Pentagon officials have been changing their story on the missile attack on a Baghdad market from the moment it occurred. Yesterday morning, a missile struck the busy, poor residential area, killing 14 civilians.
The US central command issued a statement to say US aircraft had used precision-guided weapons to target Iraqi anti-aircraft missiles “positioned less than 300 feet from homes”. But a few hours later senior Pentagon official Major-General Stanley McChrystal said no coalition aircraft had targeted any air defenses in the Shaab district, where the blast occurred.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers said: “It’s just as likely that it’s some piece of equipment of theirs as one of ours.”
Meanwhile, the Iraqi health minister said today there have 4,000 civilian casualties including 350 deaths since the invasion began.
He also said that 36 people were killed in the last 24 hours in the continuing raids on Baghdad.
We go now live to Baghdad with May Ying Welsh, who visited the Shaab market yesterday after the attack.
She also reports the Iraqi government has begun distributing leaflets in neighborhoods throughout Iraq calling on citizens to resist the US invasion. The leaflets have pictures of two of the most significant religious figures in Iraq, one Sunni the other Shiite. The leaflets reference two fatwas, religious decrees, issued by Iraqi clerics calling for jihad, holy war, against any foreign occupiers.
This, as Saddam Hussein met today with the heads of Iraq’s powerful tribes in which he told them that they should fight the invaders with all their means.
- May Ying Welsh, independent journalist in Baghdad who visited the Shaab market yesterday after the attack.