Erdla Writes Re: A Sad (And Sadder Still, Savagely Spun) Story From Iraq ...
When we asked recently for guest writers (who we still want/need, btw) to help 'hold our hand' through some personally 'trying times' -- we received several surprises.Such as -- lots of letters from loonies and/or nasties.
Thankfully, among some of the sensible, sincere (and sane) respondents was young mother, Erdla. Who, incidentally, certainly isn't a stranger to us.
Therefore, today we take (plenty of) pride and pleasure in publishing Erdla's excellent guest piece.
Two months ago ... Zahra Hassan and her father Hussein Abdullah were shot dead by American soldiers on the rooftop of their home.
Let us start with the American version of what happened - here it is in full:
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
Aug. 14, 2007
Coalition Forces Kill Four Terrorists, Detain Eight in Search for Militant Extremist Leader
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Coalition Forces killed four terrorists and detained eight during a raid in Sadr City early Tuesday morning. The rogue Jaysh-al-Mahdi (JAM) leader and his operatives are suspected of coordinating and conducting attacks against Coalition Forces and moderate Iraqis within the Baghdad area.
The purpose of the raid was to capture or kill an extremist militant and his operatives. These militants have split with JAM and threaten the stability and security of areas within Baghdad. These militants are also known to have ties to illicit materials smuggled from Iran that have been used in extra-judicial killings.
Coalition Forces searched three buildings during the operation. Ground troops confiscated miscellaneous documents, photographs and identification cards. As Coalition Forces armored vehicles were departing the area, they were attacked by two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and small arms fire from multiple locations. Coalition Forces called for rotary-wing aircraft to fire warning shots in order to allow the ground forces to break away from the firing extremists. Coalition ground forces also returned fire, killing four armed gunmen. There were no Coalition Forces casualties during the operation.
"Coalition Forces continue to gain momentum in attacking the extremist networks that employ improvised explosive devices, especially explosively formed penetrators, which are smuggled from Iran to attack the Iraqi people and the security forces that protect them," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, MNF-I spokesperson. "We will continue our operations against these extremists to expose, disrupt and destroy the supply networks of lethal materials and aid flowing into Baghdad."
Apart from the usual tissue of innuendo and accusations with not even a shred of supporting evidence, what does this statement contain? It contains an admission that the Americans conducted a raid on a densely populated civilian quarter.
The fact that the Americans have no right to be in Irak, that they invaded and continue to violently occupy Irak on the basis of one self-serving lie after another is, of course, not mentioned.
During the raid they say they came under attack. They responded with fire they called in air support. That's the American version. It ends with the usual propaganda puff piece.
What there isn't is any mention of civilian casualties. There is no mention of a child and her father being killed.
* This is the the independent Iraki newsagency Aswat Al Iraq (Voices of Iraq) English language report:
3-year old girl, uncle killed in raid on Sadr City
Baghdad, Aug 14, (VOI) - A three-year old girl and her uncle were killed during raids by joint Iraqi-U.S. forces on Sadr City, eastern Baghdad, a media source from Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's office in Baghdad's al-Rasafa district said on Tuesday.
"Zahraa and her paternal uncle were sleeping on the roof of their home on the periphery of Sadr City when the raid, in which nine people were arrested, occurred during the early hours of Tuesday," the source, who preferred not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
A local resident from the area said the joint force was backed by helicopters in the raid that started at 01:00 a.m. and ended at 05:00 a.m., adding that armed clashes erupted between the attacking force and gunmen.
No comment on the incident was immediately available from the U.S. or Iraqi forces.
From Aswat Al Iraq's Arabic report here we learn that the raid took place on sectors 74 and 75 which are on the outskirts of Sadr city and that the American troops tried to cordon off the district.
One of the things that this means is that ambulances aren't able to get in, and residents trying to take the wounded out will be shot at by the troops manning the cordon.
In an AP report we find this:
Local officials, meanwhile, said four civilians, including a 3-year-old girl, were killed Tuesday during a raid by joint U.S.-Iraqi forces in Baghdad's Shiite district of Sadr City. The U.S. military said four militants were killed after a fierce gunfight, but it had no reports of civilian deaths.
A police officer in Sadr City, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information, said the four civilians were killed and five others were wounded as American and Iraqi troops backed by helicopters, conducted house-to-house searches in the sprawling area in eastern Baghdad.
Associated Press photos showed the body of 3-year-old Zahraa Hussein lying in a wooden coffin, her white nightdress stained with blood. Police said she and her father had been struck by shrapnel while they slept on the roof of their house seeking comfort from the heat.
Spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said he had no reports of civilians killed in the operation.
"I can't confirm that our operation did that," he said, referring to Hussein's death. "We work very hard to avoid any injury to civilians."
The troops raided three buildings in search of a rogue Shiite militia leader suspected of coordinating and conducting attacks against U.S.-led forces and moderate Iraqis, the military said in a statement.
As the armored vehicles were leaving the area, they were attacked by two roadside bombs and small-arms fire from multiple locations, prompting helicopters to fire warning shots to allow the convoy to escape the attack, it said, adding that U.S.-led ground forces also returned fire, killing four gunmen.
Reuters reported this attack too again the key passages are in bold text:
So let's see - what do we have?
BAGHDAD, Aug 14 (Reuters) - U.S. forces said they killed four people in a raid in Iraq's sprawling Shi'ite slum of Sadr City early on Tuesday, while relatives said the dead included a 5-year-old girl sleeping with her family on the roof.
Later in the morning, angry mourners marched through the slum's streets with flag-draped coffins.
Sadr City, home to about a third of Baghdad's six million people, has been a focus of American raids in recent weeks.
It is the main stronghold in the capital of Shi'ite militias loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, which Washington says are linked to Iran and were responsible for nearly three quarters of attacks against its troops in July.
"The Americans raided our house from the roof. They were jumping from one roof to another. They jumped on to our roof and killed my brother and my 5-year-old niece, Zahra Hassan," Ali Khamis Eidan, a policeman, told Reuters.
U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Garver said: "Our troops at the site did not inflict any casualties on civilians. The only people they fired at were people who fired at them."
Family members, including the girl's small brother, wept at the scene. On the roof blood had stained a mattress, where relatives said the girl had been killed. Many Iraqis sleep on their roofs in the summer to stay cool.
An official at Sadr City's Imam Ali hospital, Qasim Abdul Zahara, said the hospital's morgue had received three dead bodies, including a 5-year-old girl and her father, both killed by gun wounds to the head.
Four wounded were also treated at the hospital, including an elderly woman and her elderly husband, he added.
U.S. forces said Tuesday's pre-dawn raid was in pursuit of a "rogue" leader of Sadr's Mehdi Army whose militants had split from Sadr and had used "illicit materials smuggled from Iran" to carry out killings.
They said they captured eight suspects. Troops killed four militants after helicopters fired warning shots.
Last week U.S. forces said they killed about 30 militants in an air strike during a raid in Sadr City. They also mounted a raid on Sunday morning, in which they said they killed up to five people and captured 13.
Source Reuters: U.S., Iraqi Troops Start New Operation
- We have a named local policeman who was there at the time of the killing and who says the Americans killed Zahra Hassan a child, and her father.
- We have a named official at Imam Ali hospital who says that both the child and her father were killed by gun wounds to the head.
There is every reason to believe them if only because in the blood soaked hell hole that America has created in Irak that isn't the sort of thing you would lie about and publicly put your to name to the lie. To tell such an easily disprovable lie would be to ensure that you would be hunted through the streets by a baying mob. So we have two credible witnesses:
1./ They jumped on to our roof and killed my brother and my 5-year-old niece ...
2./ Qasim Abdul Zahara, said the hospital's morgue had received three dead bodies, including a 5-year-old girl and her father, both killed by gun wounds to the head.
and we have the American version:
Our troops at the site did not inflict any casualties on civilians.
Hussein Abdullah and his daughter Zahra Hassan died on the rooftop of the home. They had every reason and every right to be there.
Summer in Baghdad is crushingly hot - temperatures of 50° Celsius are the norm. In temperatures like that even sitting still can be enervating and sleep is almost impossible. To escape the crushing heat and try to get some sleep many people, especially poor people sleep on the roof.
The Americans launched a raid on a densely populated civilian area. They say they didn't inflict any casualties on civilians.
" Our troops at the site did not inflict any casualties on civilians."
Tell that to these two children whose father and sister died of gunshot wounds to their heads. Shot dead by American soldiers according to two reliable local witnesses.
Why is this important? Why bring it up now?
On that day there was a horrific bombing which turned an entire village to rubble and left casualties in the hundreds and these killings sank out of sight. In the two months since August 14th 2007 there has been aerial bombardment, after aerial bombardment, after aerial bombardment of civilian areas by the occupying American forces and if it comes out that civilians were killed.
They shrug them off as "regrettable" and put the blame on someone else. We can expect to see lots more of this the Americans are moving more and more to using air power to try to enforce their "surge." There are going to be lots more Zahra Hassan's - dead children who the American occupying forces "regret" killing.
They're not sorry about it. They just "regret" it.
Zahraa and her father were human beings with all the rights and feelings that you and I have. One of those rights is the right to be remembered. Another is for us to raise our voices in protest at their slaugher.
Thank you Richard for giving me the space to remember and mourn them here.
No. Thank you, Erdla - for reminding any among us who may have forgotten - what genuine journalism is and what genuine journalists do.We're proud to know you.
And we hope we've (somehow), helped -- as you so selflessy (and serially), help here.