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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

IRAQ: Women and children killed in US air strikes on Ramadi, doctor says

BAGHDAD, 18 October 2005 (IRIN) - Two days of US air attacks against insurgents in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi have caused heavy casualties among the city’s civilian population, a doctor and a senior Iraqi government official in Ramadi said.

“We have received the bodies of 38 people in our hospital and among them were four children and five women,” Ahmed al-Kubaissy, a senior doctor at Ramadi hospital, said on Monday night. “The relatives said they had been killed by air attacks in their homes and in the street.”

Al-Kubaissy said his hospital had also treated 42 people injured in the air strikes on Ramadi, a stronghold of the Islamist insurgents, 110 km west of Baghdad.

A senior Iraqi government official in the city, said three houses had been totally destroyed in the air attacks on Sunday and Monday and 14 dead civilians had been found inside them. A further 12 civilians had been critically injured in the same air strikes, he added.

“I wish I could tell you everything I know, but I cannot,” said the angry official, who asked that his name be withheld for security reasons.

“What I can say is that it was a cowardly action and that if any insurgents have been killed, many more civilians have been buried with them over the past two days.”

The US armed forces said in a statement that jet bombers and helicopter gunships had killed about 70 suspected militants in the attacks on Ramadi, a stronghold of Iraq’s Sunni Arab community, which is bitterly opposed to the US-led military occupation of the country.

A US military spokesman played down independent reports of heavy civilian casualties in the air raids, but did not deny them outright.

“There are no civilian casualties that we are aware of,” Lt Col Steven Boylan, a spokesman for the US-led Coalition forces in Iraq, told IRIN on Tuesday.

The US military statement said at least 20 suspected militants were killed when a US Air Force F-15 jet bombed a group of men suspected of burying a roadside bomb on Sunday, but Reuters quoted an Iraqi police officer in Ramadi as saying that those who died in that incident included children as young as 11.

Muhammad Rubaye, a 54 year-old resident of the city, told IRIN that two of his close relatives had been killed in a separate air strike on the city.

“I lost my sister and my nephew,” he said. “They were near a US humvee which had been attacked by insurgents when US airplanes attacked them. They have killed innocent people and are not willing to admit that this was an irresponsible action.”

Iraqi officials in Ramadi said more than 1,700 families had fled from the city since US air and ground forces began a big push against insurgents there last week. Some of these displaced people were camped in deserted areas about 10 km away, while others had fled to stay with relatives in Baghdad, they added.

The Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) said it was preparing to send a convoy with medical supplies and food parcels to Ramadi.

Doctor al-Kubaissy at Ramadi hospital said he had run out of painkillers, but more casualties kept on arriving.

The US offensive was the third to be launched against the armed militants in Iraq’s western Anbar province this month.

Earlier operations before the 15 October referendum on Iraq’s new constitution, had targeted the towns of al-Qaim and Haditha, further upstream in the Euphrates river valley.

Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Human Rights




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