3 Wounded by Bomb at Central Bank;
22 Guerrillas Die in Fallujah Bombing
Guerrillas detonated a bomb outside Iraq’s central bank in Baghdad on Sunday, wounding 2 employees and a guard.
Guerrillas blew up another bomb in a crowded market in Baghdad on Sunday, injuring at least 5.
Fighting continued near the eastern city of Baquba between US troops and guerrillas, apparently a mixed Sunni and Shiite force. On Friday, one US soldier and three Iraqis had been killed there. The precise nature of this conflict remains frustratingly vague.
The US dropped two bombs on a poor residential district of Fallujah on Saturday, killing at least 22 and wounding 9. The F-16 destroyed two houses and damaged 6 others. Most of those dead, including 3 women and 5 children, belonged to the extended family of a local farmer, Muhammad Hamadi. The US maintained that the building hit was a safe house for the al-Tawhid terrorist group of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Local Iraqis in Fallujah maintained that most of those killed were innocent civilians.
I don’t mean to be a killjoy, but for an Occupying Power to drop bombs on residential neighborhoods is a war crime. The three women and five children killed are not “collateral damage.” They are human beings. They were killed by the United States. There are no such things as “precision strikes” in residential neighborhoods. Bombs not only throw off shrapnel themselves, they create lots of deadly flying debris, including flying glass from broken windows, that can kill and maim. Dropping bombs on an tank corps assembled in the desert and intending to do harm is one thing. Dropping bombs on a residential district is another.
We on the outside have no way of judging the various claims made in these sorts of situations. For all I know the Hamadi clan has a lot of blood on its hands and has been blowing up people. But if so, they should have been arrested by a special ops team cooperating with the Fallujah Brigade. You can’t go around bombing residential buildings and killing women and children if you are to retain any respect whatsoever from the local population or, indeed, the world community. Remember that when Bush puts pressure on India or Pakistan to send troops to help in Iraq, one of the implications is that he is asking their military officers to be an active party to things like bombing residential complexes. They have publics that are already angry about the US occupation of Iraq and how it has been (mis)managed. They need to be associated with this kind of action like they need a hole in the head. That’s the pragmatic argument. The legal argument against carrying out this kind of strike is that the pilots who carried it out could conceivably be charged in some tribunal somewhere in the world, as, indeed, could everyone above them who approved the order to strike.
There were manifestations of public anger over all this in Fallujah, and presumably in the rest of the Sunni heartland. It doesn’t do any good to kill 15 guerrillas and their wives and children (if they were in fact guerrillas) if in so doing you create 30 more.
The case of 6 Shiite truck drives killed by a Sunni clan near Fallujah last week, which had threatened to provoke Sunni-Shiite violence, is still being mediated between Fallujah’s governing council and the Shiite Establishment. Some progress appears to have been made on defusing tensions.
In a similar conflict, Kurdish militiamen kidpnapped 10 Arab truck drives (from Samarra) in Kirkuk, in revenge for the recent kidnapping of 5 Kurdish soldiers in the region who were serving in the new Iraqi military. Tensions run high between Arabs and Kurds in the Kirkuk area and the place is a tinderbox.