Plea to lift siege as toll mounts

Doctors in Falluja want the siege on the town lifted for shifting patients with serious injuries even as brutal street battles rage.

    The town is struggling to cope with casualties

    Two hundred and eighty people have been killed since the start of the siege and 400 more injured, said Tahr al-Issawi, the director of Falluja's hospital on Thursday.

    "We also know of dead and wounded in various places buried under rubble, but we cannot reach them because of the fighting," he said.

    Clinics in the town, 65km west of Baghdad, are struggling to treat victims of the US attacks, said Aljazeera's correspondent Ahmad Mansur.

    US helicopters and snipers are firing on ambulances and civilian vehicles trying to take the wounded to clinics or the hospital, the correspondent said.

    Many children have been killed
    in the US attacks on Falluja

    "One civilian car trying to reach a clinic hoisted a white flag but still came under fire," he said.

    Occupation forces also refused to allow trucks carrying aid, including medicine, food and water, to enter Falluja on Thursday said Aljazeera's correspondent Abd al-Qadir Ayad.

    In a show of unity, thousands of Iraqis had collected the relief material for delivery.

    Meanwhile, Muhsin Abd al-Hamid, a member of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, called on occupation forces to end the bloodshed in Falluja.

    Speaking to Aljazeera, al-Hamid condemned the siege and threatened to withdraw from the council if the fighting did not stop.

    Street battles

    Some 40 more injured people, mainly women and children, were admitted to the hospital on Thursday.

    US forces besieged the town after last week's ambush in which four security guards were killed and their bodies mutilated and dragged through the streets.

    They have been trying for four days to take control of the town of 300,000 but are facing stiff resistance.

    Residents have started digging a new cemetery since they are unable to reach any of the town’s cemeteries to bury the victims. According to Muslim practice the dead need to be buried within 24 hours. 

    More mosque attacks?

    US warplanes continue to attack residential areas and circle above mosques, said Mansur, a day after occupation forces dropped bombs on a mosque. 

    Bodies are being brought to the
    town's

    mosques

    Initially, military officials said resistance fighters were holed up in the Abd al-Aziz Samarai mosque, leaving 40 "fighters" dead and five US marine "casualties".

    But a marine officer was later forced to admit that US forces had failed to find any bodies.

    However, a family in a car outside of the mosque were killed in the attack. Many civilians have taken refuge in Falluja's mosques.

    Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt defended the occupation’s attack on a mosque, warning more of Iraq’s mosques could be targeted if they offered refuge to resistance fighters.

    An Aljazeera crew, including cameramen Layf Muftaq and Hasan Walid, sound engineer Sayf al-Din and correspondent Hamid Hadid, are the only television media personnel inside the town.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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