The heavy bombardment began early on Monday morning at about 2am (1100 GMT), Iraqi journalist Mahmud al-Rawi told Aljazeera.

 

Witnesses said among the dead in al-Baida were people who had fled nearby Hsaiba to seek refuge with relatives after their village had been the focus of a US fighter jet air raid three days ago.

 

A hospital doctor in al-Qaim town confirmed that 40 people had been killed and 20 wounded, many of them women and children. A tribal leader said there were no fighters in the area.


Witnessess said the bombing demolished four houses.

    

Hsaiba attack

 

US warplanes supported by ground forces had bombarded Hsaiba destroying six homes, al-Rawi reported.

 

"While we were trying to attend to the wounded, US fighter planes began bombing the place again," he said.

 

US marines scan for fighters at
a post on the Iraq-Syria border

"We appeal to the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMS) to help us as we are being killed in large numbers," he added.  

 

"Where is the AMS? Where are the humanitarian organisations?" al-Rawi said.


He told Aljazeera that the area had been cut off by US forces, who had blocked roads preventing people from leaving the village and going to al-Qaim.

Al-Rawi reiterated that US fighters and Apache helicopters had been pounding Hsaiba on an almost daily basis.

"They are turning this town into another Falluja," he said.

US statement

According to the US military, the army is targeting al-Qaida fighters in the region with precision-guided missiles.

A military statement mentioned no casualties and did not identify the al-Qaida in Iraq leader by name.

"They are turning this town into another Falluja"

Mahmud al-Rawi,
Iraqi journalist,
Hsaiba village, Iraq

Meanwhile, Iraqi police have discovered 14 bodies in a shallow grave near the northern town of Tal Afar, the US military said on Monday.

"Twelve of the corpses were bound and appear to have been shot in the head, execution-style, while two others were decapitated," the US statement said.

The grave site, just east of the city, was discovered on Friday after a tip-off, and the victims appeared to have been killed between one and three months ago.

US and Iraqi forces in September carried out a major military offensive in Tal Afar, which lies between the main northern city of Mosul and the Syrian border.