FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Fallujah in Ruins

The Independent

FALLUJAH.

After six days of intense combat against the Fallujah insurgents, US warplanes, tanks and mortars have left a shattered landscape of gutted buildings, crushed cars and charred bodies.

A drive through the city revealed a picture of utter destruction, with concrete houses flattened, mosques in ruins, telegraph poles down, power and phone lines hanging slack and rubble and human remains littering the empty streets. The north-west Jolan district, once an insurgent stronghold, looked like a ghost town, the only sound the rumbling of tank tracks.

US Marines pointed their assault rifles down abandoned streets, past Fallujah’s simple amusement park, now deserted. Four bloated and burnt bodies lay on the main street, not far from US tanks and soldiers. The stench of the remains hung heavy in the air, mixing with the dust.

Another body lay stretched out on the next block, its head blown off, perhaps in one of the countless explosions which rent the city day and night for nearly a week. Some bodies were so mutilated it was impossible to tell if they were civilians or militants, male or female.

Fallujah, regarded as a place with an independent streak where citizens even defied the former leader Saddam Hussein at times, seemed lifeless. The minarets of the city’s dozens of mosques stood silent, no longer broadcasting the call to holy war that so often echoed across the rooftops, inspiring fighters to join the insurgency.

Restaurant signs were covered in soot. Pavements were crushed by 70-ton Abrams tanks, and rows of crumbling buildings stood on both sides of deserted streets. Upmarket homes with garages looked as if they had been abandoned for years. Cars lay crushed in the middle of streets. Two Iraqis in one street desperately trying to salvage some of their smashed belongings were the only signs of life.

As US soldiers walked through neighbourhoods, their allies in the Iraqi forces casually moved along dusty streets past wires hanging down from gutted buildings. They carried boxes of bottled water to the rooftops of the upmarket villas they now occupy. The soldiers sat on the roofs staring at the ruins.

As a small convoy of Humvees moved back to position on the edge of the Jolan district, a rocket landed in the sand about 100ft away, a reminder that militants were still out there somewhere, even if the city that harboured them has fallen. The few civilians left in Fallujah talked of a city left in ruins not just by the six days of the ground assault, but the weeks of bombing that preceded the attack.

Residents have long been without electricity or water, abandoning their homes and congregating in the centre of the city as the US forces advanced from all sides. They had cowered in buildings as the battle unfolded past the windows.

The reaction of US troops to attacks, say residents, have been out of all proportion; shots by snipers have been answered by rounds from Abrams tanks, devastating buildings and, it is claimed, injuring and killing civilians. This is firmly denied by the American military.

About 200,000 refugees fled the fighting, and there have been outbreaks of typhoid and other diseases.

People leaving the city described rotting corpses being piled up and thousands still trapped inside their homes, many of them wounded and without access to food, water or medical aid. US commanders insist civilian casualties in Fallujah have been low, but the Pentagon famously claims it does not keep figures.

Escaping residents described incidents in which non-combatants, including women and children, were killed by shrapnel or hit by bombs. In one case last week, a nine-year-old boy was hit in the stomach by shrapnel. Unable to reach a hospital, he died hours later from blood loss. His father had to bury his body in their garden.

Those trapped inside the city say they are reaching a point of desperation. “Our situation is very hard,” said Abu Mustafa, contacted by telephone in the central Hay al-Dubat neighbourhood. “We don’t have food or water,” he told Reuters. “My seven children all have severe diarrhoea. One of my sons was wounded by shrapnel last night and he’s bleeding, but I can’t do anything to help him.”

Aamir Haidar Yusouf, a 39-year-old trader, sent his family out of Fallujah, but stayed behind to look after his home, not just during the fighting, but the looting which will follow. “The Americans have been firing at buildings if they see even small movements,” he said.

As the fighting died down yesterday he said: “They are also destroying cars, because they think every car has a bomb in it. People have moved from the edges of the city into the centre, and they are staying on the ground floors of buildings. There will be nothing left of Fallujah by the time they finish. They have already destroyed so many homes with their bombings from the air, and now we are having this from tanks and big guns.”

There was no sign of the guerrillas who scribbled graffiti along the walls of the park, encouraging Fallujah’s 300,000 residents to join a holy war against US-led troops. “Long live the mujahedin,” read the graffiti.

Mohammed Younis, a former policeman, said: “The Americans and [Iyad] Allawi [Iraq’s interim Prime Minister] have been saying that Fallujah is full of foreign fighters. That is not true; they left a long time ago. You will find them in other places, in Baghdad. We have been saying to Allawi and the Americans that they are not here, but they do not believe us.”

 

 

January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail