Ishaqi Again: Another Day, Another Atrocity in the Endless Iraq War

August 9, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Ishaqi Again: Another Day, Another Atrocity in the Endless Iraq War

Chris Floyd

August 9, 2011

There was a raid in Ishaqi last week. Armed men crept upon the sleeping
houses in the dead of night. Armed men stirring in the darkness, in a land still
open, like a flayed wound, to violent death and chaos from every direction, many
years after the savage act of aggression that first tore the country to
pieces.

They crept toward the houses. They said nothing, gave no warning, could not
be clearly seen, did not identify themselves. “Thieves!” someone shouted.
Someone grabbed a rifle – one kept ready at hand to guard the sleeping family –
and fired a shot to scare away the raiders.

But men creeping in the darkness were not local thieves. They were soldiers
of the foreign army that still occupied the land. Foreign invaders, accompanied
by forces from the local army they had raised for the government they had built
on the mound of a million rotting corpses.

Armed to the teeth with expensive gear bought with public money from bloated
war profiteers in the invaders’ home country, the creeping men were not to be
frightened off by a rifle shot fired blindly in the darkness. They saw the flash
– and lit up the village with heavy gunfire and grenades. They called in a
helicopter gunship hovering nearby to support them against the rifle of a
villager awakened by the sound of unknown, unidentified, armed men creeping near
his house and family.

In the tumult, a 13-year-old boy began running through the garden,
frightened, confused, trying to escape the hellish metal flying all around him.
But the metal found him; it tore into his fleeing body – the body of this
scared, unarmed boy running away from the well-armed soldiers – the bullets tore
into his body and killed him in the garden where he used to play.

The armed men  then stalked through the village. Kicking down doors, dragging
people out, hogtied, and throwing them into the dirt.  They ransacked, they
smashed, they ripped, they broke – and, like thieves, they stole.

“We heard gunfire near our house, and my son woke
up and went to the garden because he was afraid,” said the boy’s mother, Nagia
Gamas, 51. “They shot him and my husband.”

… Muhammad Farhan, a 62-year-old farmer in
Ishaqi … said Iraqi and American forces knocked down his door around 2 a.m.
Friday, tied him and three of his relatives up and took them outside.

He said that the Iraqi and American forces
searched his house, stole a check from him and took his brother’s passport. “The
Americans were telling us we are liars and terrorists,” Mr. Farhan said. “Why do
you attack us? We are just innocent people.”

It was just another night in the unending American war against Iraq. It was
just another non-combatant death added to the million or more such deaths
caused, by direct or collateral hand, by the illegal American invasion, now in
its eighth year.

And it was just another atrocity in Ishaqi, where the American invaders and
their colonial helpers had already inflicted horror and death on the area’s
children in years past. The 13-year-old boy – who had been only five when the
invasion began, so many years and so many deaths ago, probably knew the little
children, some just a few months old, killed in the earlier attacks. As I noted here in March
2006
:

We know that U.S. forces conducted a raid on a
house in the village on March 15. … We know that two Iraqi police officials,
Major Ali Ahmed and Colonel Farouq Hussein – both employed by the U.S.-backed
Iraqi government – told Reuters that the 11 occupants of the house, including
the five children, had been bound and shot in the head before the house was
blown up. We know that the U.S.-backed Iraqi police told Reuters that an
American helicopter landed on the roof in the early hours of the morning, then
the house was blown up, and then the victims were discovered. We know that the
U.S.-backed Iraqi police said that an autopsy performed on the bodies found that
“all the victims had gunshot wounds to the head.”

We know that Ahmed Khalaf, brother of house’s
owner, told AP that nine of the [11] victims were family members and two were
visitors, adding, “the killed family was not part of the resistance, they were
women and children. The Americans have promised us a better life, but we get
only death.”

We know from the photographs that one child, the
youngest, the baby, has a gaping wound in his forehead. We can see that one
other child, a girl with a pink ribbon in her hair, is lying on her side and has
blood oozing from the back of her head. … We know from the photographs that
two of the children – two girls, still in their pajamas – are lying with their
dead eyes open. We can see that the light and tenderness that animate the eyes
of every young child have vanished; nothing remains but the brute stare of
nothingness into nothingness. We can see that the other three children have
their eyes closed; two are limp, but the baby has one stiffened arm raised to
his cheek, as if trying to ward off the blow that gashed and pulped his face so
terribly.

Later, the Pentagon changed its original story about the raid, in which it
claimed that “only” one man, two women and a single child had been killed.
Following an “investigation,” the Pentagon said that one terrorist had been
killed, along with “three noncombatant” deaths and an estimated nine “collateral
deaths.” (As I noted at the time: The difference between these two categories is
not explained. And of course it doesn’t matter to the innocent people killed;
whether they are “non-combatants” or “collaterals,” they’re still just as dead.)
The invaders categorically denied that any children had been shot in the head.
But the evidence
indicated differently
:

First is the photographic evidence: pictures taken
of the aftermath by Agence France Presse, and a video that emerged this week on
BBC. These clearly dispute the Pentagon’s account, which holds that the house
was first raked with gunfire, then attack by helicopter gunships, then finally
bombed by American jets: a massive barrage of firepower that left the house in
ruins. But the video shows that part of the house was left standing. The
photographs, which have been widely available for months, show five dead
children, one of them only a few months old. They have been laid out by grieving
relatives. Their bodies show no signs of having been ripped up or damaged in the
course of an all-out air and ground assault; as the BBC’s John Simpson points
out, they had not been crushed by the collapse of the house, as the Pentagon
claimed. Instead, they are unmarked, their clothes dusty but in most cases
untorn. In the photographs I saw, one child clearly has blood oozing from the
back of her head, while the baby has a hole in his forehead, and other damage to
his face. The other children are laid on their back, with their wounds
invisible, their bodies remarkably whole. Simpson, shown viewing the film, said
it was clear that the children had been shot.

Second is the testimony of the villagers, and of
two officials of the U.S.-backed Iraqi police, Major Ali Ahmed and Colonel
Farouq Hussein. These are men who risk their lives by their cooperation with the
Coalition. The villagers say soldiers entered the house and killed the
occupants; the house was later hit by the helicopter then bombed, apparently to
cover up the killings, some of the villagers surmised. The Iraqi police said
“all the victims had gunshot wounds to the head.” Later, a Knight-Ridder
reporter saw a preliminary report indicating that the 11 victims had multiple
wounds. This tallies with Simpson’s viewing, which showed that one of the dead
children had been shot in the side. Everyone who saw or examined the bodies
agreed that the victims had been shot, most likely by bullets from the large
pile of American-issue cartridges found inside the house, which can also be seen
on the video.

This was in March. Just a few months later, there was an even greater
massacre:

So what happened on December 9 in the village of
Taima in the Ishaqi district, on the shores of Lake Tharthar? The official U.S.
military version states that unidentified “Coalition Forces” entered the village
shortly after midnight and targeted a location “based on intelligence reports
that indicated associates with links to multiple al-Qaeda in Iraq networks were
operating in the area.” During a search, they took heavy fire from a nearby
building. Returning fire, they killed “two armed terrorists” but couldn’t quell
the attack, so they called in an airstrike that killed “18 more armed
terrorists.” …

The identification of the victims as terrorists
was made through a “battle damage assessment,” said U.S. military spokesman Lt.
Col. Christopher Garver. “If there is a weapon with or next to the person or
they are holding it, they are a terrorist,” he said.

Garver firmly refused to identify the troops
involved in the raid; he wouldn’t even say if they were American, Iraqi, or from
some other Coalition ally, the Daily Telegraph reports. “There are some units we
don’t talk about,” he said. But the conclusions of the official report were
unequivocal: 20 terrorists killed, no collateral damage. …

But local officials from the U.S.-backed Iraqi
government had a different view: they said the raid was a bloodbath of innocent
civilians. Ishaqi Mayor Amir Fayadh said that 19 civilians were killed by the
airstrikes that destroyed two private homes. Fayadh said that the victims
included seven women and eight children. An official in the regional government
of Salahuddin said six children had been killed. All Iraqi officials agreed that
the victims were mostly members of the extended families of two brothers in the
town, Muhammad Hussein al-Jalmood and Mahmood Hussein al-Jalmood, the NYT
reports. …

Soon after the attack, reporters and photographers
from Associated Press and Agence France Presse arrived on the scene. They took
pictures, shot video and talked to grieving members of the al-Jalmood family.
Local police gave them the names of at least 17 of the victims, which indicated
they were from the same family. The names of at least four women were among
them. Many of the bodies had been charred and twisted beyond recognition; some
were “almost mummified,” AP reports. However, AFP videotaped at least two
children among the dead.

When shown the pictures later, Garver said: “I see
nothing in the photos that indicates those children were in the houses that our
forces received fire from and subsequently destroyed with the airstrike.” He did
not speculate on where the dead children being mourned by family members after
being pulled from the rubble of the bombed-out houses might have come from
otherwise. Perhaps the al-Jalmoods kept them in cold storage for just such a
propaganda opportunity.

All of this was back in the bad old days of George W. Bush. But it is still
going on, and has been going on, throughout the tenure of the Great Continuer.
And if the Nobel Peace Laureate has his way, it will keep going on. Read
carefully the statement on the most recent raid by a PR mouthpiece for the invaders,
where he bravely and boldly heaps all blame for any “collateral damage” on the
colonial troops:

“This was an Iraqi-planned and -led
counterterrorism operation,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, an American military
spokesman, said in a statement. “The operation was enabled by U.S. support that
included helicopters. Also, there was a small number of U.S. advisers taking
part in the operation, although it was predominantly Iraqi forces, and they were
in charge of all activities on the ground.”

“Advisers.” This is the new term-of-art for invasion forces. This is the word
now being used by the Obama Administration and the Iraqi government in their
relentless efforts to weasel out of the agreement to withdraw all American
“military forces” from Iraq by the end of the year. This follows the line of the
Peace Laureate’s earlier scam, when he claimed to have kept his promise to
withdraw “all combat troops” from Iraq by simply renaming the tens of thousands
of occupying soldiers left behind as “non-combat troops” – although they
continued, and continue, to carry out combat missions. (And of course, the
“withdrawal” agreement doesn’t include the thousands upon thousands of “security
personnel” and mercenaries who will guard the vast embassy-fortress the invaders
have built in the center of Baghdad.)

So we will no doubt see more of Ishaqi’s children shot and killed by
occupiers and their colonial proxies in the months and years to come. We will no
doubt see more villages and neighborhoods invaded in the dead of night by armed
men creeping up on their houses, kicking down their doors, shooting, looting,
breaking and beating, in this now-hidden, now-forgotten but still-ongoing act of
mass murder.

[IDEM] Source

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