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 gunships. 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 Resistance. 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 Palestinians. 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 http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/Translated and compiled by Muhammad Abu Nasr