[Imc-beirut] Iraq Dispatches: “Violence leads only to more violence.”
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iraq_dispatches at dahrjamailiraq.com
Fri Oct 7 18:38:32 PDT 2005
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** http://dahrjamailiraq.com **
October 08, 2005
“Violence leads only to more violence.”
Ongoing military operations continue unabated in Al-Anbar province. With
names like ‘Operation Iron Fist’ and ‘Operation Iron Gate’ which was
launched just days after ‘Iron Fist,’ thousands of US troops, backed by
warplanes, tanks and helicopters, began attacking small cities and
villages primarily in the northwestern area of Al-Anbar.
According to the US military and corporate media, the purpose of these
operations is to “root out” fighters from al-Qaida in Iraq, along with
An Iraqi journalist writing under the name Sabah Ali (due to concerns of
retribution from US/Iraqi governmental authorities) recently returned
from the Al-Qa’im area of Iraq. Her report tells quite a different story.
Venturing into the combat zone at the end of September/beginning of
October, Sabah visited the village of Aanah, 360 km west of Baghdad,
accomplishing a feat no non-embedded western journalist has dared
undertake. The following is the report from Sabah, with photos, which
shows the effect of these operations on civilians in the area:
There are 1,500 refugee families
located now in this very new and modern city of Aanah (the old Aanah was
drowned under the Euphrates when a dam was constructed in the eighties).
The Aanah Humanitarian Relief Committee (AHRC) said that there are 7,450
families from Al-Qa’im and surroundings areas scattered in different
western cities, villages and in the desert. The AHRC report said that a
few hundred families are still being besieged in A-Qa’im; they could not
leave for different reasons. Some have disabled members (there are many
now in Al-Qa’im), or have no money to move, or they prefer to stay under
the bombing rather than living in a refugee camp.
Many families could not leave. Abu Alaa’, for example, whose house was
damaged earlier this year, whose wife lost her sight in that attack,
could not leave because his wife and his father in law were shot again
last week, injuring his wife again in abdomen; she is still in the
hospital, and he could not leave. We call upon the international society
to demand that these families are given the chance to leave before the
city is devastated. People who stay behind are not necessarily fighters.
They simply could not move.
Families remaining in the area are in the following
towns/villages/locations: The Projects area (2,500 families), Okashat,
(950 families), Fheida (500), Phosphate factory (400), Cement factory
(350), Tiwan (400), Aanah (1,500), Raihana (100), Hasa (200), Jbab
(125), Nhaiya (100), and Ma’adhid (75).
People are squatting in schools, public buildings, offices and youth
centers. Many are in tent camps
living in tents donated by various local relief committees.
The luckiest are those who have friends or relatives to stay with in
proper houses. Many of them need medical help, the children and the
youth do not go to schools, they already lost a year last summer, and
the women are having unbelievable difficulties trying to keep the
families in impossible conditions. Aanah youth center
is turned into a refugee camp. Here there are 45 families who live in
tents, 17 families in the building.
Raja Yasin, a widow originally from Basra but was married and had her 10
children in Alqaim says; “If we had not run away we would have been
killed in the bombing. We have nothing now. We need blankets and food.”
Raja’s family is desperately poor. She has only her teenage son to help
feed the family. But Raja is happy that she ran with her family
[because]: “the attack will begin tomorrow,” she said.
Mrs. Khamis, a mother of eight and a wife of a high school teacher, is
not in a better situation: “We had to run bare foot; I left the lunch on
the stove when the attack began. There was heavy bombing and mortar
shelling, we had to run through the side streets with white flags” But
she is not comfortable in the camp either: “There is no hot water; I
have to give the children cold baths and the weather is changing. There
is only one toilet for all these families, all together: men, women, and
children. My brother tried to go back to Al-Qa’im three times to get
some clothes and stuff from our house but could not go through the check
points. We need blankets, food, fuel, and medicines…the attack will
The Khamis family did not receive the monthly food ration or salary for
the two months before the last attack.
Many health cases in the camp needed immediate medical attendance,
especially children, but the families are blocked in the camp. And after
the attack eventually began on Saturday, October 1, and the second
attack on Haditha under the name of ‘Operation River Gate’, all the
roads were completely closed.
Dr.Hamdi Al-Aloossy, General Director of the Al-Qa’im hospital was in
Aanah, meeting with Dr. Walid Jawad, the Aanah General Director of Aanah
hospital, obviously discussing what to do regarding the refugees and the
impending invasion of Al-Qa’im.
confirmed that the majority of Al-Qa’ims population of 150,000 left the
city, and that only the disabled and those who preferred to stay
remained. He also confirmed that many of the casualties he treated were
women and children (He has already confirmed this on Al-Arabia channel
three days earlier.) He explained that the families are not afraid of
the bombing, the fighting or the mortars as much as they are afraid of
an American-Iraqi invasion of the city, something which many families
According to Dr. Hamdi: “After the families saw what happened in
Tal-Afar on TV, and after the threat of the Defense Minister to attack
Al-Qa’im, they were terrified. The immigration was crazy. It was an
irresponsible statement by the Defense Minister. There were no military
evacuation orders. These thousands of children and families are living
in the wilderness in very bad conditions. A child of two months got
seven scorpion stings. Another two families of 14 members each got
poisoned because of canned food. The health security in the camps is
zero. And the health security in the bombed and attacked areas is 100%
at risk. It makes me cry to think of those families. Child mortality
increased three times due to ordinary illnesses because we do not have
any vaccines, and no electricity to keep them. Women health cannot be
surveyed, many of them moved out of town. We used to receive 200 a day,
now 15-20. We do not have regular statistics. But we can say roughly
that the death percentage due to women cases increased by two times.”
“We repair the hospital every two months; the glass, the water; the
electricity…and it is bombed again, the government has to do something
about this. Violence leads only to more violence.”
of Aanah, said that his hospital cannot cover the huge numbers of refugees.
“We are receiving 500-600 patients a day; we do not have this capacity.
We do not have a surgeon, an aesthetician, emergency medicines and
supplies, children syrups, lab materials…etc.,” said Dr. Walid, “And in
Aanah now there are 3-5 families in each house.”
During our one hour visit to Dr. Walid’s office, patients never stopped
coming in and going out. The majority of them are from Al-Qa’im or Rawa,
another western Iraqi city which witnessed a very bad invasion three
months ago. A young woman of 18, Sabreen, limping, needs an operation
and natural therapy. She is one of five women workers in the Rawa
textile factory who were shot by the American troops three months ago.
Dr. Walid sent her to a surgeon in Ramadi, a friend of his.
In Aanah high school, we met 14 families; the majority of them were from
Rawa. They turned the classrooms
into guest rooms, living rooms, and kitchens
Class desks were used as kitchen tables, and they wash dishes and
clothes in the yard. Needless to say all the schools in the attacked
areas are closed. But in Aanah, where the situation is relatively calm,
the schools are open, but they use 2-3 class rooms and give the rest to
the refugee families to stay in.
The saddest thing about these families is that they do not know why they
are facing this destiny. Aala’ Ahmad
years old, does not understand how the American troops could take her
family’s house, occupy it and send them away, just because it looks out
on the whole town of Rawa: “They did not let us go back to our house,
they said that they need to come back regularly,” she said. Aala’ lost
her school year. Um Ismael
a mother of six does not understand why the American troops blew up the
gate of her house while it was open. “They searched and destroyed every
thing, and found nothing,” she said, “I do not even have young men for
them to arrest, what are we going to do now?”
The families with whom we spent our first night in Aanah were squatting
in a deserted unfinished construction site. It is a rather big, two
floor house. Its owner is a lawyer from a well known family. He meant it
to be a guest house. The women cleaned it from dead animals,
construction mess, waste…arranged for water, electric lights, and
plastic carpets on the floor, some rags on the windows openings, still
it is not comfortable to live in , bats raid the place at night, the
windows openings bring chilling air, stairs without railing…etc.
Afaf, a teacher and a mother of four, described what happened: “We left
3 weeks ago when the bombing on Al-Qa’im began. Some families left
earlier after the Defense Minister, Sadoon Al-Duleimi, threatened
Al-Garbiya area of an overall attack. They were clever because they had
time to take some furniture, clothes, food and stuff with them. When the
bombing began we had to leave as quickly as possible. It was a very sad
day. People were running out of the city, holding white flags,
terrified, some in cars, some on feet; some got trucks and helped the
old and the families.”
All these families
had more or less similar reasons to run away. But all of them agreed on
one thing: they were afraid of the impending American-Iraqi invasion.
“We have our daughters to worry about. Every thing can be fixed except
honor,” Afaf told us. They were afraid that the invaders would rape
their girls. “We saw what happened in Tal-Afar. They arrest all the men,
the women are left on their on, and the roads are closed. We do not want
to find ourselves in this situation,” Afaf said.
are living in horrible conditions in various refugee camps scattered
throughout northwestern Al-Anbar province.
Keep in mind that this visit took place just before the current major
military operations began. Reports from that area now confirm that the
situation has grown far, far worse.
Another friend of mine recently returned from the Al-Qa’im area where
she brought aid supplies to refugee families. During a phone call she
reported, “You can’t imagine the situation these people are living in
Dahr. There are so many of their homes bombed by warplanes
people living in camps
and families in the desert who just need blankets and food. It’s horrible.”
And now, according to a recent IRIN report, “Nearly 1,000 families have
fled their homes in Haditha in western Iraq following the launch of a
US-ld military operation to hunt down insurgents in the town in the
Euphrates river valley, according to residents in the area.” 1,000
families have fled their homes in Haditha in western Iraq following the
launch of a US-led military operation to hunt down in insurgents in the
town in the Euphrates river valley, according to residents in the area.”
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