May 23, 2005
In early May, a thousand U.S. Marines were sent out on "Operation Matador" along the Iraq-Syria border. The Marines claimed that the operation "neutralized" an insurgent stronghold, and 125 "insurgents" were killed. Nine Marines were killed. Civilian casualties were not announced.
The Marines claimed that the operation "strove to ensure the well-being of the local Iraqi citizens." But aid agencies like the Red Cross and Red Crescent reported at least a thousand refugees fled from one town, al-Qaim, into the desert. At least 8,000 refugees overall could be counted. News services reported that the al-Qaim hospital was bombed so badly that doctors had to move operations to private homes.
A tribal elder said, "The Americans were bombing whole villages and saying they were only after foreigners." A woman who fled from Karabilah told an AP reporter, "The Americans do not hit the gunmen, they hit the houses of civilians. No one can go back now, and we do not know what happened to our husbands."
In these reports, those who remember Vietnam will recognize the policies from that war: