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Eye Witness Report: The "Battle" At Samarra

by Translated and compiled by Muhammad Abu Nasr: Thursday, Dec. 04, 2003 at 5:44 AM

After inflicting casualties on the Americans the Resistance fighters withdrew. The American troops, however, continued to shell and rocket residential quarters of Samarra' for hours as if to punish residents and drive a wedge between them and the Iraqi Resistance. The result has been quite the opposite. As the people of Samarra' awakened Monday to survey the battle damage they talked to the press of their outrage at the brutality of the American aggressors and their resolve to join the ranks of the Resistance.


Eye Witness Report: The "Battle" At Samarra

Translated and compiled by Muhammad Abu Nasr:

12/02/03: (ICH) In the 24 hours following what is now being called the Battle of Samarra' Arab and international news media are beginning to piece together a picture of what really transpired. Two separate American columns on opposite sides of the city were simultaneously ambushed by Iraqi Resistance fighters.

A ferocious battle ensued in which the Iraqis battled the US forces who fired back indiscriminately with everything from automatic weapons to tank cannon and rockets from helicopter gunships.

After inflicting casualties on the Americans the Resistance fighters withdrew. The American troops, however, continued to shell and rocket residential quarters of Samarra' for hours as if to punish residents and drive a wedge between them and the Iraqi Resistance.

The result has been quite the opposite. As the people of Samarra' awakened Monday to survey the battle damage they talked to the press of their outrage at the brutality of the American aggressors and their resolve to join the ranks of the Resistance.

After initially claiming that they had killed 46 Resistance fighters in their Sunday battle against two simultaneous attacks in Samarra', US aggressor spokesmen on Monday claimed that they had actually

killed 54 Iraqis as they used tanks and cannon to fight their way out of simultaneous ambushes.

Iraqi witnesses, however, painted a different story. The Associated Press reported that residents of Samarra' disputed those American figures, saying at most eight or nine people died. Three bodies lay in the hospital morgue. The AP, afraid to challenge the official American story directly, observed: "there was no way to reconcile the accounts."

Al-Jazeera TV reported that hospital sources in the city reported US gunfire killed eight people, all of them civilians. The Arabic language daily newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi reported on Tuesday on the basis of hospital reports that ten persons were killed in the attack.

Bassam Ibrahim, an anaesthetist with Samarra' hospital's accident and emergency department said "we received the bodies of eight civilians, including a woman and a child." Al-Jazeera observed that "it was not

immediately clear whether the dead civilians included two Iranians on a visit to holy sites found dead in their bus."

Hospital director Abd Tawfiq told al-Jazeera, "more than 60 people wounded by gunfire and shrapnel from US rounds are being treated at the hospital."

"It appears that America is trying to cover up its ugly crime against the civilian residents by making out as if those killed were all from the Iraqi Resistance," was the comment of Abu 'Adel to correspondents from IslamMemo website. Abu 'Adel was near by when the fighting broke out and says that "hysteria" gripped the American forces after the heroic operation mounted against them by the Iraqi Resistance, when it attacked two American convoys at opposite sides of the city.

One convoy was subjected to intense Resistance gunfire, IslamMemo reported, while the other convoy was subjected only to such gunfire as would block its advance forward.

Abu 'Adel said, "I watched part of the first attack from our neighbors' house, but then I left after half an hour after the helicopters buzzed over our heads rocketing houses hysterically. They killed a number of children, women, and elderly people as well as civilian men, after they were unable to wipe out the Iraqi Resistance unit which managed to withdraw after an intense battle that left a few of them wounded."

Another individual who called himself Abu Hammud said that "the number of killed and wounded Americans was very great, as you can see before you burned out tanks, blown up cars, and a real battlefield on which the occupation forces sustained direct hits. The fighting units, and I think there weren't many of them, a moderate number as is normal in a Resistance war, slipped away after the fighting became intense, but the American forces insisted on continuing to shell houses with their civilian residents in them, despite the fact that some houses had put up white flags. And they kept on shooting at houses for hours. It was like they wanted to torture everybody so they would spurn the Resistance."

According to the Associated Press, many Samarra' residents said Resistance fighters loyal to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein attacked the Americans, but that when US aggressor forces began firing at random, many civilians got their guns and joined the fight. Many said residents were bitter about recent nighttime raids carried out by the American occupation troops.

"Why do they arrest people when they're in their homes?" asked Athir Abd as-Salam, a 19-year-old student. "They come at night to arrest people. So what do they expect those people to do?"

"Civilians shot back at the Americans," said 30-year-old 'Ali Hasan, who was wounded by shrapnel in the battle. "They claim we are terrorists. So OK, we are terrorists. What do they expect when they drive among us?"

Many residents said the Americans opened fire at random when they came under attack, and targeted civilian installations. Six destroyed vehicles sat in front of the hospital, where witnesses said US aggressor tanks shelled people dropping off the injured. A kindergarten was damaged, apparently by tank shells. No children were hurt.

"Luckily, we evacuated the children five minutes before we came under attack," said Ibrahim Jasem, a 40-year-old guard at the kindergarten. "Why did they attack randomly? Why did they shoot a kindergarten with tank shells?"

Ahmad Sabri, correspondent of the Amman daily al-Arab al-Yawm, visited Samarra' on Monday and filed a report describing his walk around the city where he the scars of battle on mosques, factories, and houses, and dozens of burned out cars in the streets testified to the intensity of the battle that raged for two hours there on Sunday.

Sabri wrote that all those whom he met agreed that what took place in their city Sunday was a "real battle" in which all types of weapons were used.

The residents confirmed to Sabri that the US forces fired indiscriminately with all their weapons, from machineguns and tanks to helicopter gunships, at residential quarters of the city. They described what the Americans did as "collective punishment" of the sort that the "Israelis" inflict on the Palestinians.

'Abd al-Qader 'Abd ar-Rahman, a Samarra' religious leader, told al- Arab al-Yawm that the American reaction showed their total confusion and panic before the Iraqi Resistance fighters. The Americans turned the city into battlefield with their intense use of all sorts of weapons on the residents.

Samarra' is home to the tombs of two Shiite Imams, 'Ali al-Hadi and Husayn al-'Askari, and Iranian pilgrims to those shrines were apparently among those killed by the American gunfire.

Al-Jazeera correspondents saw a civilian bus completely burned out, 30 meters from the main entrance to the town's hospital. They were shown two Iranian passports said to belong to the visitors killed in the bus. Nine others, also Iranians, were wounded, according to the puppet police guard outside the hospital.

Correspondents for the London-based Arabic-language daily al-Quds al- Arabi reported that "in the hospital, many Iraqis said that although the fighting took place in the city center, the Americans pursued wounded civilians to the hospital, wounding many people who were trying to get away from the fighting. Basil Mas'ud, 36, who works in one of the city's factories, and was wounded outside the hospital said 'Iraq's going to turn into a new Viet Nam for the Americans. How can they treat us like this? We're going to kill them.'"

What is significant about the Battle of Samarra', according to the Jordanian paper al-Arab al-Yawm, is that for the first time the Iraqi Resistance carried on a direct battle with American forces for two hours.

Contrary to claims by the American occupation forces who claimed that the attacks were attempts to steal new Iraqi banknotes, a number of residents of the city told al-Arab al-Yawm that they thought the fighters who carried out the attacks were most likely members of Saddam's Fedayeen, and they estimated that they were about fifty in number. The residents told the newspaper's correspondent that the Americans suffered "large" numbers of casualties.

The daily newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi reported from the scene on Tuesday that although heavy fighting obviously took place on the square where the bank was located, the bank building itself was unharmed and most of the damage to surrounding buildings seemed to have been inflicted by American gunfire.

Shaykh Muhammad 'Abd al-Karim, head of the Security Committee in the City Council that was appointed by the occupation forces told al-Quds al-Arabi, "the [puppet] police told me that after an exchange of gunfire with the resistance, the Americans began firing on houses, mosques, and schools for an hour and a half. Then it stopped for about an hour, but then it started again for reasons that are not clear."

Al-Arab al-Yawm noted that two weeks ago, the US occupation troops had been forced to vacate two bases, al-Qal'ah and Kafr Qasem, after local citizens occupied them as an expression of their rejection of the American presence in Samarra' and its environs.

The Associated Press described the scene in the city saying "the scars of the battle were evident on Monday. About a dozen cars lay destroyed in the streets, many apparently crushed by tanks, and bullet holes pocked many buildings. A rowdy crowd gathered at one spot, chanting pro-Saddam slogans. One man fired warning shots in the air when journalists arrived at the scene." At the US occupiers' base, six "suspects" were seen with bags over their heads and their hands bound by plastic cuffs.

Al-Jazeera quoted the puppet police chief in Samarra', Colonel Ismail Mahmud Muhammad, as saying that about 20 of the injured sustained their injuries while worshipping at a mosque during sunset prayers. The impact of a rocket could be seen on one of the outer walls of the ash-Shafi'i mosque, about 50 meters from the hospital. Its windows had been shattered by the blast.

'Ali 'Abdallah Amin, 12, who was being treated at the hospital with his five-year-old brother for wounds sustained in the mosque, said their father had been killed in the shelling. Young Amin told Agence France Press (AFP) "I was in the mosque with my father and little brother who's five years old. A shell struck and killed my father and slightly wounded my brother." Sabah Fallih, 22, was killed in his house garden as a result of the shelling, according to his father, Fallih Hasan, 65, who sat on the edge of his bed in the Samarra' Hospital with two wounded legs. On the beds to either side of the man lay his sons Rashid, 18; and Fares, 32, both severelywounded.

An imam of a mosque who refused to give his name told al-Quds al- Arabi daily that an American helicopter fired a missile at a mosque opposite the hospital, injuring worshippers. He said that considerable damage was done to the mosque which caught fire.

A shell landed at the entrance to a pharmaceutical factory killing one worker and wounding a number of others. Amirah Mahdi Salih, a worker in the factory, was killed when the bus on which she was riding home from work with other employees was struck by a shell. Managing director of the factory, Hasan YaSin, 54, said "the company bus was hit by a shell when it was leaving the factory gate. A lady who was sitting behind the driver was killed. Other people who were waiting in front of the factory to board the bus were wounded."

Shells struck several schools including al-Mu'tasim School, Umm al-Mutawakkil School, and al-Muqtadir School. One 12-year-old school student was killed.

In one street in the town where a US occupation troop convoy came under attack earlier in the day, a car parked outside a pharmacy had been completely flattened, apparently by a tank.

The AFP reported on Monday that walls in the area where Resistance Fighters attacked the American occupation troops the day before were now covered with slogans in support of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

IslamMemo's correspondent spoke with a number of Samarra' residents, most of whom indicated that from now on they will no longer stand aside from the war against the aggressor. One resident said: "Yesterday we were just sitting around, but today we will be in the ranks of the fighters for liberation, because we won't stand for the crimes of the American bull." The predominant theme in people's remarks was that they would take revenge and purge the country of the shame of occupation.

Sources: al-Arab al-Yawm daily newspaper, Amman, Jordan, Tuesday, 2 December 2003. 

Al-Quds al-Arabi daily newspaper, London, Tuesday, 2 December 2003.


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