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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #143 - 1 msg

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Today's Topics:

   1. Despair in Iraq over the forgotten victims of US invasion (John Churchilly)


Message: 1
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 2004 16:11:56 -0700 (PDT)
From: John Churchilly <>
Subject: Despair in Iraq over the forgotten victims of US invasion

Despair in Iraq over the forgotten victims of US
By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad
09 September 2004

Iraqi officials demanded to know yesterday why so
little international attention was being given to
their numerous dead as the US mourned the death of
1,000 soldiers since the invasion of Iraq.

"When I heard on television that the Americans had
lost 1,000 military killed in Iraq, I asked myself,
what about our side? What is the number of Iraqis who
have died?" said Dr Amer al-Khuzaie, an Iraqi deputy
health minister.

He admits it is impossible to know the true figure
because many bodies are simply buried and the deaths
never registered. "Sometimes there are as many as 200
Iraqis killed in a single day," sighed Dr Khuzaie,
flicking through a file showing the casualty figures.
"The Iraqi people are being eradicated. We must stop
this haemorrhage, this bleeding."

The US army does not count the number of Iraqis killed
since the invasion in March 2003. The most
conservative figure for the number dead is 10,000 as
calculated by private groups. It is rising every day.
The US military claimed that on Tuesday alone it
killed "100 militants" in air strikes on Fallujah on
top of a further 33 people killed in fighting in Sadr
City in Baghdad.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, proudly
claimed on Tuesday that US forces had, last month,
killed between 1,500 and 2,500 Iraqi insurgents. He
did not note an ominous trend that, for the first
time, more Americans were probably killed by Shia
fighters than by Sunni guerrillas. For the US, it is
now a war on two fronts.

Iraqis suspect that in any case many of those who died
were civilians.

Dr Khuzaie admits that poor communications make it
impossible to get a complete picture but he estimates
that "in Najaf 400 civilians were killed and 2,500
wounded in the fighting last month."

There are many ways to die in Iraq. At the al-Khindi
hospital yesterday, doctors were treating one of their
own workers called Ihsan Aboud, 32, who had gone home
in a taxi to Sadr City the night before. "There was a
roadside bomb," explained his cousin Sabah Thigil. "It
blew up as the taxi passed and two people in it were
killed and Ihsan was badly burned."

Asked if the wounded man would live, a doctor gestured
with his hand to show that his life was in the
balance. "Even when there is nothing much happening,
we get 15 to 20 people a day brought in who are
victims of violence," said Dr Yassin Mustafa, an
assistant manager of the hospital. "Often people do
not know who shot them or blew them up."

In the close-packed heavily populated houses of Sadr
City, home to two million people, the use of rockets
and heavy machineguns by the US inflicts heavy
casualties. The mortars of the ill-trained Mehdi Army
militiamen are often misdirected. Dr Mustafa had just
received seven bodies, all from a single family, hit
by a mortar bomb.

He pointed out that, at this time of year, casualties
were particularly severe because those in poorer
neighbourhoods sleep on the roofs of their houses
because it is cooler. As they lie sleeping, they are
often killed or wounded by shrapnel or stray bullets.

People in Baghdad have learned caution. Often there
are long traffic jams because cars do not want to go
near a slowly moving American convoy, a possible
target of a massive bomb buried beside the road or a
rocket-propelled grenade. The Americans also have a
much-feared practice of spraying fire in all
directions when they come under attack.

Suicide bombers show total disregard for civilian
casualties and assassins are equally careless of who
they kill. On Tuesday, an attempt to kill the Governor
of Baghdad Ali al-Haidri almost succeeded but a bomb
hit the wrong car. A man and a women were killed by
the blast. Iraq is not just a dangerous place to live
because of political violence. Unicef estimated in the
1990s that 500,000 children had died because of the
collapse of health standards. Infant mortality rose
from 40 per 1,000 in 1990, before the 1991 Gulf War,
to 108, 13 years later according to the World Health

Public health has not improved since the invasion last
year. A main reason is unclean water. Dr Bashar, a
senior house surgeon at al-Kindi, said: "Look around
you. Baghdad is the dirtiest city in the world."
   10 September 2004 02:09

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