US bombs ambulances and kids in Sadr City, winning more hearts and minds

Along the same lines as the Somali civilian massacre noted below, the US has apparently hit a bunch of children in Sadr City in Iraq and blasted an three ambulances, knocking out the windows of a nearby hospital and wounding 28 people. 

The first hit, close to the Sadr General Hospital, was American. After a night of clashes in the neighborhood, the Americans fired at least three “precision-guided munitions” at a small building next door to the hospital that neighbors said was used as a place of prayer for hospital employees, pilgrims and neighborhood residents.

Twenty-eight people were wounded in the attack near the hospital, said Abdul Hussain Qassim, a hospital official.

Of course, we don’t aim at civilians though.  We just have major battles in the heart of big metropolitan neighborhoods, a practice that would be frowned upon were it to be used in the USA.

The circumstances of the other strike are in dispute. The Americans said claims that they had attacked the children were “preposterous.”

Col. Gerald O’Hara, a spokesman for the multinational forces, underscored that the Americans “take great care to prevent any collateral damage and will continue to do so.”

“We don’t target civilians and regret any casualties,” he added.

But in an urban war — especially in an overcrowded area like Sadr City where at least two million people live — it is all but impossible to safeguard civilians and every strike runs the risk of alienating some people in the community whom the Americans insist they are trying to help in the long term.

About an hour later, at the front line between the southern part of the neighborhood that is held by the American and Iraqi military and the northern section that is held by Shiite militias, the group of children was hit, according to a child and one adult who was injured there and brought to the Sadr hospital.

Haider Abbas, 10, was brought to the hospital with what appeared to be a hole in his chest and shrapnel injuries across his stomach. The boy alternately screamed and whimpered in pain, barely able to answer a doctor’s questions.

“My friend brought me to the hospital, but we had to leave the other wounded kids behind,” he said. “The Iraqi Army refused to allow them to be evacuated but my friend took me anyway.”

The doctor, Abdul Rahman Hadi, said the boy was bleeding internally. “He needs surgery quickly,” Dr. Hadi said. “The irony is that not one of his relatives has come because he is an orphan.”

Another victim of that attack, Ahmmad Yahya, 31, whose leg was broken, said the Iraqi Army obstructed evacuation from the damaged area. “I was with a group of about 15 children who were collecting the empty cans or the trash in Jamila,” he said. “I don’t know why this happened.”

One of the leaders of the Sadr bloc in Parliament, Nassar al-Rubaie, condemned the attacks, which are mainly focused the Mahdi Army and other militias associated with Moktada al-Sadr, a cleric. “We blame the government as it stands watching quiet and does not lift a hand. The airstrikes are targeting civilians.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/world/middleeast/04iraq.html?_r=1&hp=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print

P.S. Here is another story about what US bombs do in Iraq from ABC:

http://www.abcnews.go.com/International/Story?id=4775808&page=2

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