The U.S. attack on Fallujah is beginning to make My Lai look like child’s play.
“It was really distressing picking up dead bodies from destroyed homes, especially children. It is the most depressing situation I have ever been in since the war started,” Dr Rafa’ah al-Iyssaue, director of the main hospital in Fallujah city, some 60 km west of Baghdad, told IRIN.
According to al-Iyssaue, the hospital emergency team has recovered more than 700 bodies from rubble where houses and shops once stood, adding that more than 550 were women and children. He said a very small number of men were found in these places and most were elderly.
Al-Iyssaue added these numbers were only from nine neighbourhoods of the city and that 18 others had not yet been reached, as they were waiting for help from the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) to make it easier for them to enter.
He explained that many of the dead had been already buried by civilians from the Garma and Amirya districts of Fallujah after approval from US-led forces nearly three weeks ago, and those bodies had not been counted.
IRCS officials told IRIN they needed more time to give an accurate death toll, adding that the city was completely uninhabitable.
“The US troops are saying that soon Fallujah will be rebuilt. I believe that this city won’t offer a minimum of living conditions until another year has passed. I am still searching for what they have been calling democracy,” Muhammad Kubaissy, a civilian from Fallujah, told IRIN. His home and two shops were destroyed in the fighting.
“They came to bring us freedom, but all Iraqis are now prisoners in their own homes,” he added.
“It is impossible to live in Fallujah. There is no water, electricity or sewage treatment. Even hospitals cannot afford the minimum of security for all families of the city. We don’t have enough medicine and you can feel the bad smell of bodies in the air,” al-Iyssaue added.
Residents of Fallujah have been asking the Iraqi government to allow journalists and TV reporters to enter the city in order to show the reality.
The government will only allow journalists to visit with a special identity card, saying it is for their own safety. Many journalists have been turned away from Fallujah after not receiving authorisation from US-troops guarding the city.
“We need someone here to show the reality of Fallujah. Even when some journalists are here they are being followed by the Marines. We need someone to help us. The world should see the real picture of Fallujah,” Sheikh Abbas al-Zubeiny told IRIN.