December 18, 2005
Dedicated to the UN, UNSC and the Intel Society
album of the devastated city of Al Qaim (18 Dec 2005)
Sabah Ali (18 December 2005)
White flags on top of houses and cars, plenty of American and Iraqi
military vehicles, too many check points and blocks on the road, many frightening walking patrols, curfew
after sunset, heaps and heaps of destroyed houses, shops, offices, the only bridge, hospitals and medical
care centers, walls covered with bullets shots, and elections posters…empty faces with bleak looks wonder in
the streets. This is Al-Qaim picture after the Steel Curtain military operation which began on November 5,
2005 with 3000 thousands American and Iraqi troops participating in it.
"You are filming our miserable condition so that Bush would pity us?!
You want to soften his heart?" asked a tiny skinny young villager disapprovingly, with obvious resignation.
She was holding a very heavy cooking gas tube, trying to climb the river bank. After the only bridge which
connects Rummana to AL-Qaim was severely bombed, citizens had to cross by boats.
Our driver was impatient with blocked roads, he takes the nearest
dusty detour whenever he saw a queue. We arrived Qaim around six pm; the darkness was already thick. Our car
was almost shot by the Americans, but the driver was very quick in going down the side road. "That’s how
families get killed" said Abu Adel, a lovable old man who asked for a lift, and who was very keen on showing
us his high education by using broken English phrases. Abu Adel was very angry because some Iraqis make use
of the refugees’ misfortune and ask for double or triple rents. He preferred to put his family in a hut
rather than being blackmailed.
Electricity is cut for more than a month now, after the main station
was bombed, and the converters were bombed and the wires were cut. In the morning Qaim looked horrible. The
General Hospital was 90% destroyed, the medical care centers, the schools, shops, houses…
The Biggest Hospital in the Western Area:
Dr. Hamdi Al-Aaloossy, the director came to meet us outside his
office, he canceled a meeting with the reconstruction committee "They are just ink on paper, those meetings"
he said. Dr. Hamdi is usually a very calm and considerate man. This time he was really sad and fed up. The
destruction this time was ultimate. He was repeating a line from a classical Arabic poem about how to
complete building while others destroy what is built. He showed us the gynecology, the pediatric, the
emergency departments, the blood bank, the new doctors’ house. All of them completely destroyed. "They were
hit by several missiles. Thanks heavens there was no one here, just a mentally retarded and epileptic
cleaning worker." Dr Hamdi was especially sad about the gynecology dept. It was newly rebuilt in record
efforts and time, with the help of The German Red Cross. It was not opened yet. All the machines
equipments were destroyed, even the ambulances in the hospital garage were bombed. They were empty. There
were 5 of them. Two were destroyed in the garage. A third was destroyed when the driver Mahmood Chiad Abid
tried to rescue a family in Karabla on October 1, 2005, killing him. The rest show obvious evidences of
"But if the hospital was empty, why was it bombed? Usually the
Americans say that there were terrorists inside?!"
"I assure you that not a single body was found under the rubbles,
neither any injured person. They attacked the hospital on Nov 7, two days after the major attack on Qaim.
There was no patient, no staff, and no armed men. There was one doctor, however, who decided to stay in the
hospital. But during the bombing she hid in a neighboring house. 90% of the hospital was destroyed. I call
upon the Health Ministry, the Iraqi Government, the Iraqi and international organizations to help us rebuild
whatever we can. Of course the departments which are bombed are beyond repair, as you see, they have to be
built anew, but we can rehabilitate the other ones. The HM did not send any delegation to see the damage and
estimate the expenses. It is more than a month now, and the hospital is still working".
Al-Qaim general hospital is one of the most important hospitals in
the far western area of Iraq. It covers the whole area from Haditha to the borders, where there are hundreds
small towns and villages. There are several medical care units connected to it. In Haditha there is a similar
general hospital that covers the area from Haditha city beyond till Ramadi. Both hospitals are now severely
damaged and burnt.
Dr. Hamdi put 5 big tents for the medical, pediatric, and emergency
consultation departments in the hospital’s garden. The other ones are for medicine and furniture store. A
small bare room was used as labor room (where there were no equipments whatsoever to examine the mother or
the baby, just two beds). We attended an emergency operation. The operation theater’s windows, walls, and
doors were broken, but the staff did their best to keep everything clean and sterilized. Everything went
well. "You are heroes" I said. "No, just doing our best" the doctor replied.
But they were heroes, to work in such conditions. Many of the medical
staff donated blood to patients and went back to work immediately. They have severe shortage in oxygen tubes,
so they rationed it to be used only in emergency operations. They have no more than ten tubes. "With people
like you, there is always hope" we said. Dr. Hamdi smiled "We never lose hope". No media coverage was present
to show Al-Qaim tragedy.
A Family of 17 killed in few seconds
Modhhir Najim Abdulla, a security officer in the hospital took us to
his uncle’s bombed house where 17 women, children, and civilians were killed. The house of Arkan was just
heaps of concrete blocks; the roof was flattened to the ground. There were 5 families living there. Not one
of them was a stranger or a fighter.
"I just want to know why, I want a justification" Modhhir began, "the
bombing began on Nov 5, loud speakers were saying stay at home, do not move out, and we did. 15 minutes later
the bombing began. They did not announce evacuation. We had no chance to leave". On Nov 7, we heard that our
uncle’s house was bombed. We could not go to check; we went to the nearest American troops and told them.
They accompanied us, and this is what we found
Modhhir was not crying, but his voice was full of rage. His sister (Najla’)who
was the wife of his cousin too, was pregnant in her 9th month. She was supposed to have cesarean
operation because she was a week late for her due time. "I can not describe her and her baby when we removed
the bodies". Another cousin’s baby was only 25 days. A third child’s body was not found until 2 days later.
Modhhir brought the family’s IDs, death certificates, and photos.
They are (name, age, relation to Arkan and cause of death)
Arkan Abdulla Family:
1-Alia Amir, 50, wife, smashed scull, broken ribs, burns and injuries
in the chest and abdomen
2- Asma’a Arkan, 23, daughter, suffocation
3- In’am Arkan, 14, daughter, smashed scull
4- Lubna Arkan, 12, daughter, injury in the head and suffocation
5- Abdul Razzaq Arkan, 10, son, broken ribs and suffocation
6- Mahmood Arkan, 22, son, broken scull and suffocation
Saddam Arkan Abdulla Family
7- Khatar Dahham, 28, daughter in law, injuries and broken scull
8- Dhuha S. Arkan, 10, grand daughter, broken scull and injuries in
9- Abdulla S. Arkan, 9, grandson, intestine tear
10-Thammir S.Arkan, 4, grandson, broken ribs, bleeding inside chest
and broken legs
11- Amir S. Arkan, 7, grandson, smashed scull, suffocation and
12- Yahia S. Arkan, 3, grandson, smashed scull
13- Saja S. Arkan, 2, grand daughter, smashed scull, tissue tear
and broken ribs
Fanar Arkan Abdulla Family
14- Najla’a Najim, 22, daughter in law, smashed scull, suffocation
15- Leila Fanar Arkan, fetus, given birth and death certificate at
the same time
16- Ahmad Salih Amir, 25 days, nephew, injuries in head, chest and
17- Khattab Mahmood Arkan, 2, grandson, smashed scull
"Who of these do you recognize as terrorist? this one, this, or may
be this". The pictures were of women in a party, many children in different occasions…This is my sister, this
is her son, this is my youngest cousin….etc. He was pointing to the faces and naming them. I felt that the
list was endless. "Please stop", I said.
"Why do you think your uncle’s house was bombed?" I asked
"I do not know. I want them to answer this question. They bombed
three houses in this street. In the other one 7 children and women were killed. It is Fuad’s house, there.
The third one was empty, but it is no more than ruins. You can see it. May be they had wrong information
about these houses, I do not know, may be they made a mistake…but these are not excuses. Even the American
soldiers, the Iraqis, the CNN reporter were crying when they saw what happened to my family". The family was
buried in the garden.
The American troops played a classical, colonial, very dirty trick of
divide and conquer in Al-Qaim. They allied with one big tribe, Al bu Mahal, against another very big one, Al-Salman.
They used one as informants against the other. These people may make mistakes, or they may give wrong
information for different reasons, but innocents get killed in the process. In the last "Steal Curtain"
operation, thousands were arrested, and informants from the other tribe were used to pick those who were
thought to be insurgents. This story was repeated in many places: Rumanna, Karabla, and Al-Ebeidy. Of course
any one who is branded as a collaborator (traitor) is killed. Qaim is one example of what is happening in
different parts of Iraq.
Faud’s house was just across a dusty yard. Again it was no more than
scattered bricks and cement blocks. Nassir, a cousin was called to describe what happened.
"We did not know, only by chance. Our house was raided, I was upset
and decided to visit my uncle Faud’s house. The whole area was empty, only the American troops were filling
the place. When I approached the house, it was as you see it now. I heard the voice my cousin Salaam and, and
his sister Anwar calling for help. They were injured. But other 7 were killed. Cousin Isam (35), his wife
(25), his children Hani (7) and Reem(3),his sister (20), Salaam’s bride, Sheima’ (20), and Quteiba were all
The stories of buried families under the rubbles became familiar in
Qaim. In Mohssin Mohammad’s house, near the electricity station, a family of 20 were killed, and in Mohssin
Hommadi's house 35 were killed, we were told… "We used the food refrigerator to put the human bodies", A., an
employee in the hospital said.
A. did not leave Qaim during the last attack. He described what
"On Nov 5, at 3 am the troops were dropped in the Railway and the
Saray areas. At the same time, the bombing never stopped. Electricity was cut, and water too. The bombing was
random. The tanks dashed in the street savagely. They bombed everything, even a small door. We were two
families staying in the whole street. My gate was already broken because of the bombing. I crawled to open
the inner doors. They were about 40 when they raided my house. They asked about terrorists and weapons. They
searched the house, and found nothing. They were attacked while they were in my house. In 6 minutes 3 houses
were destroyed in retaliation. They told us to close our ears and open our mouths when they bomb. A
journalist accompanying them operated my generator and began to send his story from my house. They dug
trenches in the neighboring Hadg Thammer house, opened big holes in the walls, and ruined the roof"
AM, another employee from Rummana said "we saw 14 Chinook airplanes
bombing, we heard that there is a major attack on Huseiba. 5 days later we heard that the attack was on
Karabla and Ebeidy which was hit by %50 missiles from dawn to sunrise at 6 am. A man said that they used
"how did he know that?"
"He said that when the dead were buried, their clothes were intact,
but the bodies were like ashes when they were held. In Rummana they collected all the men, and the Iraqis who
accompanied them would point to some who are then taken away. The troops are still occupying the schools and
the medical center. They tell the families to leave then they blast the house. They did that with 15 houses
in Rummana. In one month, at least 150 were killed in Rummana. On Nov 15, they forced the families to spend
the night outside in Ebeidy. Two newly born babies died in the cold".
Next day we tried to go to Rummana . It was worse than AM described.
The bridge, was bombed twice. First, no cars were able to cross, only on foot. Then, it was bombed again in
three pieces, which raise their heads from the Euphrates as eternal witness of the American colonial