Iraq Shows Civilians Caught in the U.S.-Led War
Saturday 22 March 2003
BAGHDAD The two Iraqi children lay helplessly in the hospital, their stomachs bleeding from shrapnel wounds.
Iraqi officials pointed out the children and other civilians as a reminder on Saturday that the innocent are also victim of the U.S. and British invasion to oust President Saddam Hussein.
Omar and Saad were part of a family of 12 who were admitted to Yarmouk hospital, across the street from security buildings in west Baghdad gutted by U.S. overnight raids.
"We heard an explosion and rushed to their house. Damn the Americans for this," said Salam, a neighbor.
Majed, a 57-year-old mechanic, was another civilian hit by shrapnel. He was operated on and should survive, along with another 100 wounded who were now in the hospital, doctors said.
"I knew that the military had taken posts in residential areas. But I am sure there was nothing where we live. Otherwise we would not remain there," Majed's wife said as she stood by his bed.
Iraqi officials say three people were killed and 200 wounded during the overnight raids, which the U.S. military says were on targets selected to avoid harming non-combatants.
Most of the wounded in this hospital appeared to suffer from cuts caused by shattered windows. The more seriously wounded had been transferred to specialist hospitals, the officials said.
"It does not matter. One casualty is too many," said Roland Huguenin-Benjamin, an official in the International Committee of the Red Cross, who was checking on the wounded.
"Our job is to make sure that Iraqi hospitals have enough equipment and surgical kits. Iraqi doctors are professionals and tell us about the levels of their stocks," Huguenin-Benjamin added.
"We are doing well. This is what we have been preparing for," said Janet Boulos, a nurse.
Iraqi Health Minister Umeed Medhat Mubarak said the government was prepared to handle massive civilian casualties.
"When you see 100 people treated successfully at this hospital it means that our system is functioning," Mubarak, a soft spoken doctor wearing military fatigue, told reporters visiting the hospital.
The visit was part of a tour organized by the government to show what it described as U.S. attacks on civilians.
Officials showed reporters a restaurant and administrative building destroyed in al-Aaras, a tourist village near al-Sujoud Palace, which was hit hard during the raids.
"People were eating hamburgers and chicken here yesterday," said Ahmad, a Palestinian guard at the complex. "I was lucky to have been in the bunker. Thank God diners had left early."
As Ahmed spoke, bombs could be heard falling on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Cars speeding back to the center of the capital passed Al-Sujoud palace complex. The overnight raids had punched massive holes in its main building. But four huge busts of Saddam on the roof remained standing.
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