- I learned yesterday that one of the main sites which
posts the writings of independent journalists and activists in Iraq, www.electroniciraq.net,
has been banned from at least one of the US military bases in Iraq.
- Celebrate free speech, read a banned website!
- Like other repressive dictatorships and regimes, the
US military has now followed suit in Iraq by attempting to select what
its personnel should and should not read.
- It is happening at home in the US as well. For example,
the only news I see about Iraq on major American news outlets yesterday
is about the one US soldier killed when his helicopter was downed. Iraqis
who observed the chopper being hit by a rocket reported watching it being
broken in two pieces and falling to the ground in flames. Thus, the other
soldier, while reported as being injured, more than likely must have been
very seriously injured. Again, no specific reporting on that either.
- However, this could have something to do with the fact
that a Reuters news team filming at the scene was fired upon by the Americans,
then detained by military personnel near the crash site.
- A military spokesperson stated that the military believed
the Reuters team were resistance fighters posing as media. The US military
today reported that the Reuters news team was firing machine guns and RPG
at US military at the site.
- There was no news about another US soldier who died yesterday
by being shot by a weapon that discharged while being cleaned. Nor was
there news about another US soldier who died when a truck he was riding
in with a large convoy flipped, killing him and injuring several others.
The toll of the occupation on US military personnel in Iraq mounts daily,
just as it does on the Iraqi people.
- Last night huge explosions rocked the outskirts of Eastern
- Today, a few of us decided to go check into it ourselves.
- While driving around the farmlands of rural Baghdad in
Al-Dora, a beautiful area of palm groves and green fields, we came across
a man who told us Iraqi witnesses reported a US Humvee Patrol hit by a
large roadside bomb, killing five soldiers, and injuring two others yesterday.
- We continued down the road, and soon came upon a huge
crater, one meter deep, and 20 meters away off the other side of the road
were skidding tire marks and a palm tree partly burned. Off the side of
the road near this crash were small pieces of Humvee, a bloody bandage,
a piece of green cloth with blood on it, and some bullet casings. Down
in the dirt where the Humvee struck the palm tree sat a US grenade, splattered
- Over near the crater was a partially used I.V. bag and
a piece of paper with instructions on how to perform CPR, written in English,
- Three Iraqi boys at the scene tell us that at 11:45am
yesterday, the 2 Humvee Patrol was hit by the bomb. One Humvee was tossed
off the other side of the road and burned, and the other was partially
destroyed. They too, reported 5 US deaths, and 2 wounded.
- One of the journalists in our group called CPIC from
the scene, and they confirmed that a US patrol was hit by an IED yesterday
here, but only 2 dead and 3 wounded.
- More men arrived at the scene and agreed with the 5 dead,
2 wounded casualty count, and told us they were working in the nearby fields
and saw the aftermath of the strike. They told us more soldiers arrived
shortly after the attack and promptly detained 15 men from nearby homes.
- While interviewing the men at the scene a huge explosion
is heard in the distance. One of the men slaps his hands together, as if
dusting them off, and says, ìAmerica finished!î
- I checked the internet upon arriving back at my hotel
to find that there was no report from a news agency about this attack yesterday,
even though CPIC had confirmed the attack and at least 2 US soldiers killed.
- We continue on down the street to find a farmhouse where
a bomb from the nightly attacks the US has hit, via Operation Iron Grip.
- In this Albu Aitha area of Al-Dora, it is nothing but
farmers and wide open fields, lined with rows of palm trees.
- Just beside an old stone house here, an older man points
out a large crater, shrapnel scars marking the front of the home and huge
chunks ripped out of a nearby palm tree.
- The family had been eating dinner two nights ago and
the bombing began. They were in a nearby room from area near the strike,
or they would have been hit by shattered glass and shrapnel from the explosion.
- Hamid Salman Halwan, the owner of the home, said,
- "Two nights ago they bombed here from 6-9pm, then
resumed it again at 4am. I think it was jets shooting missiles, because
I could hear the engines. Last night they bombed some more in this area.
I suppose they think resistance fighters are hiding in the fields here."
- His wife tells us her children are afraid of any noise
now, and have trouble sleeping at night. The family hasn't slept in their
home since the bombing 2 nights ago, for fear of another strike on their
- "We donít know why they bomb our house and
our fields. We have never resisted the Americans. There are foreign fighters
who have passed through here, and I think this is who they want. But why
are they bombing us?"
- U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt told reporters Friday
that Operation Iron Grip in this area sends ìa very clear message
to anybody who thinks that they can run around Baghdad without worrying
about the consequences of firing RPGís, firing mortars. There is
a capability in the air that can quickly respond against anybody who would
want to harm Iraqi citizens or coalition forces."
- The family took us out into their nearby fields to show
us a plethora of unexploded mortar rounds. The white bombs are sticking
halfway out of the hardened mud as children play around them, pointing
to them with excitement.
- I count 9 small tails of the mortar rounds sticking into
the air in this small section of the field.
- Mr. Shakr, the brother of the man whose home was struck
by a bomb, points to a distant hill and says,
- ìThe Americans shot mortars at us from there.
You can see the crater where one exploded, but here are the rest. We had
been told the Americans only use sound bombs here, but now we know different.î
- He goes on to say that it was two nights ago when the
Americans shot mortars at their fields behind their home, from 6:30-10pm,
then again at 4am.
- We asked if the family had requested that the Americans
come remove the unexploded ordnance.
- Mr. Shakr, with a very troubled look, said,
- "We asked them the first time and they said 'OK,
weíll come take care of it.' But they never came. We asked them
the second time and they told us they would not remove them until we gave
them a resistance fighter. They told us, 'If you wonít give us a
resistance fighter, we are not coming to remove the bombs.'"
- He holds his hands in the air and says,
- "But we donít know any resistance fighters!"
- He grows somber, and quietly says,
- "We will have to leave this land because we cannot
farm our fields with bombs in them."
- A little further into this area which has been struck
so hard by 'Operation Iron Grip' we speak with a man standing in front
of his farm house.
- He invites us to his home and we sit sharing chai in
the setting sun. His 3 year old boy, Halaf Ziad Halaf, walks up to us and
with a worried look on his face says,
- "I have seen the Americans here with their tanks.
They want to attack us."
- Halaf's uncle leans over to me and says,
- "The Americans are creating the terrorists here
by hurting people and causing their relatives to fight against them. Even
this little boy will grow up hating the Americans because of their policy