The War We're Fighting in Nasiriyah

"Immediately, the level of force levelled at civilian vehicles was overwhelming. Tanks were placed on the road and AAVs lined along one side. Several taxis were destroyed by helicopter gunships as they drove down the road...

...This was the start of day that claimed many civilian casualties. After the lorry a truck came down the road. Again the marines fired. Inside, four men were killed. They had been travelling with some 10 other civilians, mainly women and children who were evacuated, crying, their clothes splattered in blood. Hours later a dog belonging to the dead
driver was still by his side...

...Though civilians on foot passed by safely, the policy was to shoot anything that moved on wheels. Inevitably, terrified civilians drove at speed to escape: marines took that speed to be a threat and hit out. During the night, our teeth on edge, we listened a dozen times as the
AVVs' machineguns opened fire, cutting through cars and trucks like paper...

...Next morning I saw the result of this order - the dead civilians, the little girl in the orange and gold dress...

...In the days afterwards, the marines consolidated their position and put a barrier of trucks across the bridge to stop anyone from driving across, so there were no more civilian deaths.

They also ruminated on what they had done. Some rationalised it.

"I was shooting down a street when suddenly a woman came out and casually began to cross the street with a child no older than 10," said Gunnery Sergeant John Merriman, another Gulf war veteran. "At first I froze on seeing the civilian woman. She then crossed back again with the child and went behind a wall. Within less than a minute a guy with an RPG came out and fired at us from behind the same wall. This happened a second time so I thought, 'Okay, I get it. Let her come out again'.

She did and this time I took her out with my M-16."

Mark Franchetti tells the horrific story to the London Times. (Use this link if you don't subscribe to the Times online)

No comments: