Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Massacre in Ramadi ? LA Times says there is still no comment from the US

The part of Al-Anbar province around Ramadi is where, at last report, local tribal leaders with the help of the domestic resistance were organizing to throw out the proponents of the "Islamic Emirate" from their Ramadi headquarters. I may have missed something, but the only subsequent reports I have seen had to do with sporadic American military operations. Now this.

During the night from Monday to Tuesday (Nov 13 to 14), according to US officials in Baghdad, there were three US military operations in the vicinity of Ramadi, killing 11 insurgents, with no reports of civilian casualties. Reuters, for its part, said that during that time medical officials at the Ramadi hospital said they received 30 bodies of persons killed, (others reported over 30) and another 17 injured. And Reuters quoted local residents to the effect the dead were civilians. The Quds Press person in Ramadi, for his part, said the American forces attacked several residential areas with heavy artillery and tanks, and the area of al-Dubbat in particular, where about 20 homes were destroyed, the attacks there including attacks from the air. Another report said families were trapped inside houses that were leveled, having been ordered to stay indoors by an American curfew, and heavy equipment operators were refusing to come to the area to help with the rescue operation, fearing repetition of the attacks.

The LA Times on Wednesday November 15 said its correspondent in Ramadi confirmed there were over 30 dead, including women and children, that houses had been pulverized and people were seen digging through the rubble with their bare hands, and that rescue-vehicle access was impeded by the Americans. Comments by relatives of the victims included: "The national reconciliation is a fiasco"; and the "Salvation committee is useless, they are calling for peace when it is a time for jihad". The LA Times correspondent saw a large group trying to flee Ramadi fearing further attacks. The paper said the US military still has no comment beyond its initial announcement about 11 insurgents killed in three incidents, with no reports of civilian casualties.

(Today, a website that could be described as either resistance- or jihadi-oriented, or a little of both, said eye-witnesses reported the US evacuating a major base on the grounds of the University of Al-Anbar, west of the city. They said they saw vehicles and materiel being evacuated, and reported that the high cement fence, barbed wire and surveillance cameras were also being dismanteled).