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on the recent killings

From: Buri <>

US warplanes continue killing in Iraq
Seventeen dead, eighteen injured near Najaf
By Martin McLaughlin
21 July 1999
Use this version to print

American fighter bombers inflicted their bloodiest attack on Iraqi civilians
in nearly six months Sunday, killing 17 people and wounding 18 more along a
highway near the city of Najaf in the South of the country. It was the
highest civilian casualty toll since 24 people were killed by missiles which
slammed into a residential neighborhood in the city of Basra, also in the
South, last January.

Local residents told a photographer for the French news agency AFP that four
missiles crashed into vehicles on the road, causing terrible carnage, mainly
among women, children and the elderly. The dead included a pregnant woman
and her husband in their car, and six members of a single family in an
all-terrain vehicle. A seventh person in the same vehicle, a six-year-old
boy, had to have his hand amputated because of his injuries.

The US Central Command claimed that the American planes had hit a missile
battery near Abu Sukhayr, 200 miles south of Baghdad, and a military
communications site near Al Khidr, 150 miles southeast of the capital. Abu
Sukhayr is near the site of the massacre along the Najaf road.

It was at least the fourth such air strike on Iraqi targets during the month
of July. Previous strikes took place on July 2, July 8 and July 13, all in
northern Iraq in the area around Mosul, that region's largest city.

American and British officials reacted to the casualty reports from Najaf
with practiced cynicism. State Department spokesman James Rubin declared,
repeating his mantra during the bombing of Yugoslavia: “In these actions,
every effort is taken to avoid any casualties to civilians or damage to
civilian property.”

British Defence Minister George Robertson accused the Iraqis of causing
casualties by firing anti-aircraft missiles unsuccessfully at US and British
warplanes. These weapons then fell back to earth and hit Iraqi civilians, he
said. Similar claims were made by US and British spokesmen during the 1991
Persian Gulf War, when the extensive civilian casualties in Baghdad and
other cities, caused by air strikes, were initially blamed on Iraqi
anti-aircraft fire.

The US and Britain have carried out dozens of bombing raids on Iraqi targets
since the four-day air war last December, after the withdrawal of United
Nations weapons inspectors from the country. Two justifications have been
advanced for the raids: preventing Iraq from building atomic, biological and
chemical weapons, and enforcing compliance with the “no-fly” zones in
southern and northern Iraq.

Both claims are no more than pretexts, riddled with contradictions. Last
week the Washington Post reported that an internal US government study had
found no evidence of any Iraqi effort to develop weapons of mass destruction
in the eight months since the UNSCOM inspectors were removed.

As for the “no-fly” zones, these were imposed unilaterally by the US,
Britain and France after the Persian Gulf War, and were never approved by
the UN Security Council, or even presented for a vote, because of Russian
and Chinese opposition. They have no standing under international law and
are a flagrant violation of Iraq's sovereignty.

When the zones were first declared, US President George Bush claimed that
his goal was to protect the Shiite Moslem population of southern Iraq and
the Kurdish population of northern Iraq against military reprisals by Saddam
Hussein. The Clinton administration continues to repeat this claim when it
has long since passed the point of absurdity.

The dead and wounded on the road to Najaf were themselves Shiite Moslems,
the people whom the southern “no-fly” zone was allegedly to protect. Their
funeral was held Monday in Najaf, one of principal religious centers of
Shiite Islam, with thousands of Shiite Moslems assembling to mourn their
loss and denounce the United States.

American policy in the northern “no-fly” zone is equally shameless. On July
13, the day that US jets bombed targets near Mosul, enforcing the “no-fly”
zone in the predominately Kurdish-populated area, Turkish jets were carrying
out bombing raids of their own in the same zone, against suspected Kurdish
guerrilla sites.

Thus American warplanes, based at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, bomb Iraqi
targets, supposedly to protect the Kurds, while their Turkish allies, armed
with American weapons, bomb Kurdish targets only a few miles away!

'One September 1973 message sent by the US Embassy in Santiago to Washington
relays a request from the Pinochet dictatorship for help in setting up
concentration camps for tens of thousands of political prisoners, and US
"advisers" to assist in operating them.'
>From a document declassified in May '99.

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