Iraq Daily Digest April
1. Embedded Photographer: "I Saw Marines Kill Civilians"
2. Many Iraqis Turn Anger Towards US (Associated Press,
3. Iraq: Anti-US Protests Growing (News24.com)
4. In bombed neighborhoods, everybody "wants to kill
5. 14 Civilians Killed as [anti-occupation] Mosul Riots Continue
"I Saw Marines Kill Civilians"
by MICHEL GUERRIN
for Le Monde
Translated for CounterPunch by NORMAN MADARASZ
Laurent Van der Stockt, a photographer working for the Gamma agency and
under contract for the New York Times Magazine, followed the advance of
Marines (3rd battalion, 4th regiment) for three weeks, up to the taking
Baghdad on April 9. He was accompanied by New York Times Magazine editor,
Peter Maas. Born in Belgium in 1964, Laurent Van der Stockt mainly works
conflict zones: the first Gulf War, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Chechnya,
Africa and the Occupied Territories. This is his eyewitness account of
march to Baghdad:
"Everything began at the Kuwait/Iraq border. I forced my way into
country and arrived at Safwan. American soldiers had seized the opportunity
up portraits of Saddam Hussein on the main street. They were doing this
right in front of the local inhabitants, whose elation quickly vanished.
soldiers obviously didn't imagine that it was up to the Iraqis to be doing
this, or that it was humiliating for them. These were the same soldiers
would topple down Saddam's statue in Baghdad three weeks later...
I understood that the Marines' general strategy was to not waste any
In the cities they crossed, the Marines had to make a show of force. Then
would resume their advance by going as fast as possible up by the east
through the desert, and avoid any contact with the population. It takes
effort to picture what an army looks like as it advances through the sands.
It's an anthill. It's more than a city on the march. It's a world whose
extremities are never seen. It's a cutting edge, mechanical version of
Julius Caesar's army.
During the first few days, with colleagues from the New York Times and
Newsweek, I tried to follow the convoys in a SUV by playing hide-and-seek.
We were spending a lot of time then with the 1 500 Marines of the _, commanded
by Colonel Bryan P. McCoy. His troops gave us water, gas and food. In
exchange for their tolerance, we respected the rules to not pass the convoy
and to camp at such and such a place. We were just barely tolerated. The
colonel could see that the 'few jokers were behaving well'. He knew we
experienced more wars than his own troops.
For McCoy, we were obviously interesting right from the start. We were
ones who could tell his story. Trust settled in between us. He let us
at the head of the convoy. The Marines are generally less privileged than
the army. They're trained to do the dirty work, the less honorary jobs.
have the oldest tanks, and the least up-to-date M16 rifles. They themselves
translate 'USMC' (United States Marine Corps) by United States Misgodded
Children, i.e. the US' forgotten children, forgotten by God.
Their motto is 'Search and Kill'. The 'Kilo' unit is nicknamed 'Killer
Kilo'. The words 'Carnivore' or 'Blind Killer' are painted on their tanks.
could snap with a 'Shame on You' - a smile flashing across his face -
sniper who had just finished telling him: 'I've got eight, Sir, but only
five'. Literally meaning: I've shot eight, but only five of them are dead.
I've never seen a war with so few 'returns'. The Iraqi army was like
ghost. It barely existed. Over the three weeks, I only saw the adversary
fire a few
short-range rockets and a few shots. I saw deserted trenches, a dead Iraqi
soldier lying next to a piece of bread and some old equipment. Nothing
really made you feel that there was a real confrontation going on, nothing
comparable to the massiveness of the means at the Americans' disposal.
On April 6, we were at the outskirts of Baghdad, facing a strategic bridge
the Americans called 'the Baghdad Highway Bridge'. Residential zones were
now much greater in number. American snipers got the order to kill anything
coming in their direction. That night a teenager who was crossing the
On the morning of April 7, the Marines decided to cross the bridge. A
fell onto an armored personnel carrier. Two marines were killed. The
crossing took on a tragic aspect. The soldiers were stressed, febrile.
shouting. The risk didn't appear to be that great, so I followed their
advance. They were howling, shouting orders and positions to each other.
sounded like something in-between a phantasm, mythology and conditioning.
The operation was transformed into crossing the bridge over the River
Later, there was some open terrain. The Marines were advancing and taking
position, hiding behind mounds of earth. They were still really tense.
small blue van was moving towards the convoy. Three not-very-accurate
warning shots were fired. The shots were supposed to make the van stop.
The van kept
on driving, made a U-turn, took shelter and then returned slowly. The
Marines opened fire. All hell broke loose. They were firing all over the
could hear 'Stop firing' being shouted. The silence that set in was
overwhelming. Two men and a woman had just been riddled with bullets.
this was the enemy, the threat.
A second vehicle drove up. The same scenario was repeated. Its passengers
were killed on the spot. A grandfather was walking slowly with a cane
sidewalk. They killed him too (SEE PHOTO IN LE MONDE). As with the old
the Marines fired on a SUV driving along the river bank that was getting
close to them. Riddled with bullets, the vehicle rolled over. Two women
a child got out, miraculously still alive. They sought refuge in the wreckage.
A few seconds later, it flew into bits as a tank lobbed a terse shot into
Marines are conditioned to reach their target at any cost, by staying
and facing any type of enemy. They abusively make use of disproportionate
firepower. These hardened troops, followed by tons of equipment, supported
by extraordinary artillery power, protected by fighter jets and cutting-edge
helicopters, were shooting on local inhabitants who understood absolutely
nothing of what was going on.
With my own eyes I saw about fifteen civilians killed in two days. I've
through enough wars to know that it's always dirty, that civilians are
always the first victims. But the way it was happening here, it was insane.
At the roughest moment, the most humane of the troops was called Doug.
gave real warning shots. From 800 yards he could hit a tire and, if that
wasn't enough, then the motor. He saved ten lives in two hours by driving
back civilians who were coming towards us.
Distraught soldiers were saying: 'I ain't prepared for this, I didn't
here to shoot civilians.' The colonel countered that the Iraqis were using
inhabitants to kill marines, that 'soldiers were being disguised as
civilians, and that ambulances were perpetrating terrorist attacks.'
I drove away a girl who had had her humerus pierced by a bullet. Enrico
holding her in his arms. In the rear, the girl's father was protecting
young son, wounded in the torso and losing consciousness. The man spoke
gestures to the doctor at the back of the lines, pleading: "I don't
understand, I was walking and holding my children's hands. Why didn't
shoot in the air? Or at least shoot me?"
In Baghdad, McCoy sped up the march. He stopped taking the time to search
houses one-by-one. He wanted to get to Paradise Place as soon as possible.
The Marines were not firing on the thickening population. The course ended
with Saddam's statue being toppled. There were more journalists at the
than Baghdadis. Its five million inhabitants stayed at home."
Interviewed by Michel Guerrin for <A HREF="http://www.lemonde.fr/">LE
MONDE</A>, April 12, 2003.
Translated for CounterPunch by Norman Madarasz (<A
Many Iraqis Turn Anger Toward the U.S.
Wed Apr 16, 8:07 PM ET
By NIKO PRICE, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Just days ago, U.S. troops were cheered and kissed as
destroyed the symbols of Saddam Hussein's regime. Today,
after a week of chaos, it's a whole different story.
After looters ran wild, American forces shot civilians and the lack of
services spread misery across the land, many Iraqis turned their anger
from Saddam Hussein and toward what they saw as their new oppressor: the
United States of America. "They are aggressors," wheezed Ali
lying in a hospital bed as a tube drained fluid from his lungs. "They
us. They put us in war and didn't let us sleep. They just raided Baghdad."
Ahmed said he was shot in the back by an American bullet Friday as he
his home to purchase bread for his family's breakfast. A suicide bomber
attacked U.S. troops up the street, and Ahmed accused the Americans of
responding with indiscriminate fire. U.S. troops rolled across the deserts
of Iraq expecting to find people dancing in the streets and
cheering their arrival.
There was some of that. But there was also anger. Many Iraqis say that
subside quickly if the Americans < now de facto rulers of their nation
quickly restore basic services, bring law and order to their
cities, and stop shooting their people. Others say they need to do one
"If Americans and British are here to destroy the regime and liberate
we welcome them," said Emad Fadil, a 26-year-old worker in the southern
of Basra. "But if they come to occupy Iraq, we will fight them to
the end <
like the Palestinians." On Tuesday, a crowd in the northern city
allegedly attacked a group of Marines trying to take over a government
Iraqis threw rocks, hit the Marines with fists and elbows and spat at
according to Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks at U.S. Central Command in Doha,
Qatar. After reporting incoming fire, the Marines opened fire on the crowd,
killing seven people, he said. On Wednesday, another shooting in Mosul
killed three people and wounded at least 11, including several who said
troops fired at them from rooftops.
A Marine sergeant near the scene said the Americans were responding to
from another rooftop. "They are killing us and no one's talking about
want Saddam back," said Zahra Yassin, whose 17-year-old son was shot
stomach and wounded. "Let the embargo return. At least there was
In the city of Kut, southeast of Baghdad, an anti-American cleric took
City Hall. Hundreds of his followers blocked U.S. Marines from entering
Tuesday with a message that "there is more than just one leader in
region." The Marines departed, opting against confrontation.
In the southern city of Ur, Shiite Muslims boycotted a meeting to create
postwar government because of U.S. plans to install a retired American
general as Iraq's temporary administrator. Thousands protested near the
meeting, chanting: "No to America and no to Saddam!" There have
demonstrations in Baghdad as well, many outside the Palestine Hotel,
temporary home to hundreds of international journalists and U.S. Marines.
Hundreds of people hold up banners demanding the restoration of electricity,
water and phone service. Many also urge the Americans to leave town.
Even as people topple statues of Saddam, they criticize the U.S.-led
invasion for the death and destruction it wrought, and warn that Americans
become targets unless they fix what they destroyed and leave. "America
destroy Iraq and its people," said Fouad Abdullah Ahmed, 49, part
of a rally
setting a Saddam statue on fire. "We are Muslim. We don't like the
and the British."
Many Iraqis believe the Americans launched the war to seize their oil.
what many in Baghdad consider confirmation of that, one of the first Baghdad
buildings seized by U.S. forces was the oil ministry. They are still there.
"Let them take the oil and leave," Mohammed Ramadan said in
city of Tikrit, trembling at the sight of American tanks rolling through
city. Actor Fadel Abbas watched his theater get torched by looters.
"They didn't want to protect these places < only the oil ministry,"
"Why the oil ministry?" The U.S. military now says it will work
looters. Americans armed newly recruited Iraqi police officers with handguns
to help keep order. Marines and Iraqi police caught about a dozen men
to loot money from a burned out bank in central Baghdad on Wednesday.
Marines wrestled some of the men to the ground < including one who
had a prosthetic
leg < and found large stacks of Iraqi dinars on them.
Looting that has plagued Iraq's cities has been the cause of much of
people's anger, and many blame the Americans for encouraging it. Donny
George, director for research at the Ministry of Antiquities, complained
that the Americans let Iraq's museums be sacked. "This is what the
wanted," he said. "They wanted Iraq to lose its history."
EDITOR'S NOTE < Niko Price is correspondent at large for The Associated
Press. AP correspondent Tini Tran in Basra, Iraq, contributed to this
Iraq: Anti-US protests growing
15/04/2003 20:53 - (SA)
Baghdad - Anti-American protests intensified here and in southern Iraq
Tuesday, as US forces struggled with the complex task of rebuilding the
country after toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein. Exasperated US military
officials tried to hamper the media from covering new demonstrations in
Baghdad while some 20 000 people in the Shiite Muslim bastion of Nasiriyah
railed against a US-staged meeting on Iraq's future. The protests came
the Americans delivered a first progress report in their effort to restore
to normalcy and head off a chorus of criticism over continued lawlessness
and a lack of basic services.
Some 200 to 300 Iraqis gathered on Tuesday outside the Palestine Hotel,
where the US marines have set up an operations base, for a third straight
protests against the US occupation. For the first time, visibly angered
military officials sought to distance the media from the protest, moving
reporters and cameras about 30m from the barbed-wired entrance to the
"We want you to pull back to the back of the hotel because they (the
are only performing because the media are here," said a marine colonel
wore the name Zarcone but would not give his first name or title.
Won't tolerate occupation
The crowd later moved to the nearby square where the statue of Saddam
toppled on Wednesday to signal the end of the regime. As three of the
marines' armoured amphibious vehicles passed by, they chanted: "No,
Meanwhile, demonstrators marched to the centre of the predominantly Shi'ite
southern city of Nasiriyah, chanting "Yes to freedom... Yes to Islam...
to America, No to Saddam." They were protesting a meeting of Iraqi
groups convened at a nearby military base in an initial attempt by the
United States to plot out a political future for the post-Saddam Iraq.
"We want the American and British forces to go. They have freed
Saddam and their job is finished," said Ihsan Mohammad, an official
regional federation of engineers. "If they intend to occupy us, we
oppose that. We ask them to leave us free to decide our future and not
impose people on us."
Although US officials have all but declared their military campaign over,
tensions with the civilian population persist over a lack of police
protection, water, electricity and other basic services. As the Iraqi
protest grew more vocal outside the hotel, a marine corporal was holding
impromptu briefing for a few reporters on the progress made. Corporal
said the US forces planned to boost joint police patrols, bring more
hospitals back into service and have power restored to parts of Baghdad
within 72 hours. He said 50 electrical engineers were brought in to assess
the damage to the power system of the capital which went down on April
amid massive US bombings and repairs began on Monday.
"We expect power to be restored to parts of Baghdad in the next
48 to 72
hours," he said. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
separately that water should be restored to much of eastern Baghdad on
Wednesday as its staff repaired the Qanat pumping station. "Our engineers
worked for 12 years to get these pumping stations working. They know them
like the back of their hand," said ICRC spokesperson Roland
Huguenin-Benjamin. He said the power outages were also preventing the
distrubtion of water.
With Baghdad's hospital system in a virtual state of collapse after
widespread pillage, Hoellwarth said 14 of the city's 33 facilities were
secure and operational. He could not say when the others would reopen.
Hoellworth said that joint Iraqi-US police patrols began on Monday with
Iraqi cars going out accompanied by marines in all-terrain Humvees, and
"today many more patrols are running". He said that US forces
put out a call
for 150 Iraqi policemen on Monday and had between 700 and 1 000 reporting
for duty. "They are progressing steadily and we are
also working out
neighbourhood watch programmes," Hoellwarth said.
Posted on Tue, Apr. 15, 2003
In bombed neighborhoods, everyone 'wants to kill Americans'
By CAROL ROSENBERG and MATT SCHOFIELD
Knight Ridder Newspapers
BAGHDAD, Iraq - In Baghdad's al Kharnouq neighborhood, five unexploded
American-made cluster bomblets perch precariously in Qusai Abdel Majid's
lemon tree and the flower bed beneath it. Stepping carefully, one can
a trail of dozens of the 2-inch-long black bombs that have killed four
his neighbors so far.
"There was no military here to put the bombs on us. So, I imagine,
wanted to kill us," said Abdel Majid, 43, who is afraid to let his
play in the yard.
In the al Adhamiya neighborhood, men point to fallen walls, collapsed
and smashed cars riddled with bullet holes. They speak swiftly and angrily.
"A year ago, on these streets, we would have yawned if someone had
America to us," Khalid Tarah said. "Now, look what they have
done to us.
Everyone feels this pain. Everyone here now wants to kill. Everyone here
wants to kill Americans."
At the end of the U.S. military's first week in Baghdad, gunfire of
uncertain origin continued sporadically throughout the day Tuesday, picking
up late at
night, but looting had all but subsided. The Army's 101st Airborne Division
said it was considering an 11 p.m.-to-dawn curfew in an effort to control
the gunfire, but Marines who occupy the portions of Baghdad east of the
River said they had no such plan.
Elements of the 4th Infantry Division drove through town on their way
Kuwait to northern Iraq, and were greeted by smiling and waving Baghdadis.
But many Baghdadis were angry as they talked about the destruction in
"The people are paying for this war, not Saddam or anybody else.
wanted to get rid from him, but not in this way," said Kawther Hussein,
a British-trained chemical engineer and mother of three who lives in al
"People lived here. Children lived here. Where will they live now?"
a man in
al Adhamiya said as the crowd picked up the bricks of a collapsed apartment
U.S. military officials acknowledge the damage in civilian neighborhoods.
Two U.S. Army ordnance experts went street to street in al Kharnouq on
searching for the canisters that fluttered down April 7, leaving a virtual
minefield amid the rows of split-level homes of designs that mix Frank
Wright and Mesopotamian inspirations.
"It's a big problem," said Army Corps of Engineers Capt. Thomas
whose crews are responsible for disarming unexploded ordinance in part
"This is the worst neighborhood I've personally seen."
Austin defended the bomblets' use, saying the Iraqi military sometimes
anti-aircraft artillery in civilian neighborhoods and that the bomblets
meant to rain down on armor or anti-aircraft batteries, exploding when
hit their metal surfaces.
Instead, they landed on softer targets - lawns and trees, and in one
instance the asbestos roof of 60-year-old Sabih el Bazzaz's carport -
their fall, and failing to trigger them.
Residents say the closest anti-aircraft battery was on a highway a
quarter-mile from their neighborhood. For them it is a sign that American
forces didn't distinguish between the military and civilians in their
so-called war of liberation.
The toll, they said, was four civilians. The house of Rashid Majid and
sons Ghassan and Arkan had a black banner of mourning outside Tuesday,
declaring them "martyrs of the American aggression."
Around the corner, Uday al Shimarey's father said his son and the Majids
were all killed because they were curious about the bombs and apparently
over to pick them up, or kicked them.
The view from al Adhamiya is just as bitter, though the U.S. bombing
campaign left it largely unscathed. At 5 a.m. last Thursday, residents
awoke to hear
American tanks rolling down residential streets so narrow that a few got
Thirty people were killed, though the circumstances were uncertain. Tarah
said they were "defending their homes ... hoping to keep away thieves
robbers, when the tanks rolled in." He said a 10-year-old boy was
shot as he
watched what was going on. Thirteen more were killed when they rushed
protect Imam al Nawman Mosque nearby.
Sheik Moaied al Aadhamiy offered a tour of the mosque. There were large
holes in the four-story clock tower, caused by bombs, he said. The corners
two-story arched entryway had been ripped off by tank fire. The tomb of
al Nawman is riddled with bullets holes, at least 20.
The sheik acknowledged that residents tried to drive the Americans away.
the damage was done before. "There was no one here when the Americans
arrived," he said. "Those who came to defend the mosque arrived
and tried to
drive them away, when they were killed. But the mosque was empty when
Al Aadhamiy shook his head. The mosque is 1,020 years old, he said.
"I know the Americans said their war was with Saddam and not the
people," he said. "But this is now inside our hearts and will
Each day when I come here, I have the same thought, everyone says the
thing. There is no other reaction. We hate the Americans."
(Knight Ridder Newspapers correspondents Andrea Gerlin and John Sullivan
Baghdad contributed to this report.)
Civilians killed as Mosul riots continue
By Scheherezade Faramarzi in Mosul
17 April 2003
Civilians were killed for the second day running in Mosul as some of
worst violence since Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled continued
Officials at the northern city's emergency hospital put the death toll
on Tuesday and three yesterday. At least 18 are also reported to have
injured in the violence that broke out in the country's third-largest
US Central Command in Qatar confirmed that seven people had died but
comment on accusations that US Marines shot at civilians yesterday. Few
details were available about the shooting, but it appeared to have taken
place at an open-air market a few hundred metres from the governor-general's
Meanwhile, about 40 US Marines in Baghdad raided the home of a
microbiologist, Rihab Taha, nicknamed "Dr Germ" by weapons inspectors.
was said to have run Iraq's secret biological laboratory which had the
of turning anthrax into a weapon. Troops brought out boxes of documents
three men with their hands up.
Dr Taha is the wife of General Amer Mohammed Rashid, Iraq's former oil
minister. Her whereabouts were not immediately known.
"We're really just in the early stages of that" search, Brigadier
Vincent Brooks told reporters at Central Command.
He added that US troops were trying to secure a government building on
Tuesday in Mosul when a crowd began punching, throwing rocks and spitting
them, and setting cars alight. He said some of the Americans fired back
after shots were directed at them, and some members of the crowd began
climb over a wall into the government compound in a coordinated
P.O. Box 66
General class struggle news: