'At That Moment, I Wished to Die'
No wonder the U.S. military has seemed more insistent than usual in keeping international aid agencies like the Red Crescent out of Fallujah. The carnage is pretty sad, judging by the tales from an Associated Press photographer and an Iraqi doctor.
Check out photog Bilal Hussein's harrowing story of escape from hell in this story in The Guardian (U.K.).
Hussein had planned to stay throughout the assault on Fallujah to keep shooting pics, but then U.S. troops came into his neighborhood. "U.S. soldiers began to open fire on the houses," he said, "so I decided that it was very dangerous to stay in my house." The story, written by colleague Katarina Kratovac, continues:
Hussein moved from house to house—dodging gunfire—and reached the river.
"I decided to swim ... but I changed my mind after seeing U.S. helicopters firing on and killing people who tried to cross the river."
He watched horrified as a family of five was shot dead as they tried to cross. Then, he "helped bury a man by the river bank, with my own hands."
"I kept walking along the river for two hours, and I could still see some U.S. snipers ready to shoot anyone who might swim. I quit the idea of crossing the river and walked for about five hours through orchards."
He finally got a message to a colleague in Ramadi, who set up a plan to ferry Hussein across the river to safety.
Dr. Ahmed Ghanim, meanwhile, had been trapped in the center of the city, treating patients—until the hospital he was working in blew up. Ghanim's tale, ably told by L.A. Times reporter Alissa J. Rubin (and re-posted here by the Concord, N.H., Monitor), continues:
"At that moment, I wished to die," he said. "It was a catastrophe."
Afterward, he said, he half-ran, half-wandered through Fallujah, dodging explosions that seemed to be everywhere. He took shelter in an empty house and did not move.
"I saw the injured people on the street, covered in blood, staggering, screaming, shouting, 'Help me! Help me!' but we could not get out and help them because we would be killed."
At one point, he looked out and saw a cousin in the street; he had been wounded. "I could not do anything for him, I could not move," Ghanim said. "He died. There was no mercy."
Ghanim finally made his escape from the city, but Rubin described him as "clearly haunted" and quoted him as saying,
"I think if the Americans let us treat the injured, even in the streets, we could have saved hundreds."
Yeah, Doc, but would it be God's will? Would it advance our crusade against Satan? Let me check with the American electorate, and I'll get back to you.