legal fog hanging over civilians who work alongside the military and have become an everyday presence in conflict zones.
The legal cases involve Blackwater Security and Halliburton which field hundreds of civilians in Iraq. The two companies are part of a global industry estimated to bring in up to $100 billion annually.
The suit against Blackwater, the first of its kind in the United States, was brought 19 months ago by the families of four civilian contractors who were shot in March 2004 by insurgents who burned their bodies and hung the charred remains of two from the girders of a bridge in the city of Falluja.
Television images of the gruesome scene, with jubilant Iraqis shaking their fists, were beamed around the world and shocked the United States. Some military experts view the Falluja incident, which prompted a massive U.S. retaliatory assault on Falluja, as a turning point in the war.

Execution



Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Kevin Sites Blog
Street By Street 
Even before first light -- U.S. Marines, soldiers and Iraqi National Guard troops swarmed into Falluja. Tanks and heavily armored Bradley Fighting used their main guns to blow up cars and buses parked down side streets -- just in case they might be booby-trapped -- packed with explosives.
"This is a frigging ghost town," says Corporal Steven Wolf, a squad leader for the vehicle the CAAT (Combined Anti Armor Team) Platoon. The streets are deserted. But there are some exceptions. The dead.
The Marines are operating with liberal rules of engagement.
"Everything to the west is weapons free," radios Staff Sgt. Sam Mortimer of Seattle, Washington. Weapons Free means the marines can shoot whatever they see -- it's all considered hostile.
Our humvees pass by a body of a man in the center of the street. There is hole through his left eyes socket where a Marine sniper round passed cleanly through.
Down another side street is the body of a second man. This one dressed in clean white sneakers and athletic pants. He is on his back -- his arms behind his head, his face seems nearly peaceful, content. Not far from him--a Russian-made Dragonov sniper rifle. From the black ammo vest strapped to his chest loose 7.62 rounds have spilled to the ground.
The Marines I'm embedded with are nearly ebullient. This looks to be a cakewalk.
One jokes they'll be sipping 'Pina Coladas by the Euphrates River by fifteen-hundred.'
There is the occasional popgun crack of an AK-47 being fired. Usually just single rounds so the shooter can avoid detection. These "nuisances are met with overwhelming firepower. The concussion from the main gun on an Abrams M1 tank is powerful enough to knock you off your feet if you get to close.
The deep "whoomps" flashing from their long muzzles echo across the city while Bradleys wind down their 25-millimeter cannons on suspicious targets.
Down every other alleyway a vehicles is engulfed in furious orange flames.
Black smoke billows from building in the distance.
Almost to a man -- the 3.1 Marines I'm embedded with have all lost friends in this protracted war of attrition. They are eager "to get some," to pay "haji" back for the car bombs and IED's (improvised explosive devices) that have killed or maimed so many of their brother "Devil Dogs."
They are extremely likeable -- these young Marines -- full of bravado and easygoing about the danger that surrounds them. Some thumb through Maxim Magazine, others the Bible while the wait patiently to reign down death and destruction on their enemies.
"We're going to let loose the dogs of war," says Staff Sgt. Mortimer, "before the Falluja offensive begins. "It will be hell," he says, smiling after.
This levity continues until the Marines turn the corner onto a main street they've tactically dubbed, "Elizabeth."
Despite the constant weapons fire and explosion that have accompanied our advance -- this one is different -- it's directed at the Marines. As a squad from India Company passes by a way with a spray painted rocket propelled grenade launcher -- a real RPG round explodes against it. One Marines' face is burned by the powder and hot gas -- another has caught shrapnel in the leg, a third has been shot in the finger by the small arms fire that followed. The Marines are outraged. They turn their M-16's on the building to the west where they believe the shooter is hiding. But that's just an appetizer.
A gunner sitting in the armored turret of a humvee fires 40-millimeter grenades non-stop into the building -- until the gun jams.
Staff Sgt. Terry Mcelwain of Burden, Kansas is pissed. He grabs the bazooka-like AT-4 rocket launcher from the back of another humvee. It's fire trail zips into the now smoking building. Mcelwain wants Weapons Company to fire a tow missile into it as well, but low hanging electrical wires make it impossible -- so he calls up the tanks instead.
Two Abrams lumber toward the target. They stop and fire their main guns in unison. The explosion shakes the street. But the Marines aren't done yet.
They pour in more rounds from 50 caliber machine guns and their M16's.
But as the unit moves past the building, going from east to west, another RPG explodes behind them, then a third. More casualties. A Navy Corpsman cut the pants leg off one of the injured and wraps a guaze dressing around the bleeding wound while another Marine covers with a 249-SAW (squad Assault Weapon). But regardless of how much firepower the Marines bring to bear -- they can't seem to silence this phantom enemy, which continues to fire on them from the rear.
Then insurgent snipers begin firing in front of the Marines as well. One round pierces the Kevlar helmet a twenty-year old Mark 19 gunner -- in my vehicle. He is badly wounded. He's put in a canvas stretcher and six Marines run through the streets carrying him to a waiting military ambulance.
Shortly after -- another RPG round hits a humvee, but doesn't explode. The Marines are rattled but uninjured. A Marine who has caught shrapnel in the face is led to the safety of an empty storefront -- his eyes bandaged shut -- his hands outstretched -- probing the air in front of him.
The Marines know they are being hunted. Boxed from the east and the west in a treacherous kill zone by an enemy they can feel -- but can't see. Their superior firepower is checked by the insurgent's knowledge of the city -- their cunning in using blind alleyways and the crooks and crannies of buildings to pick off the Marines.
The gun battle continues late into the night -- eventually an AC-130 gunship is called in and strafes Elizabeth Street with its mini guns. With eight of their men wounded--it is a bloody and disappointing start for the Marines -- and a reminder that to win the battle for Falluja -- they will likely have to fight as they did today block by block, street by street.



BBC News Nov 2004
US-led forces continue to encounter fierce displays of resistance in southern zones of Falluja.
But a top US commander says the offensive there has "broken the back of the insurgency" across Iraq.
Lt Gen John Sattler said the operation had "taken away this safe haven" which he alleged was used as a base for the nationwide Iraqi rebellion.
Gen Sattler, commander of the force leading the Falluja operation, had no information about civilian deaths.
Fifty-one US soldiers and eight Iraqi soldiers have been killed since the assault began on 8 November, Gen Sattler said.
He said media estimates of 1,200 insurgents killed was "probably a safe number".
A journalist for the Times (London) described the scene the night the US onslaught began: “The districts comprising Fallujah’s perimeter—where most of the insurgents are concentrated—were already largely in ruins. The crumbling remains of houses and shell-pocked walls reminded me of my home town Beirut in the 1980s at the height of Lebanon’s civil war.... I began to count out loud as the bombs tumbled to the ground with increasingly monotonous regularity. There were 38 in the first half-hour alone. The bombing continued in waves until 5:15 a.m. as the American forces softened up their targets.”

Socialist website Nov 2004
And now? Buildings have been destroyed by the hundreds, corpses buried under many of them. A Christian Science Monitor reporter observes: “Some districts reeked from the sickening odor of rotting flesh, a stench too powerful to be swept away by a brisk breeze coming in from the sandy plain surrounding the city 40 miles west of Baghdad.
“A week of ground combat by Marines and some Iraqi troops, supported by tanks and attack helicopters, added to the destruction in a city where the homes and businesses for about 300,000 people are packed into an area a little less than 2 miles wide and a little more than 2 miles long. ... Cats and dogs scamper along streets littered with bricks, broken glass, toppled light poles, downed power lines, twisted traffic barriers and spent cartridges. Walls are full of bullet holes. Marines have blown holes in walls and knocked down doors to search homes and shops. Dead Iraqis still lay out in the open Monday.”
For all intents and purposes, the US military declared any male in Fallujah and any family unlucky enough to be caught in the hail of deadly fire legitimate targets for death. We will perhaps never know how many civilians have been slaughtered by US forces.
The chief United Nations human rights official, Louise Arbour, has called for an investigation of abuses, including the disproportionate use of force and the targeting of civilians. Arbour claimed that all violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws should be investigated, including “the deliberate targeting of civilians, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, the killing of injured persons and the use of human shields.” The American media either ignores or brushes this aside.
In none of the US media commentaries is there a single expression of concern about not merely the moral, but the legal issues involved in the attack on Fallujah. The American military operation in the city is an illegal act of aggression in an illegal, aggressive war.



Aftermath   
Hannah's Blog
November 06, 2005
Fallujah Truth
IRAQ: Fallujah: the truth at last
Dr Salam Ismael took aid to Fallujah in January.
It was the smell that first hit me, a smell that is difficult to describe, and one that will never leave me. It was the smell of death. Hundreds of corpses were decomposing in the houses, gardens and streets of Fallujah. Bodies were rotting where they had fallen ? bodies of men, women and children, many half-eaten by wild dogs.
A wave of hate had wiped out two-thirds of the town, destroying houses and mosques, schools and clinics. This was the terrible and frightening power of the US military assault.
The accounts I heard over the next few days will live with me forever. You may think you know what happened in Fallujah. But the truth is worse than you could possibly have imagined.
In Saqlawiya, one of the makeshift refugee camps that surround Fallujah, we found a 17-year-old woman. ?I am Hudda Fawzi Salam Issawi from the Jolan district of Fallujah?, she told me. ?On November 9, American marines came to our house. My father and the neighbour went to the door to meet them. We were not fighters. We thought we had nothing to fear. I ran into the kitchen to put on my veil, since men were going to enter our house and it would be wrong for them to see me with my hair uncovered.
?This saved my life. As my father and neighbour approached the door, the Americans opened fire on them. They died instantly.
?Me and my 13-year-old brother hid in the kitchen behind the fridge. The soldiers came into the house and caught my older sister. They beat her. Then they shot her. But they did not see me. Soon they left, but not before they had destroyed our furniture and stolen the money from my father?s pocket.?
Hudda told me how she comforted her dying sister by reading verses from the Koran. After four hours her sister died. For three days, Hudda and her brother stayed with their murdered relatives. But they were thirsty and had only a few dates to eat. They feared the troops would return and decided to try to flee the city. But they were spotted by a US sniper.
Hudda was shot in the leg, her brother ran but was shot in the back and died instantly. ?I prepared myself to die?, she told me. ?But I was found by an American woman soldier, and she took me to hospital.? She was eventually reunited with the surviving members of her family.
I also found survivors of another family from the Jolan district. They told me that at the end of the second week of the siege the US troops swept through the Jolan. The Iraqi National Guard used loudspeakers to call on people to get out of the houses carrying white flags, bringing all their belongings with them. They were ordered to gather outside near the Jamah al Furkan mosque in the centre of town.
On November 12, Eyad Naji Latif and eight members of his family ? one of them a six-month-old child ? gathered their belongings and walked in single file, as instructed, to the mosque.
When they reached the main road outside the mosque they heard a shout, but they could not understand what was being shouted. Eyad told me it could have been ?now? in English. Then the firing began.
US soldiers appeared on the roofs of surrounding houses and opened fire. Eyad?s father was shot in the heart and his mother in the chest.
They died instantly. Two of Eyad?s brothers were also hit, one in the chest and one in the neck. Two of the women were hit, one in the hand and one in the leg.
Then the snipers killed the wife of one of Eyad?s brothers. When she fell her five year old son ran to her and stood over her body. They shot him dead too.
Survivors made desperate appeals to the troops to stop firing.
But Eyad told me that whenever one of them tried to raise a white flag they were shot. After several hours he tried to raise his arm with the flag. But they shot him in the arm. Finally he tried to raise his hand. So they shot him in the hand.
The five survivors, including the six-month-old child, lay in the street for seven hours. Then four of them crawled to the nearest home to find shelter.
The next morning, the brother who was shot in the neck also managed to crawl to safety. They all stayed in the house for eight days, surviving on roots and one cup of water, which they saved for the baby.
On the eighth day they were discovered by some members of the Iraqi National Guard and taken to hospital in Fallujah. They heard the US soldiers were arresting any young men, so the family fled the hospital and finally obtained treatment in a nearby town.
They do not know in detail what happened to the other families who had gone to the mosque as instructed. But they told me the street was awash with blood.
I had come to Fallujah in January as part of a humanitarian aid convoy funded by donations from Britain.
Our small convoy of trucks and vans brought 15 tonnes of flour, eight tonnes of rice, medical aid and 900 pieces of clothing for the orphans. We knew that thousands of refugees were camped in terrible conditions in four camps on the outskirts of town.
There we heard the accounts of families killed in their houses, of wounded people dragged into the streets and run over by tanks, of a container with the bodies of 481 civilians inside, of premeditated murder, looting and acts of savagery and cruelty that beggar belief.
Through the ruins
That is why we decided to go into Fallujah and investigate. When we entered the town I almost did not recognise the place where I had worked as a doctor in April 2004, during the first siege.
We found people wandering like ghosts through the ruins. Some were looking for the bodies of relatives. Others were trying to recover some of their possessions from destroyed homes.
Here and there, small knots of people were queuing for fuel or food. In one queue some of the survivors were fighting over a blanket.
I remember being approached by an elderly woman, her eyes raw with tears. She grabbed my arm and told me how her house had been hit by a US bomb during an air raid. The ceiling collapsed on her 19-year-old son, cutting off both his legs.
She could not get help. She could not go into the streets because the Us military had posted snipers on the roofs and were killing anyone who ventured out, even at night.
She tried her best to stop the bleeding, but it was to no avail. She stayed with him, her only son, until he died. He took four hours to die.
Fallujah?s main hospital was seized by the US troops in the first days of the siege. The only other clinic, the Hey Nazzal, was hit twice by US missiles. Its medicines and medical equipment were all destroyed.
There were no ambulances ? the two ambulances that came to help the wounded were shot up and destroyed by US troops.
We visited houses in the Jolan district, a poor working-class area in the north-western part of the city that had been the centre of resistance during the April siege.
This quarter seemed to have been singled out for punishment during the second siege. We moved from house to house, discovering families dead in their beds, or cut down in living rooms or in the kitchen. House after house had furniture smashed and possessions scattered.
In some places we found bodies of fighters, dressed in black and with ammunition belts.
But in most of the houses, the bodies were of civilians. Many were dressed in housecoats, many of the women were not veiled ? meaning there were no men other than family members in the house. There were no weapons, no spent cartridges.
It became clear to us that we were witnessing the aftermath of a massacre, the cold-blooded butchery of helpless and defenceless civilians.
Nobody knows how many died. The occupation forces are now bulldozing the neighbourhoods to cover up their crime. What happened in Fallujah was an act of barbarity. The whole world must be told the truth.

*****************************************************
March 2006 Update
65,000 people still displaced out of Fallujah: It has been 14 months since US forces fought insurgents in the city of Fallujah, but there is still slow progress on humanitarian issues, according to local officials. Nearly 600 people died in the conflict, according to the government, but local doctors believe the number could be as high as 1,800 victims.
As much as 80 percent of the population fled Fallujah, 60 km west of Baghdad, when US forces launched an offensive to oust insurgents from the area. More than two thirds have now returned and 15 percent remain displaced on the outskirts of the city. They are living in abandoned schools and government buildings, according to aid officials.
The entire population of the city was estimated to be 300,000 and today it stands at roughly 230,000. "Approximately 65,000 people are still displaced out of Fallujah," said Bassel Mahmoud, director of Fallujah's reconstruction project. "The government has forgotten them because most are living with relatives in other cities or under deteriorating conditions in abandoned buildings on the outskirts of Fallujah".
Despite Baghdad allocating US $100 million for the city's reconstruction and US $180 million for housing compensation, very little can be seen visibly on the streets of Fallujah in terms of reconstruction. There are destroyed buildings on almost every street.
Local authorities say about 60 percent of all houses in the city were totally destroyed or seriously damaged and less than 20 percent of them have been repaired so far. In addition, 6,000 shops, 43 mosques and nine government offices still require extensive repair work. Power, water treatment and sewage systems are still not functioning properly and many districts of the city are without potable water.
Fallujah officials say 30 percent of the allocated funds have been switched to maintaining extra checkpoints and security patrols to ensure that insurgents don't return – this has left a hole in the budget needed for reconstruction. Of the 81 reconstruction projects slated for the city, only 24 have been completed and many others will be cancelled due to a lack of funding, the Fallujah official said.
Baghdad residents voice anger and dismay when asked about their lives as invasion in Iraq enters fourth year: Salah Hashim, a 49-year-old businessman, said he yearned for the return of Saddam Hussein, the country's ousted dictator, given the violence that now envelops the country.
"Despite all he did that was bad, we did not suffer as we are now," Hashim said. "Now we have lost everything, even a sense of living. The Americans promised us, especially (President) George Bush, prosperity. And we thank them all because we got it — but we got a prosperity of car bombs, kidnappings and killings."
Ahmen Najeeb, a 33-year-old supermarket owner, said he originally "waved his hands" at American forces as they entered the country in March 2003, but that his outlook has since changed. "Day after day the Americans proved that they are here to steal our oil and protect their homes by keeping the their war against terror in another country," he said.
One man who said three of his daughters were killed by a bombing last year sounded despondent. "I got nothing from this so-called liberation, just this cell phone and my satellite receiver. But I lost my three daughters," said Nawar Maarof, a 34-year-old taxi driver who said he had dreamed of becoming an accountant. "I have a feeling that my destiny is the same. Anyway, we're all dead."
Salam Nassir, a 25-year-old college student, also longed for Saddam. "We deserve all this because we didn't fight the Americans," he said. "We had to know from the start they would not help us and were lying about liberating Iraq."
Posted by Hannah at November 6, 2005 01:19 PM

No end to destruction in Falluja
UPDATED ON:
SATURDAY, JANUARY 08, 2005
13:32 MECCA TIME, 10:32 GMT   
NEWS ARABWORLD
Iraqis returning to Falluja have found their properties either vandalised or demolished and now live in more of a ghetto than a city, according to a national TV station.
Iraqis coming back to Falluja have found the city in total chaos
Iraq's al-Sharqiya TV said on Friday that locals bussed back into the destroyed city saw the US army knocking over even more homes.
The report added: "Search operations began in the city's east, where each house was either marked with an X or an X inside a circle. X meant the house was safe, where as the circle symbolised the house was a source of danger and was to be demolished."
Speaking to Aljazeera on Saturday, Iraqi journalist Fadil al-Badrani added that a few who returned last week - and had been happy to find their houses mostly intact - watched in disbelief as US forces pushed their homes over in the past four days.
And al-Badrani said disbelief and shock was turning to anger. On Saturday, thousands of furious locals marched to the city's gates to remonstrate with troops.
Demonstration
But it was not just the scale of destruction that angered citizens. They were also unhappy about rules imposed before being allowed to enter their city and the almost total media black-out on their situation, journalists said.
Fallujans bury corpses that can be days or weeks old
Most complained of US soldiers pointing their weapons at them even in the simplest of situations, while others asked why they had been prevented from putting front doors back on to their homes.
"And everyone was demanding that US forces withdraw immediately, allow media teams into the city to document the destruction, compensate citizens for the loss of their homes, and help in reconstruction of the city," the programme reported.
Others expressed health concerns, he added, particularly over decaying corpses and polluted water.
Rude awakening
One returnee, Yasir Abbas Atiya, told an Australian reporter he had always thought that he would rather sleep on the streets of his beloved home town rather than in his current squalid Baghdad shelter.
Thirty minutes after he returned home this week, however, Atiya had to change his mind. He left in disgust and has no plans to go back.
ID papers must be carried at all times
"I couldn't stand it," the grocer said. "I was born in that town. I know every inch of it. But when I got there, I did not recognise it."
Lakes of sewage foul the streets. The smell of corpses inside charred buildings pervades the atmosphere.
No water or electricity are available and there are constant warnings to watch out for landmines and booby traps.
"I thought 'this is not my town,'" Atiya said on Tuesday after going back to the abandoned Baghdad clinic his family shares with nearly 100 other displaced Fallujans. "How can I take my family to live there?"
Entry rules
One of the causes of major complaint were stringent and intrusive security measures.
US forces stationed around the city have to issue ID cards to those they allow back in, a document that has to be carried at all times.
Walking home. No cars are permitted in the city
Citizens must leave their cars outside Falluja; no vehicles are allowed in except approved buses that herd people back and forth.
At the beginning of December, one prime-time US news channel had a military official telling Americans that Fallujans would "be finger printed, given a retina scan and then an ID card, which will only allow them to travel around their homes or to nearby aid centres".
"The marines will be authorised to use deadly force against those breaking the rules."
Historical precedent?
But the destruction of Falluja and the treatment of its residents comes as little surprise to Professor Rashid Khalidi at Columbia University in the US.
Locals complain that security measures have gone too far
He points out that the British also chose to "make an example" out of Falluja when, in 1920, they launched a massive air campaign and flattened the city.
The British army lost more than 1000 soldiers in Iraq at the time and resorted to indiscriminate killing to regain a semblance of control - a history, he says, that is surprisingly familiar.
"The Bush administration is not creating the world anew in the Middle East. It is waging a war in a place where history really matters," he said.
Imperial behaviour
He points out that US troops, deployed in the Middle East for more than 62 years, have to recognise that their nation - that was once celebrated as a non-colonial power - has joined the imperial club, as Iraq's invasion and Falluja's destruction demonstrates.
"Things have changed fundamentally for the worse with the invasion and occupation of Iraq, particularly with the revelation that the core pretexts offered by the administration for the invasion were false.
"And particularly with growing Iraqi dissatisfaction with the occupation and with the images of the hellish chaos broadcast regularly everywhere in the world except in the United States - thanks to the excellent job done by the media in keeping the real human costs of Iraq off our television screens."
The Columbia professor concludes that the White House has proclaimed good intentions while refusing to acknowledge that Iraqis can only judge by what they see in places such as Falluja.
"It does not matter what you say you are doing in Falluja, what matters is what you are doing in Falluja - and what people see that you are doing."
White Phosphorous

The fog of war: white phosphorus, Fallujah and some burning questions
By Andrew Buncombe and Solomon Hughes in Washington
Published: 15 November 2005

The controversy has raged for 12 months. Ever since last November, when US forces battled to clear Fallujah of insurgents, there have been repeated claims that troops used "unusual" weapons in the assault that all but flattened the Iraqi city. Specifically, controversy has focussed on white phosphorus shells (WP) - an incendiary weapon usually used to obscure troop movements but which can equally be deployed as an offensive weapon against an enemy. The use of such incendiary weapons against civilian targets is banned by international treaty.
The debate was reignited last week when an Italian documentary claimed Iraqi civilians - including women and children - had been killed by terrible burns caused by WP. The documentary, Fallujah: the Hidden Massacre, by the state broadcaster RAI, cited one Fallujah human-rights campaigner who reported how residents told how "a rain of fire fell on the city". Yesterday, demonstrators organised by the Italian communist newspaper, Liberazione, protested outside the US Embassy in Rome. Today, another protest is planned for the US Consulate in Milan. "The 'war on terrorism' is terrorism," one of the newspaper's commentators declared.
The claims contained in the RAI documentary have met with a strident official response from the US, as well as from right-wing commentators and bloggers who have questioned the film's evidence and sought to undermine its central allegations.
While military experts have supported some of these criticisms, an examination by The Independent of the available evidence suggests the following: that WP shells were fired at insurgents, that reports from the battleground suggest troops firing these WP shells did not always know who they were hitting and that there remain widespread reports of civilians suffering extensive burn injuries. While US commanders insist they always strive to avoid civilian casualties, the story of the battle of Fallujah highlights the intrinsic difficulty of such an endeavour.
It is also clear that elements within the US government have been putting out incorrect information about the battle of Fallujah, making it harder to assesses the truth. Some within the US government have previously issued disingenuous statements about the use in Iraq of another controversial incendiary weapon - napalm.
The assault upon Fallujah, 40 miles from Baghdad, took place over a two-week period last November. US commanders said the city was an insurgent stronghold. Civilians were ordered to evacuate in advance. Around 50 US troops and an estimated 1,200 insurgents were killed. How many civilians were killed is unclear. Up to 300,000 people were driven from the city.
Following the RAI broadcast, the US Embassy in Rome issued a statement which denied that US troops had used WP as a weapon. It said: "To maintain that US forces have been using WP against human targets ... is simply mistaken." In a similar denial, the US Ambassador in London, Robert Tuttle, wrote to the The Independent claiming WP was only used as an obscurant or else for marking targets. In his letter, he says: "US forces participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom continue to use appropriate, lawful and conventional weapons against legitimate targets. US forces do not use napalm or phosphorus as weapons."
However, both these two statements are undermined by first-hand evidence from troops who took part in the fighting. They are also undermined by an admission by the Pentagon that WP was used as a weapon against insurgents.
In a comprehensive written account of the military operation at Fallujah, three US soldiers who participated said WP shells were used against insurgents taking cover in trenches. Writing in the March-April edition of Field Artillery, the magazine of the US Field Artillery based in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, which is readily available on the internet, the three artillery men said: "WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions ... and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against insurgents in trench lines and spider holes ... We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents using WP to flush them out and high explosive shells (HE) to take them out."
Another first-hand account from the battlefield was provided by an embedded reporter for the North County News, a San Diego newspaper. Reporter Darrin Mortenson wrote of watching Cpl Nicholas Bogert fire WP rounds into Fallujah. He wrote: "Bogert is a mortar team leader who directed his men to fire round after round of high explosives and white phosphorus charges into the city Friday and Saturday, never knowing what the targets were or what damage the resulting explosions caused."
Mr Mortenson also watched the mortar team fire into a group of buildings where insurgents were known to be hiding. In an email, he confirmed: "During the fight I was describing in my article, WP mortar rounds were used to create a fire in a palm grove and a cluster of concrete buildings that were used as cover by Iraqi snipers and teams that fired heavy machine guns at US choppers." Another report, published in the Washington Post, gave an idea of the sorts of injuries that WP causes. It said insurgents "reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorous burns". A physician at a local hospital said the corpses of insurgents "were burned, and some corpses were melted".
The use of incendiary weapons such as WP and napalm against civilian targets - though not military targets - is banned by international treaty. Article two, protocol III of the 1980 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons states: "It is prohibited in all circumstances to make the civilian population as such, individual civilians or civilian objects, the object of attack by incendiary weapons." Some have claimed the use of WP contravenes the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention which bans the use of any "toxic chemical" weapons which causes "death, harm or temporary incapacitation to humans or animals through their chemical action on life processes".
However, Peter Kaiser, a spokesman for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which enforces the convention, said the convention permitted the use of such weapons for "military purposes not connected with the use of chemical weapons and not dependent on the use of the toxic properties of chemicals as a method of warfare". He said the burns caused by WP were thermic rather than chemical and as such not prohibited by the treaty.
The RAI film said civilians were also victims of the use of WP and reported claims by a campaigner from Fallujah, Mohamad Tareq, that many victims had large burns. The report claimed that the clothes on some victims appeared to be intact even though their bodies were badly burned.
Critics of the RAI film - including the Pentagon - say such a claim undermines the likelihood that WP was responsible for the injuries since WP would have also burned their clothes. This opinion is supported by a leading military expert. John Pike, director of the military studies group GlobalSecurity.org, said of WP: "If it hits your clothes it will burn your clothes and if it hits your skin it will just keep on burning." Though Mr Pike had not seen the RAI film, he said the burned appearance of some bodies may have been caused by exposure to the elements.
Yet there are other, independent reports of civilians from Fallujah suffering burn injuries. For instance, Dahr Jamail, an unembedded reporter who collected the testimony of refugees from the city spoke to a doctor who had remained in the city to help people, encountered numerous reports of civilians suffering unusual burns.
One resident told him the US used "weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud" and that he watched "pieces of these bombs explode into large fires that continued to burn on the skin even after people dumped water on the burns." The doctor said he "treated people who had their skin melted"
Jeff Englehart, a former marine who spent two days in Fallujah during the battle, said he heard the order go out over military communication that WP was to be dropped. In the RAI film, Mr Englehart, now an outspoken critic of the war, says: "I heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it's known as Willy Pete ... Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone ... I saw the burned bodies of women and children."
In the aftermath of the battle, the State Department's Counter Misinformation Office issued a statement saying that WP was only "used [WP shells] very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes. They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters." When The Independent confronted the State Department with the first-hand accounts of soldiers who participated, an official accepted the mistake and undertook to correct its website. This has since been done.
Indeed, the Pentagon readily admits WP was used. Spokesman Lt Colonel Barry Venables said yesterday WP was used to obscure troop deployments and also to "fire at the enemy". He added: "It burns ... It's an incendiary weapon. That is what it does."
Why the two embassies have issued statements denying that WP was used is unclear. However, there have been previous examples of US officials issuing incorrect statements about the use of incendiary weapons. Earlier this year, British Defence Minister Adam Ingram was forced to apologise to MPs after informing them that the US had not used an updated form of napalm in Iraq. He said he had been misled by US officials.
Napalm was used in several instances during the initial invasion. Colonel Randolph Alles, commander of Marine Air Group 11, remarked during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003: "The generals love napalm - it has a big psychological effect."
In his letter, Ambassador Tuttle claims there is a distinction between napalm and the 500lb Mk-77 firebombs he says were dropped - even though experts say they are virtually identical. The only difference is that the petrol used in traditional napalm has been replaced in the newer bombs by jet fuel.
Since the RAI broadcast, there have been calls for an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the battle of Fallujah. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has also repeated its call to "all fighters to take every feasible precaution to spare civilians and to respect the principles of distinction and proportionality in all operations".

There have also been claims that in the minutiae of the argument about the use of WP, a broader truth is being missed. Kathy Kelly, a campaigner with the anti-war group Voices of the Wilderness, said: "If the US wants to promote security for this generation and the next, it should build relationships with these countries. If the US uses conventional or non-conventional weapons, in civilian neighourhoods, that melt people's bodies down to the bone, it will leave these people seething. We should think on this rather than arguing about whether we can squeak such weapons past the Geneva Conventions and international accords."

Deafening Silence on Fallujah Massacre

Michel Chossudovsky

While the Western media highlights the death and "kidnapping" of paid mercenaries, on contract to Western security firms, there is a deafening silence on the massacre of more than 700 civilians in Fallujah by coalition forces.

While the Western media highlights the death and "kidnapping" of paid mercenaries, on contract to Western security firms, there is a deafening silence on the massacre of more than 700 civilians in Fallujah by coalition forces.

The operation in Fallujah is casually described by the Bush administration as "a crackdown" against extremists:

"This violence we've seen is a part of a few people trying to stop the progress toward democracy. Fallujah, south of Baghdad, these incidents were basically thrust upon the innocent Iraqi people by gangs, violent gangs." (President Bush, 11 April 2004)

According to CNN, an unduly high death toll was the unfortunate result of the "rules of engagement", which required leading a military operation against insurgents in a densely populated urban area. The civilians were said to have been caught in the cross-fire.

The US military claims that most of the deaths were insurgents, an assertion which is refuted by statements emanating from the hospitals and by several eye-witness reports:

"We’ve been seeing it with our own eyes. People were told to leave Fallujah and now there are thousands trapped in the desert. There is a 13 km long convoy of people trying to reach Baghdad. The Americans are firing bombs, everything, everything they have on them. They are firing on families! They are all children, old men and women in the desert. Other Iraqi people are trying to help them. In Falluja the US military have been bombing hospitals. Children are being evacuated to Baghdad. There is a child now, a baby, he had 25 members of his family killed, he’s in the hospital and someone needs to be with him ... The Americans are dropping cluster bombs. They are bombing from the air. There are people lying dead in the streets. They said there’d be a ceasefire and then they flew in, I saw them, and they began to bomb. They are fighting back and they are fighting well in Falluja. But we are expecting the big attack in 24-48 hours. It will be the main attack. They will be taking the town street by street and searching and attacking. They did this already in a village near-by. Please get help, get people to protest, get them to go to the Embassies, get them out, get them to do something. There is a massacre" (Eyewitness Report from Fallujah, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/JAS404A.html )

"During the course of the roughly four hours we were at that small clinic, we saw perhaps a dozen wounded brought in. Among them was a young woman, 18 years old, shot in the head.... Doctors did not expect her to survive the night. Another likely terminal case was a young boy with massive internal bleeding. I also saw a man with extensive burns on his upper body and shredded thighs, with wounds that could have been from a cluster bomb" (See http://globalresearch.ca/articles/MAH404A.html )

Coalition forces, using their own snipers equipped with precision rifles on rooftops, are targeting women and children. Ambulances carrying the wounded are being targeted by the US Marines:

"The most horrible brutality was the targeting of ambulances which carried pregnant women who were about to give birth. There were tens of bodies which are still under debris and we could not arrive at the places as US snipers prevented people from getting them out." (quoted in Al Jazeera, press conference of Dr Abd al-Salam al-Kubaisi, 16 April 2004, http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/6B0698D9-3C9D-4CB8-9275-10ECD0D46565.htm )

The killings were ordered by the US military. Tens of thousands of refugees have fled the city. The various member states of the occupying forces including Italy and Japan, are responsible alongside the US-UK coalition, for these massacres, in accordance with international law and the Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal. (See http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/NUR203A.html ).