Nov 22, 2004
As the Iraqi city of Falluja lay in ruins, a U.S. marine told a U.S. reporter that the western part of the city was a "weapons free zone." He went on to explain, "... the marines can shoot whatever they see – it's all considered hostile."
According to U.S. authorities, their targets were just terrorists, mainly foreign terrorists. Everyone else was supposed to be gone from Falluja.
In fact, as many as 100,000 or more ordinary people were trapped in the city, according to the figures of the International Red Cross. These included some women and children, and many old men. Some were not willing to leave their homes. Others were caught inside. Still others had already succumbed to months of intensive bombing that preceded the U.S. assault.
It was on their city, their apartments and homes and streets, that the U.S. dropped a deadly arsenal: the 2000 and 500 pound bombs, the 155 mm howitzer shells. U.S. forces fired shells filled with white phosphorous, which creates a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water and that melts the skin. And they also used cluster bombs with shrapnel that shreds flesh and breaks bones.
Some Fallujans tried to escape the attacks. But when they did, they became targets of tanks and fighting vehicles, which shot at anything that moved, or U.S. helicopter gunships, which hovered overhead waiting for targets. People who tried to swim or paddle to safety across the very wide Euphrates River were machine gunned and blown up.
Everything that was done added to the high death toll.
There was no medical help for those who were wounded or sick – the U.S. had either destroyed hospitals and clinics in the first days of fighting or took them over – locking up the doctors and staff.
There was no humanitarian aid either. The U.S. prevented a convoy of the Red Crescent (the Red Cross for that part of the world) from bringing in medical supplies, food and water.
At the end of the battle, wrote one New York Times reporter, "Driving down Highway 10, the main street running east to west through the heart of Falluja, is like entering a film that is set sometime on the other side of Armageddon." Dogs and cats and rats were feeding on piles of dead bodies; hardened marines gagged on the stench of death that was everywhere.
Falluja was a "weapons free zone," which meant that the U.S. military killed wantonly, terrorizing everyone in its path. Just like in Viet Nam, when the U.S. declared villages were in a "free fire zone," destroying the villages "in order to save them."
The U.S. attack on Falluja is the most extreme use of violence against a civilian population. It is terrorism, state terrorism carried out by the mightiest superpower in the world, the United States.
The vicious destruction of Falluja is a warning aimed at the whole Iraqi population – accept U.S. domination of their country or the U.S. will wipe out everyone: men, women, children and the very old.
In front of the whole world, the U.S. carries out terrorism – in our name, the name of everyone in this country.
We have every reason to oppose this war carried out by the U.S. government in our name – to stop the slaughter in Iraq, to bring U.S. troops themselves out of danger, to show that the face presented by the U.S. government is not our face.