[Marxism] Najaf's Old City: Smell of burnt flesh, blood on streets

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Aug 26 04:05:53 MDT 2004


Agence France-Presse August 25, 2004 


Smell of burnt flesh, blood smeared on streets of Najaf's Old city 



-"Not only did airplanes drop missiles, but Apache helicopters fired at
suspected militiamen in our area and tanks crawled all over the place
firing at whatever they saw. All the three at the same time." 
One young man who was standing outside his house shot by soldiers from
the helicopter.... 
"You can see his blood all over that corner in the mud." 
Guiding an AFP correspondent to a nearby street corner, Yasiri pointed
out an unexploded bomb lying outside a shuttered shop. "Look at this and
see what has happened out here. Imagine if a child picks it up." 



NAJAF - The smell of burnt flesh filled the air and blood smeared the
deserted streets of Najaf's Old City on Wednesday after heavy US air
strikes on Shiite militia positions around Iraq's revered Imam Ali
shrine. 

>From early Wednesday, heavy US artillery fire followed fighter plane
missile attacks, devastating neighbourhoods in the historic heart of the
central city. 

As the US campaign lessened in the hot afternoon sun, frightened
residents barricaded themselves indoors, determined to bear the brunt of
the crippling summer heat rather than wander the empty streets. 

Those who did venture out, or peep through the broken windows or blasted
door frames, could barely disguise their fear. 

"It was the heaviest attack in many days especially the first during
daytime," said Ali Jasim, a 
36-year-old civil servant holed up in one house. 

"Not only did airplanes drop missiles, but Apache helicopters fired at
suspected militiamen in our area and tanks crawled all over the place
firing at whatever they saw. All the three at the same time." 

One young man who was standing outside his house shot by soldiers from
the helicopter, he said. 

"You can see his blood all over that corner in the mud," Jasim said
pointing. 

Shiite militia holed up in the neighbourhood fought against the American
and Iraqi soldiers. 

"The militia has a lot of snipers around. They shot at a lot of Iraqi
soliders who have been moving around in the area since Tuesday," he
said. 

Hundreds of heavily-armed Iraqi national guardsmen and US marines had
fanned out across the Old City around the shrine late Tuesday. 

But the Iraqi security troops were invisible in the afternoon. Some
residents thought they would return later for another overnight assault.


Instead, US tanks crawled through the streets and Humvees were stationed
at various intersections. Thick black smoke rose from a nearby
residential block. 

"The worst thing is that all entries to the city were blocked. Many of
us who have families and had gone out early in the morning were worried
as they could not get back to their homes," said Sayed Haider al-Yasiri.


Guiding an AFP correspondent to a nearby street corner, Yasiri pointed
out an unexploded bomb lying outside a shuttered shop. 

"Look at this and see what has happened out here. Imagine if a child
picks it up," he said, dressed in a white robe and chewing on a mouthful
of tobacco. 

Scared residents of the Old City, who have born the brunt of the battle
since fighting first flared three weeks ago, were Wednesday helpless and
angry with the US military. 

"We want to get rid of the militia, but not in this way. Such heavy
pounding would destroy whatever is left of our homes," said Mohammed, a
taxi driver. 

"Why can't there be a peaceful solution to this whole issue?" 

The mute spectators to the fight are dozens of those broken lamposts,
hanging electric wires, spent cartridges and glass splinters, gaping
holes and the fear etched on people's faces. 

"It is still OK to walk closely by the side of the walls in some of the
blocks of the city, but please do not go to Medina Street if you love
yourself," said one young man, where rapid firing continued as US planes
hovered overhead. 

"There could be fresh assault at night also. Please go back before the
roads are blocked again," the young man said.





More information about the Marxism mailing list