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2004-11-29

U.S. Accused of Using Poison Gases in Fallujah

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Survivors of the week-long attack on Fallujah have reported the U.S. military used poison gas and other non-conventional weapons against civilians in the assault. We go to Baghdad to speak with independent reporter Dahr Jamail who broke the story. [Includes rush transcript]

Widespread violence continued throughout Iraq over the weekend. At least 12 people died earlier today when a car bomb exploded outside a police station in Ramadi. Most of the dead were Iraqi police officers. In Mosul, US forces found the bodies of 17 Iraqis on Saturday. Over the past 10 days, nearly 60 bodies have been recovered in the northern city. At least 20 of the executed men have been identified as members of the Iraqi National Guard. The U.S. military in Mosul believe many of the Iraqi resistance fighters who fled Fallujah landed in Mosul.

Independent reporter Dahr Jamail writes that survivors of the week-long attack on Fallujah have reported the US military used poison gas and other non-conventional weapons against civilians in the assault.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Electoral Commission is insisting the Jan. 30 elections will proceed as scheduled even though 17 Sunni and Kurdish political parties have called for the elections to be postponed six months. Among those calling for a delay is former governing council member Adnan Pachachi, a former presidential candidate who has been allied closely with Washington.

  • Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist currently based in Baghdad. He is one of the only independent, unembedded journalists in Iraq right now. He publishes his reports on a blog called DahrJamailIraq.com.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: As we turn finally to Baghdad, to the independent reporter Dahr Jamail whose latest piece says the U.S. military has used poison gas and other non-conventional weapons against the civilians of Fallujah. Welcome to Democracy Now!

DAHR JAMAIL: Thanks very much for having me again, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about exactly what is your understanding of what is used and who were the victims?

DAHR JAMAIL: I have interviewed many refugees over the last week coming out of Fallujah at different times from different locations within the city. The consistent stories that I have been getting have been refugees describing phosphorus weapons, horribly burned bodies, fires that burn on people when they touch these weapons, and they are unable to extinguish the fires even after dumping large amounts of water on the people. Many people are reporting cluster bombs, as well. And these are coming from the camps that I have been to, different people who have emerged from Fallujah anywhere from one week ago up to on through up toward near the very beginning of the siege.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about further knowledge of phosphorus weapons?

DAHR JAMAIL: Well, it’s, weapon very similar to napalm, essentially a flammable weapon mixed with jet fuel where it dropped in a bomb, at least refugees I interviewed about this said it was a bomb that exploded and covered huge areas with fire. And then anyone that, of course, was hit with it was burned usually beyond recognition and then the fires continued to burn on the ground and if anyone went up and had any contact with the material, then they would catch on fire and people were unable to put them out.

AMY GOODMAN: Dahr Jamail speaking to us from Baghdad. And the places you are going to interview the victims?

DAHR JAMAIL: There are several refugee camps now, all around central Iraq, as well as many in Baghdad. One was conducted in a refugee camp at Baghdad University near a small mosque there. This camp, in fact, I was there just the other day, in the afternoon and one of the sheiks in the refugee camp said that day at noon, U.S. military had shown up with Iraqi National Guard, went through their camp looking for wounded fighters in order to detain them. Of course there were none there and he complained that all of the women and all of the children were terrorized, why are the Americans doing this? First they completely destroy our city, now when we are refugees; they terrorize us in the camps. Why are they doing this to us?

AMY GOODMAN: Dahr, before we wrap up, the issue of the elections. Whether or not they will be postponed and those calling for the delay of the elections by about six months?

DAHR JAMAIL: Well, it is looking like they are going to press on with this arbitrary January 30 date regardless of the fact that essentially now the only predominant sect of the population who is pushing for this date are the followers of Grand Ayatollah Sistani. While that is a huge percentage of the population of Iraq, most of the rest of the population remains completely disenfranchised. Most of the Sunni groups are now boycotting the elections. Al-Sadr a Shia himself is boycotting, he has a huge following and the Kurds are asking for the six-month delay along with the predominant Sunni group. So it’s yet another catastrophe in the making if they push ahead for them. They will satisfy Sistani and his followers and several others while enraging the rest and if they delay them, then of course Sistani is most likely to call for massive civil disobedience as he did last January when Bremer threatened to delay them at that point.

AMY GOODMAN: Dahr Jamail, any last words for listeners and viewers around the world about understanding what’s happening right now in Iraq as the attention moves from Fallujah to other places like Ramadi where it’s believed many of the fighters have gone from Fallujah?

DAHR JAMAIL: That’s right. There is ongoing fighting in Ramadi on a daily basis. Bakuba has become a scene of daily fighting, heavy clashes as resistant fighters are taking over attacking and taking over police stations. Samarra, Kirkuk, most of these areas, Mosul, of course, most of these areas see ongoing daily fighting and heavy fighting continues in the south now two more U.S. soldiers were killed down there, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: Dahr Jamail, thank you for being with us. He runs a blog called dahrjamailiraq.com. You can go to our web site and we linked to it as well at democracynow.org where you can get copies of today’s or any program. That does it for this show.

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