Tuesday :: Dec 2, 2003

The Pentagon's Body Count Approach Doesn't Sit Well With The Locals


by Steve

Following up on Paradox’s post of yesterday afternoon, the Pentagon’s approach of turning allegedly positive combat news into Vietnam-era body count dispatches is already coming back to bite them in the ass and undermine what little credibility the military had left in Iraq. Following the initial reports from Iraq carried dutifully by our media over the last 36 hours about all the Iraqi “combatants” US forces supposedly killed, now comes the Iraqi version, where the locals claim that only eight were killed, and most of them were noncombatants trying to escape what looks like our indiscriminate shooting up of their town.

In a mix of rage and grief, residents lashed out at the brigade's soldiers, accusing them of firing randomly into crowded market areas in the center of the city, killing civilians, including two Iranians believed to be pilgrims visiting a Shiite mosque in town.

"All the people in town today are asking for revenge," said Majid Fadel al-Samarai, 50, an emergency-room worker at the Samarra General Hospital. "They want to kill the Americans like they killed our civilians. Give me a gun, and I will also fight."

Residents also charged that American soldiers showed little regard for the safety of civilians during the gunbattle.

"I saw a man running across the street to get his small son, who was stuck in the middle," said Abdul Satar, 47, who owns a bakery a block from one of the two banks to which the convoys had driven. "So the Americans shot the man," he said.

And to make matters worse, we shot up a mosque as well.

At the hospital, several patients said they were injured when a shell, apparently fired from an attack helicopter, struck a mosque at about 5 p.m., when residents were converging for evening prayers.

In the corner bed of one ward lay Ali al-Tashi, a 9-year-old boy who had gone to the mosque Sunday night to pray with his father. Heavily bandaged, the boy sobbed in pain and confusion. His older brother, Grimian, 17, clutched his hand and tried to comfort him.

"He still does not know that our father has been killed," Grimian said. "All our brothers and sisters and our mother have gone up north, to Irbil, to bury him."

In the hospital's morgue, two people killed by bullets lay on metal shelves: a rail-thin man who seemed to be in his 60s, and a middle-aged woman dressed in a black religious robe. Hospital staffers said they found Iranian passports on the two bodies. Though Samarra is dominated by Sunni Muslims, many Iranian Shiite pilgrims visit the shrine of Imam Al-Hadi in the city.

The locals feel that the US provoked this most recent attack, which has left the residents vowing revenge against our troops. And while our battlefield commanders still crow about their body-count victory, they can’t explain where the bodies are to back up their claims of 54 dead. Do these guys really think that this will scare the Iraqis into sided with us against Saddam loyalists or Al Qaeda? And haven’t we been here before, say about thirty-five years ago?

Steve :: 7:26 AM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!