Update4: Saturday the 17th of April - Jo's account of the continued siege and her kidnapping and release."You look for ways out. You wonder whether they're going to kill you, make demands for your release, if they'll hurt you. You wait for the knives and the guns and the video camera. You tell yourself you're going to be OK."
Update3: Tuesday the 13th of April - Jo Wilding's amazing eyewitness reports of the situation in Fallujah are now available. She describes American attacks on unarmed civilians and ambulances in Fallujah: "Snipers are causing not just carnage but also the paralysis of the ambulance and evacuation services. The biggest hospital after the main one was bombed is in US territory and cut off from the clinic by snipers. The ambulance has been repaired four times after bullet damage. Bodies are lying in the streets because no one can go to collect them without being shot." Hundreds of people are being killed - the situation in Fallujah is catastrophic.
Update2: Tuesday the 13th of April - Due to the refusal of new Iraqi army units to attack Fallujah, the U.S. is now hoping to recruit senior former commanders from Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist security forces to ensure that there are "well-formed Iraqi chains of command."
Update1: Monday the 12th of April - Eyewitness acount from Dahr Jamail in Fallujah. Dahr Jamail is the Baghdad correspondent for the New Statesman.
Sat 10th April: As anti-occupation demonstrations erupted all over Iraq, the town of Fallujah, a flash-point for resistance was besieged by three battalions of American troops. The death toll in the town so far is being reported as 500 dead and 1200-1700 wounded. There were unconfirmed reports of B-52 bomber strikes and U.S. Apache helicopters attacking civilians as they try to flee the city. Eyewitness reports from Iraq contradicted American generals who claim that they are currently observing a ceasefire.
I just spoke to friends in Baghdad - Paola Gaspiroli, Italian, from Occupation Watch and Bridges to Baghdad, journalist Leigh Gordon, England, (NUJ, Tribune, Mail on Sunday) and a Palestinian friend with family in Falluja and friends in the Iraqi Islamic Party. Both he and Leigh have been ferrying out the injured from Falluja to Baghdad for the past three days. Ambulances have been barred from entry into the blood-drenched city. Here is their news, which they told me over the telephone on Friday the 9th of April.
Eyewitness Reports: Paola | Friend | Leigh Gordon
Audio Reports: Ewa Jasiewicz, Glasgow [1, 2, 3] | Paola Gaspiroli, Iraq
Other Reports: What You Can Do | View from Baghdad | Baghdad Burning | Palestine and Iraq | Mission Accomplished? | Jo Wilding on Hostages | From Liberation to Jihad | Background Info on Fallujah
Meanwhile, on Sunday 11 an emergency demonstration took place outside Downing St in London. Around 80 people gathered in a picket to show their repulse to the latest military attacks against civilians in Iraq. Photos: 1 + 2.
The entrance point of the tank shell that killed Murtada Muhammad, age 4,
Americans Slaughtering Civilians in Falluja
Weblog Entry by Dahr Jamail, The NewStandard | Web Version
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 doctor. 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 garage. 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.
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 continued. 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 wounded Iraqis. The previous driver was wounded when one of the sniper's shots grazed his head. Bombs were heard sporadically exploding around the city, along with random gunfire.
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 drones. As we walked through the empty streets towards the house where we wouldsleep, 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 town.
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 more information or to donate to Dahr, visit http://newstandardnews.net/iraqdispatches==============================================
The Iraq Dispatches list exists to keep readers of The NewStandard updated on reports by Baghdad correspondent Dahr Jamail. To manage subscriptions, or for more information and an archive of Dahr's writings and photographs: To contribute to The NewStandard and support Dahr Jamail's crucial work in Iraq, go to: https:/secure.peoplesnetworks.net/estore/?ction=show_donation_registrationUPDATE ON FALLUJA 12/4/04
Update on 12/04/04 No Ceasefire, Massive Assault Still Expected, Eyewitness Interview
I spoke again to my friend in Baghdad who accompanied a group of internationals including Jo Wilding (circus2iraq) Dahr Jamail (independent journalist) Leigh Gordon (Journalist – Tribune and Mail on Sunday) in a bus into Falluja yesterday. They managed to evacuate 16 injured people in total,including one badly burned and two seriously injured men who were treated at the Italian Red Cross field hospital in Baghdad. The group managed to walk through the streets to find the injured – mostly in hospitals without any supplies or treatment available to help them – waving their arms and shouting to soldiers and identifying themselves as civilians and Americans (in the case of some). A number of the group including Jo Wilding were ferrying out the injured using an ambulance from a local Falluja clinic when it was fired upon by US snipers, at least six times, nearly killing the driver and passenger in the front who both managed to duck in time to save their skulls. The bullets perforated the area directly behind their heads. Dust swirling around the bus and obfuscating it from view was attributed by my friend to be the reason that snipers did not get a direct hit immediately. The ambulance is now destroyed.
Today in Falluja there were two major attacks by the US forces. Homes have been shelled by F16 jets and Apache helicopters. An entire family in the Jullan area was killed.
Interview with friend who’s been in Falluja:
What’s been going on?
There was fighting all last night and today. Bombing raids happened on Falluja last night. We expect it again tonight.
How is the resistance? Have they split over the ceasefire?
There is no ceasefire. And there is no split. The resistance is strong, holding out, and fighting hard. The fighting is continuing because the Americans are continuing, they keep attacking. The Iraqi soldiers have refused to fight but the Peshmerga (Kurdish fighters) are now fighting with (alongside) the Americans.
Do you know how many?
No. Nobody knows.
How did people in Falluja respond to members of the Governing Council coming in?
What? The GC came in? Noone from the Governing Council came in. Someone from the Islamic Party came but GC?? No way. They are mostly hated here.
What is it like for ordinary people in Falluja, can you walk around in the street?
There is a small area you can walk around in, but otherwise its just the backroads. And noone is entering now, everybody is leaving, all the injured are leaving. But there are families still held inside bombed houses – if they try to leave the US will shoot at them. The US soldiers are patrolling the streets, they’re taking over homes and taking up sniper positions.
Are they occupying homes like the Israeli Occupation Forces do in Palestine?
(In Palestine, in the towns and refugee camps, soldiers, sometimes as many as 15, will forcibly enter a house, banish the family living there into one room where they must stay and ask the permission of soldiers to go to bring food from the kitchen or to go to the toilet. The family will not have access to other rooms in the house whilst it is being used as a temporary makeshift military base. Soldiers can take up sniper positions and kill from their windows, they can bring in prisoners, interrogate and torture as they like, and in the case of Palestine, Israeli soldiers have been known to, and I have seen the aftermath of this with my own eyes, smash up furniture, defecate in corners, wipe faeces onto walls, urinate upon and trash clothing, steal food, money and jewellry, tear up photographs and generally wreck homes. In Jenin camp, soldiers occupied some homes for up to 16 days, during which noone could leave the house at all, not even for a breath of fresh air. Children traumatised by having their homes occupied and used as military bases and prisons would be pale, withdrawn, silent and bereaved by their experience after soldiers had left. Some homes, due to their locations or height, would be repeatedly occupied by soldiers, terrorising families on a regular basis.The Israeli government uses recycled old British Mandate Emergency Defence laws used by the British occupying forces in 1936 to put down the 6 month general strike and intifada waged against them by Palestinians.The US occupation has from its inception violated international law- Geneva Conventions and Hague Regulations.)
So whats next?
Tomorrow, me and Leigh will go in, using my car. The ambulance is destroyed, they tried to kill us, they shot at our heads yesterday. Jo(Wilding) was nearly shot. Today we have been evacuating people with my car and tomorrow is the same, but just me and Leigh. Its too dangerous to try with the bus again. People think they will get killed if they try. We will be taking in medical supplies.
How many hospitals are there in Falluja?
Three remain, one has been damaged to much to be used.
What medical supplies will you be taking in?
Everything. The hospitals have nothing.
But like what?
Everything, bandages, blood, stitches, drip-bags, everything we can.Tomorrow will be much much worse. We expect the big attack. We are going to evacuate some families too, from the Al Haay al Askereeya (The Military Area). They’ve had no food or water fro three days now. The Americans have cut the water supply. The place is now under 24 hour siege.
Check out www.iraqprocurement.com: A major conference is being held in London, sponsored by Shell, from April 26-28th of this month on the privatisation of Iraq with many corporate reps and reps from the Governing Council and Occupation Authority -(Citizens arrest anyone?)attending. Counter demonstrations and actions are being planned by a variety of different peace, justice and anti-militarisation groups, plus a special focus on workers rights in occupied Iraq as well as a counter-conference website. full details to be arranged.