Jun 12, 2006
Falluja was a modern city of 250,000 people before the U.S. attacked it in November of 2004. It had had a long history of resistance, even against Saddam Hussein. The U.S. set out to destroy the city and make an example of it to all the other cities resisting the U.S. occupation – no matter the cost to human life.
Caught in the Crossfire: The Untold Story of Falluja, released on DVD in 2005, is a documentary made by Iraqi and U.S. film makers about this attack. Since they filmed completely outside and away from the U.S. military, the picture they show is one we very rarely see.
This documentary tells the story of the civilian victims of this attack, the ones “caught in the crossfire.” It tells of the thousands still trapped in the city when the attack began; no one knows just how many of them died in the attack.
It also tells of the hundreds of thousands who were forced to leave their homes and their city. With nowhere to go, they took refuge anywhere they could: abandoned buildings, cars, schools, and even old chicken coops. These refugees have lived in filthy conditions ever since; with no sanitation and no clean water, many children are becoming very ill.
Some of the scenes are graphic and striking. The movie shows children injured in the initial attack, as well as scenes of mass burials in mass graves, the families weeping as they bury their dead.
The U.S. government and media make a big deal about the mass graves created under the rule of Saddam Hussein, as proof of what a vicious criminal he was. We see mass graves in this film – but filled with the civilian victims killed by the United States military.
Once the fighting in Falluja ended, some civilians returned to their city – only to find it a city in ruins. The movie shows images of buildings left in rubble for blocks and blocks – as far as the eye can see. Small children and elderly people walk amid the debris.
The movie ends with interviews on the streets of this devastated city. Speaking in Arabic (with English subtitles), these victims of American atrocities express a very understandable anger and a spirit of resistance. One man says, “The raiding, the burning, the detentions, the evictions, the killing – it is continuous, every day and night.” A woman gives this final thought: “If they are calling people here terrorists, then why are they not calling Americans terrorists also? They would never accept this in their lives.”