November 21, 2004
In Ramadi today 6 civilians were killed in clashes between the
resistance and military.
The military sealed the city, closing all the roads while announcing
over loudspeakers for residents in the city to hand over "terrorists."
A man, woman and child died when the public bus they were riding in
approached a US checkpoint there when they were riddled with bullets
from anxious soldiers. A military spokesman said the bus was shot
because it didn't stop when they asked it to.
The city remains sealed by US forces as fierce clashes sporadically
erupt across the area while the military decides how to handle yet
another resistance controlled.
As the mass graves in Fallujah continue to be filled with countless
corpses, sporadic fighting flashes throughout areas of the destroyed
"The Americans want every city in Iraq to be like Fallujah," said
Abdulla Rahnan, a 40 year-old man on the street where I was taking tea
not far from my hotel, "They want to kill us all-they are freeing us of
His friend, remaining nameless, added, "Everyone here hates them
they are making mass graves faster than even Saddam!"
I never tell people I interview I am from America. I tell them I am
Canadian of Lebanese descent-which is close enough since I am from
Alaska. With this information, I am always greeted warmly, invited to
meals and to spend the night wherever I go. Arab culture continues to
impress me as the most beautiful, warm, civilized culture of any I've
experienced in all of my travels.
But as Abu Talat told me the other day when I asked him what he though
about going to Ramadi or Fallujah, "Sure Dahr, we can go-but not until
you get a steel neck!"
He laughs his deep laugh, and I fake a laugh with him while peering out
my car window.
After conducting other interviews during the day, Salam and I are in my
room working on a radio dispatch. As we begin recording, his cell phone
and my room phone ring simultaneously.
He gets news of another friend who has been shot by soldiers, while I
told by Abu Talat that al-Adhamiya is under a 6pm curfew as the
begins house to house searches. His frustrated voice tells me his wife
and boys are afraid as he speaks above helicopters thumping the air
Over in Sadr City, the military are now sealing off neighborhoods doing
home searches as well-this after having agreed to a deal with Sadr's
Mehdi Army the fighters turned in many of their weapons and agreed to a
truce. Last night a small boy was shot there because he was out after
Lieutenant-General Lance Smith, deputy US commander of the region of
Middle East that includes Iraq, announced that his command might be
asking for 3-5,000 more troops for Iraq.
This goal will most likely be attained by delaying the already
departure of soldiers already here, and was announced at about the same
time that the commander for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in
Fallujah, Lieutenant-General John Sattler said that he believed the
assault on Fallujah had "broken the back of the insurgency."
Refugees from Fallujah have yet to be allowed to return to their city.
One of my friends here works on the election commission for Iraq-he
stopped by tonight laughing at the new date which has been set for the
election of January 30th. "They have this new date for their rigged
elections," he rolls his eyes, "And nobody in Iraq believes their
propaganda. Elections? Here? I don't know anyone who will vote. Perhaps
the entire country can vote absentee for reason of car bomb!"
He and I were interviewed on a radio program this evening-while I was
listening to commercials waiting to come back on, I laugh to myself as
one of the advertisements is for folks to trade in their old Hummer for
a new one with low financing!
This against the backdrop of the show, where my friend and I had shared
stories with the host and callers of death in the streets, Iraqi
over the failed occupation and other love stories from Iraq.
Meanwhile, more oil facilities are sabotaged in the north, the "Green
Zone" takes more mortars, and the usual gunfire is audible over the
generators running out my window.
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