- (ICH) -- Yesterday in Khaldiya, 60 miles west of Baghdad,
a powerful roadside bomb exploded killing US soldiers. Iraqi civilians
were killed by US soldiers' gunfire during the aftermath. However, questions
about the conflicting numbers as to the number of dead US soldiers and
Iraqi civilians remain. In a CENTCOM press release for the incident, the
US Military claims that three task force "All American" soldiers
were killed in the blast by the Improvised Explosive Device (IED), and
one Iraqi killed. The press release also states that one soldier and several
Iraqis were wounded.
- Witnesses at the scene today told a very different story,
as did personnel at the Ramadi Hospital where the civilian Iraqi casualties
were taken. Mohammed (last name withheld), a 25 year old Iraqi man who
lives near the scene, said, "I saw 12 US soldiers killed. Body parts
were everywhere. There were also at least 5 injured."
- He and several other witnesses said they watched as the
US vehicle was exploded by the IED, then other soldiers opened up with
gunfire, shooting everything in sight. Hammad Naif Ermil, driving a large
truck, was shot and killed, as were other Iraqis riding in a bus behind
him that was riddled with American bullet holes.
- Ali (last name withheld), an Iraqi Policeman who witnessed
the incident, said, "I saw 12 dead US soldiers. They put them in black
body bags and flew them out by helicopters." Ali said, "We tried
to help get the man out of the bus, but the Americans wouldn't let us.
He died because they wouldn't let us get him out."
- A man who also lives near the scene of the incident,
Abdul Ahkman, said, "I saw 12 US soldiers killed and flown away by
their helicopters. We want the Americans to leave. They said they would
bring us freedom, but they have only brought us death and suffering. We
will kill them all if they stay here."
- Meanwhile, last weekend Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt
told AP News, "We believe we've got sufficient capability to maintain
a reasonable security level in the country."
- We left the scene after watching young Iraqi boys holding
bloody bandages and IV bags from US medics having done emergency triage
on their wounded comrades. One young boy proudly displayed his US Army
watch from a dead US soldier. The crater from the IED blast was several
feet deep, in the median between the lanes of the highway.
- We came upon the funeral procession for the truck driver
who had been killed, his coffin draped in an Iraqi flag carried somberly
by many men, crying as they carried it to the mosque, then up a small hill
to the village cemetery. One man pulls me aside from the procession and
says, "The Americans are treating us like animals. They are raiding
our homes each day. They are stealing our money. At least one man from
every home here has been detained. Saddam destroyed us, but the American's
are destroying everything we have."
- Another man tells me, "We want freedom. We need
jobs. I am a teacher, but I haven't worked since the invasion. They promised
us freedom, but they are only giving us prison, killing, and bad treatment."
Yet another angered man says:
- "The US says they came for weapons of mass destruction
and Saddam. They have found no WMDs, they have Saddam, and we still suffer.
We will fight against them all the way now. They have come because of money.
They are insulting all of us. Iraqi people have the right to resist the
Americans because they are invaders. When they are attacked, why do they
always kill others who are not involved?"
- A few of the men tell me that Khaldiya now has one hour
of electricity per day, and a 7pm curfew. Haji, angrily tells me, "I
expected the Americans to be better than this. If they are honest, they
should pull out now. They have told us over loudspeakers to stay in our
homes after this incident, and have warned us not to come out after 7pm.
Who can live like this?"
- After the burial of the body, we solemnly carry on to
the Ramadi Hospital. Dr. Rayid Al-Ani, the Assistant Director of the Ramadi
Hospital where the Iraqi casualties were taken, stated that three Iraqi
civilians bodies were brought to the morgue at the hospital, and five wounded
Iraqi civilians. Dr. Al-Ani said, "Of the five wounded Iraqis brought
here, three have died. One is now in the operating room, and the fifth
man is upstairs suffering from three gun shots by the Americans."
- Mohammed Hammad, 36 years-old, is recovering in the hospital
with gun shots in his face, chest, and right leg. He said, "I was
riding in a taxi going from Ramadi to Khaldiya when a US patrol was hit
by a roadside bomb. Then the soldiers just started shooting everywhere."
- I ask him if he'll try to get compensation from the Americans
and he says, "I don't know, but I don't think they will give any compensation
to me. They aren't giving it to anyone around here." The driver of
his taxi was killed by American gunfire, according to Mohammed Hammad.
- I walk down the hall after talking with Mohammed, and
meet a boy, Yas Hammad, 14 years old, who is recovering from shrapnel wounds
in his arm, chest and foot. US soldiers had raided his parents home, and
one of them left a grenade. The next day Yas Hammad picked it up and it
- Dr. Al-Ani tells me there is a Sheikh upstairs who has
been beaten by the Americans. He takes us upstairs to talk with him. On
the way he says that since his hospital is the highest point in Ramadi,
US soldiers have been occupying the roof. He doesn't mind this, but he
does mind that they have been shooting bottles for target practice, and
this upsets his cardio patients and the elderly in his care.
- Sheikh Turlki Muslu lays in his bed, nursing his wounds
from being beaten on the head, chest, shoulders and legs. This on top of
also suffering from diabetes. He sits up with a groan of pain to talk with
- "Two weeks ago the Americans came and asked me to
give them names of resistance fighters. I don't know any resistance fighters.
We were always against Saddam here. They roughed me up some, then said
they would come back in a week and I'd better have some names. They came
back a week ago, sent my family outside and locked the door. I told them
I don't know any names, so they tied my hands, put a bag over my head,
and took me away in an armored vehicle. They beat me on my head, neck,
shoulders and chest. They kicked my legs. Then they took me home and told
me they could kill me. I told them I just don't know anyone they are looking
for, because I'm not in the resistance. They said they would come back."
- The Sheikh has been in the hospital since then, hoping
the Americans won't visit him again. They insist we join him and several
other Sheikh's and his friends for lunch. We sit in the hospital room munching
on chicken, rice and salads, all of them expressing their frustration and
concern. The Sheikh is in charge of 30,000 men. One of his friends says,
"What are the Americans thinking? Do they think we will not fight
them now? If this happens again, how will the Sheikh keep his men from
fighting? What will his 30,000 people do when they find out he has been
- The Sheikh says he is angry with the press who he has
spoken with, as they have not told the truth about how his people are suffering,
beaten, humiliated and killed by the American's. The Assistant Manager
of the hospital expresses this frustration as well.
- We are taken to the floor beneath the Sheikh's to visit
his cousin, Muhammad Nassir Ali, who is a Sheikh, also in charge of 30,000
people. His story is almost exactly the same as that of his cousin-detained,
beaten, threatened, and now seeking refuge in the hospital from the Americans.
He lies in bed in pain, one of his feet broken, bruises on his body.
- Sheikh Nassir Ali says, "The Americans should not
be using force on us. We would welcome them if they treated us with respect
and dignity. Instead, they are humiliating and infuriating us. Why are
they taking our freedom? My people are ready to do what they need to do
here." He receives over 100 visitors a day from men with solemn looks
on their faces. When we are there over 20 men wait for us to finish so
they can check on their Sheikh.
- We walk down the hall and Dr. Rhami Barki, one of the
doctors from the hospital tells me, "The Americans sealed of Khaldiya
yesterday. They wouldn't let anyone leave their house. What about emergency
cases? What about heart attacks? Is it acceptable for Americans to keep
people in their homes with no medical care? The entire city was sealed
from 5pm yesterday until this morning! This is a very big problem. Where
are our human rights?"
- Meanwhile the violence across Baghdad continues. A suicide
bomber using an ambulance detonated near a hotel frequented by westerners,
most likely contractors, just down the road from where I stay. The usual
rattling windows woke me at around 6am as the huge blast rocked central
- Yet the propaganda fest by the US military continues.
"What we've done in the last 60 days is really taken them down,"
a senior military official said, speaking of the insurgency to the Washington
Post on Jan. 23. "We've dismantled the Baghdad piece. We've dismantled
the Mosul piece. I'm not saying we've taken down the Fallujah-Ramadi piece,
but we've hammered it." A battalion commander in Tikrit said this
week in assessing the current situation. "The enemy doesn't have much
left. They are desperate and flailing."
- Dahr Jamail, is an independent journalist from Anchorage,
Alaska, reporting from Iraq.
- Copyrigh 2004 Dahr Jamail