Arab Herald / Al-Jazeera.com & Agence France-Presse – 2006-07-22 23:11:39
Iraqi Parliament Demands US Withdrawal
(July 22, 2006) — Iraq’s parliament speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani slammed the US invading Army over civilian deaths in Iraq, accusing the American troops of “butchery” and demanding an immediate end to the occupation of the country.
“Just get your hands off Iraq and the Iraqi people and Muslim countries, and everything will be all right,” Mashhadani said during a speech at the opening of a UN-sponsored conference on transitional justice and reconciliation in Baghdad, attended by UN officials, foreign experts, Iraqi politicians and civil society representatives.
“What has been done in Iraq is a kind of butchery of the Iraqi people,” he said.
Yesterday the US occupation forces killed six Iraqi civilians, including two women and a young girl, during a raid on a building the US troops claimed they thought was “a suspected insurgent hideout”.
The attack, which took place in Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, also wounded 20 other people.
Residents accused the US Army of excessive force, saying there was no need to fire missiles, bombs or artillery shells at residential areas.
“They demolished three houses with children in them just because they wanted two insurgents?’’ asked Raad Dahlaki, chief of the municipal council in Baqouba. “Why couldn’t they just detain the men?”
Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a US military spokesman, said American forces used “aerial fires’’ to attack a number of houses in Baqouba after they were shot at from rooftops.
Mashhadani, a member of the main Sunni Arab parliamentary bloc, the National Concord Front, a member of Maliki’s national unity government, further accused the US soldiers of keeping Iraqis waiting at checkpoints for long hours do give a chance for their bomb-sniffing dogs get some rest.
“The sleep of American dogs is more important than people being stopped in the street for hours,” he said.
Meanwhile, top US commander for the Middle East, Gen. John P. Abizaid, announced plans for deploying additional troops to Iraq.
It hasn’t been made clear yet if the recent surge of what the media refers to as “sectarian attacks” will result in the US commanders’ modification of their plans for troop reductions.
US Raid Kills Iraqi Civilians
The US occupation forces attacked a building in the Iraqi city of Baqouba, killing six civilians, including two women and a young girl, police said, AFP reported Friday.
The US military claimed that the dawn raid was aimed at suspected Al-Qaeda members, and that soldiers warned civilians before attacking the building, which it referred to as “a suspected insurgent hideout, with a series “aerial and ground fire”.
[Pictures taken by an AFP photographer showed six bodies of civilians, including that of a young child.]
In an attempt to throw the blame of repetitive loss of civilian lives on “terrorists”, the military claimed in a statement that “terrorists continue to deliberately place innocent Iraqi women and children in danger by their actions and presence.”
Residents confirmed that at least 20 civilians were hurt in Friday attack.
“We regret that civilians are hurt or killed while coalition forces search to rid Iraq of terrorism,” the US military said in its statement.
Civilian Deaths Surge
A recent United Nations report stated that about 6,000 Iraqi civilians died in the war-torn country only in May and June, challenging figures released by the Associated Press which claims that 1,511 civilians were killed, in May and June.
The report didn’t specify the number of those killed as a result of “indiscriminate shooting” by the US troops, or those who died in sectarian attacks.
The dead, according to the report from the UN Assistance Mission, include hundreds of teachers, judges, religious leaders and doctors.
“While welcoming recent positive steps by the government to promote national reconciliation, the report raises alarm at the growing number of casualties among the civilian population killed or wounded during indiscriminate or targeted attacks by terrorists or insurgents,” the UN said in a note accompanying the report.
At least 14,338 people had been killed during the first six months this year, the report added.
Lawyers Barred from Iraqi Town
The Marine Corps rejected a request by attorneys Jane Siegel and Joseph Casas, who seek to visit an Iraqi village where seven Marines and a Navy medic are believed to have kidnapped and killed an Iraqi civilian. The lawyers requested to visit the site where the crime was carried out and interview locals.
The lawyers’ request was turned down apparently out of fear their probe’s finding would challenge the Pentagon claims. They argued that photographs provided by military investigators do not provide enough details about the crime.
“While a site-survey for all involved counsel may become necessary in the future, the expense, security and logistical support required to accomplish a site visit . . . are unnecessary at this time,” the Marine Corps claimed.
6000 Civilians Killed in Iraq”
(July 19, 2006) — At least 6000 civilians were killed in Iraq over the last two months as casualties continued an “upward trend”, a recently released United Nations report stated. Data collected by Baghdad morgue and the Health Ministry supported the UN estimates, part of a bi-monthly UN report on human rights in Iraq.
Sectarian killings surged in Iraq since February attack on Al Askari shrine in the Iraqi city of Samara, raising fears of an all-out civil war that could lead to the break-up of Iraq.
Baghdad morgue said it has received 1595 bodies in June, 1375 in May and 1155 in April. Officials said that 80 percent of these are victims of violent attacks that have swept through the country since the formation of the new Iraqi government.
The US President George W. Bush claimed last December that only 30,000 Iraqis had been killed in the war that began on March 20 2003.
Iraqi health officials assert that media reports suggesting that only 50,000 civilians have been killed in the war are underestimating the real toll, according to the UN.
• 16 Iraqis, including five civilians, died Wednesday in a new wave of violence that struck the war-torn country.
• A blast outside the main courthouse in Kiruk, Iraq’s third-largest city with about a million residents and sizable ethnic Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen communities, killed 5 civilians, and wounded twelve others, mostly staff members.
• A series of blasts targeting a police patrol in Baghdad killed another five people and wounded 20 others, an interior ministry official said Wednesday.
• Three policemen were injured when a car bomb went off as police patrol drove by the technology university in the central Rusafa district.
• Two more bombs exploded, killing five people and wounding 17 others.
• Sixteen bodies were found in separate areas in Iraq. Officials suggest they’re victims of sectarian violence.
• Also in Baghdad, gunmen killed Maj. Gen. Fakhir Abdul-Hussein Ali, legal adviser to the Interior Ministry, while he was on his way to work.
• In Mahmoudiya, about 30km south of Baghdad, police said one person was killed and five others were kidnapped.
• Fierce fighting broke out Wednesday between Iraqi security forces and rebels in the area between Yusufiya and Mahmoudiya, another part of Iraq that witnessed repetitive sectarian attacks in recent months.
• Unidentified gunmen on Wednesday kidnapped 20 employees of a government agency responsible for Sunni mosques and shrines across Iraq. The incident was the latest in a series of kidnappings of government employees and officials that has surged in Iraq in recent days.
• Deadly Baghdad car bombing. A man detonated his vehicle in a crowd of laborers gathering across a street near a Shia shrine in Kufa, 100 miles south of Baghdad, killing 53 people.
More on Iraq…
• Market attack kills 41 people in Iraq
• Iraq war costs to top Vietnam and Korea
• Gunmen kidnap head of Iraq’s Olympic committee
• Iraqi mosques attacked, soldiers killed
• Rumsfeld visits Iraq amid raging sectarian violence
• Group says US soldiers killed over rape-murder case
• Saddam, lawyers boycott “malicious” trial
• Sectarian raid leaves 40 Sunnis dead in Iraq
• US Marines failed to probe Haditha massacre
• Iraq calls for probe into rape-murder case.