The Brutality of U.S. Imperialism's War in Iraq

September 21, 2004

The methods of U.S. imperialism's war against Iraq - its wholesale targeting of civilian populations - reveal the real character of this war of aggression and conquest.

Again and again, international humanitarian agencies have spoken out against U.S. military tactics and called for independent investigations. On September 17, in a press release, Amnesty International called for an inquiry into U.S. methods, calling them a "violation of international law." In August, Human Rights Watch called for an end to the U.S. tactic of targeting ambulances and preventing access to the wounded in the city of Najaf.

Below, we provide just a few examples of the methods employed by the U.S. military in trying to subjugate Iraq.

One Day in the Life of the Iraqi People

- On September 13, U.S. snipers killed at least 11 people in the Iraqi city of Ramadi. Ambulances and medical teams were specifically targeted by snipers in different areas of Ramadi, particularly near hospitals for women and children, eyewitnesses said.

"Medical staff and patients inside the hospitals were targeted and a number of them were shot in the head," the general director of the city's main hospital said. "The situation in general is unstable and deteriorating so I call on the government and NGOs to intervene as clashes are occurring every day...Our medical institutions are receiving casualties but medical supplies are not enough."

- On the same day, U.S. forces launched air strikes on Falluja, killing up to 18 people, including women, children and an ambulance driver. Up to 29 others were injured in the strikes. Seven people, including the driver of an ambulance, were killed when U.S. aircraft fired a missile at the vehicle while it was transporting casualties near the northern gate of the city.

"Every time we send out an ambulance, it gets targeted," Dr Rafia al-Isawi, director of Falluja hospital, told reporters. "How are we going to transfer casualties? This is unreasonable. The US army has no ethics." He added "Shame on our government that cannot protect the people." Other eyewitnesses said U.S. warplanes swooped low over the city and some of the shelling appeared to be coming from American artillery units deployed on Falluja's outskirts. One explosion went off in a market place as the first stall owners had just begun to set up, wounding several people and shattering windows.

- Also on September 13, U.S. attack helicopters carried out a missile strike on Haifa Street in a residential area of central Baghdad. The attack killed 13 people and wounded at least 60 others, including children. Eyewitness testimony, supported by television footage, shows that the helicopters fired directly at an unarmed crowd. Television video showed a dead man sprawled in the street, his stomach ripped to shreds by shrapnel, while a child was wounded in the leg and an Egyptian worker hit in the face.

The Siege of Najaf

In August, five thousand U.S. troops, supported by nearly 2,000 Iraqi puppet troops, cordoned off the city of Najaf.. U.S. attack helicopters and jet fighters bombed residential neighborhoods around the Imam Ali mosque, killing and wounding hundreds of people. At night, U.S. AC-130 gunships circled overhead and pounded the area around the mosque with gunfire. Tanks and armored vehicles sealed off the city, while U.S. troops and special forces pushed into the center of the city after engaging in fierce combat with Iraqi people on every street.

According to the New York Times, more than 1,000 Iraqis were killed in Najaf in August. The Washington Post reported that "after 21 days of merciless battering by U.S. weapons, parts of Najaf were completely destroyed." "It's like Stalingrad," a senior 5th Cavalry officer said. "Sarajevo," another maintained. "Beirut," a Marine commander said. "Not Dresden," an Army field officer said ..."Not enough fire." "...We are destroying this city," another Marine officer said during the battle.

Newspaper reports told of "uncounted numbers of civilian casualties" and tremendous damage to Najaf's Old City neighborhood. "The area stinks of sewage and soot, and its streets are filled with rubble from bombed-out buildings" one Reuters news reporter stated on August 27th.

According to a report by the Christian Science Monitor, U.S. forces in helicopter gunships "repeatedly fired machine guns and rockets into residential neighborhoods...also doctors at Al-Hakim hospital stated that U.S. and Iraqi forces had taken over the city's best-equipped hospital, turning it into a temporary military base and making if off limits to civilians." The use of civilian hospitals for combat operations and the prevention of civilian access to emergency facilities are both strictly forbidden by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Intense Bombardment and Destruction of Fallujah

In April 2004, U.S. Marines were forced to pullback from the city of Fallujah, but only after U.S. airstrikes and artillery fire destroyed huge sections of the city.

Helicopter gunships and F-16 and F-18 warplanes were used to bomb the city. Numerous accounts tell of the horrific results of the U.S. bombing and shelling. Civilian casualties escalated quickly as a result of U.S. roadblocks which prevented refugees from leaving the city. Water and electricity were repeatedly cut off by U.S. troops surrounding the city.

Dr. Kamal Al Anni, the head surgeon at Fallujah General Hospital, said that for three days roadblocks kept him out of the city. Ambulances in the parking lot of Fallujah General Hospital were repeatedly shot at by U.S. snipers. Doctors were forced to treat the critically wounded in makeshift clinics, while bodies quickly stacked up in makeshift graves throughout the city.

Iraqi doctor Salam al-Obaidi, a member of the Doctors for Iraq humanitarian society, worked in Falluja for six days during the fighting in April and described to the BBC how he saw "colleagues blown up in an ambulance - clearly marked - travelling in front...I saw the ambulance disappear - not all of it, but the front of it, the side where the driver and paramedic were."

Other reports at the time stated that many civilians in U.S.-controlled parts of the city were too afraid of U.S. snipers to leave their homes during the siege. Dr. al-Obaidi described cases of women, children and old men who appeared to have been shot by U.S. soldiers.

Abbas Ibrahim, a 30-year-old man who escaped the U.S. siege of Fallujah in April, told an Arab newspaper, "As soon as the Americans see a group of people in the streets, they shoot at them. People ventured out only if their homes risk being bombarded or if they must carry the dead or wounded to the city's clinics." An official from an Arab aid agency stated "Fallujah is a ghost town, a battlefield. The streets were deserted, no cars, all the shops were closed, homes and stores bombarded."

Since April, over 1,300 more residents of Fallujah have been killed by U.S. forces, while thousands more have been wounded.