As many as six Iraqi cities are experiencing fierce battles between Iraq’s and U.S.-led foreign troops. We hear a report from journalist Aaron Glanzt of Free Speech Radio News in Diala, Iraq. [includes rush transcript]
The uprising in Iraq is spreading quickly with as many as 6 Iraqi cities experiencing fierce battles between Iraqi’s and US led foreign troops.
Ukrainian forces were forced to evacuate the city of Kut, southwest of Baghdad, during clashes with Shiite cleric al-Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army, while there were clashes with Polish troops in the holy city of Karbala. The city of Najaf is now totally under the control of supporters of al-Sadr, while in the Sunni Muslim stronghold of Fallujah, U.S. Marines bombed a mosque compound, and witnesses said as many as 40 people were killed.
- Aaron Glantz, Free Speech Radio News. Report filed from Diala, Iraq.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: As we wrap up today with a report from Free Speech Radio News’s Aaron Glantz in Iraq. The uprising there is spreading quickly. As many as six Iraqi cities experiencing fierce battles between Iraqi and U.S.-led foreign troops. Ukrainian forces were forced to evacuate the city of Kut, during clashes with the Mehdi army while there were clashes with Polish troops in the holy city of Karbala. We go to Aaron Glantz.
AARON GLANTZ: The dead keep piling up in Fallujah. More than 200 Iraqi dead in the last 24 hours. Hospital officials report 16 children and 8 women killed when warplanes struck four houses late last night. 40 more Iraqis died when American helicopter gunships fired on a neighborhood mosque while it was filled with worshippers. 30 American soldiers are also dead. American major John Clearfield.
JOHN CLEARFIELD [tape]: The Fallujahens are going to realize that we’re the strongest force in the city and that it’s in their best interest to — it’s in their best interest to reject these foreign fighters and these terrorists, and to embrace the coalition.
AARON GLANTZ: But many Iraqis say that the American military crackdown will likely only increase violence. While a battle raged in Fallujah, militants forced down a U.S. OH-58 Kiowa helicopter in Baquba, 30 miles north of Baghdad, where a former Iraqi army general Faruk Mahadan has been trying to broker a cease-fire, but with the American attacks on Fallujah and the Mehdi army of Muqtada al-Sadr, the general is not optimistic. FARUK MAHADAN [voice of translator]: You cannot blame anyone who shoots the Americans. You cannot say they were wrong because they are under occupation. The Americans keep rolling and rolling in with their Apache helicopters and the tanks. All of these things make people uncomfortable and it makes them restless. They just boil and boil and boil. What do you expect? There must be some kind of resistance.
AARON GLANTZ: The situation is exacerbated by the lack of an Iraqi government, which could make its own policy. The U.S. military launched its massive assault without approval from the Bush-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. Dr. Mohsen Abdul Hamid of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic political party, which holds a seat on the Governing Council, says they offered to negotiate with the rebels in Fallujah, but were turned down by the American army.
MOHSEN ABDUL HAMID [voice of translator]: The Governing Council didn’t make any important statement about the situation in Fallujah, and the people who believe in Muqtada al-Sadr believe the Governing Council didn’t want to lose the support of the man on the street, but the Governing Council also is in contact with the occupation force.
AARON GLANTZ: The Governing Council has also been largely silent on the American crackdown on radical Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, which has provoked a violent reaction across southern Iraq. Sayed Sahdi, of the more moderate Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, whose leader 'Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim was appointed to Bush's Iraqi Governing Council, says Sadr’s Mehdi army is more than a gang of terrorists.
SAYED SAHDI [voice of translator]: They are civilian people. They’re workers, students, teachers. When they join the Mehdi army, they think they are better than before. They think otherwise, no one gives them their rights.
AARON GLANTZ: Sayed Sahdi says to truly understand the anger of the poor young Shiite men who make up the Mehdi army, one has to look at the environment they grew up in. He cites 13 years of tough United Nations sanctions on Iraq, which choked the education system to a screeching halt.
SAYED SAHDI [voice of translator]: There are a lot of people who are uneducated who didn’t finish secondary school and because of the situation, our secondary school is nothing compared to other countries. At that time, the teachers were only paid $1 or $2 a month, and that’s nothing.
AARON GLANTZ: Today, these boys, now young men, are facing the tanks and helicopters of George Bush’s coalition of the willing, with knives and rocket-propelled grenades. They have taken the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, along with nearby Kut. In Nasiriyah, they have kidnapped two Korean human rights workers. They say they won’t release them until the American army releases their comrades. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Aaron Glantz, Iraq.
AMY GOODMAN: That does it for today’s program.