Tuesday, November 16, 2004

No Child Left Alive

From The Guardian
Evidence began to emerge yesterday of civilians, including children, who were seriously injured in the US assault on the Iraqi city of Falluja.

As American troops sought to consolidate their control over the city, patients in a hospital in Baghdad described how they had been hurt during US bombing raids before the ground assault began last week.
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The Iraqi government insisted last night that there was no humanitarian crisis in the city and no civilians had been killed.

But there is evidence to suggest that there have been civilian casualties and shortages of medical care.

Lying next to each other in the al-Nouman hospital in Baghdad's Adhamiya district yesterday were Ala'a Farhan, 11, and his brother Nafar, seven. The elder boy was injured on his left shoulder, the younger child was missing the lower part of his left leg. He lay on a hospital bed still dressed in a jumper and trousers, watching as blood seeped through the dressing on his leg.

The boys' father, Farhan Khalaf, said his sons had been injured in an air or artillery strike on the city in the days before the ground assault began last Monday. It came just as the family was preparing to flee to the nearby village of Saklawiya, where many other refugees are sheltering.

"We were collecting our things to go out of Falluja to a place called Saklawiya where there are other members of our tribe," Mr Khalaf said.

"That's when we got hit by the Americans. My cousin was with me and we took the children to Falluja hospital."

On the Sunday night, before the assault began, US marines and Iraqi forces seized control of Falluja hospital.

Mr Khalaf took his injured children, left the hospital, and tried to take them 40 miles to Baghdad with other relatives.

But as they moved they came under attack a second time, from what they believe was an American tank round.

His cousin Falah Hassan, 38, was killed and his two children were badly injured. Both are also recovering in the al-Nouman hospital.

The younger boy, Ahmed Falah, aged two, was in the arms of a veiled female relative. He had bandages around wounds to his chest, his right hand and above his right eye. On a bed to the side was his brother, Salah, seven, who had his left leg wrapped in plaster and many bandages protecting a serious wound to his stomach.

"When my cousin was hit and killed his two children were hit as well," said Mr Khalaf. "We pray that the government will see all this and do something about it. These children are not terrorists, they are not al-Qaida."

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