Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Fallujah again in the line of US fire

By Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily
Asia Times

"FALLUJAH, Iraq - After enduring two major assaults, Fallujah, a key city in the western province al-Anbar, is under threat from US forces again. This coincides with news of a classified US intelligence report that the Pentagon is taking "very seriously" - that US forces are losing control of Anbar.

In Fallujah, 50 kilometers west of Baghdad, residents are edgy. "They destroyed our city twice and they are threatening us a third time," said Ahmed Dhahy, 52. "They want us to do their job for them and turn in those who target them." Dhahy, who lost 32 relatives when his father's house was bombed by a US aircraft during the April 2004 attack on Fallujah, said the US military had threatened it would destroy the city if resistance fighters were not handed over to them.

Fallujah was heavily bombed in April 2004 and again in November that year. The attacks destroyed 75% of the city's infrastructure and left more than 5,000 dead, according to local non-governmental groups.

But after the heavy assaults, resistance fighters have continued to launch attacks against US and official Iraqi forces in the city. Fallujah remains under tight security, with the US military using biometric identification, full body searches and bar-coded identification cards for residents to enter and leave their city.

"There are so many arrests and killings, and collective punishments, such as random shootings, violent inspection raids, repeated curfews and deliberate cutting of water and electricity," said Mohammed al-Darraji, head of a human-rights group in Fallujah called the Iraqi Center for Human Rights Observation. "What is going on in this city requires international intervention to protect civilians and to punish those who seriously damaged Fallujah society and committed serious crimes against humanity," Darraji said.

Another human-rights campaigner in Fallujah, who asked to be referred to as Khalid, said human-rights activists in Iraq felt betrayed by the United Nations. The UN had played ignorant "by leaving US troops to act alone in the city", said Khalid, who works with Raya Human Rights, a non-governmental organization in the city. "This was after the media exposed the enormity of the violence and human-rights violations during the last three years." "

No comments: