Qasem, and Media, Describe War Crimes in Ramadi - 04.30.2006

There has been little news coming out of Ramadi recently, most of it bad. I recently made acquaintance with an Iraqi, Qasem al-Dulaimi, who is in Ramadi with his family now.

As some of you may have read, Juan Cole quoted a recent article in Az-Zaman, regarding the resurgence of fighting in Ramadi. According to that article:

The US military forced an entire downtown city quarter to evacuate, so they could make it their HQ inside the city, apparently in preparation for moving against the guerrillas.

This morning Qasem sent me his account of the events in Ramadi over the past week, which you’ll find below. He mentions a series of events which appear to be an account of this “evacuation” from the inside.

I am now with my family in Anbar[A province in western Iraq] I found my family ok…and most friends also…….but the situation was very bad ……burned tank ( US tank ) was in front of my house and my house [was damaged] partially…..there was hard fighting ……

At 22/April 2006 the US troops did clear crime in the other side of Ramadi ( Tameem ) …US soldeirs inspect Iraqi family house and after they finished they killed 3 men inside it and one woman were dead when she shocked with this crime …..the resuilt was 4 civilians killed by US troops inside one house after inspection …. The people there told me that the US soldiers seems got mad for no reason and there was no fighting at that day………

Baghdad TV channel show the victems and the house and gave report about it …the clear thing was that US soldiers killed 3 men in a house of civilian family without any reason !!!!

I’ll try to connect Qasem’s letter similar accounts from the media on corresponding days. First of all, I was not able to find any mention of the Tameem district of Ramadi in recent news from Google News, however I did find this account from Bill Roggio, recalling events in Ramadi on February 2nd of this year:

The Iraqi Army has taken on greater responsibilities in the province, with Operation Final Strike being one such recent example. Today, a raid on a factory in the Tameem district in Ramadi was led by the 1st Brigade, 7th Division of the Iraqi Army, and netted an insurgent cell. The Multi-National Force-West press release states “The intelligence attained by the Iraqi soldiers led to the capture of 15 suspected insurgents, 11 of which are identified as Syrian nationals and the remaining four as Iraqis.” A cache of 36 AK-47 assault rifles was also found in the factory.

Qasem’s account of April 22nd, corresponds slightly with Todd Pittman’s story filed with the AP from Ramadi, apparently one of the only journalists currently in Ramadi, and embedded with US forces.

U.S. commanders said four insurgents were killed and two Iraqi soldiers wounded in the gunfight in eastern Ramadi — one shot through the calf and evacuated by U.S. medics, another with a minor facial wound.

As Iraqi forces swept through houses, troops from the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment entered several residential buildings, climbing to rooftops to secure the rest of the patrol.

Although the official account provides for a similar number killed, here detailed as “four insurgents,” official details are apparently not forthcoming. More interesting is the official evidence which directly corresponds to Qasem’s account, of troops searching homes in Ramadi. Although there is little “official” information forthcoming from Ramadi, it is certainly possible that the incident recalled by Qasem’s friend involved Iraqi troops(notoriously trigger-happy) and not United States forces. Given the extremely shadowy nature of the insurgency, however, its difficult to be certain about most things in accounts which only use the empty descriptive “insurgents,” without further details.

Providing the succint analysis of how violence begets violence, in a manner only those personal experienced in the impact of war, Qasem continues:

I believe that this crime will make the situation getting worse because the relatives of this family sure will attack US troops next time for revenge or to stop US soldiers crimes.

At night ,the US air force was very noisy with their jets and scared us too much …..I canot imagine that it will be ok tonight …..because US trying to do bad thing while they inspecting houses.

I like to tell them “ I am and my family and my people living in our houses and staying in our city , and, US soldiers and tanks and guns used every day against us…so, who should stop ??? we or U ??”

After this Qasem provides a brief account of the events of yesterday and today (Sunday the 30th). This is where he provides his own account of the United States’ “evacuating civilians.” Although some of my readers are probably thinking to themselves, “how is it legal for an occupying power to displace civilian or “protected persons” in order to set up a base for military options?,” this is, indeed, a protected right of States. I myself was aghast until doing the research, for example:

In the very wide sense in which the Article must be understood, the prohibition covers the destruction of all property(real or personal), whether it is the private property of protected persons (owned individually or collectively), State property, that of the public authorities (districts, municipalities, provinces, etc.) or of co-operative organizations. The extension of protection to public property and to goods owned collectively, reinforces the rule already laid down in the Hague Regulations, Articles 46 and 56 according to which private property and the property of municipalities and of institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education, the arts and sciences must be respected.
It should be noted that the prohibition only refers to “destruction”. Under international law the occupying authorities have a recognized right, under certain circumstances, to dispose of property within the occupied territory — namely the right to requisition private property, the right to confiscate any movable property belonging to the State which may be used for military operations and the right to administer and enjoy the use of real property belonging to the occupied State.

While it appears clear the US military has not violated international law in this incident, it does appear to suggest that the overwhelming force and destruction of government buildings and state property by the United States in the first days of the invasion did violate international law. But I digress, here is Qasem’s account of the events:

29 April 2006
for the last week fighting was the daily thing that we got……US tanks moving and fighting started just when US soldiers kill some body ( civilians ) …I can see that the number of fighters increased more and more and I can say that the main reason of this is that the number of killed civilians increased …….2 kids killed by snipers one of them was with his mother going to the doctor, the kid was (7 year-old girl) killed by US sniper in front of (Almustafa private hospital) in the centre of Ramadi, the other kid was (8 years old boy) killed by US sniper in front of his house while he was playing with his friends .

More than five other victims killed by US snipers also in Al-Malaab sector and the central market ……all those victims killed by snipers although there was no fighting at the time of killing them.

Now US troops trying to spread snipers in the houses along my house street ,till now they failed because fighters attacked them during their attempt to occupied houses.

Today US army warned the families to leave their houses [within] 4 hours (as period time) or they will be attacked by US tanks!!…….and now some of these empty houses are snipers bases ……one of the snipers attacked my father but he missed him and crashed the rear glass of his car…….. my father is (65 years old man) he is peaceful man…

Now my family is planning to leave our house again but there is no place to go.

Although perhaps it is not a violation to use the threat of property destruction as a tactic, certainly it would be to fire on civilian homes with tanks. As I mentioned previously, this account corroborates with a description translated by Juan Cole from Az-Zaman, although other corrorborating sources could not be located, as there were apparently no news reports in English from Ramadi on the 29th of April.

Qasem continues his description of displacement by the US forces in Ramadi,

At 30 April 2006, 2 hours after midnight, US troops used new way to force the people to leave their houses …the new way is putting side road bomb in the gate of some houses and exploded them all the families scared from this way but most of them have no place to go…

Some people told me that US troops need our sector to get safe way for the US military convoys that coming from Habbaniyah (20 kilometer eastern of Ramadi) going to Baghdadi US base (120 Kilometer west of Ramadi) ,the shorter way between Habbaniyah and Baghdadi is through Ramadi north part ……

Most of the local people will not allow US troops to destry their houses for Military high way …..for me I refuse getting out my house to give safe feeling for US military tank drivers…..sure I refuse.

Another element of the international law covering this kind of situation may also surprise my readers. If the US military deems it necessary to destroy Qassem’s home, as well as others, it is in fact completely admissible under international law! For example:

The prohibition of destruction of property situated in occupied territory is subject to an important reservation: it does not apply in cases “where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations”. The occupying forces may therefore undertake the total or partial destruction of certain private or public property in the occupied territory when imperative military requirements so demand.

Furthermore, it will be for the Occupying Power to judge the importance of such military requirements. It is therefore to be feared that bad faith in the application of the reservation may render the proposed safeguard valueless; for unscrupulous recourse to the clause concerning military necessity would allow the Occupying Power to circumvent the prohibition set forth in the Convention.

A further near war crime in Ramadi was detailed here, by Todd Pittman, on April 30th:

One street over, another insurgent sprayed machine-gun fire that cracked over Claburn’s head as he stepped into a courtyard with other troops. A U.S. Humvee shot back with a heavy .50-caliber gun.

According to Anthony Swofford’s memoir of Desert Storm, Jarhead, all soldiers should be aware that the use of high-calibre weapons against human targets is largely in violation of the Geneva Conventions. They were informed by the instructor who taught them to shoot the .50 Barrett sniper rifle:

By the way, you know you can’t hit a human target with a .50-caliber weapon right? It’s in the Geneva Convention. So you hit the gas tank on their vehicle, and they get blown the hell up, but you can’t target some lonely guard or a couple of towlies in an OP calling in bombs.

I’ll try to keep my readers updated on the situation in Ramadi, and will leave you with Qasem’s final summary of the preceding weeks events, including further information from April 29th:

7 days summary
for the last week US troops started to cut all services ……US jets attacked the phone station and destroyed it completely …….the electricity station in Sufia ( southern farms of Ramadi ) damaged partially and no electricity at all in our area …….and there shortage in drinking and domestic water and I don’t know the reason yet but it is normally happen if there is no electricity …….

For the last year Ramadi people take care of their city services by their own selves because our city completely ignored by the Iraqi government ( Jafari ) in add to the problems of my people with US troops along the last 3 years… we need to maintain the services again by ourselves ……the people in Ramadi think that the US troops want to punish the local people of Ramadi because they never allow to US troops to install military bases inside the city and fighting US soldiers every time they trying to get in the city…..for the last weeks US troops made many mistakes and destroyed houses of Alkurbeet Family ( tribe leader ) , train station of Ramadi centre and many other buildings …… in add they attacked Iraqi national guards that joined them …..US snipers killed 3 of Iraqi soldiers ….it was other mistake!!

29 April 2006
at the morning I succeeded to get out my house and I found many wholes at many wall of the houses around … resulted from last night attacks of US troops ( after midnight ……most of streets blocked by the local people …..we can notice that the street is blocked when line of small stones cross the street ,it means there is US tanks on it some where……this is our way to warn the people that this street is dangerous and US tanks can kill who enter it………the clear fact is that US troops never put marks or signs to warn the civilians if they don’t allow people to get in some where…..and 100s of civilians killed because of no signs put by US troops .

at 8:30 pm US air force attacked Almalaab area ….some people killed and injured.

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