The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

No End in Sight as Fallujah Death Toll Approaches 700

by Dahr Jamail
NewStandard Staff contributed to this piece.

After a week of street fighting and aerial bombardments in this Sunni Muslim city, residents say American forces have killed more than 600 Iraqis, and the resistance vows to fight on

Fallujah, Iraq; Apr. 11, 2004 – United States Marines have killed more than 600 Iraqis in the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah, according to reports gathered from local clinics. The reports do not appear to be disputed by occupation authorities or other US officials.

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Local medical authorities say over 600 bodies have actually been counted at area emergency facilities, but it is widely believed that a significant number of victims have been buried without ever receiving care at a clinic or hospital. Locals say two entire football fields have been converted into cemeteries and mass funerals have been conducted during brief, local lulls in the fighting.

What are being called medical clinics here are essentially makeshift emergency facilities, one of which is a converted mechanics' garage.

A physician working at one of the makeshift clinics said of the violence in Fallujah, "How can this be considered anything other than genocide when Iraqi women and children are being shot just because of their skin color?"

There is a seemingly constant stream of wounded Iraqis -- mostly women and children -- being delivered on rudimentary stretchers into the clinics. Cars squeal up on to the curb in front of the clinic, wailing family members drag or carry their loved ones inside, and overstretched aid workers scramble to accommodate the influx of casualties.

Two of the victims, woman and small child, were brought in simultaneously. Both had been shot in the neck by what witnesses said was a US sniper. Medical personnel expected neither to survive the injuries.

With each new announcement by US authorities that various ceasefires have been implemented, reports trickle in describing violations of the purported truces by both sides. Fallujah residents say there has been little sign of the lull in violence being widely reported by the Western media.

With each new announcement by US authorities that various ceasefires have been implemented, reports trickle in describing violations of the purported truces by both sides. Fallujah residents say there has been little sign of the lull in violence being widely reported by the Western media.

At one point yesterday, the ground still reverberating from a massive explosion some distance away, a resistance fighter remarked, "This is Paul Bremer's ceasefire."

US forces are using aerial bombardments in addition to ground forces. Drones can be spotted flying overhead, dropping bright flares, scanning the cityscape for targets. Some patients at the clinics have shrapnel and burn wounds they say resulted from the use of cluster bombs.

There have been very few reporters on the ground in Fallujah since the siege began a week ago, with the exception of an Arab news crew and some correspondents embedded in the rear areas of invading units. Locals say the Marines have had a free hand to slaughter them because the Western press is nowhere to be found.

Additionally, Fallujah residents say Marines are opening fire randomly on unarmed civilians and have attacked clearly marked ambulances, both violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which the United States is a signatory. Aid workers angrily pointed out bullet holes in the driver's side windshield of one ambulance, saying its operator had been lightly wounded by US troops firing as the emergency vehicle passed.

On Saturday, US Marine battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Brennan Byrne put the number of Iraqi deaths during the week's fighting at around just 60 combatants, according to the Associated Press. A day later, however, Byrne said 95 percent of the more than 600 Iraqis his and two other battalions had killed were male fighters of military age and remarked that Marines are trained to be "precise" in combat. Byrne added, "The fact that there are 600 [Iraqi dead] goes back to the fact that the Marines are very good at what they do."

Rafie Al-Issawi, head of the Fallujah hospital, said most of the dead and wounded seen at area medical facilities were women and children. The Associated Press reported Al-Issawi refused to give specific numbers, saying he didn't want to imply that all of the men of military age who have been killed or wounded have been fighters.

According to an AP tally of official US military reports, resistance forces have so far killed 62 US soldiers and Marines throughout Iraq in the past week, the majority of them in the Fallujah area. Witnesses here say American casualty figures are being underestimated by US officials, that far more Americans have died than their commanders are admitting.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that an entire battalion of the new Iraqi Army refused assignment to the Fallujah combat zone after their convoy drew small arms fire outside of Baghdad while en route to Fallujah. The entire unit turned around, the Post cited Major General Paul Eaton as saying.

Locals widely expect the fight for Fallujah will continue indefinitely. Resistance fighters seem determined not to relent. Ehab (last name withheld), an embattled, Kalashnikov-toting guerilla who spoke readily with reporters, summed up the mood of the local resistance when he said, "They will never take Fallujah until they have killed every Iraqi here."

For its part, the Coalition Provisional Authority maintains that "Operation Iron Resolve" is a "methodical" campaign to route out select bad seeds in the Fallujah community. However, citing massive civilian casualties, many Iraqis believe the annihilation Ehab claimed a willingness to face is more likely what the US military has in store for Fallujah.

NewStandard reporter Dahr Jamail reported from Fallujah on April 10-11. His editors are proud to note that Jamail brought humanitarian supplies on the way in and helped evacuate 10 wounded civilians from the war-torn city.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Dahr Jamail is a contributing journalist.

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