Eyewitness Reports from Iraq

Protest U.S. Massacres in Fallujah and Sadr City!

Following are three reports from Iraq, one from AP, and others from antiwar eyewitnesses on the scene in Fallujah and Baghdad.

The introductory comments are by Professor Mark Jensen, moderator of the Seattle SNOW-NEWS peace list. He is, as always, alert and perceptive.

Many of the comments talk about the elements of chaos in Iraq. There is no doubt about this, but within this two counter-trends are developing — the common people of Iraq are becoming more organized and the occupation is becoming more chaotic. This includes signs of separate cease-fire accords being informally established with rebels by Spanish, Italian, Polish, and Bulgarian troops, and growing divisions and opposition to the occupiers’ course by Shiites and Sunnis on the governing council.

Much of the media is groaning about the breakdown of divisions between Shiites and Sunnis in this upheaval. Nothing is so revelatory of the colonialist dependence on divide and rule.

In fact, the beginning of the dissolution of the lines between the two groups is the most revolutionary advance in the Iraqi struggle for freedom since the height of the 1958 revolution that toppled the monarchy. It is the first development in the resistance movement that seems to mark the appearance not only of legitimate resistance to occupation but of symptoms of a new national revolution. A very inspiring tribute to the revived struggle capacity of the Iraqi people and nation.

This will mark a permanent setback to the occupation and imperialist domination in Iraq even if — as still seems very possible — the current uprising is brutally crushed.

— Fred Feldman

[Below are three news reports, one mainstream, two not: (1) AP reported Friday that chaos reigned in large parts of central Iraq on the anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein, while efforts on the part of Coalition forces to restore, not order, which seemed beyond their reach, but, rather, unquestioned supremacy, seemed to threaten to cause the Governing Council to collapse; (2) U.K. activist reported on accounts, some of them shocking, received by telephone from Italian, British, and Palestinian eyewitnesses about what is happening in Baghdad and Fallujah; (3) An anti-occupation Canadian activist reported in a similar vein and characterized the situation as a “humanitarian disaster.” — All the activists used the term “massacre” freely; AP did not.

As in Jenin in 2002, the word “massacre” has become an object of controversy. Many Arab sources, and many foreign observers (including observers from Great Britain and Canada, below) are using the term, while mainstream media refuse to apply the term unless it is used by a government official. — What is a “massacre”? The word is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary (4th ed.) as “the indiscriminate, merciless killing of a number of human beings.” It derives from an Old French word of uncertain origin, meaning “butchery.” The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.) reports that the “Boston Massacre,” which was “the occasion for a great patriot demonstration,” involved troops who “fired into a rioting crowd and killed five men — three on the spot, two of wounds later.” The British captain and his men were tried for murder. —

Two centuries ago, the British Army was concerned about the killing of civilians. Now, the American army literally could not care less. In the Pentagon in 2004, (http://www.ufppc.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=233&Itemid=2 ) said: “Our efforts focus on defeating enemy forces, so we never target civilians and have no reason to count such unintended deaths. It is at best extremely difficult to estimate casualty figures, and we cannot say with any certainty how many civilians have been killed.” —

At what point do steps taken to “restore order” really amount to “collective punishment,” which under the 1949 Geneva Conventions is a war crime (Article 33 of the Fourth Convention prohibits “collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism”)?

This provision was drafted with just such a situation as Fallujah in mind. In WWI, Germans executed Belgian villagers in mass retribution for resistance activity, and in World War II, Nazis carried out collective punishments as a strategy to suppress resistance, with entire villages or towns or districts being held accountable for resistance activity there. To counter this, the Geneva Conventions, to which the U.S. is a party, made the principle of individual responsibility fundamental.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentary to the conventions states that “intimidatory measures to terrorize the population” are “opposed to all principles based on humanity and justice.” — What is going on in Iraq at the moment? Where are the embedded reporters now? Why was it possible in the U.S. to surf every channel of cable TV on the evening of Apr. 9 without hearing of Iraq a single time? There are far more questions than answers concerning Iraq at the present time. —Mark]



Baghdad, Parts of Central Iraq Chaotic; 2 U.S. Soldiers, Civilians Missing after Convoy Attack

Associated Press April 9, 2004


BAGHDAD — A U.S. AC-130 gunship raked insurgents Friday night after hundreds of women and children fled the besieged city of Fallujah during a U.S.-declared pause in the Marine offensive. On the anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Baghdad and parts of central Iraq were chaotic.

Gunmen running rampant on Baghdad’s western edge attacked a fuel convoy, killing a U.S. soldier and an Iraqi driver and causing a fiery explosion. Two American soliders and an unknown number of civilians were missing after the attack, and 12 people were injured, Pentagon officials said. A Baghdad correspondent for Al-Jazeera Arab television said at least nine people were killed.

Another U.S. soldier was killed in an attack on a base elsewhere in the capital, and large groups of insurgents battled U.S. troops in two cities to the north, Baqouba and Muqdadiyah.

One Marine was killed in Fallujah and another wounded in exchanges of fire after U.S. forces called a halt to offensive operations in the city, a spokesman said.

The death along with those of three Marines a day earlier announced Friday brought the toll of U.S. troops killed across Iraq this week to 46. The fighting has killed more than 460 Iraqis including more than 280 in Fallujah, a hospital official said. At least 647 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.

At a square in the capital where Saddam’s statue was toppled a year ago, soldiers took down a disturbing new icon: pictures of the radical Shiite cleric whose followers have risen up against coalition forces in the south.

For the first time, U.S. troops moved in strength into the heartland of the rebellion by the militia of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. More than 1,000 troops backed by tanks pushed into the southern city of Kut, retaking police stations and government buildings seized this week by Shiite gunmen.

Elsewhere, fighting with al-Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army militia diminished. Coalition forces largely left gunmen in firm control in three cities of south central Iraq, and further south, coalition troops have largely succeeded in taming the uprising, though Italian troops still saw light fighting in the city of Nasiriyah.

In Fallujah, Marines halted their assault on Sunni insurgents to allow U.S.-picked Iraqi leaders angry at the United States over the bloodshed from five days of heavy fighting to hold talks with city leaders about how to reduce the violence.

Throughout the afternoon, fighting was reduced to sporadic gunfire. But when night fell, heavy explosions resumed as an AC-130 gunship strafed targets and soldiers and insurgents engaged in a mortar battle.

The AC-130 hit a cave near Fallujah where insurgents took refuge after attacking Marines. A 500-pound laser-guided bomb also struck the cave, said spokesman 1st Lt. Eric Knapp.

Iraq’s top U.S. administrator, L. Paul Bremer, said the unilateral pause was also aimed at allowing humanitarian aid to enter the city and Fallujah residents to tend to their dead.

Many families, emerging from their homes for the first time in days, buried slain relatives in the city football stadium.

A stream of hundreds of cars carrying women, children and elderly headed out of the city after Marines announced they would be allowed to leave. Families pleaded to be allowed to take out men, and when Marines refused, some entire families turned back.

The heavy fighting in Fallujah during which mosques have been damaged and buildings demolished has made the city of 200,000 a symbol of resistance for some Iraqis and threatens to divide the Iraqi Governing Council and the U.S. administration that appointed it.

Military hesitation over the halt in fighting was clear. After initially being ordered to cease all offensive operations, Marines quickly demanded and received permission to launch assaults to prevent attacks if needed.

“We said to them (the commanders): ’We are going to lose people if we don’t go back on offensive ops.’ So we got the word,” Marine Maj. Pete Farnun told The Associated Press.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt underlined that talks between two Governing Council members and sheiks and clerics representing Fallujah representatives were not negotiations, suggesting the military would not be making concessions. U.S. officials were not participating in the talks, which began Friday.

The Governing Council early Saturday issued a statement demanding an end to military action and “collective punishment” a reference to the Fallujah siege.

Abdul-Karim Mahoud al-Mohammedawi, a Shiite on the Governing Council, announced he was suspending his council seat until “the bleeding stops in all Iraq.” He also met Friday with al-Sadr, whom U.S. commanders have vowed to capture.

A Sunni council member, Ghazi al-Yawer, said he would quit if the Fallujah talks fell through.

One of the strongest pro-U.S. voices on the council, also a Sunni, Adnan Pachachi, denounced the U.S. siege. “It was not right to punish all the people of Fallujah, and we consider these operations by the Americans unacceptable and illegal,” Pachachi told Al-Arabiya TV.

Meanwhile, in a signal of how U.S. forces face a new enemy in Iraq, two pictures of al-Sadr hung from a sculpture in Baghdad’s central Firdos Square, where one year ago Marines toppled a statue of Saddam.

A U.S. soldier climbed a ladder to tear down the posters, and the military warned that al-Sadr’s followers were planning bomb attacks in the area. Hours later, a mortar hit nearby, shaking two hotels where foreign journalists and contractors are staying.

U.S. troops drove into Kut before dawn Friday, pushing out members of al-Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army militia that seized the southern textile and farming center this week after Ukrainian troops abandoned the city under heavy attack.

A U.S. helicopter struck al-Sadr’s main office in Kut, killing two people, witnesses said. Americans were patrolling the streets during daylight.

Kimmitt said he expected the operation to retake Kut would be finished by Saturday morning. “We are fairly comfortable that the town of al-Kut is well on its way to coming back under coalition control,” he said.

Still, he suggested a move against al-Sadr’s militia controlling parts of Najaf and Karbala would have to wait, because hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims are in the area this weekend for al-Arbaeen, which commemorates the end of the period of mourning for a 7th-century martyred saint.

“We expect that those special cities that are currently observing the Arbaeen will continue to have some al-Sadr presence,” he told reporters.

 Al-Sadr on Friday demanded U.S. forces leave Iraq, saying they now face “a civil revolt.”

“I direct my speech to my enemy Bush and I tell him…you are fighting the entire Iraqi people,” al-Sadr said in a sermon, delivered by one of his deputies at the Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf, Shiite Islam’s holiest site.

Al-Sadr, a young, firebrand anti-U.S. cleric, is thought to be holed up in his office in Najaf, protected by scores of gunmen. He has said he is willing to die resisting any American attempt to capture him.

Gunmen on the highway outside Baghdad were seen stopping a car carrying two Western civilians apparently private security guards, because both had sidearms. The gunmen pulled the men from the car, firing at the ground to warn them to obey. Their fate was not known.

The heavy fighting for Fallujah was prompted by the March 31 slaying of four U.S. civilians there. Their burned bodies were mutilated and dragged through the streets by a mob that hung two of them from a bridge.

—AP correspondents Lourdes Navarro, Bassem Mroue and Abdul-Qader Saadi contributed to this report from Fallujah.

[Forwarded from the SNOW-NEWS listserv]

From: Bella Emberg  Sent: Friday, April 09, 2004 7:43 PM Subject: [disobedience] URGENT: Fallujah Massacre update — eyewitness info. Please Take Action


Urgent information and appeal from Ewa Jasiewicz, who worked with Voices in the Wilderness and Occupation Watch in Iraq, lived there for 8 months (Basra and Baghdad) and in Palestine, mainly Jenin camp for 6 months, speaks Arabic, and who got back from Iraq 2 months ago. She is in regular contact with her friends in Basra and Baghdad. 

I just spoke to friends in Baghdad — Paola Gaspiroli, Italian, from Occupation watch and Bridges to Baghdad, Journalist Leigh Gordon, England, (NUJ, Tribune, Mail on Sunday) and a Palestinian friend with family in Fallujah and friends in the Iraqi Islamic Party. Both he and Leigh have been ferrying out the injured from Fallujah to Baghdad for the past three days. Ambulances have been barred from entry into the blood-drenched city.

Here is their news, which they told me over the telephone tonight (Friday)


There has been a massacre in Fallujah. Fallujah is under siege. Four hundred seventy people have been killed, and 1700 injured. There has been no ceasefire. They (Americans) told people to leave, said they have 8 hours to leave and people began to leave but they’re trapped in the Desert. The Americans have been bombing with B-52s (confirmed also by Leigh in an email three days ago). Bridges to Baghdad are pulling out. We have flights booked out of Amman. Tomorow a team will go to Sadr City to deliver medicines. 50 people have been killed there.

[Forgotten name] the “elastic” sheikh in Sadr City (I’ve met him, young, brilliant guy, describes himself as “elastic” because he is so flexible when it comes to his interpretations of Islam and moral conduct, definitions, etc., he’s pretty liberal) he has told me I should leave. He says that even he can’t control his people. Foreigners are going to be targeted. Six new foreigners have been taken hostage. Four of them are Italian security firm employees — they were kidnapped from their car, which was found to be full of weapons, and there were black uniforms.

Baghdad was quiet today except for Abu Ghraib (West Baghdad, where a vast prison is located and is bursting at the seams with 12,000 prisoners) an American convoy was attacked there and 9 soldiers were injured and 27 were kidnapped. That’s right: 27. None of the newswires are reporting it, though. And I heard this from (*name best not to supply without permission). Its really really bad. They (Americans) have been firing on ambulances, snipers are following the ambulances, they cannot get in.

Fallujah — there are people in the Desert. They’ve left Fallujah but they’re not being allowed into Baghdad. They’re trapped in the Desert, they’re like refugees. It’s terrible, but the people, Iraqi people, are giving all they can; they’re bringing supplies, everybody is giving all their help and support to Fallujah.

I want to stay but I have to go, if I want to come back and be useful, you know. I think it’s best to leave, Bridges to Baghdad has decided this. It’s getting really dangerous for Italians. We feel like we’re being targeted now. (Italy has a 2500+ force including carabinieri occupying Nassiriyah which has been subject to a number of resistance attacks including the devastating attack on the police station which claimed the lives of 4 soldiers, one civilian, one documentary film maker, 12 carabinieri police and 8 Iraqis).

(…) and Leigh have been great. They’ve been driving into Fallujah and bringing out people, going back and forth. They know what’s going on, really they have been great. They want more people to help them but we couldn’t from here. It’s getting much much worse.


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 13km-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 Fallujah they (Americans) 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, why isn’t anyone there to stay with him, he just lost 25 from his family!???

The Americans are dropping cluster bombs and new mortars, which jump 3–4 metres. 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 Fallujah. 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.

I forget the name, but they will be doing this in Fallujah. 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. And we need foreigners, the foreigners can do something. We are having a protest. Jo [Jo Wilding] and the others from her group are coming to the American checkpoint tomorrow. We haven’t slept in 3 or 4 days. We need attention. I have photos, film, we’ve given it to Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, but get it out, too. Do everything you can. We are going back in tomorrow.


It’s kicking off. Come by all means but me and (…) probably won’t be around. I mean they’re going to crazy. (…) is saying for foreigners to come, but it’s not safe. Sheikh from Fallujah said he couldn’t guarantee my safety. I mean, it going to go crazy. I think foreigners will start getting killed soon — I mean, people are going to start getting desperate, when they’ve seen their mother, father, house, cat, dog, everything bombed, they’re going to start to attack.

They [Americans] have said this operations only going to last 5 days it’s drawing to an end. They need to free up troops on other fronts breaking out all over the country. They’re going to go in for the kill. There’s no way of guaranteeing anybody’s safety. I think you can be useful but it’s not like you can just not tell your mum and think you’ll be back in a week. We’re probably going to get killed tomorrow. Come, but we might not be here.


Two years ago right now, the Jenin camp massacre was tearing into its 7th day, the 1km-square tight-knit Palestinian refugee camp was suffering an Israeli military invasion which would see 79 killed (in the last count after bodies had been recovered form the rubble), including a head paramedic doctor and people who slowly bled to death from superficial injuries because all medical services were barred from entering for the duration of the attack (14 days). Over 800 homes destroyed, most in the Hawasheen neighbourhood, which suffered a four-day-long continuous bulldozer offensive, crushing residents including young children to death.

Hundreds were injured in the attack which involved also involved Apache helicopter gunships, hundreds of Merkava tanks, Armoured Personnel Carriers, and hundreds of troops. Twenty-three were killed (official Israeli figure, but the actual toll is estimated at much higher. An entire road route from Jenin into ’48 (Israel) was sealed off as a closed military zone and witnesses barred whilst the dead and injured from the Israeli side were being transported out).

All Palestinian emergency services, the UN, the Red Cross, foreign aid workers, and human rights observers were banned from entering Jenin camp. The massacre gouged on as the world’s media attention was fixated on Arafat, besieged in his compound. Jenin suffered in silence. Fallujah, a city with a population 18 times the size of Jenin Camp (Jenin camp’s population was approx. 14,000; Fallujah’s is 232,000), is now undergoing a parallel trauma, but with a larger, more powerful, better armed enemy, which has carpet-bombed, recently and historically, when the war-heat has forced ground troops to retreat. This is another Jenin. This is another massacre. We have to do what we can in solidarity with the dying and the bereaved and those still struggling, defending, fighting back. Resistance is dignity, is the honour of fighting back. Iraq is on fire. The Iraqi intifada is raging. We cannot be silent. Stop the massacre in Fallujah. Remember the massacre in Jenin. Never Again.


This is an appeal to the anti-war movement, to the peace movement, eco-action movement, animal rights movement, anti-fascists — everybody active, everybody who can respond, can call a demo, can organise a protest, an office occupation, an embassy storming, a road blockade, mass civil disobedience, industrial shut-down, work-place occupation, solidarity work stoppage, blockade the U.S. Embassy, Fairford Military Base action campaign — what’s taking off at Fairford? Are B-52s being deployed? Shannon Peace Camp protestors — are there new movements at Shannon? We need to address this. We need to resist this. We become the solidarity resistance in Iraq by taking action in our neighbourhoods and in our cities. Print up a leaflet. Paint up a banner. Take to the streets. Only a small group can make a change. Show people in Iraq that we are standing by them. 700 more British troops have been flown in to quell the uprising in the South. No Pasaran! Take to the embassies, the bases, the U.S. interests, the streets.

http://www.usembassy.org.uk/ukaddres.html — addresses of U.S. Embassies in London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

http://cndyorks.gn.apc.org/caab/ — Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases — this site has a list of the locations of all the main U.S. air bases used in the U.K.

http://www.caat.org.uk/links/companies.php — full list of arms companies. BAE Systems, and Lockheed Martin have been principal supplies of weapons of mass destruction for the war on Iraq.

http://www.caat.org.uk/support/confronting-companies.php — tips on confronting arms companies by Campaign Against the Arms Trade.

http://english.aljazeera.net/HomePage — Keep up to date with Al-Jazeera.


As you read this, a massacre is taking place in Fallujah, Iraq. Fallujah is a town which has been resisting the occupation of Iraq since June. U.S. troops have been forced to the border of the town since then. It has fought hardest and most uncompromisingly and has regularly pummelled by F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopter gunships since then, with civilians being slaughtered on a regular basis.

Well over 470 people have now been slaughtered by U.S. troops in Fallujah, this week. 1700 have been injured. The death toll is expected to rise due to the siege nature of the military cordon around the town. Ambulances are being fired upon and followed by sniper sights if they attempt to enter the town. Eyewitnesses have reported seeing bodies lying dead in the streets. Hospitals have been attacked. Medical supplies and bed shortages are at crisis levels. Residents are calling it a massacre. People from all over are attempting, some succeeding, to get into Fallujah to help evacuate the injured by car. People are donating food, medical supplies and water to those fleeing. All of Iraq is watching and sympathising with Fallujah, say people on the ground there.

There is at the time of writing (10/04/04) a 13-km column of Fallujah residents fleeing the bomb-smashed town, trapped in the desert and surrounded by U.S. troops, which, eyewitnesses report, have been firing on them. Most of the desert-marooned refugees are elderly men, women and children.

For U.S. soldiers stationed near the town, they have been in an impossible situation and their blood too is being shed for the market-profit-power-chasing interests of the U.S. and U.K. government and corporate interests. Recently, the long-time brewing discontent, frustration, humiliation, and mounting rage against the occupation has exploded. The occupation is being fought for its very existence, its racism, its violence. Its recycling and re-empowerment of a neo-Baathist ruling elite, its re-training and re-hiring of over 10,000 Baathist torturers and intelligence agents, its re-writing of Iraq’s laws through Coalition Provisional Authority Orders (principally Order 30 on Salaries and Employment Conditions for Civil Service Employees which sets the minimum wage for Iraqi Public Sector workers at 69,000 ID ($40 per month — less than half the recommended wage of a sweatshop worker in a free trade zone in neighbouring Iran), plus Order 39 on Foreign Investment which allows for 100% foreign ownership — privatisation — and slashes the highest rate of income tax from 45% to 15%) has resulted in insurrection.

The climate in Iraq has moved on from protest to resistance, and now to insurgency. Demonstrations have been taking place every day all over the country since the occupation began, with protestors ranging from students to pensioners, unemployed, women, former soldiers and children. This new uprising has been labelled a revolt in support of the anti-Occupation cleric Muqtada al Sadr, but the reality is that it is widespread, uncontrollable, inchoate and varied. It is not Islamic, it is not just nationalist, it is not Baathist. It is a generalised struggle against the Occupation — the biggest incitement to violence in the country.

Please stand in solidarity with the people in Iraq during this upheaval and time of bloodshed. Please join the protest against the bloody massacre in Fallujah, which will spread if the occupation armies continue unchecked and unchallenged.

Stop the ongoing war on Iraq!

Troops out of Iraq!


470 killed. 1200 injured, of which 243 are women and 200 are children. This is the first, underestimated body count from Fallujah.

April 9 2004

OCCUPIED BAGHDAD — Since fighting escalated at the beginning of the week, Iraqi people, especially in the city of Fallujah, are facing a humanitarian disaster. Occupation Forces have laid siege to the city. More than 470 people have been killed, 1200 injured. Dead bodies are lying in the streets.

Fallujah is being mortared and bombed by F-16 fighter planes, helicopters dropping cluster bombs and rocket-propelled grenades.

Ambulances are being shot at by snipers. Medical aid and supplies have been stopped by U.S. Occupation Forces. Aid workers delivering supplies have had to take secondary roads into the city; once they arrived, they found themselves under fire from U.S. snipers. No humanitarian corridor has been put in place.

A cease-fire was announced and people began trying flee, but U.S. troops resumed their attacks. Many people remain trapped inside the city, and refugees trying to escape from Fallujah to Baghdad are being prevented from reaching their destination by U.S. military. They form a column that extends over 10 kilometers of highway.

The thousands of families who remain trapped in Fallujah are running out of basic necessities like food and potable water. Hospitals and medical staff are overwhelmed, and are asking desperately for blood, oxygen and antiseptics.

Fighting is spreading all over the country, Al-Sadr City has been attacked and paid a high price with almost 100 casualties. The situation in Southern cities — Kerbala, Najaf, Kut — is unknown to us, but they are also feared to be the sites of humanitarian emergencies.

The international community, the United Nations and the European Community cannot remain spectators to the massacre in Fallujah and the terrorization of Iraqi people all over the country.

The international community must take a firm position and demand that Coalition Forces stop these massacres and respect international conventions and allow for a humanitarian corridor through which refugees can safely escape, and medical supplies can reach Fallujah.

Stop the massacre! Stop attacking civilians! End the siege of Fallujah!

Signed by:

Bridges to Baghdad/Italy (001 914 360 9080 in Baghdad)
CCIPPP/France (079 01 427 627 in Baghdad)
Italian Consortium of Solidarity/Italy
Iraq Solidarity Project/Canada (079 01 429 115 in Baghdad)