The Guardian December 10, 2003

What really happened in the Iraqi city of Samarra'

In the 24 hours following what is now being called the "Battle 
of Samarra", Arab and international news media are beginning to 
piece together a picture of what really transpired. Two separate 
American columns on opposite sides of the city were 
simultaneously ambushed by Iraqi Resistance fighters.

A ferocious battle ensued in which the Iraqis battled the US 
forces who fired back indiscriminately with everything from 
automatic weapons to tank cannon and rockets from helicopter 

After inflicting casualties on the Americans the Resistance 
fighters withdrew. The American troops, however, continued to 
shell and rocket residential quarters of Samarra' for hours as if 
to punish residents and drive a wedge between them and the Iraqi 

The result has been quite the opposite. One resident said: 
"Yesterday we were just sitting around, but today we will be in 
the ranks of the fighters for liberation, because we won't stand 
for the crimes of the American bull". The predominant theme in 
people's remarks was that they would take revenge and purge the 
country of the shame of occupation.

After initially claiming that they had killed 46 Resistance 
fighters in their Sunday battle US spokesmen claimed on Monday 
that they had actually killed 54 Iraqis as they used tanks and 
cannons to fight their way out of simultaneous ambushes.

Iraqi witnesses, however, painted a different story. The 
Associated Press reported that residents of Samarra' disputed the 
American figures, saying that at most eight or nine people died. 
Al-Jazeera TV reported that hospital sources in the city reported 
US gunfire killed eight people, all of them civilians.

Hospital director Abd Tawfiq told al-Jazeera, "more than 60 
people wounded by gunfire and shrapnel from US rounds are being 
treated at the hospital".

"It appears that America is trying to cover up its ugly crime 
against the civilian residents by making out that those killed 
were all from the Iraqi Resistance", was the comment of Abu Adel 
to correspondents from IslamMemo website. Abu Adel was near by 
when the fighting broke out and says that "hysteria" gripped the 
American forces.

Another individual said that "the number of killed and wounded 
Americans was very great, as you can see before you burned out 
tanks, blown up cars, and a real battlefield on which the 
occupation forces sustained direct hits. The fighting units, and 
I think there weren't many of them, a moderate number as is 
normal in a Resistance war, slipped away after the fighting 
became intense, but the American forces insisted on continuing to 
shell houses with their civilian residents in them, despite the 
fact that some houses had put up white flags. And they kept on 
shooting at houses for hours. It was like they wanted to torture 
everybody so they would spurn the Resistance".

Associated Press wrote that when the US aggressor forces began 
firing at random, many civilians got their guns and joined the 
fight. Many said residents were bitter about recent night-time 
raids carried out by the American occupation troops.

"Why do they arrest people when they're in their homes?" asked 
Athir Abd as-Salam, a 19-year-old student. "They come at night to 
arrest people. So what do they expect those people to do?"

Thirty-year-old Ali Hasan, who was wounded by shrapnel in the 
battle said. "They claim we are terrorists. So OK, we are 
terrorists. What do they expect when they drive among us?"

A kindergarten was damaged, apparently by tank shells. "Luckily, 
we evacuated the children five minutes before we came under 
attack", said Ibrahim Jasem, a 40-year-old guard at the 
kindergarten. "Why did they attack randomly? Why did they shoot a 
kindergarten with tank shells?"

The residents described what the Americans did as "collective 
punishment" of the sort that the "Israelis" inflict on the 

Basil Mas'ud, 36, who works in one of the city's factories, and 
was wounded outside the hospital said, "Iraq's going to turn into 
a new Vietnam for the Americans. How can they treat us like this? 
We're going to kill them".

What is significant about the Battle of Samarra, according to the 
Jordanian paper al-Arab al-Yawm, is that for the first time the 
Iraqi Resistance carried on a direct battle with American forces 
for two hours.

The Agence French Presse reported that walls in the area where 
Resistance Fighters attacked the American occupation troops the 
day before were now covered with slogans in support of Iraqi 
President Saddam Hussein.

IslamMemo's correspondent spoke with a number of Samarra 
residents, most of whom indicated that from now on they will no 
longer stand aside from the war against the aggressor.

Abridged. Acknowledgement to Information Clearing House. Complete 
text available at 
and compiled by Muhammad Abu Nasr

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