U.S. Airstrikes Take Toll on Civilians Eyewitnesses Cite Scores Killed in
Marine Offensive in Western Iraq
By Ellen Knickmeyer Washington Post Foreign Service Saturday, December
24, 2005; Page A01
RAMADI, Iraq -- U.S. Marine airstrikes targeting insurgents sheltering in
Iraqi residential neighborhoods are killing civilians as well as guerrillas
along the Euphrates River in far western Iraq, according to Iraqi
townspeople and officials and the U.S. military.
Just how many civilians have been killed is strongly disputed by the
Marines and, some critics say, too little investigated. But townspeople,
tribal leaders, medical workers and accounts from witnesses at the sites of
clashes, at hospitals and at graveyards indicated that scores of
noncombatants were killed last month in fighting, including airstrikes, in
the opening stages of a 17-day U.S.-Iraqi offensive in Anbar province.
"These people died silently, complaining to God of a guilt they did not
commit," Zahid Mohammed Rawi, a physician, said in the town of Husaybah.
Rawi said that roughly one week into Operation Steel Curtain, which began on
Nov. 5, medical workers had recorded 97 civilians killed. At least 38
insurgents were also killed in the offensive's early days, Rawi said.