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welcome to sunny fallujah - population 20,000 US Marines!:
placeholder for stories as i find em. Check out rahul, who already has a long list of horrors. I should include an aside on the use of .50 caliber weapons against human targets since I've spent all afternoon trying to find out where this is prohibited. It isn't prohibited by the Geneva Conventions without a rather arbitrary interpretation of "cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering" [article 35.2, section 1 of protocol 1], and then the US hasn't ratified the Additional Protocols, which is the only section I'm aware of that has laws regarding the use of conventional weapons against combatants. The USG "customarily" follows the gist of that statement, and here the Navy says "Use of .50 caliber weapons against individual enemy combatants does not constitute a violation of this proscription against unnecessary suffering or superfluous injury." Similar language is found at jagcnet.army.mil. This is all apparently a not uncommon myth among military personel. Maybe there's a prohibition against using anti-aircraft weaponry or weaponry designed specifically to destroy infrastructure against human targets somewhere, and explosive/expanding rounds are definitely prohibited, but it doesn't appear to apply here.
In the weeks before the crushing military assault on his hometown, Bilal Hussein sent his parents and brother away from Fallujah to stay with relatives. The 33-year-old Associated Press photographer stayed behind to capture insider images during the siege of the former insurgent stronghold.
Tuesday afternoon, as U.S. forces and Iraqi rebels engaged in fierce clashes in the heart of his neighborhood, Hussein snapped.
"U.S. soldiers began to open fire on the houses, so I decided that it was very dangerous to stay in my house," he said.
Hussein said he panicked, seizing on a plan to escape across the Euphrates River, which flows on the western side of the city
Hussein moved from house to house — dodging gunfire — and reached the river.
"I decided to swim ... but I changed my mind after seeing U.S. helicopters firing on and killing people who tried to cross the river."
He watched horrified as a family of five was shot dead as they tried to cross. Then, he "helped bury a man by the river bank, with my own hands."
A Reuters correspondent who drove through the city saw utter destruction. Bodies lay in the streets. Homes were smashed, mosques ruined, and power and telephone lines hung uselessly. Etc. etc.
The Marine raised his rifle and fired into the apparently wounded man's head, at which point a companion said, "Well, he's dead now."
...Marines said they are investigating why the wounded Iraqis were left behind for 24 hours...
Duh, where were they gonna go.
Embedded BBC reporter Paul Wood:
...for four days now there have been bodies lying in the streets. It is starting to become a serious health risk.
I spoke to an officer who had been a little way out from the base and he said that cats and dogs are now starting to eat these bodies. It is a quite horrific picture I'm drawing but this is what awaits the people of Fallujah when they come back. ...
I don't know how people are going to feel when they see their city and they see the holes in the mosques and they see the destruction that has been wrought by this battle.
Interpress and Red Cross in Baghdad: estimates that 800 civillians killed in assault, 50,000 remain trapped in the city because they were mostly too poor to leave, Marines preventing relief supplies from entering city, not even to the remaining hospital. The Red Cross official said the Ministry of Health in the U.S.-backed interim Iraqi government had stopped supplying hospitals and clinics in Fallujah two months before the current siege.
TomDispatch has a mosaic of quotes from various embeds in Fallujah. Maybe it's not Grozny quite yet, when we invade for the third time six months from now it will be. There's a point worth taking to bed in there, that the rebellion is motivated by "nationalism, religion, kinship or ideology", which Schell notes is exactly what motivated Bush's re-election. I'm still mulling over the idea that culturally Bush supporters are far closer to the people the same Bush supporters seemingly want to ruthlessly, blindly murder than they are like, say, anybody else I can think of off hand.
Schell quotes from the Books of Jim Hoagland and Mark Bowden, who both repeat what we already know from statements by unnamed Pentagon officials, Rumsfeld, the obvious, etc: that our occupation strategy is to rule sizable portions of the Iraq heartland by fear, aka terror. Unlike how Bush Co. won the American heartland with mere threats, this particular incarnation relies on massive doses of physical violence. Iraqi civillians will get tired of being slaughtered eventually, and when they do America "wins".
Or maybe we've taken 200,000 cleansed Fallujan women and children out on the town, buying them perl necklaces and plushy toys, building fancy compounds prepped for the good life in their refugee camps while they wait for us to finish destroying their homes and livelihoods. There's some tens of millions of dollars in reconstruction funding awaiting them when they return, how many millions of dollars in destruction have we wrought?
Col. John Ballard: The story for me is how we successfully convinced the local population that they would be safer to leave the city.
Col. Craig Tucker: It was beyond their comprehension how much combat firepower we sent down there. In terms of civilians, it was a relatively clean battlefield.
Col. John Ballard: I have seen no evidence of a humanitarian disaster.
The very bottom of page A12 in the NYT: Obliterated mosques, cratered houses and ground-up streets. The American military faces the urgent but almost paradoxical imperative of rebuilding the city it just destroyed. The devastation that the battle has wrought will not be easy to repair. The human and political effects of that devastation could rapidly spread far beyond Fallujah. A tank firing a round at a single sniper, turning him "into rubble" as well as punching a hole in a minaret of a mosque. One insurgent remained alive in the mosque, so the military called for a pair of 500-pound bombs to be dropped from the sky, "and the mosque was no more."
Col. Michael Olivier: First we blow up your house, then we pay you to rebuild it.
Marine Sgt. Todd Bowers: It's incredible, the destruction. It's overwhelming. My first question is: Where to begin?
The US and Interim Government are splitting the difference of 140 million in reconstruction funds for Fallujah, amounting to less than $500 per some 300,000 residents. Even assuming most of it reaches the intended targets, which given past performance on this score isn't likely, that doesn't amount to much given the level of destruction. I can't imagine a couple years wages, figuring per capita income for all of Iraq is $60USD/year and would be higher in urban areas, is sufficient to rebuild an entire city's infrastructure, destroyed capital, mosques, hospitals, roads, shops, homes, etc.
On the score of securing the viability of upcoming elections in the area, the primary political objective of the campaign, the expectation is utter failure, and has likely increased the level of secretarian divisions between Arab-Iraqi Shi'ites and Sunnis. The longer we stay with these insane policies the more we cultivate civil war upon the impending defeat. The carbombings in Baghdad allegedly orchestrated from Fallujah continue, presumably orchestrated from somewhere else.
"unit commanders later revealed their troops had orders to shoot all males of fighting age seen on the streets, armed or unarmed".