“Falluja is being hit every day under the guise of striking Zarqawi, and residents take out a two-year-old child from under the rubble – is this Zarqawi?” asked Shaikh Abd al-Ghafur al-Samarrai in a fiery sermon at Baghdad’s Umm al-Qura mosque on Friday.
“The Americans are using [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon’s scorched earth and collective punishment policy.”
Twelve people were killed, including a groom, while his bride was among 16 others wounded at a wedding party, when US warplanes hit early on Friday.
US military officials said it was a suspected meeting place of operatives of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted man in Iraq.
Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi is accused of links to the al-Qaida network.
The Iraqi government has been in talks with a delegation of Falluja community and religious leaders in an effort for them to exert their influence over some elements of the anti-US fighters in the city to convince them to lay down their weapons.
“Some members of the delegation say the talks are going well … and then we have an operation that kills and wounds people,” said Shaikh Ahmad Hassan al-Samarrai during a sermon at Baghdad’s Abu Hanifa mosque.