Sunday, June 15, 2003

War crimes? 

I am going to print this article in its entirety, in case it disappears from the online nethersphere. From yahoo, a story of Iraqis handcuffed and shot in the back of the head after an American raid. Thanks to Mike Jones and his 18and1/2 Minute Gap blog for the article:

Mideast - AFP

US army kills 82 fighters in Iraqi training camp: witnesses
Sat Jun 14, 9:22 PM ET Add Mideast - AFP to My Yahoo!

SAHL, Iraq (AFP) - A massive US army attack on a desert training camp in Iraq (news - web sites) earlier this week killed 82 fighters, some of who appeared to have been summarily executed, according to witness reports.

"In total 82 people died in the camp" including at least one non-Iraqi, AFP was told by the imam of the main mosque in the village of Rawa, near the camp at Sahl, near Iraq's border with Syria.

Rawa villagers who went to the camp had found the corpses of seven people who had been handcuffed and shot in the forehead, chest or in the back of the head, the imam, Sheikh Gharbi Abdul Aziz, said.

He said the villagers had found another 50 bodies all in a line at the camp, which appears to have been used as a training ground by die-hard supporters of ousted leader Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).

"What I saw was unspeakable. I can't get over the sight of all these young people dead. Some were handcuffed," Abd al-Wujud, a driver who said he helped carry the corpses out of the camp, told AFP.

The imam said he had taken part in the burial of the 82 bodies, "some were in pieces or totally burnt".

The fighting erupted at dawn on Thursday at the camp, which included an arms dump, and lasted 13 hours, according to residents from Rawa, 350 kilometers (210 miles) northwest of Baghdad.

They said the camp had been bombed and that a gunbattle between US troops and the fighters had followed shortly afterwards.

The US army had fired at least six cluster bombs, they added.

The imam said villagers had carried 60 bodies from the camp and seven more from a site nearby, where a US helicopter had come down on Thursday. They were all buried at Rawa cemetery.

An AFP correspondent saw 15 more graves at the camp marked by wooden sticks.

"When the bombing stopped on Thursday and when the Americans left, residents came and picked up loads of flesh and gore," said Abd al-Hadi Mahmud, a local garage owner.

"Some bodies were completely torn to pieces -- feet, legs, skulls."

"When they came to the village, they never did us any harm. They were polite," he added.

Bloodstained mattresses and pieces of discarded weaponry seen at the camp testified to the remorselessness of the attack.

The 15 graves seen at the camp were marked by bottles bearing the names of those among the dead whose bodies had been identified.

They included Osama Mahfudh Salem from Yemen and Abd as-Sattar Mohammad from Fallujah, a conservative Sunni Muslim town west of the Iraqi capital, which has seen sustained anti-US violence.