Humanitarian Crisis Intensifies in Fallujah As Iraqi
Govít Accused of Killing Over 100 Civilians
By Dahr Jamail - Democracy Now!
A new report by Truthout has revealed doctors,
residents and non-governmental organization workers
in the city of Fallujah are accusing the Iraqi
government of war crimes and crimes against humanity
in its ongoing attack against the city. According to
one account, at least 109 civilians have been killed
and 632 wounded since January when Iraqi government
forces began shelling Fallujah in its fight against
militants. For more on this developing story, we are
joined by Dahr Jamail
Government Killing Civilians in Fallujah
By Dahr Jamail
04, 2014 "Information
Clearing House - "Truthout"
residents and NGO workers in Fallujah are accusing
the Iraqi government of "war crimes" and "crimes
against humanity" that have occurred as a result of
its ongoing attack on the city.
Shami, the chief of resident doctors at Fallujah
General Hospital, told Truthout that since Iraqi
government forces began shelling Fallujah in early
January 2014, at least 109 civilians have been
killed and 632 wounded.
those killed were children, and 40 of the wounded
are children," Shami said. He also said five of the
dead are women, as are 35 of the wounded.
children have been killed in cold blood as the
result of the indiscriminate shelling of the city,"
Shami said. "At the same time, there are many young
people from the city who (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri
al-)Maliki's army has killed and burned their
Iraqi government has not cut the city's water and
electricity, doctors in Fallujah told Truthout that
the Iraqi army, which they refer to as "Maliki's
forces," continues to prevent medical supplies from
entering the city.
spoke with another doctor from Fallujah, who spoke
on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals
from the Maliki government. "Many houses and even
the mosque near our house have been attacked, and
many civilians killed and injured," the doctor said.
"Many people have been killed before they could
reach the hospital, which has also been targeted by
and the doctor's family have been evacuated from the
city, since their neighborhood was under constant,
direct attack. "I am now a refugee with my brother's
and sister's families in another city in Iraq,
living an extremely hard life," the doctor said.
In the area
where the doctor is, there are 1,300 families from
Fallujah, and there are up to five families seeking
refuge in a single home. "Many are living in school
classrooms, with three families in each classroom,"
the doctor said.
happening in Fallujah is a war crime," the doctor
said. "Believe me that there have never been any
official nor military targets attacked by Maliki's
army. Civilians are the only target."
14, Nickolay Mladenov, the special representative of
the United Nations secretary-general in Iraq
expressed his concerns about the deteriorating
security situation and growing humanitarian
catastrophe the people in Fallujah were facing.
particularly concerned about the rapidly
deteriorating conditions in Fallujah, where many
residents are caught up in the fighting," Mladenov said.
"The UN continues to urge for humanitarian access to
to Mladenov, "More than 60,000 families have been
displaced since the fighting broke out in the Anbar
province," and "the displaced families are running
out of food and drinking water and suffer from poor
sanitation and limited access to health care."
relief organizations pin the number of displaced at
Iraqi government called a 72-hour truce that
continued to hold at the time of this writing,
people inside the city continue to suffer. They fear
more fighting is to come.
Killing Civilians, Shelling Hospitals
Al-Darraji, a Fallujah resident who founded the
Conservation Center of Environmental and Reserves in
Fallujah, a human rights and environmental NGO, told
Truthout he believes the Iraqi government is
carrying out "crimes against humanity" in Fallujah.
provided Truthout with much video evidence of dead
and wounded civilians in the city, as well as
photographs of artillery shells that had struck
nearby Fallujah General Hospital.
videos posted on Youtube being mostly in Arabic,
footage clearly shows civilians who have been
wounded or killed.
19-year-old pregnant woman had her leg
blown off by what the family claimed was
"indiscriminate shelling" by the Iraqi army, while
she was in her home in northern Fallujah. Another
video shows a young boy with shrapnel
in his back being treated at a hospital.
shows the severely wounded being operated
on, while other clips show damage inside
Fallujah's main hospital. Footage of wounded
children, women and young
girls is widely
available online, some of it extremely
NGO filed a formal report detailing its concerns to
the International Criminal Court on February 17,
ministry of interior claims that al-Qaeda's
affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
(ISIS), has taken over parts of the city. This claim
has been reported widely by most mainstream media
Truthout that while Maliki is claiming that the
military operation in Fallujah is to remove
militants from the city, "The people he is attacking
are the people of the city itself," and that "tribal
rebels have taken over the city. The people of
Fallujah are peaceful and only want their basic
human rights, but at the same time they are
defending themselves from Maliki's sectarian army
Alani, a French-Iraqi journalist with family ties in
reported that ISIS, while maintaining a small
presence in the city, is not playing a significant
role in the fighting in Fallujah.
been said and written about ISIS raising its flag
atop a building in Fallujah, an act that was taken
to be a sign of their power in the city. Of this,
Alani reported, "They took the flag down five
minutes later, when ordered to by tribal leaders.
This shows that the tribes control Fallujah."
January, Iraqi government forces dispersed a protest
camp in Fallujah, while simultaneously arresting a
politician who was sympathetic to goals of the
protesters, events that sparked the most recent
violence in Fallujah and Ramadi.
the situation actually began far earlier. Beginning
in late 2012, thousands of demonstrators gathered
every Friday on
the main highway linking Baghdad and Amman, Jordan,
which runs by the outskirts of Fallujah.
Fallujah and the rest of Iraq's vast Anbar Province
were enraged at the Maliki government because his
security forces, still heavily staffed by members of
various Shia militias, were killing or
detaining their compatriots from the region, as well
as across much of Baghdad.
protesters took to the streets every Friday to
pray and express their anger by holding signs that
read, "We demand an end to checkpoints surrounding
Fallujah. We demand they allow in the press. We
demand they end their unlawful home raids and
detentions. We demand an end to federalism and
gangsters and secret prisons!"
2013, one of the leaders of the demonstrations,
Sheikh Khaled Hamoud Al-Jumaili, told Truthout,
"Losing our history and dividing Iraqis is
wrong, but that, and kidnapping and conspiracies
and displacing people, is what Maliki is doing."
admitted at the time that the Maliki government
was not meeting any of their demands and feared
violence if the government continued to ignore
the widespread grievances of the residents of
Iraq's Anbar province.
same day Truthout spoke with Jumaili, a
demonstrator was gunned down by Iraqi forces in
Ramadi. At the time, Lt. Gen. Mardhi al-Mahlawi,
commander of the Iraqi Army's Anbar Operations
Command, said the authorities would not hesitate
to deploy troops around the protest site again
"if the protesters do not cooperate."
following day, the Maliki government warned that
the area was becoming "a haven for terrorists,"
echoing the term the Americans used prolifically
during their occupation of Fallujah.
the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, there
was no fighting in Fallujah. Tribal leaders in
the city allowed the US military to enter the
city in peace.
However, the US military fired on unarmed
demonstrators outside of a school that was being
occupied, thus beginning resistance within the
city to the US occupation.
wake of four US mercenaries being killed in the
city in April 2004, the US military laid siege
to Fallujah under the pretense of "fighting
terrorism," just as the Maliki government is
stiffer resistance than expected, the first
siege ended after one month. Between May and
November 2004, the US military bombed and
shelled the city, often targeting wedding
parties, funerals, civilian homes and mosques.
During this time, collective punishment often
was employed, cutting water, electricity and
medical supplies to the city.
November 8, 2004, the US military launched a
massive siege of the city, again under the guise
of "fighting terrorism," claiming that Jordanian
terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was in the city,
despite there never having been proof he had
stepped foot in the city.
According to CCERF, approximately 5,000
residents of Fallujah were killed during the
Parliamentary Speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi recently
called for a ceasefire in Fallujah. Nujaifi, who
heads the Sunni Arab Mutahidoun bloc, called for
a suspension of military operations across Anbar.
government must totally suspend its military
operations in Anbar," Nujaifi said,
adding that "displaced Anbar residents ... must
go back to their homes."
Provincial Council official Adhal Al-Fahdaw
told Asharq Al-Awsat, "There are many tribal and
religious leaders who are trying to defuse the
crisis to reach a solution. In light of this, we
are calling for an open-ended deadline, because
the solution to the Fallujah crisis will come
from the tribal community, not from the
Meanwhile, the US government continues to ship
weapons to the Maliki government to fight "Sunni
Islamist militants" in Anbar province. To date,
according to the Congressional Research Service,
the US government has spent more than $20
billion to equip and train the Iraqi military.
Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff
reporter, is the author of
The Will to Resist: Soldiers
Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan,
(Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the
Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded
Journalist in Occupied Iraq,
(Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from
Iraq for more than a year, as well as from
Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last
ten years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award
for Investigative Journalism, among other