Cardiff Stop the War Coalition

In solidarity with the people of Iraq struggling under foreign occupation.
News from Iraq this week: March 17th to March 24th
US Soldiers accused of atrocities against Iraqi civilians

`I would like to think that, in maybe a year or two years time, it’s going to be possible for some of you to come back here and see the changes in this country that have arisen from what you’ve done today`
Probably today’s Iraq is not what Tony Blair had in mind when he uttered these words to troops in Basra in May 2003. It seems that some of the troops are less keen to make the return trip too, with the number of soldiers absconding from the British Army trebling since the invasion of Iraq.
March 17th         11 members of an Iraqi family were killed in a U.S. raid, police and witnesses said. A senior Iraqi police officer said autopsies on the bodies, which included 5 children, showed each had been shot in the head. Community leaders said they were outraged at the killings and demanded an explanation from the U.S. military. Television footage showed the bodies in the Tikrit morgue, 5 children, 2 men and 4 women.
March 18th         Riverbend, a blogger from Baghdad writes: `It has been 3 years since the beginning of the war that marked the end of Iraq`s independence. 3 years of occupation and bloodshed. Spring should be about renewal and rebirth. For Iraqis, spring has been about reliving painful memories and preparing for future disasters. In many ways, this year is like 2003 prior to the war when we were stocking up on fuel, water, food and first aid supplies and medications. I don’t think anyone imagined 3 years ago that things could be quite this bad today. …. I`m so tired of it all, we`re all tired. 3 years and the electricity is worse than ever. The security situation has gone from bad to worse. The country feels like it’s on the brink of chaos once more, but a pre-planned, pre-fabricated chaos being led by religious militias and zealots…God protect us from the fourth year `
March 19th         In Duluiyah US soldiers battled insurgents, the U.S. military reported. The military reported 7 of the attackers killed, and 2 U.S. soldiers wounded. However, a top police official who saw the fighting, said U.S. troops also shot and killed a family of 3 during house-to-house searches after the firefight. `I saw corpses on the ground that I believe were of armed men who had clashed with the American forces` said Ahmad Hashem, `Then the American soldiers appeared and started searching homes. They raided a house which was close to my home and killed a man named Ahmad Khalaf Hussein, his wife and his 10-year-old son.`
March 20th         Residents gave new details about the shootings of civilians in a Haditha, where the U.S. military is investigating allegations of potential misconduct by American troops last November. The residents say that shortly after a roadside bomb killed a U.S. Marine, the troops went into nearby houses and shot dead 15 members of 2 families, including a 3 year old girl. According to the 9 year old Eman Waleed, when the Marines entered the house, they were shouting in English: `First, they went into my father`s room, where he was reading the Koran,` she claims, `and we heard shots…I couldn`t see their faces very well, only their guns sticking into the doorway. I watched them shoot my grandfather, first in the chest and then in the head. Then they killed my granny.` She claims the troops started firing toward the corner of the room where she and her younger brother Abdul Rahman, 8, were hiding; the other adults shielded the children from the bullets but died in the process. Dr. Wahid, director of the local hospital, says the Marines brought 24 bodies to his hospital around midnight, claiming the victims had been killed by shrapnel from the roadside bomb, `but it was obvious to us that there were no organs slashed by shrapnel…the bullet wounds were very apparent. Most of the victims were shot in the chest and the head, from close range.`
March 21st       Human rights groups have welcomed the inquiry by the US Navy into the killing of civilians by US marines in Haditha. An order issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority grants foreign forces immunity from Iraqi law; they remain subject solely to the jurisdiction of their own states. The UK and US have been accused of limiting the number and power of criminal prosecutions. In January, a US officer was punished with a reprimand and a $6,000 fine for killing a captured Iraqi general. No prosecution was launched after a US marine was filmed shooting dead an incapacitated insurgent in a mosque in Falluja in November 2004. Several American veterans of the war in Iraq have told the BBC`s Newsnight programme that the marines` reaction to the roadside bomb attack in Haditha was not an isolated incident. Specialist Michael Blake, who served in Balad, said it was common practice to `shoot up the landscape or anything that moved after an explosion. Another veteran, Specialist Jody Casey, who was a scout sniper in Baquba, said he had also seen innocent civilians being killed. Bombs `go off and you just zap any farmer that's close to you`, he said. Mr Casey said he did not take part in any atrocities himself, but was advised to always carry a shovel. He could then plant this on any civilian victims to make it look as though they were digging roadside bombs.
March 22nd         Aid agencies say they have been prevented from entering the city of Samarra where a major US and Iraqi military operation is underway. This has left hundreds of families without medical and food supplies. Nearly 1,200 families have fled the city to Baghdad and are living in abandoned buildings and makeshift camps. Dr Ibraheem Mahmoud, a clinician at the emergency department of the local hospital, said that they have received telephone calls from inside the city from residents who spoke of dead bodies in streets and injured people without assistance.
March 23rd         The entire adult male population of a village west of Baghdad was rounded up in a major joint US-Iraqi operation against insurgents that netted two `high value targets`. US troops were airlifted in to lay a cordon around the village and then went house-to-house, rounding up men and questioning them. In one case more than 100 detainees were taken to a nearby school. Detainees were handcuffed with plastic ties and after being questioned, each man was marked with an `X` on the back of their necks
March 24th         The United Nations called on Iraq’s Government to urgently assert control over the security forces and all armed groups in the war-torn country. `Allegations that death squads operate in the country grew stronger following the discovery of a suspicious group, acting within the structures of the Ministry of Interior`, the report says.
Civilians reported killed by military intervention in Iraq since invasion*:
Minimum: 33773
Maximum: 37895
Source: Iraq Body Count
Total number of US soldiers killed in Iraq since invasion = 2320
Total number of US soldiers wounded in Iraq since invasion= 17269
Total number of UK soldiers killed in Iraq since invasion = 103
Total number of soldiers from other nations killed since invasion = 104
Source: Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
*This estimate is only of media reported deaths. A peer reviewed epidemiological survey (Roberts et al., The Lancet, Vol 364 Issue 9448 pp 1857 1864) estimated that in the 18 months following the invasion 100, 000 excess deaths or more have occurred.  Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths. Criticisms of IBC methodology can be found at medialens
For background to the current war in Iraq: see "Understanding the Us-Iraq Crisis" by Phyllis Benis and "Why Another War? A Backgrounder on the Iraq Crisis" by Sarah Graham-Brown and Chris Toensing.
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