US troops accused of excess force

  • From: "" <muslim_affairs@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2003 14:32:10 +0100

Correspondents in Iraq have come upon a number of incidents in which the
US military, especially the marines, have appeared to act with excessive
force. Here are some examples. 

The bridge at Nassiriya 

After suffering heavy losses in the southern city of Nassiriya, US
marines were ordered to fire at any vehicle which drove at American
positions, Sunday Times reporter Mark Franchetti reported. He described
how one night "we listened a dozen times as the machine guns opened
fire, cutting through cars and trucks like paper". 

Next morning he said he saw 15 vehicles, including a mini-van and two
lorries, riddled with bullet holes. He said he counted 12 dead civilians
lying in the road or in nearby ditches. 

One man's body was still on fire. A girl aged no more than five lay dead
in a ditch beside the body of a man who may have been her father. On the
bridge an Iraqi civilian lay next to the carcass of a donkey. A father,
baby girl and boy had been buried in a shallow grave. Franchetti said
the civilians had been trying to leave the town, probably for fear of
being killed by US helicopter attacks or heavy artillery. He wrote:
"Their mistake had been to flee over a bridge that is crucial to the
coalition's supply lines and to run into a group of shell-shocked young
American marines with orders to shoot anything that moved." 

Cluster bombs 

A surgical assistant at the Saddam hospital in Nassiriya, Mustafa
Mohammed Ali, told the Guardian's James Meek that US aircraft had
dropped three or four cluster bombs on civilian areas in the city,
killing 10 and wounding 200. 

He said he understood the US forces going straight to Baghdad to get rid
of Saddam Hussein, but added: "I don't want forces to come into [this]
city. They have an objective, they go straight to the target. There's no
room in the hospital because of the wounded." When he saw the bodies of
two dead marines, he revealed that he cheered silently. 

Meek also told the story of a 50-year-old businessman and farmer, Said
Yagur, who said marines searched his house and took his son, Nathen, his
Kalashnikov rifle and 3m dinars (about £500). The marines argued the
money was probably destined for terrorist activities. After protests by
the father, who rose up against Saddam Hussein after the last Gulf War
and had his house shelled by the dictator's artillery, they let the son
go and returned the gun and money. 

The road to Baghdad 

Reporters have seen more than a dozen burnt-out buses and trucks and the
bodies of at least 60 Iraqi men on the road north of Nassiriya. A
photograph carried in the Guardian last week showed a bus which had been
attacked by US troops. Bloodstained corpses lay nearby. 

Reuters journalist Sean Maguire said there were four bodies outside the
bus and - according to the marines - 16 more inside. The Americans told
him the dead men wore a mix of civilian and military clothing and were
in possession of papers "that appeared to identify them as Republican
Guard". But Brigadier General John Kelly admitted to Maguire: "We have
very little time to decide if a truck or bus is going to be hostile."
The reporter described the bullet-ridden bus and the bodies as "evidence
of the ruthless efficiency with which lead marine units are clearing the
road north of Nassiriya to make way for a military convoy". 


A British officer was alarmed when the American marines who were
escorting him through the port of Umm Qasr let loose a volley of rifle
fire at a house on the outskirts of town. 

The officer told Reuters reporter David Fox: "They said they had been
sniped out from there a few days ago so they like to give them a warning
every now and then. That is something we [the British] would never
condone." A US special forces officer said it was sometimes difficult to
contain the exuberance of men doing the actual fighting. "You got to
realise these guys are single-minded in their training. It's look after
yourself and your buddies. How do we know who the enemy is?" 

Source:  The Guardian

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