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by Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail

Civilian Deaths From U.S. Airstrikes a Growing Part of Afghan, Iraq Death Toll

(IPS) BAGHDAD -- The smoke has cleared and the rubble has settled, and residents of a group of bombed Iraqi villages have begun describing the Jan. 10 attack on them by U.S. bombers and F-16 jets as a clear example of overkill.

"The use of B1 bombers shows the terrible failure of the U.S. campaign in Iraq," said Iraqi Major General Muhammad al-Azzawy, a military researcher in Baghdad, speaking about the attack on a cluster of villages in the Latifiya district south of Baghdad.

. "U.S. military and political tactics failed in this area, and that is why this massacre [occurred]. This kind of bombing is usually used for much bigger targets than small villages full of civilians. This was savagery."

The attack on Juboor and neighboring villages just south of Baghdad had begun a week earlier with heavy artillery and tank bombardment. The attack followed strong resistance from members of the mainly Sunni Muslim al-Juboor tribe against groups that residents described as sectarian death squads.

"On Jan. 10, huge aircraft started bombing the villages," said Ahmad Alwan from a village near Juboor. "We took our families and fled. We have never seen such bombardment since the 2003 American invasion. They were bombing everything and everybody."

Residents said two B1 bombers and four F-16 fighter jets dropped at least 40,000 pounds of explosives on the villages and plantations within a span of ten minutes.

"The al-Qaeda name is used once more to destroy another Sunni area," said Akram Naji, a lawyer in Baghdad who has relatives in Juboor. "Americans are still supporting Iranian influence in Iraq by cleansing Baghdad and [its] surroundings of Sunnis."

The cluster of Sunni villages was bombed just weeks after the U.S. military encouraged families to return to their village after a heavy bombing earlier, in which scores of people were killed. Many residents had fled fearing sectarian death squads, which they say were backed by the U.S.

Few people in the village are now interested in speaking the language of reconciliation promoted by Bush and by some Iraqis in the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad.

"We have no alternative but to fight this occupation and its allies," said a former army officer in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We can see clearly now that Americans came with the idea that we, Sunni Arabs, are the enemies they have in mind, no matter what we do to please them. We will fight for our existence, and this massacre will not go unpunished."

"It was a miracle that I could evacuate my family at the last minute," said Omar Hussein, who fled for Dora in Baghdad from the bombarded area. "My house and farm are on the outskirts of the village. I took my family out the minute I saw the aircraft in the sky.

"Apache helicopters later fired at the trucks that were carrying the families out of the area, and killed so many civilians. They took some wounded people to their military base. I am sure hundreds of people would have been killed. It is just like the Falluja crime."

Thousands died in prolonged attacks on Falluja to the west of Baghdad, particularly in 2004 and 2005.

Taha Muslih al-Joboory, his wife and three sons were among those reported killed in the bombing. Joboory was an Iraqi journalist who lived all his life in the area. Many families were reported buried under the rubble of their houses.

The U.S. military said the aircraft that bombed the area targeted "suspected militant hideouts, storehouses and defensive positions."

"We know they will get away with their crime now, but we will teach our children that America and the whole West are our enemies, so that they take revenge for these crimes," said 35-year-old Nada, a woman who has relatives in the village.

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Albion Monitor   February 12, 2008   (

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