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A piece I wrote after the '98 bombing ...Felicity Arbuthnot, Iraq: Bombing Summary. The four day bombing of Iraq by Britain and the U.S. unleashed 88,500 tons of ordnance over the four night campaign, according to Pentagon estimates. In a strange alliance, both the UK, the US and the Iraqi government are all ignoring the damage - the West keen to play down the human toll of the equivalent of 354,000 Omagh bombings in time for Christmas, Ramadam and Honneke - and Iraq from national pride which leads to a denial that even such an onslaught can affect the cradle of civilisation.¹ The Universe has managed to piece together a more realistic picture of the destruction and human cost from eyewitness accounts from Iraq during and since the bombing. Suad, writer, artist, poet, had said, after the November crisis: It¹s not over, your government will get us, they are determined to.¹ During the Gulf war she had made a safe¹ den out of her study, packed valuable ancient manuscripts against the window as protection against blast damage, and piled in the duvets. She, her husband and two children had spent the Gulf war there protected¹ from cruise missiles by books and eiderdown. They have returned there on a number of occasions - bombings all but forgotten by the west. She was not going to bother again, she said in November, certain that they would die anyway. On the 18th December, the second night of the bombing the line was surprisingly clear - so was her anger and pain. We¹re used to the sound of the bombing now, I can live with that, but I cannot live with the sound of the children, crying, screaming, as soon as the rumbling starts. It is as if we can hear the terror of every child, in every house, in every street in the entire neighbourhood.¹ Mahmoub, a doctor, from a different part of the city also managed to get through and made an almost identical observation. He had discussed with other parents what to do, in the face of such terror: It is the women and children who are paying the price - the mothers because they know they are helpless to protect in the face of such terror, the children nearly mindless knowing there is no escape.¹ He organised a telephone tree¹, persuading the children to telephone each other in their fear, to attempt to assuage it by sharing it. In another desparate bid, he took eight year old Ali on to the flat roof of the house last night and we watched the display, I tried to get him to think of it as some huge firework party.¹ They live in the suburb of Z¹afaranya, bombed in 1993, where a sprawling complex of homes, shops and small factories and work shops and those in them, were raised to the ground. Little remained except the Catholic convent and church - Ali had been three then and still remembered. This morning I drove round Baghdad and gave up counting the damage, I am sure at least a thousand places have been hit¹, said Mahmoub. The following morning the Pentagon announced that more bombs had been dropped on Iraq in two nights than in the whole of the Gulf war - and in the 42 days of the Gulf war more ordnance was dropped than in the six years of World War11. Further credible damage reports started to arrive. In Tikrit, stated as bombed because it was Saddam Hussein¹s home town the hospital, a girls school and a grain store containing 260,000 tonnes of grain were said to have been destroyed - in a country with now a lower calorific intake than Mali, where one third of surviving children suffer stunted growth and/or impaired intelligence due to malnutrition according to UNICEF. Numerous buildings and homes were also said to have been destroyed - one can only surmise that many of the people in them also were - but with the order clearly out that casualty figures were not to be released, many are reluctant to make estimates on the telephone. >From Baghdad in a distraught telephone conversation, an accountant described a direct hit by a missile on Palestine Street, a residential street in the centre of the town. As people ran to help the injured and dying a plane came over and dropped a second one.¹ The caller thought he was the only survivor, but his overwhelming pain and grief precluded any questions. The nearby Munstansaria University - the oldest in the world, standing on the banks of the great Tigris river its golden masonry and great courtyard one of the jewels of the Middle East. It has survived sacking by Timor¹s Hordes and the Mongols under Ghenghis Khan, but apparently not December¹s cruise missiles. The Al Abassi palace from the same period, Dar Al Hechma (House of Medicine¹) possible the oldest medical school in the world, with its ancient manuscripts, some dating back almost to the time of the founding of Baghdad in 700 AD, have, according to several sources, been destroyed - as has the Natural History Museum. Three residential districts - Karrada with its vibrant market stalls, shops, teeming streets, Adahmya and Mansour, with its elegant houses, surrounded by brilliant bourganvillia, hybiscus - hit in every bombing, since the headquarters of the Muhkaberat (secret police) are a few roads away. Mansour is always hit, the Mukharberat unscathed. In June 1993 one of the Middle East¹s most renowned artists, Laila Al Attar and her husband were killed when a stray missile fell on their house - they had fled into the garden, but were killed in the aftermath of the blast. I stood by the crater where her house - whose architect had won an award for its design - had been. A neighbour, her close friend, stood by me: When they picked he up, she looked like a beautiful broken doll¹, she said quietly. Three hospitals in Baghdad were hit this time, one the St Raphael, run by Catholic nursing sisters - and the school of languages, pharmacy and literature at the university. South in Basra, another grain store - part of the woefully inadequate oil for food¹ deal was destroyed along with the oil refinery - which not only means that Iraq cannot now produce oil for the deal¹ - but in the bitter cold of the winter nights, the population has now no access to kerosene for heat and for cooking - or petrol. The only (just) working water purification plant was also hit - and Basra¹s water is the most lethal in Iraq. The south is a safe haven.¹ Telephone calls cannot do justice to four nights of incessant carpet bombing but there were some haunting moments: Mahmoub, the doctor, said that so many old people were dying. They are dying, not through illness, not through anything we can diagnose, just from exhaustion, or fear. They have just given up.¹ Suad, who had cried on the telephone only two weeks before, with rage for loss of her beloved brother, who would have survived if there had been adeqaute facilities to treat him, said: I am glad he died, he was so lucky, none of us want to live any more.¹ And little Mariam Hamza, the four year old leukaemia patient who MP George Galloway brought here for treatment - and who returned to Iraq in November. Mariam brought a light into the life of all who came in contact with her. When the family who took her in as their own during her long, arduous treatment, managed to telephone her in Baghdad, during the bombing, the little girl who no one had ever seen cry, through long painful procedures, was sobbing her heart out: I am so frightened, please, I want to come home.¹ Mahmoub suddenly remarked that on the final nigh of the bombing - the start of Ramadan, the smoke and debris was so thick, that we were unable to see the full moon¹ which heralded its onset. And for the Christians, Christmas was cancelled. The Chaldean Patriarch decreed that: This is a time for prayer - they have killed our children, destroyed our homeland, we cannot celebrate, just reflect and pray.¹ And he urged Christians of all denominations, throughout the globe, to do the same. Ends: 1,360. Possible box, footnote or whatever: The Jordanian Doctors Union has unanimously decided to boycott all American and Briitish products, including medical equipment, in protest at the bombing of Iraq. They are urging all their Arab counterparts to do the same: America¹s ridicule of the Arab world has gone too far - we will work to ban and boycott all their products¹ a statement said. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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