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"You will be making history ... 40 years from now, 100 years from now, they (people) will be talking about the battle of Falluja," said Major General Richard Natonski.
"If someone raises their hands in surrender and starts charging you, what are you going to do? Shoot him. Why? Because of the threat of suicide bombers," said Colonel Michael Shupp.
On Saturday another military commander referred to the fighters in Falluja, as 'Satan'.
"But the enemy has got a face. He's called Satan. He lives in Falluja. And we're going to destroy him," said Lieutenant Colonel Gareth Brandl.
The hospital was selected as an early target because the U.S. military believed that it was the source of rumors about heavy casualties.
"It's a center of propaganda," a senior U.S. officer said Sunday.
This time, the U.S. military intends to fight its own information war, countering or squelching what has been one of the insurgents' most potent weapons. The military hopes that if it can hold its own in that war, then the armed invasion will smash what has become the largest remaining insurgent stronghold in Iraq.
Several hundred Iraqi troops were dispatched into Fallujah's main hospital after U.S. forces sealed off the area. The troops held about 50 men of military age inside the hospital, but about half were later freed.
According to The AP, Dr. Salih al-Issawi, head of the hospital, said he had asked U.S. officers to allow doctors and ambulances go inside the main part of the city to help the injured but they refused.
"The American troops' attempt to take over the hospital was not right because they thought that they would halt medical assistance to the resistance," he said by telephone. "But they did not realize that the hospital does not belong to anybody, especially the resistance."
Bush-installed interim Iraqi Prime Minster Iyad Allawi announced with a smile of victory that he personally ordered the capture of the hospital. So maybe it was not the Pentagon: it was an unelected politician asking a foreign occupation army to attack a hospital in his own country and preventing doctors and ambulances from entering a city under siege.
The assault, dubbed Operation Phantom Fury, perversely started on Laylat e-Qadr, the most important and holy night of the year for the Islamic world.
In terms of the information war, the hospital was indeed the most strategic of targets. During the first siege of Fallujah in April, doctors told independent media the real story about the suffering of civilian victims. So this time the Pentagon took no chances: no gory, disturbing photos of the elderly, women and children - the thousands unable to leave Fallujah in advance of this week's offensive, the civilian victims of the relentless bombing.
But this did not prevent the world from seeing doctors and patients at the hospital handcuffed to the floor - as if they were terrorists. Hospital director Dr Salih al-Issawi told Agence France-Presse that the Americans blocked him and other doctors from going to the center of Fallujah to help another clinic in distress; he also said an ambulance that tried to leave the hospital was shot at by the Americans - just like in April, when all ambulances were targeted. The Geneva Convention is explicit: in a war situation, hospitals and ambulances are neutral.
- Art. 18. Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.
States which are Parties to a conflict shall provide all civilian hospitals with certificates showing that they are civilian hospitals and that the buildings which they occupy are not used for any purpose which would deprive these hospitals of protection in accordance with Article 19.
Civilian hospitals shall be marked by means of the emblem provided for in Article 38 of the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of 12 August 1949, but only if so authorized by the State.
The Parties to the conflict shall, in so far as military considerations permit, take the necessary steps to make the distinctive emblems indicating civilian hospitals clearly visible to the enemy land, air and naval forces in order to obviate the possibility of any hostile action.
In view of the dangers to which hospitals may be exposed by being close to military objectives, it is recommended that such hospitals be situated as far as possible from such objectives.
- Art. 19. The protection to which civilian hospitals are entitled shall not cease unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy. Protection may, however, cease only after due warning has been given, naming, in all appropriate cases, a reasonable time limit and after such warning has remained unheeded.
The fact that sick or wounded members of the armed forces are nursed in these hospitals, or the presence of small arms and ammunition taken from such combatants which have not yet been handed to the proper service, shall not be considered to be acts harmful to the enemy.
- Art. 20. Persons regularly and solely engaged in the operation and administration of civilian hospitals, including the personnel engaged in the search for, removal and transporting of and caring for wounded and sick civilians, the infirm and maternity cases shall be respected and protected.
In occupied territory and in zones of military operations, the above personnel shall be recognizable by means of an identity card certifying their status, bearing the photograph of the holder and embossed with the stamp of the responsible authority, and also by means of a stamped, water-resistant armlet which they shall wear on the left arm while carrying out their duties. This armlet shall be issued by the State and shall bear the emblem provided for in Article 38 of the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of 12 August 1949.
- The Iraqi People will greet the American and British troops with flowers and open arms. They have been waiting for a "Messiah" to liberate them from the Devil "Saddam" for the past 35 years. With or without a second resolution, the Iraqi people must be saved. Thank God for Britain and the USA for helping the Iraqi people.
- QUESTIONER: Vice President Cheney yesterday said that he expects that American forces will be greeted as liberators and I wonder if you could tell us if you agree with that and how you think they'll be greeted and also what you meant you said before that some Iraqi opposition groups might be in Baghdad even before American forces?
KANAN MAKIYA: I most certainly do agree with that. As I told the President on January 10th, I think they will be greeted with sweets and flowers in the first months and simply have very, very little doubts that that is the case.
This is a remarkable situation in which the population of a country that's about to have a war waged over its head positively wants the war while all kinds of other countries don't for one reason or another. That should tell us a lot about this war and about the future (INAUDIBLE) which I think is desufficiently emphasized.
- I am getting really sick of people who whine about "civilian casualties." Maybe I'm a hard-hearted guy, but when I see in the newspapers that civilians in Afghanistan or the West Bank were killed by American or Israeli troops, I don't really care. In fact, I would rather that the good guys use the Air Force to kill the bad guys, even if that means some civilians get killed along the way. One American soldier is worth far more than an Afghan civilian.
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The New York Times and other news services call both Afghan "non-combatants" and American "non-combatants" civilians. This is disingenuous. American civilians are people who go about their daily lives without providing cover for terrorists or giving them money. Afghan civilians are not.
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Some people might cry out at this "callousness." They might say that Al-Qaeda thinks the same thing about American civilians. This is a twisted argument. There is a difference between casualties from collateral damage and casualties from deliberate slaughter.
The New York Times and others like it undermine the war effort for the sake of the few. In the end, this is a war to save humanity from the barbarity of fundamentalist Islam. It is inevitable for enemy civilians to be killed in war.
The Judge's Decision
With our help, a liberated Iraq can be a great nation once again. Iraq is rich in natural resources and human talent, and has unlimited potential for a peaceful, prosperous future. Our goal would be an Iraq that has territorial integrity, government that is democratic and pluralistic, a nation where the human rights of every ethnic and religious group are recognized and protected. In that troubled land all who seek justice, and dignity, and the chance to live their own lives, can know they have a friend and ally in the United States of America.
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