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[casi] The Massacre of Rashdiya - Testimony of an Iraqi Doctor

The Massacre of Rashdiya
Testimony of an Iraqi Doctor
by E.A.Khammas, Occupation Watch Center
July 28th, 2003
Dr. Mahmood Al-Mishhadani, an Iraqi surgeon, recalls the horror of the day when he had to attend to 
250 injured children and women in a village bombed by American airplanes.

“I will never forget that night. I have seen how people were savagely slaughtered. I have seen 
three wars, but nothing like this,” said Dr.Mahmood Khdeir Yasin Al-Mishhadani, an Iraqi surgeon. 
He was on duty at the military hospital of Hammad Shihab, a few kilometers to the north of Baghdad, 
near a village called Rashdiya, on the night of Sunday, April 6 to Monday, April 7, 2003, during 
the final days of the war.

“The American bombing of the district of Rashdiya began at 3 p.m. They used cluster bombs. It 
continued until 9 p.m. During these hours casualties began to be carried to the hospital in 
civilian cars and pickups because there were no ambulances in this district. We received a great 
number of casualties, all of them women and children. I did not see one single injured man in this 
incident. The injuries were very severe, like all four limbs cut off or fatalities or very severe 
injuries in the chest or the abdomen. After 9 o’clock, when the bombing was lighter, we were able 
to send our ambulances to bring the casualties.

“The ambulances kept on bringing the casualties until 3 p.m. the next day. The ambulances were also 
bombed while they were leaving the hospital, on the highway that leads to the district. The 
ambulances’ special signal lights were on, but this did not prevent the Americans from shooting at 
them from airplanes. One of our drivers was injured; I do not recall his name now.

“I was responsible for receiving and attending to the casualties. I saw as many as 250 of them or 
more. 85 of them died. All of them were women and children. I saw more than one family whose 
members were all exterminated. I recall a family of seven women: a mother and six daughters. The 
father was not nearby during the bombing. When he came to the hospital later, looking for his 
family, searching among the bodies, he was uncovering them one after the other saying this is so 
and so, mentioning his daughters’ names.

“I will never forget a young mother who was embracing two of her children. One of them was already 
dead. His head was completely torn, and his brains were covering her chest. The other was injured 
in his leg. We tried to take the children from her hands, to treat the injured one, but she refused 
to let them go. She was hysterical, not responding to anybody or anything.

“The whole situation was very bad, I will never forget. I have been a doctor for a long time; I 
have seen thousands of injury cases, very difficult ones indeed. But what happened that night was 
some thing completely different. It was genocide against civilians, unarmed people who were unable 
to defend themselves. Innocent people in their houses and wearing their pajamas. Most of them were 
refugees from Baghdad, who’d run away from the heavy bombing in the city. They came to this village 
to hide from death, which they met here.

“The hospital refrigerators, with a capacity of 100 bodies, were filled that night. I ordered that 
the parts of bodies, or bodies without heads be buried in the garden of the hospital. We could not 
keep all the injured too. We have the capacity to handle 50 emergencies at a time, so we 
transferred many people to the other surgery hall or to ordinary halls, not to the emergency 

“The surgery halls began to receive emergency cases directly; we supplied them with medicine that 
night. The next day we sent them to the civilian medical center in Baghdad.”

Q: Is this the most distinct incident in your professional life?

“Yes, I will never forget it, because in this incident I have seen how people are savagely killed, 
without any mercy or any humane feeling, guiltless children and women exterminated.”

Q: How many wars have you seen?

“Three. Gulf I (the Iraq-Iran war), Gulf II in 1991, and this one. But in the first two, I saw 
soldiers. Soldiers go to war, they kill and they get killed or injured. We treated them on that 
basis. I did not treat civilians then. But to see all these wounded women and children in one 
night. Only in the Iraqi-Iranian war did I see such numbers of casualties at a time, during the 
heavy battles. But again they were not civilians; they were men, soldiers, young and old, not 
infants, children, and old women. The impact of these scenes was different - children without 
limbs. I have seen a child of 6 without legs and arms.”

Q: How do you see the American forces now?

“Armies wage wars, this only natural. But the impression I’ve got about the American army in the 
image I’ve seen, is that these people do not know the meaning of mercy or humane feelings. They 
came with a gall; they wanted to take out this gall even on the bodies of all the Iraqis. When they 
crushed the bodies of 250 children and women just for a suspicion that there might be Iraqi forces 
in the area, that gave me the impression of how inhuman they are.”

E.A. Khammas is the co-director of the Occupation Watch Center in Baghdad.

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