"As I was there, an endless stream of women and children who'd been sniped by the Americans were being raced into the dirty clinic, the cars speeding over the curb out front as their wailing family members carried them in."
- Dahr Jamail
Americans Slaughtering Civilians in Falluja
By Dahr Jamail
I knew there was very little media coverage in Falluja, and the entire
city had been sealed and was suffering from collective punishment in the
form of no water or electricity for several days now. With only two
journalists there that I'd read and heard reports from, I felt pulled to
go and witness the atrocities that were surely being committed.
With the help of some friends, we joined a small group of internationals
to ride a large bus there carrying a load of humanitarian supplies, and
with the hopes of bringing some of the wounded out prior to the next
American onslaught, which was due to kick off at any time now.
Even leaving Baghdad now is dangerous. The military has shut down the
main highway between here and Jordan. The highway, even while just
outside Baghdad, is desolate and littered with destroyed fuel tanker
trucks -- their smoldering shells littered the highway. We rolled past a
large M-1 Tank that was still burning under an overpass which had just
been hit by the resistance.
At the first U.S. checkpoint the soldiers said they'd been there for 30
hours straight. After being searched, we continued along bumpy dirt
roads, winding our way through parts of Abu Ghraib, steadily but slowly
making our way towards besieged Falluja. While we were passing one of
the small homes in Abu Ghraib, a small child yelled at the bus, "We will
be mujahedeen until we die!"
We slowly worked our way back onto the highway. It was strewn with
smoking fuel tankers, destroyed military tanks and armored personnel
carriers, and a lorry that had been hit that was currently being looted
by a nearby village, people running to and from the highway carrying
away boxes. It was a scene of pure devastation, with barely any other
cars on the road.
Once we turned off the highway, which the U.S. was perilously holding
onto, there was no U.S. military presence visible at all as we were in
mujahedeen-controlled territory. Our bus wound its way through farm
roads, and each time we passed someone they would yell, "God bless you
for going to Falluja!" Everyone we passed was flashing us the victory
sign, waving, and giving the thumbs-up.
As we neared Falluja, there were groups of children on the sides of the
road handing out water and bread to people coming into Falluja. They
began literally throwing stacks of flat bread into the bus. The
fellowship and community spirit was unbelievable. Everyone was yelling
for us, cheering us on, groups speckled along the road.
As we neared Falluja a huge mushroom caused by a large U.S. bomb rose
from the city. So much for the cease fire.
The closer we got to the city, the more mujahedeen checkpoints we passed
-- at one, men with kefir around their faces holding Kalashnikovs began
shooting their guns in the air, showing their eagerness to fight.
The city itself was virtually empty, aside from groups of mujahedeen
standing on every other street corner. It was a city at war. We rolled
towards the one small clinic where we were to deliver our medical
supplies from INTERSOS, an Italian NGO. The small clinic is managed by
Mr. Maki Al-Nazzal, who was hired just 4 days ago to do so. He is not a
He hadn't slept much, along with all of the doctors at the small clinic.
It started with just three doctors, but since the Americans bombed one
of the hospitals, and were currently sniping people as they attempted to
enter/exit the main hospital, effectively there were only 2 small
clinics treating all of Falluja. The other has been set up in a car
As I was there, an endless stream of women and children who'd been
sniped by the Americans were being raced into the dirty clinic, the cars
speeding over the curb out front as their wailing family members carried
One woman and small child had been shot through the neck -- the woman
was making breathy gurgling noises as the doctors frantically worked on
her amongst her muffled moaning.
The small child, his eyes glazed and staring into space, continually
vomited as the doctors raced to save his life.
After 30 minutes, it appeared as though neither of them would survive.
One victim of American aggression after another was brought into the
clinic, nearly all of them women and children.
This scene continued, off and on, into the night as the sniping
As evening approached the nearby mosque loudspeaker announced that the
mujehadeen had completely destroyed a U.S. convoy. Gunfire filled the
streets, along with jubilant yelling. As the mosque began blaring
prayers, the determination and confidence of the area was palpable.
One small boy of 11, his face covered by a kefir and toting around a
Kalashnikov that was nearly as big as he was, patrolled areas around the
clinic, making sure they were secure. He was confident and very eager
for battle. I wondered how the U.S. soldiers would feel about fighting
an 11 year-old child? For the next day, on the way out of Falluja, I saw
several groups of children fighting as mujahedeen.
After we delivered the aid, three of my friends agreed to ride out on
the one functioning ambulance for the clinic to retrieve the wounded.
Although the ambulance already had three bullet holes from a U.S. sniper
through the front windshield on the driver's side, having westerners on
board was the only hope that soldiers would allow them to retrieve more
The previous driver was wounded when one of the sniper's shots grazed
Bombs were heard sporadically exploding around the city, along with
It grew dark, so we ended up spending the night with one of the local
men who had filmed the atrocities. He showed us footage of a dead baby
who he claimed was torn from his mother's chest by Marines. Other
horrendous footage of slain Iraqis was shown to us as well.
My entire time in Falluja there was the constant buzzing of military
As we walked through the empty streets towards the house where we would
sleep, a plane flew over us and dropped several flares. We ran for a
nearby wall to hunker down, afraid it was dropping cluster bombs. There
had been reports of this, as two of the last victims that arrived at the
clinic were reported by the locals to have been hit by cluster bombs --
they were horribly burned and their bodies shredded.
It was a long night-between being sick from drinking unfiltered water
and the nagging concern of the full invasion beginning, I didn't sleep.
Each time I would begin to slip into sleep, a jet would fly over and I
wondered if the full scale bombing would commence. Meanwhile, the drones
continued to buzz throughout Falluja.
The next morning we walked back to the clinic, and the mujahedeen in the
area were extremely edgy, expecting the invasion anytime. They were
taking up positions to fight. One of my friends who'd done another
ambulance run to collect two bodies said that a Marine she encountered
had told them to leave, because the military was about to use air
support to begin 'clearing the city.' One of the bodies they brought to
the clinic was that of an old man who was shot by a sniper outside of
his home, while his wife and children sat wailing inside.
The family couldn't reach his body, for fear of being sniped by the
Americans themselves. His stiff body was carried into the clinic with
flies swarming above it.
The already insane situation continued to degrade, and by the time the
wounded from the clinic were loaded onto our bus and we prepared to
leave, everyone felt the invasion was looming near. American bombs
continued to fall not far from us, and sporadic gunfire continued. Jets
were circling the outskirts of the city.
We drove out, past loads of mujahedeen at their posts along the streets.
In a long line of vehicles loaded with families, we slowly crept out of
the embattled city, passing several military vehicles on the outskirts
When we took a wrong turn at one point and tried to go down a road
controlled by a different group of mujeheen, we were promptly surrounded
by men cocking their weapons and aiming them at us. The doctors and
patients on board explained to them we were coming from Falluja and on a
humanitarian aid mission, so they let us go.
The trip back to Baghdad was slow, but relatively uneventful. We passed
several more smoking shells of vehicles destroyed by the freedom
fighters; more fuel tankers, more military vehicles destroyed.
What I can report from Falluja is that there is no ceasefire, and
apparently there never was. Iraqi women and children are being shot by
American snipers. Over 600 Iraqis have now been killed by American
aggression, and the residents have turned two football fields into
graveyards. Ambulances are being shot by the Americans. And now they are
preparing to launch a full-scale invasion of the city.
All of which is occurring under the guise of catching the people who
killed the four Blackwater Security personnel and hung two of their
bodies from a bridge.
Dahr Jamail is Baghdad correspondent for The NewStandard. He is an
Alaskan devoted to covering the untold stories from occupied Iraq. You
can help Dahr continue his crucial work in Iraq by making donations. For
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The above message is Copyright 2004 Dahr Jamail and The NewStandard.
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