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Siege Tactics and Attacks on Population Centers

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Cornered Military Takes to Desperate Tactics (December 9, 2006)

Although the Geneva Conventions forbid the use of collective punishment on civilian populations, the US military continues to employ such tactics in urban areas of Iraq. Due to a large resistance against the US-led occupation, residents in Siniyah, Fallujah and Ramadi say they face increased levels of collective punishment by US forces, including interference with the provision of medical care, electricity cuts and constant identity checks. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the population of Fallujah demands the "unconditional withdrawal of US troops from their city." (Inter Press Service)

Iraq: Long History of Multi-Faith Co-Existence in Jeopardy (November 30, 2006)

This Global Researchpiece analyzes the disappearance of Iraq's multi-faith co-existence due to increasing ethnic violence, particularly in Iraq's north. Although reports of violence between Sunni and Shiite sects dominate the media, the author points out that Turkmens and Kurds also face marginalization, discrimination and hostility. Despite appearances of stability in northern Iraq, "there are troubling signs of an ethnic cleansing underway." Furthermore, northern cities such as Tel-Afar, which was the subject of a large-scale bombardment by US forces in 2005, "remains under military siege, crippled and little heard from."

Fallujah Once Again Beset by Violence (November 6, 2006)

Despite security controls that limit access to the city to only six checkpoints, Fallujah remains a breeding ground for violence in Iraq. This McClatchy Washington Bureaupiece details the effects of rigid security on the residents of Fallujah, who must subject themselves to regular fingerprinting and retina scans, and carry bar-coded identification cards whilst moving about the city. Although the US and Iraqi forces maintain a strong presence in Fallujah, Lieutenant Colonel James Teeples, the senior US adviser to the Iraqi army, says that the Iraqi security forces "don't have the manpower to maintain surveillance on the entire city."

US Resorting to 'Collective Punishment' in Iraq (September 18, 2006)

In the al-Anbar province of western Iraq residents claim that US military forces regularly cut their water and electricity supplies in an attempt to stem violent resistance to the occupation. Yet civilians suffer the greatest consequences from these acts of "collective punishment." Tactics such as routine vehicle checks, house raids and threats of violence by US armed forces further alienate civilians and only strengthen the cause of the resistance fighters. (Inter Press Service)

Voices: Life in Samarra and Falluja (August 22, 2006)

US military assaults on Samarra and Fallujah may have ceased but their humanitarian consequences continue to disrupt daily life in Iraq. Residents must endure constant blackouts, poor quality drinking water, rising gas prices and a failing healthcare system. As this BBCinterview with four Iraqis living under the US occupation reveals, many citizens believe the sustained presence of Multinational Forces causes this disruption and places their lives in jeopardy.

US, Iraqi PM Disagree Over Baghdad Raids (August 8, 2006)

In a statement on government television, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has sharply criticized a US attack on a Shiite militia stronghold in Baghdad. Maliki, a Shiite, said he was "very angered and pained" by the air and ground operation in Sadr City, warning that it could undermine his efforts toward national reconciliation. Maliki's public position signals "serious differences" between Iraqi politicians and US military officials over how to deal with Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mehdi Army. (Christian Science Monitor)

‘It Looked Weird and Felt Wrong' (July 24, 2006)

This Washington Postarticle highlights the often aggressive, indiscriminate and misguided tactics of US army units in Iraq. Heavy armored divisions frequently round up all "military-age males," "grabbing whole villages" and taking hostages in cordon-and-sweep operations. Such tactics may pacify areas of the country in the short term, but serve to further alienate large parts of the population.

US Occupation Adding to "Acute" Health Crisis (July 7, 2006)

The author of this Uruknetarticle depicts the current situation in Iraq against the backdrop of its recent history. During the 1970s, Iraq had state of the art technology, a high level of medical care and contributed to numerous international programs. The first Gulf War and a decade of sanctions took a heavy toll on civilians. However, the US-led invasion has further exacerbated the humanitarian situation, all but destroying major cities, reducing residents to refugees and leaving them with acute shortages of water, fuel and power.

US Marines Take Over Iraq Hospital (July 6, 2006)

US Marines have raided the Ramadi General Hospital as part of their heavy assault on the Sunni Arab city. The US-led siege has forced experienced physicians to flee, depleted critical supplies and led to a dramatic rise in traumatic war-related injuries. The operation against the civilian hospital violates the First Geneva Convention which prohibits attacks on medical establishments and vehicles. (Associated Press)

In Ramadi, Fetid Quarters and Unrelenting Battles (July 5, 2006)

In an attempt to end a bloody stalemate in Ramadi, US troops will destroy a large part of the Sunni Arab city. The New York Timesreports that the US plans to bulldoze a number of blocks in the middle of the city and convert them into a Green Zone, a version of the highly fortified area that houses the US and Iraqi leadership in Baghdad. Intense fighting has transformed the city into "an ocean of ruin" and residents are pouring into overcrowded refugee camps.

Rebuilding? Not for Fallujah (June 25, 2006)

One and a half years after the US military launched Operation Phantom Fury against the city of Fallujah, residents tell Inter Press Serviceof ongoing suffering, lack of jobs, little reconstruction and continuing violence. Iraqis lack medical supplies and equipment and have poor access to water, electricity, fuel, and telephone services. One third of the city's residents remain displaced in the outskirts of Fallujah, "living in abandoned schools and government buildings." In addition, security has "eaten up as much as 25 percent of reconstruction funding," and corruption and overcharging by US contractors has reportedly siphoned off even more.

SOS Ramadi (June 13, 2006)

US forces have launched a heavy attack on Ramadi, 100 km west of Baghdad. While the "anti-war front" meticulously followed the build-up of the assault, the western press has remained relatively silent, "their eyes still on Zarqawi." This article compares the reporting of different media sources in relation to the major assault, which has forced many of the city's residents to flee. The western media consistently publishes testimonies from within the US Army denying plans of the offensive. In contrast, reports from Free Arab Voice and Al-Quds confirm that the US has cut off water and electricity, closed down fuel stations and bombed medical stores. (BRussells Tribunal)

Ramadi: Fallujah Redux (June 12, 2006)

Fearful residents are pouring out of Ramadi as a result of heavy US military assaults on the city. US troops and resistance fighters battle daily in the streets. Like in the 2004 siege of Fallujah, the US has cut water, electricity and medical aid. Warplanes are streaking the sky as bombings increase and loudspeakers aimed into the city warn civilians of a "fierce impending attack." Many who remain in the city cannot afford to leave or lack transportation. (truthout)

Ramadi Becomes Another Fallujah (June 5, 2006)

This article provides a grim picture of the situation in Ramadi, where US troops occupy the city, 100 km west of Baghdad. Against the backdrop of the Haditha massacre, Inter Press Servicehas reports of US snipers killing civilians, and troops occupying homes and detaining families. Marines reportedly shoot people who inadvertently enter the no-go zones of the city. In addition, many buildings and homes are damaged and no civil services are functioning.

Blood Is Thicker than Blackwater (May 8, 2006)

The private security firm Blackwater gained notoriety following the death of four Blackwater contractors in Fallujah in 2004. As this article from The Nationpoints out, private security companies in Iraq have received billions of dollars in government contracts, while facing "zero liability" for their actions. In the case of Blackwater, company officials deliberately withheld protections to its staff in order to boost profits and demonstrate increased "efficiency," thereby securing further contracts. This arrangement has worked well for both the Bush administration, which has outsourced key elements of the ongoing occupation, and the highly profitable security firms, despite the deaths of several hundred security contractors (and thousands of Iraqi civilians) since the US-led invasion.

Returning to the Scene of the Crime (April 4, 2006)

In this extract from his book, "Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy," Noam Chomsky discusses the US assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Chomsky describes the 2004 US attack on the city's General Hospital and the detention of medical staff and patients as "far more severe than the torture scandals." In addition, the US military denied the Iraqi Red Crescent access to Fallujah and bombed the Iraqi headquarters of Al-Jazeera for "emphasizing civilian casualties." (TomDispatch)

Willy Peter (January 2006)

This article examines the US military's use of white phosphorus, an incendiary weapon commonly known as "Willy Peter," in the November 2004 attacks on Fallujah. Though white phosphorous munitions are banned under the 1980 Geneva Convention on Biological and Chemical Weapons, the US has not signed the agreement and instead classifies white phosphorous as a "psychological" weapon. As ZMagpoints out, there is nothing psychological about a weapon that melts skin to the bone while damaging the nervous system and blocking the circulation of blood.


US Admits Using White Phosphorous in Fallujah (November 16, 2005)

Despite initial denials, the US has admitted to using white phosphorus, a powerful burn-inducing chemical, as a weapon during the November 2004 assault on Fallujah. US officials had previously claimed that white phosphorus was only used to provide smokescreens and illumination. Though not directly listed as a chemical weapon, some experts say the explicit use of white phosphorus against people would classify it as a chemical weapon. The US-led invasion of Iraq was largely justified on the grounds that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed and used chemical weapons. (Guardian)

A Name that Lives in Infamy (November 10, 2005)

In November 2004, US forces led a massive assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah. While the US claims that the majority of the estimated 2,000 casualties were insurgents, Iraqi NGOs and medical workers say that the offensive killed as many as 6,000 civilians. In addition, US-led forces cut off water, food, and power supplies to the city, bombed the main hospital, and used incendiary weapons such as white phosphorous. As the Guardianpoints out, the atrocities committed in Fallujah are "a symbol of unconscionable brutality."

US 'Uses Incendiary Arms' in Iraq (November 8, 2005)

An Italian news report provides evidence that US forces dropped massive quantities of white phosphorous on the city of Fallujah during the November 2004 assault. The chemical, which US officials claim was used to illuminate the night sky, produces serious burns capable of dissolving flesh. As a US soldier stationed in Fallujah at the time noted, "anyone within a radius of 150 meters is done for." Though Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons prohibits the use of white phosphorous as a weapon, the US is not a signatory. (BBC)

Fallujah Recovers Its Sense of Everyday Life (October 17, 2005)

Fallujah is gradually returning to normality. The city was largely destroyed during a concentrated US assault in which most residents fled. Sixty percent of the city's residents have now returned, as have schools, mosques and a modest police force. Nonetheless, much of the city remains in ruins and reconstruction has been stifled by a lack of funds. (Los Angeles Times)

"We Regard Falluja as a Large Prison" (July 27, 2005)

This article describes what daily life is like for Fallujans, eight months after the US laid siege to the city in November 2004. US military and the Iraqi national guard have imposed a nightly curfew and have set up checkpoints that severely curtail movement around the city. Skirmishes between US troops and insurgents occur daily, and Fallujans say that coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians since they took over the city. (Mother Jones)

Eight Months after US-Led Siege, Insurgents Rise Again in Fallujah (July 15, 2005)

Harsh conditions in Fallujah have led to a resurgence of guerilla attacks. The US siege of the town in November 2004 has evidently not put an end to popular support for the insurgency, and even residents who were previously unsympathetic to local fighters are now "beginning to chafe under the occupation." Fallujans are impatient with the slow pace of reconstruction in the town. Many buildings need repairs and blackouts occur regularly, but Prime Minister Jaafari has not disbursed any of the money earmarked for reconstruction since he took office in April. (New York Times)

US Strategy in Iraq: Is It Working? (June 21, 2005)

Analysts say that "by any metric of tactical military success," US military operations against insurgents in Iraq are working. However, using another measure of success--the reduction of attacks--US and Iraqi operations have failed. Though US forces have killed and captured thousands of insurgents and reduced such "insurgent strongholds" as Fallujah to rubble, attacks and US and Iraqi forces continue unabated. In Fallujah, "once thought to be decisively won by the US," three firefights broke out on one Sunday resulting in 15 insurgents killed. (Christian Science Monitor)

The Failed Siege of Fallujah (June 3, 2005)

Promises by the US and Iraqi governments to rebuild Fallujah remain unfulfilled. Though an estimated 80% of the city's residents have returned, "most people continue to live in tents, or amid the rubble of their homes." The situation is exacerbated by stoppages in the delivery of aid to the city, creating shortages of medical supplies and water. According to one doctor, "people are living as refugees inside their city - so we have lack of lean water and hygiene, so there is rampant spreading of typhoid." He added that things will only get worse during the summer heat. (Asia Times)

Slow Progress in Battered Falluja (April 19, 2005)

Five months after the second US attack on Falluja, students attend classes in tents, more than 100,000 residents still live in refugee camps, and a curfew lasting nearly half the day remains in place. US and Iraqi forces use undamaged schools as bases. Meanwhile, NGOs "are finding it difficult to help Falluja residents because of restrictions on entering the city." (Institute for War & Peace Reporting)

Focus on Situation in Fallujah (February 17, 2005)

Fallujah suffers from poor sanitation and a lack of electricity, water, and adequate housing for the thousands of returning residents who fled the city during intense fighting at the end of 2004. Those who have returned rely heavily on NGO aid, particularly for drinking water. Furthermore, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reports that an estimated 100,000 local children risk losing an entire academic school year due to the fact that none of the 95 schools inside Fallujah are open. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

City of Ghosts (January 11, 2005)

This Guardian and Channel 4 Newsinvestigation of what really happened in Fallujah details the enormous destruction in a city rendered uninhabitable following the US assault. Iraqi doctor Ali Fadhil tries to find an answer to the key question surrounding the Fallujah siege: where did all the insurgents go? The investigation debunks a popular US myth that the attack was "a huge success, killing 1200 insurgents."


Denial of Water to Iraqi Cities (November 2004)

The US has violated the Geneva Convention by cutting off water supplies to Tall Afar, Samarra and Fallujah for several days in September and October 2004, denying up to 750,000 civilians access to water. The US further breached international law when forces refused to let the Red Cross deliver water to Fallujah the in hopes that dwindling supplies of food and water would eventually cause the insurgents to surrender. (Cambridge Solidarity with Iraq)

New York Times Rewrites Fallujah History (November 16, 2004)

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting(FAIR) charges the New York Times with maintaining a double standard in its accounts of civilian deaths in the US attack on Fallujah. The paper repeatedly dismissed reports of "large civilian casualties" as "unconfirmed," but in the run-up to the offensive the Times informed its readers that "70 percent to 90 percent of civilians had fled." In its estimates of civilian deaths, FAIR says, "the Times has signed up on the side of the Pentagon."

Fallujah Battle Deepens Divide in Iraq (November 15, 2004)

The US attack on Fallujah will likely widen the gap between Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites. The Head of a conservative Sunni organization charged that Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi had launched "a war on Sunnis" in Fallujah. Allawi brushed aside suggestions of a divided Iraqi people, claiming that "there is no problem of Sunnis or Shiites, this is all Iraqis against the terrorists." (Associated Press)

Fallujah 101 (November 12, 2004)

After years of British domination, the US has taken over as the colonial power in Iraq. The bombing of Fallujah resembles the British bombing of the country in 1920 to regain control of the region, and foreign ownership of valuable resources dates back to the early 20th century when large Western oil companies controlled Iraqi oil. This article ties the resistance in Fallujah to the long struggle against foreign troops on Iraqi soil. (In These Times)

Falluja Facing Humanitarian Crisis (November 11, 2004)

The attack on Fallujah has created a humanitarian disaster because medical help cannot reach wounded civilians. At least 2,200 families have already fled the city and others are trapped with no water, food or medicine. (Aljazeera)

After the Fallujah Fight, Then What? (November 10, 2004)

Although Pentagon officials see the assault on Fallujah as an essential stage in the run-up to elections in January 2005, observers doubt whether the attack will bring the insurgency to an end. A former CIA official argues that "stomping on Fallujah is, in fact, exactly the opposite of what the US should do if it wants to lure Sunnis into the Iraqi political process." If Washington really wants to deal with the resistance, it should send a clear signal to Sunnis, guaranteeing them a significant role in a new Iraq. (Christian Science Monitor)

America Failing Test of History as Offensive Compared to Terror Tactics of Pariah States (November 9, 2004)

The Independent draws a parallel between the insurgency in Fallujah and the insurgency in the Syrian city of Hama in 1982. The fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood seized Hama in its struggle against the Baathist regime and the Syrian government responded with tactics very similar to those used by the US in its effort to rid Fallujah of terrorists. In 1982 the US condemned Syria for the assault on Hama. Today it employs the same strategy for Fallujah.

Sunni Party Leaves Iraqi Government Over Falluja Attack (November 9, 2004)

The Iraqi Islamic Party, which the US held up as a model for Sunni participation in a future Iraqi government, has withdrawn from the interim government in protest against the attacks on Fallujah. The move represents a first step towards a major Sunni boycott of elections scheduled for January 2005 and could undermine the legitimacy of a newly elected government. (New York Times)

Allawi Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Fallujah Offensive (November 8, 2004)

Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has declared a state of emergency for 60 days in the country. The interim government hopes repressive measures such as curfews, bans on meetings and tapping communications will root out insurgents. But the measures ominously recall the Saddam era. (Daily Star)

Fallujah and the Reality of War (November 8, 2004)

As the assault on Fallujah begins, the US faces a "stronger, better-armed, and better-organized" resistance than it did in April. Rahul Mahajan, who experienced the April siege, describes how US forces violated the laws of war and calls on the antiwar movement to assume its responsibility now that Fallujah is under attack again. (ZNet)

We Had To Destroy Fallujah in Order to Save It (November 8, 2004)

As the attacks against insurgents rage on, the Iraq War bears more and more of a resemblance to the Vietnam War. Both wars involved heavy civilian casualties, abuse of prisoners, and the installation of a puppet government by the occupying power. Washington's fierce commitment to its occupation in Vietnam long delayed a withdrawal of US forces. (ZNet)

Annan Warns Against Fallujah Offensive (November 6, 2004)

In a letter to the US, British and Iraqi governments, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned that an attack on Fallujah would likely create even greater chaos in the country and damage the road to elections in January 2005. British Home Secretary David Blunkett contested the statement and said Annan was "entirely wrong." He stressed that "terrorists need to be rooted out" before Iraq can organize elections. (CBC)

Military Assault in Falluja Is Likely, US Officers Say (October 27, 2004)

Senior officers have confirmed that they could launch a large military offensive to crush the insurgency in Falluja and Ramadi within just weeks. With US President George Bush close to possible reelection, the decision blurs the line between Bush's electoral and military campaign. Commanders insist that the US elections have not influenced planning for the offensive. (New York Times)

Falluja's Fighters Dig in for the Final Onslaught (October 24, 2004)

As US forces prepare themselves for what they hope will be a final attack on the insurgency stronghold of Falluja, the Observernotes that fighting may cause huge civilian loss without impacting the insurgency. The battle in the deeply religious and conservative city could represent a turning point for Iraqis who are sick of US occupation, and also possibly determine how the elections unfold.

Iraqi National Guard Members Reluctant to Fight Mahdi Army (August 22, 2004)

The deployment of Iraq's National Guard troops to the holy city of Najaf prompted the largest amount of desertions since April 2004, when troops quit in protest over the siege of Fallujah. An Iraqi Commander in Najaf claims that his troops may fight insurgents under the authority of the Interim Government, but in reality, "it is not Iraqis who are in command." (Knight Ridder Newspapers)

Inside the Iraqi Resistance (July 15 – 24, 2004)

In this seven-part series, Nir Rosen examines the resistance against US forces in Fallujah from the outset of war to the withdrawal of US forces from the city in May 2004. Rosen argues that the city stands out from the rest of Iraq because of its rigid religious conservatism, strong tribal traditions, and a fierce loyalty to Saddam Hussein. (Asia Times)

New Face for Security in Fallujah (May 5, 2004)

A deal to end the fighting between the US military and resistance fighters sees Iraqi forces, headed by a Saddam Hussein-era General, assume control of Fallujah. Clashes between the two sides in April 2004 has yielded over 100 US military and over 600 reported Iraqi fatalities, with hundreds more wounded. (Christian Science Monitor)

Americans Around Falluja are Deaf to Humanitarian Emergency (April 19, 2004)

Assistant Secretary General of the Iraqi Red Crescent, Mohamed Ibrahim Abbas, highlights the severity of the restrictions humanitarian organizations encounter while trying to deliver aid goods in Iraq. Abbas reports that the US Marines banned most NGOs from accessing Falluja, accusing them of transporting hidden weapons in their aid cargoes. (Liberation)

Inside the Fire (April 13, 2004)

US military commanders in Iraq claim that marines are only engaging rebel insurgents operating in Fallujah. This eyewitness report from inside the besieged city paints a different picture of events contending that civilians, including women and children, are the targets of US snipers stationed inside Fallujah. (OpenDemocracy)

Fallujah Horror Points to Iraq's Deteriorating Security Situation (April 1, 2004)

Robert Fisk examines the deteriorating security situation in Iraq and assesses the possible fallout from the March 31, 2004 attacks on four US contractors in Fallujah. Fisk weighs the Coalition's Provisional Authority's assessment of violence in the country and how the CPA distinguishes between attacks by insurgents and attacks by terrorists on coalition forces and Iraqi civilians. (Independent)


US Account of Fallujah Killings Contradicted by Rights Group (June 17, 2003)

Human Rights Watch challenges the military's contention that its troops came under direct fire in protests that resulted in civilian casualties. It calls for an independent and impartial investigation by US authorities into the two incidents in al-Fallujah in central Iraq. (OneWorld)

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