Iraq: Fallujah residents face birth defects, mines and checkpoints 15 years after US invasion

Residents of Fallujah recounted the consequences that the US invasion and the subsequent emergence of Islamic groups have brought upon the city, including a spike in birth defects, regular deadly mine explosions, as well as entrenched checkpoints. April 28 marks the 15th anniversary of what has become known as the Fallujah killings. On the same day in 2003, at least 20 civilians were killed when... Еще US soldiers opened fire during a protest march that civilians went ahead with despite a curfew imposed by the US military. The event marked a turning point in the history of the city, located 65 kilometers west of Baghdad. In the following months, Fallujah saw two massive US-led operations against insurgents. In the aftermath of the war, the city saw a significant rise in cases of cancer and birth defects. Research, including the epidemiological study 'Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005 — 2009' by Busby, Hamdan and Ariabi, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, has linked this increase to the bombardments during which chemical weapons could have been used. The Second Battle of Fallujah, code named 'Operation Phantom Fury' was launched by the US and its allies in November 2004. Later, US forces admitted that they used white phosphorus during the operation, but US Central Command (CENTCOM) has denied using depleted uranium munitions in the same operation. In 2014, US organisations Center for Constitutional Rights and Iraq Veterans Against the War, which counts veterans who fought in Fallujah among its members, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Defence. The purpose was to get more information about the use of depleted uranium in Iraq to better assess possible consequences for their own health as well as that of Iraqi civilians. Seven-year-old Fatima Shehab was born with her hands and feet severely deformed. «At first I had a few miscarriages, then I had Fatima,» said the girl's mother. «When she was born we found that she had defects in her extremities, in the hands and feet. The doctors discovered that it was a result of the phosphorus which was used by the Americans,» she explained. Dr. Samira al-Ani, a pediatrician who heads the local council studying birth defects following the battles of Fallujah, explained that certified German labs «found uranium, mercury and other pollutants» in analysed samples. Following the 2011 withdrawal of the last US troops from Iraq, the insurgency intensified and Fallujah became the first city to fall to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and affiliated groups. A full-blown civil war ensued. It wasn't until June 2016 that Fallujah was finally recaptured by the Iraqi Army. Almost two years later, Iraqi soldiers still control traffic into and out of Fallujah through the al-Suqoor checkpoint. Residents including local merchants express frustration at the delays caused by the strict controls which are still in place. Security forces «go into the trucks, turn all the boxes over, they walk all over the fruit,» said fruit seller Abu Seif. «It's easier to come through with drugs.» «They charge us custom fares, we pay taxes and also waste time at the checkpoint, maybe a whole day more, so the fruit starts to go bad and it's the people who pay the price,» complained another merchant. Checkpoints leading to delays and financial losses are not the only daily reminder of the bloody battles which scarred Fallujah. The city has still not been fully cleared of the mines and explosives that IS planted at the height of its battles with the Iraqi security forces and there are often reports of injuries or even deaths. «We came back from the [IDP] camp to Fallujah, they told us that Falluja

Самое интересное

Новости партнеров

ТемыВсе темы