Civilian Casualties in the 2003 Iraq War:
A Compendium of Accounts and Reports
Project on Defense Alternatives
[ Research compiled in this report supports the October 2003 PDA Research Monograph The Wages of War: Iraqi Combatant and Noncombatant Fatalities in the 2003 Conflict (full text .html) (executive summary .html) (full text .pdf) (executive summary .pdf) ]
This compendium collects excerpts of journalistic and other accounts of the civilian cost of the Iraq war in three categories: 1. Reports from hospitals and cemeteries that provide partial overviews of the extent of civilian and other casualties in the 2003 Iraq war; 2. Accounts of individual incidents of civilian fatalities resulting from combat operations; and, 3. Accounts pertaining to public health and hospital conditions during the war and after. The compendium is meant to serve as a database for further investigation of the modes and dynamics of conflict that generate non-combatant casualties.
The accounts cover the period from 19 March through the middle of May 2003, but the compendium is by no means a complete and comprehensive accounting of civilian casualties in the war. That said, the compendium probably includes a majority of the accounts of major incidents of multiple noncombatant death known to have occurred up to 15 May 2003. Moreover, the mortality reports from hospitals and cemetery records recounted here, while not complete, are sufficient in scope to suggest the scale of collateral fatalities in the war.
The accounts derive almost exclusively from Western sources. None rely solely on official Iraqi government reports of casualties. The compendium also strongly favors accounts based on field investigations by journalists, eyewitness testimony, and the testimony of doctors, families of victims, residents of neighborhoods in which incidents occurred, aid workers, and cemetery personnel. The collection method included tracking numerous Western news sources on a daily basis and supplementing this with news database and Internet news searches. Notably, the effort focused on major cases of multiple civilian fatalities insofar as these (1) often generated more than one independent report and (2) constituted a subset of incidents that, while manageably small, nonetheless reflected a significant portion of the war's cost in civilian casualties.
Some highlights of the accounts collected here are:
In using this database, a note of caution is due. While the accounts collected here provide a basis for estimating the total number of civilian fatalities during the war, a useful estimate cannot be derived by simply adding together the death tolls given in the various accounts. Further analysis is required to address some of the inconsistencies in the accounts and to avoid the problem of double counting. The records of deaths from the Baghdad hospitals especially suggest the difficulty of separating civilian noncombatant deaths and civilian combatant ones. Such an analysis is attempted in a Project on Defense Alternatives memo accompanying this compendium.
1. Civilian casualty overviews: reports from hospitals and cemeteries
Baghdad area hospital burial society survey (March 19 - April 26, 2003): "At least 1,700 Iraqi civilians died and more than 8,000 were injured in Baghdad during the war and in the weeks afterward, according to a Los Angeles Times survey of records from 27 hospitals in the capital and its outlying districts.... In as many cases as possible, The Times examined original handwritten records.... In addition, undocumented civilian deaths in Baghdad number at least in the hundreds and could reach 1,000, according to Islamic burial societies and humanitarian groups that are trying to trace those missing in the conflict.... Not included in The Times' count were dozens of deaths that doctors indirectly attributed to the conflict. Those cases included pregnant women who died of complications while giving birth at home because they could not get to a hospital and chronically ill people, such as cardiac or dialysis patients, who were unable to obtain needed care while the fighting raged." Laura King, "Baghdad's Death Toll Assessed; A Times hospital survey finds that at least 1,700 civilians were killed and more than 8,000 injured in Iraq's capital during the war and aftermath," Los Angeles Times, 18 May 2003, p. 1.
Baghdad hospital survey (March 19 - April 10, 2003): "The battle for Baghdad cost the lives of at least 1,101 Iraqi civilians, many of them women and children, according to records at the city's 19 largest hospitals. The civilian death toll was almost certainly higher. The hospital records say that another 1,255 dead were 'probably' civilians, including many women and children. The numbers, gleaned from archives that separated military from civilians, include those killed between March 19, when the US air war began, and April 9, when the city fell to American forces. The biggest number of deaths appears to have occurred April 5 and 6 when US troops began fighting their way into the city. The records show 1,101 deaths that doctors felt were clearly those of civilians, 845 of which were recorded at three hospitals - Al Kharama, Al Askan and Yarmuk - near the Baghdad airport. An additional 1,255 dead probably were civilians, doctors say, all reported at the same three hospitals near the airport. At Al Kharama, 30 per cent of 450 such bodies belonged to women and children, doctors said. Others were men without identification in civilian clothes who the doctors believed were civilians. But a final determination was not made, in part because of the enormous volume of bodies to be dealt with." "Matthew Schofield, Nancy A. Youssef and Juan O. Tamayo, "Civilian Death Toll in Battle for Baghdad at Least 1,100," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4 May 2003.
Medical City complex, Baghdad (March 19 - April 10, 2003): "Hanaan no longer has much of a face to speak of. This slim 17-year-old girl has burns that cover her whole body.... The blast wave from a nearby attack tipped over the stove the family were using to cook on.... In the emergency room in the complex of hospitals in Baghdad's Medical City, near the banks of the Tigris river, eight-year-old Hamed Ali lies unconscious after surgery. Ali, his parents say, had been a curious boy and was playing with unexploded ordnance when he was injured..... Surgeons give him a 50 per cent chance of survival - not because of his injuries... but because of the risk of infection in a ward terribly short of antibiotics. Safah Ahmed, 12, ... was wounded when an American bomb landed near her home, also in Baghdad.... Now doctors have amputated her leg. One of the US Marine guards outside the Medical City Complex... recalls a boy brought in with all of his face except his lower jaw shot away. The child had been traveling in a car with his parents that had approached a US checkpoint too fast for the soldiers' taste. So they drilled it with heavy machine-gun fire. Radaad Latif Jassan al Obeidi stands by the bed of his son Saadeq, 22. He says he was injured in his stomach by the same bomb that landed near their home.... Saadeq's leg has been amputated at the thigh." Peter Beaumont, "Iraq after Saddam: A nation haunted by many 'Little Ali's'," The Observer, 20 April 2003.
International Committee of the Red Cross estimates, Baghdad casualties (March 19 - April 10, 2003): "The number of civilian casualties is one of many unresolved questions of this war. Using the ICRC's estimates - 100 wounded every day of the bombardment until April 3rd; 100 wounded every hour overnight in the battle for Baghdad airport; followed by several hundred wounded every day until April 9th - one arrives at a figure of at least 4,200 wounded in Baghdad alone, though many wounded were Iraqi military from April 4th on. There are no estimates available for the number of dead, or for the rest of the country, Mr Huguenin said. 'The Iraqis always tried to hide their dead - not to demoralise the population. The Americans accused them of exaggerating civilian casualties, when the contrary was true.'" Lara Marlowe, "Only half of Baghdad hospitals functioning," Irish Times, 18 April 2003.
Boratha Cemetery, Baghdad (March 19 - April 10, 2003): "Moving patiently through the cemetery was Khodeir Ali, 54, who performs the ritual mourning chant from the Koran for tips that amount to 15 or 20 cents. He has performed the ritual for 30 years, but he has never worked as hard as he has in the last three weeks. 'Before the war there were three, four, seven burials a day, according to God's wish,' he said. 'Now the numbers have increased to the hundreds. Already this morning we have buried 40 or 50 people.' It was only 11 o'clock." Alan Feuer, "The Cemetery; With Even the Gravediggers Gone, Grieving Kin Wield Shovels," New York Times, 14 April 2003.
Kindi hospital, Baghdad (April 08, 2003): "They lay in lines, the car salesman who'd just lost his eye but whose feet were still dribbling blood, the motorcyclist who was shot by American troops near the Rashid Hotel, the 50-year-old female civil servant, her long dark hair spread over the towel she was lying on, her face, breasts, thighs, arms and feet pock-marked with shrapnel from an American cluster bomb. ... I watched two-and-a-half-year-old Ali Najour lying in agony on the bed, his clothes soaked with blood, a tube through his nose, until a relative walked up to me. 'I want to talk to you,' he shouted, his voice rising in fury. 'Why do you British want to kill this little boy? Why do you even want to look at him? You did this - you did it!' The young man seized my arm, shaking it violently. 'Are you going to make his mother and father come back? Can you bring them back to life for him? Get out! Get out!' In the yard outside, where the ambulance drivers deposit the dead, a middle-aged Shia woman in black was thumping her fists against her breasts and shrieking at me. 'Help me,' she cried. 'Help me. My son is a martyr and all I want is a banner to cover him. I want a flag, an Iraqi flag, to put over his body. Dear God, help me!' Robert Fisk, "Amid allied jubilation, a child lies in agony, clothes soaked in blood," The Independent, 8 April 2003.
Basra, three surgical reference hospitals (March 19 - April 10, 2003): "During the first three days of fighting around Basrah, the hospitals said they received about 100 war wounded per day. More recently, the number was down to about 15 to 25 war wounded per day. The big problem is clean water supply - hospitals had either not enough water or had to use untreated water. ICRC through public contractors is now trucking 10,000 liters of treated water per day per hospital." International Committee of the Red Cross, "Baghdad Yarmouk Hospital: one hundred patients an hour," Electronic Iraq, 6 April 2003.
Basra "uprising" and civilian casualties (March 19 - April 10, 2003): "There was nothing resembling a popular uprising against the Iraqi militiamen who controlled this city during its 13-day siege by British forces. Life continued largely as normal in many neighborhoods, with police directing traffic and residents doing their best to avoid fighting. Doctors at local hospitals treated scores of civilians wounded by British artillery and U.S. bombs during the siege, despite briefing-room claims of pinpoint accuracy. Many others were killed. These conclusions about life under siege emerge from a week of interviews in Basra and they differ in many ways from accounts offered by military and other sources before the city's fall. Reports of large numbers of Basra residents being forced to take up arms and militiamen firing from behind human shields were similarly not borne out in the interviews." Keith B. Richburg, "People in Basra Contest Official View of Siege; Life Was Mostly Normal, Residents Say; Doctors Report Many Civilians Killed," Washington Post, 15 April 2003, p 13.
Saddam Teaching Hospital, Basra (March 19 - April 10, 2003):
Hilla, hospital (March 23-April 08, 2003): "Over 17 days, from all bombing and other fighting, the hospital's records indicate about 500 civilians were wounded, and the hospital's director, Dr. Adil al-Himiri, said about 250 people were killed, both military and civilian." Charles J. Hanley, "Questions linger about Hillah battle that left hundreds of civilian casualties," Associated Press, 17 May 2003.
Najaf Hospital Survey (March 19 -- April 10, 2003): "According to records at this 400-bed facility, [Saddam Hospital], the largest hospital in Najaf, 338 people died and 410 more were injured in the war between March 20 and April 15. At Najaf General Hospital, the city's second-largest, with 200 beds, records show 30 dead and 124 injured. At the third-largest hospital, al Kufa, the director said staff had treated 70 injured civilians and 10 others who died. So, in 26 days of war in Najaf, that's 378 dead and 604 injured." Meg Laughlin, "Civilians in Najaf Hit Hard by Bombs; 378 Killed, 604 Hurt in 26 Days of War," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 18 April 2003, p. 9.
Saddam Hussein General Hospital, Najaf (March 20-April 15, 2003): "Six days after the "liberation" of Najaf, Iraqis of all ages continue to pack the corridors of Saddam Hussein General Hospital. Saddam Hussein General Hospital alone has seen 307 deaths and treated 920 injuries. Of those, only 20 of the dead and 50 of the injured were soldiers." Essam Al-Ghalib, "The Evil of Cluster Bombs," Arab News, 9 April 2003.
Najaf burial sites (March 20-April 15, 2003):
Saddam Hospital, Nasiriyah (March 20 - April 03, 2003): "Doctors said they had treated 900 injuries in the past two weeks. They said US aerial raids had killed 250 civilians, all of whom had been brought to the hospital." Philip Smucker, "Law-and-order challenge for us as it takes Iraqi city," Christian Science Monitor, 4 April 2003.
2. Individual incidents and casualty reports of limited scope
March 20, 2003
Baghdad: "On Thursday, the Red Cross said at least one person died and 14 were wounded in Baghdad on the first day of war." "Iraqis say bombs killed 50," Nationwide News Pty Limited Courier Mail, 24 March 2003.
March 21, 2003
Basra, missile attack: "The day the Iraq war began, Abid Hassan Hamoodi, 72, patriarch of one of Basra's most prominent families, gathered everyone into the storeroom of the nine-bedroom family home. Because it was away from the street, he thought, that room was the safest place in the house for the children and grandchildren to sleep. The room turned out to be a death trap. In the early morning hours Saturday, while they slept, 10 members of his family were killed by two missiles fired from a warplane that destroyed the house, Hamoodi said." Keith Richburg, "In Basra, Growing Resentment, Little Aid; Casualties Stoke Hostility Over British Presence," Washington Post, 9 April 2003.
Outside Baghdad, missile attack: "Ahmed al-Rahal was driving near the city at around four in the morning. He went into a communications building used by the police. The other drivers said it was something he did frequently. He used to pay the cops to allow him use the phone. This is because mobile phones are not allowed in Saddam's Iraq. Ahmed was in the building when it was hit by a missile. His was an accidental death. Like many civilians before, Ahmed was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time." Fergal Keane, "How Easily Death Comes to Those Who Are in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time," The Independent, 22 March 2003, p. 22.
March 21-April 3
Nasiriyah, errant munitions: "One home 150 feet from the palm-tree-lined park was destroyed, and residents said that all 12 members of the family had been killed. Residents also said that a total of 50 men, women, and children had died just in their own small neighborhood from errant US munitions in the last two weeks." Philip Smucker, "Law-and-order challenge for US as it takes Iraqi city," Christian Science Monitor, 4 April 2003, p. 1.
March 22, 2003
Mosul, missile attack: "On 22 March, four Jordanian students were killed near Mosul, north-east of Iraq, when a missile exploded near their car as they were driving out of the city to flee US and UK bombardments. They were planning to drive to Jordan." "Iraq: Investigate civilian deaths," Amnesty International Press Release, 26 March 2003.
March 22-23, 2003
Khormal, Kurdistan: "At the weekend the US fired more than 70 missiles at territory in north-east Iraq controlled by Ansar al-Islam, a radical Islamist group linked by the Bush administration to al-Qaida.... Most of the missiles landed on Ansar's tiny mountainous enclave, close to the town of Halabja and the Iranian border. But four missiles hit Khormal, a large neighbouring village, and the headquarters of another Islamic group, Komala... killing Mr Saeed and at least 33 other people. As volunteers pulled corpses and body parts from the smouldering ruins of the compound yesterday, Mr Saeed's widow Aisha and 10 children wanted to know only one thing: why had America killed him? ... Kurdish officials say at least 150 people had been killed by US bombing at the weekend in northern Iraq - while others say around 60 have died. Either way the human cost of the coalition's war to get rid of President Saddam is now becoming grimly visible." Luke Harding, "'This makes us love Saddam, not America': 34 die as US missiles hit wrong target," The Guardian (London), 24 March 2003.
March 23, 2003
Nasiriyah, bombing: "On the sun-baked sand of one of the world's largest cemeteries, Ali Kadhim Subhi walked Friday along a row of 10 coffins allocated to the corpses who were once his family.... In a U.S. bombing March 23 that left the wreckage of his home smoldering for six days, Subhi was the only one of 26 in his family in the southern city of Nasiriyah to escape death or injury." Anthony Shadid, "A Pilgrimage of Sorrow by Shiite Faithful; Bodies of Iraqis Killed During War Are Brought to Sacred City to Be Buried," Washington Post, 20 April 2003.
March 24, 2003
Nasiriyah, bombing: "Nawaf and other residents said in interviews that American bombs, dropped on the city Monday morning, killed 10 Iraqi civilians and wounded as many as 200." Dexter Filkins and Michael Wilson, "Battle for a city turns into a brutal street fight," New York Times, 25 March 2003.
Al-Azamiyah neighborhood, Baghdad: "Saman Atef was finishing a late breakfast Monday when he heard a long, whining whoosh. Before he had time to ponder the noise, three of his neighbors' houses exploded in a rain of bricks, glass and dust. In the instant the bomb or missile hit, four people were killed and 23 were injured, Atef said, and the people of his working-class neighborhood of northern Baghdad counted one more reason to feel angry with the United States." John Daniszewski and Geoffrey Mohan, "Allies Pound Iraqi Guard Near Capital," Los Angeles Times, 25 March 2003.
Rutba, near Syria, bus attack: "Syria protested to the US and Britain last night after a US missile killed five Syrian workers and injured 10 who were fleeing the war in a bus. The vehicle, which was carrying 37 passengers, was struck on the Iraqi side of the Syrian border on Sunday morning as it stopped for a rest break in Rutba." Anne Penketh, "The Iraq Conflict: US missile hits bus, killing five Syrian civilians, " The Independent, 25 March 2003.
March 26, 2003
Baghdad, Al-Shaab neighborhood, marketplace: "Adnan Saleh Barseem stood Wednesday amid burning cars and bombed-out restaurants, the aftermath of an aerial strike that killed 14 people in a crowded residential neighborhood in Baghdad. 'This is barbarian!' he shouted as hundreds of angry Iraqis milled around craters created by two missiles that also injured 30 people, knocked down power lines and ruptured water pipes in the Al-Shaab neighborhood." "Iraqi official say 14 dead in cruise missile attack in Baghdad," Associated Press, 27 March 2003.
Baghdad, bus attack: "160 K is a familiar rest stop on the road from Syria to Baghdad. Near an intersection there is a fueling station and a small market for supplies and food. According to 5 passengers, three busloads of civilians were headed to Baghdad on 26 March 2003 and were approaching the intersection at 5:30PM. Passengers noticed an Apache helicopter trailing them at a distance. Possibly intended to take out a bridge ahead, a missile exploded directly in front of the first bus. The bus stopped immediately and some passengers jumped out to escape. Those were the lucky ones. The bus was then hit directly and 16-17 passengers were killed. The second bus was rear-ended by the third and impacted the wreckage of the first bus. The injured waited several hours for buses called to transfer them to Baghdad." April Hurley, "Bus Attack," Iraqi Diaries/ Electronic Iraq, 27 March 2003.
March 27, 2003
Najaf, cluster and other bombing: "'My sister-in-law's nose was sliced off by shrapnel, and my two-year-old girl Zahra was hit in the hand and she can no longer move it,' said Abbas al-Zalami... 'Entire families were killed and now people still get hurt because nobody is clearing the area. Why did the Americans target civilians? They even hit ambulances trying to rescue those injured and killed five medics,' he said. Like other residents interviewed by AFP, he said a furious air assault rained down dozens of bombs on the night of March 27, apparently aimed at a makeshift Iraqi military position nearby. 'I lost my father, two uncles and a cousin,' said Haider Musafer, 22, resting on crutches after taking what he said was 26 pieces of shrapnel in his right leg. His eight-year-old niece Nur, also hit by shrapnel, was wearing a cast on her right arm.... The evidence of the power of the bombing is everywhere. Charred Iraqi army trucks and anti-aircraft rocket launchers lie next to burnt pieces of missiles, and most houses have been riddled with shrapnel and had their windows blown out." Sophie Claudet, "US cluster bombing leaves Iraqi city angry over dead, maimed," Agence France Presse, 29 April 2003.
March 28, 2003
Al Nasser marketplace, Baghdad:
Diala Bridge, Baghdad: "Fatima Abdullah's 8-year-old daughter had been killed and two other daughters lay on stretchers, injured by a missile they said exploded on a farm near the Diala Bridge outside Baghdad. Abdullah held her 4-year-old son Muhammad, his face crisscrossed with cuts from flying shrapnel and debris, and screamed: 'Why do you do this to us?'" Greg Barrett, "'Human shields' witnesses to collateral damage," Gannett News Service, 28 March 2003.
March 29, 2003
Al-Janabiin suburb, Baghdad: "20 people including 11 children, were killed Saturday when a night time air raid hit a farm in the Al-Janabiin suburb on the edge of Baghdad." "Twenty Civilians Killed When Raid Hit Farm," Agence France-Presse / Yahoo News, 31 April 2003.
March 30, 2003
Jisser Diala village, near Baghdad: "Rocket blast near Baghdad devastates an Iraqi family; The attack on Jisser Diala village kills 14 relatives and hurts nine others. A 12-year-old boy loses his arms and is orphaned." Sergei L. Loiko, "War with Iraq, " Los Angeles Times, 2 April 2003.
March 31, 2003
Karbala, tank attack on civilian vehicle: "Near the city of Karbala, about 50 miles south of Baghdad, soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division fired high-explosive rounds into a four-wheel-drive vehicle that failed to stop at a checkpoint despite warnings, killing 10 civilians, including five young children, according to officers on the scene. Central Command spokesmen, describing the same incident, said seven were killed." Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Alan Sipress, "Army Has First Close Clashes With Republican Guard Units; Iraqi Divisions Shifted South to Defend Capital," Washington Post, 1 April 2003, p. 1.
March 31-April 01, 2003
Al Hillah, various attacks:
April 02, 2003
Al Mansour district, Baghdad: "An Iraqi Red Crescent (IRCS) maternity hospital in the al-Mansour district of Baghdad was damaged on 2 April in an attack by American and British forces on a nearby building. Three passers-by were killed and 27 injured as a result of the bombing." "Red Crescent maternity hospital damaged in attack," International Federation of the Red Cross ReliefWeb, 3 April 2003.
Babylon: "Forty-eight more civilians, including women and children, have been killed and 310 wounded in US-British bombings around this town south of Baghdad in the last 24 hours, a hospital director revealed." "Bombings kill 48 more civilians south of Baghdad," Yahoo News, 2 April 2003.
Najaf, bombing attack: "Zahraa Hashem's leg won't heal. Her pelvis is crushed and set in a vice. The wound on the back of her leg is too big, too deep to close.... Coalition bombers hit al Karama, Zahraa's middle-class neighborhood, from 1:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. April 2, killing 40 civilians and injuring 35 more.... [C]oalition aircraft dropped cluster bombs on [nearby] radar trucks. They also dropped them all over the neighborhood. Twenty houses caved in. Zahraa heard the bombs hit, and she remembers a red flash.... Her father and two uncles were killed, and her two younger brothers were injured along with her." Meg Laughlin, "Civilians in Najaf Hit Hard by Bombs; 378 Killed, 604 Hurt in 26 Days of War," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 18 April 2003, p. 9.
April 02-03, 2003
Aziziyah and Taniya bombings: "Hospital officials and residents say 43 civilians were killed in a U.S. bombing and battle April 2-3, one of the deadliest tolls for noncombatants known during the Iraq war, according to a U.S. radio report Friday. Most of the deaths, 31, were attributed to the bombing in the village of Taniya, National Public Radio reported. Twelve other civilians died in a ground battle as Republican Guardsmen fled Aziziyah (southern Iraq) , nine miles south of Taniya." "Iraqis report 43 civilians killed in and around Aziziyah as U.S. troops approached Baghdad," Associated Press, 25 April 2003.
April 03, 2003
Furat, near Baghdad, missile strike: "Dozens of Iraqis, including civilians and soldiers, were killed in the village of Furat, between the capital and Saddam International Airport, in what witnesses said was a US missile strike. They said more than 120 people were wounded in the attack. Iraqi officials put total deaths at 83 but this could not be independently confirmed." Michael Smith and Neil Tweedie, "Special forces inside Baghdad as bombs black out power supply; SAS seek out Republican Guard targets," Daily Telegraph, 4 April 2003, p. 3.
April 04, 2003
Baghdad, military checkpoint shooting: "U.S. Marines fired on a truck that refused to stop for a checkpoint south of Baghdad Friday, killing some civilians, a defense official said. The shooting killed seven civilians, including three children, an ABC News reporter traveling with the Marine unit said. The civilian Iraqis were in vehicles behind a military truck that refused to stop and tried to crash through the Marine roadblock, ABC reported." "Marines fire on truck, kill 7 civilians," Associated Press, 4 April 2003.
Manaria, Mohammedia district, south of Baghdad: "The victims of this particular explosion were in Manaria, a village in Mohammedia district, about 30 miles south of Baghdad. Since the war began, this mostly rural area of dusty brown fields and quiet villages has seen 53 inhabitants injured and 22 killed." Kim Sengupta, "Samar's Story," The Independent, 4 April 2003.
April 05, 2003
Basra, collateral casualties from bombing: "Iraqis said in interviews that it was common practice for top government and ruling Baath Party officials to operate out of houses around the city, mostly in such affluent civilian areas as Ashshar that were home to academics, doctors and other professionals. U.S. intelligence officials found out about this and targeted some of those houses. One airstrike, on April 5, hit a house that was believed to be used by top Iraqi intelligence agency officials. Two bombs turned the house into a large crater but also demolished the home of Abid Hassan Hamoodi next door, killing 10 members of his family, including seven children." Keith B. Richburg, "People in Basra Contest Official View of Siege; Life Was Mostly Normal, Residents Say; Doctors Report Many Civilians Killed," Washington Post, 15 April 2003, p 13.
April 05-06, 2003
Al Yarmouk and other hospitals, Baghdad: "Heavy artillery fire and military operations overnight from Friday to Saturday brought in a steady influx of war wounded to a rate of about one hundred patients an hour to the Al Yarmouk hospital up until midday Saturday. They were given first aid emergency treatment and were subsequently transferred to other hospitals around town for further treatment and surgery when necessary. No one is able to keep accurate statistics of the admitted and transferred war wounded any longer as one emergency arrival follows the other in the of Baghdad. Ambulances are picking up the wounded and running them to the triage areas and on to hospitals. Some of the wounded try to reach the nearest hospitals by foot. All of the hospitals are under pressure and the medical staff is working without respite. Despite the intense and desperate activity, hospital staff is still managing the situation. .... Given the reduced water pressure and supply from the majority of the treatment plants, hospitals in Baghdad have not been permanently supplied with piped water and are in urgent need for stocks of supplementary water. International Committee of the Red Cross, "Baghdad Yarmouk Hospital: one hundred patients an hour" Electronic Iraq, 6 April 2003.
April 05-06, 2003
Dohuk, shelling: "ICRC local colleagues reported shelling during the night from Saturday to Sunday in Dohuk. Our colleagues visited Dohuk hospital this morning were able to ascertain that they had received 11 war wounded overnight which were receiving treatment. For the time being, the hospital is able to cope with the emerging needs." International Committee of the Red Cross, "Baghdad Yarmouk Hospital: one hundred patients an hour," Electronic Iraq, 6 April 2003.
April 06 - May 03, 2003
Al Hussein hospital, Karbala, cluster bombs: "Relief workers say the problem is far worse in Iraq than it was in Afghanistan because the Iraqis sited military installations-primary targets for U.S. bombs-near civilian centers. Karbala is typical. At al-Hussein hospital, 35 bodies have been brought in since the city fell April 6, many dismembered by a cluster-bomblet blast, according to chief surgeon Ali Iziz Ali. An additional 50 have been treated for fractures and deep, narrow puncture wounds, typical of the weapons. Karbala civil-defense chief Abdul Kareem Mussan says his men are harvesting about 1,000 cluster bombs a day in places Myers said were not targets." Michael Weisskopf, "Civilian deaths, the bombs that keep on killing," Time Magazine, 12 May 2003.
April 07, 2003
Baghdad, bombing in Beyaa neighborhood: "'I am searching for my brother. He's dead since four days ago,' said Thair Mohe el-Din... On Monday the family home in the Beyaa neighbourhood of west Baghdad was bombed by American aircraft, wounding one of Mr Din's brothers, and killing another outright. He had visited seven hospitals and countless mosques searching for him." Suzanne Goldenberg, "War in the Gulf: The hell that once was a hospital," The Guardian, 12 April 2003, p. 6.
Al-Mansour neighbourhood, Baghdad: "Pentagon officials said the decision to bomb the middle class district of Mansour, where 14 civilians are believed to have died on Monday, was based on "credible information" that Saddam Hussein and his sons were meeting there. Four precision-guided 1 tonne bombs destroyed three homes and damaged 20 others, along with nearly two dozen shops. Seven children were reportedly among the dead." Marian Wilkinson, "Rising toll questions targeting," Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 2003.
Yarmook Hospital, Baghdad, battle:
Diala bridge, outside Baghdad:
South of Baghdad, possibly also Diala bridge: "Our home is an empty place," said 72-year-old Saler Hamzeh Ali Moussawi, 72, the patriarch of a family from the south of Baghdad that lost 11 of its members, ranging in age from 16 to 50, in a single catastrophic blow April 7 when their minivan was apparently hit by a U.S. tank shell. Laura King, "Baghdad's Death Toll Assessed; A Times hospital survey finds that at least 1,700 civilians were killed and more than 8,000 injured in Iraq's capital during the war and aftermath," Los Angeles Times, 18 May 2003, p. 1.
April 07-15, 2003
Al Kharnouq neighborhood, Baghdad, cluster bombs: "In Baghdad's al Kharnouq neighborhood, five unexploded American-made cluster bomblets perch precariously in Qusai Abdel Majid's lemon tree and the flower bed beneath it. Stepping carefully, one can follow a trail of dozens of the two-inch-long black bombs that have killed four of his neighbors so far." Carol Rosenberg and Matt Schoefield, "Small dormant bombs create ill will," Miami Herald, 16 April 2003.
April 08, 2003
Al Jazeera office, Baghdad: "Al-Jazeera correspondent Tariq Ayoub was killed on Tuesday when two US missiles struck the Baghdad offices of the Qatar-based channel." "US warplanes bomb Al Jazeera office, kill journalist, " Al Jazeera, 8 April 2003.
April 09, 2003
Fathila, Northern Iraq: "The people in Fathlia insist there was no Iraqi military presence in the village of about 2,000 people. The closest troops, they claim, were in bunkers along the arrow-straight road to Mosul about three miles away. ... The dust cleared, and the villagers describe a terrifying scene: 6-year-old Hansa Mohammad Omar decapitated by a plate-size bomb fragment; her sister, 12-year-old Jasim, also dead; their friend, 10-year-old Ali Ramzi, crushed against a tree. In the next field, a 16-year-old shepherd, Abu Salam Abdul Gafur, was killed along with most of his flock. At least 12 villagers, including a year-old boy, were injured by the rain of rocks and hot metal that shattered windows and cracked walls. In the olive grove, two boys were gushing blood but still alive. The face injuries were so severe that villagers had to mop up the blood with shirts before they could identify the victims: two brothers, Zanalabedeen Abdullah, 8, and Qutaybah Abdullah, 7. Shrapnel tore into Zanalabedeen's liver and colon. He underwent immediate surgery at Saddam General to stop hemorrhaging. Qutaybah's skull was fractured, but the shrapnel missed critical brain areas by a paper-thin margin. Metal shards pierced his cheek and tongue. Next to the boys is the bed of a 40-year-old teacher, Ishmail Denou, who was left paralyzed in both legs after a bomb fragment severed part of his spine. ... In Mosul, Iraq's third biggest city, physicians at the three main hospitals - Saddam General, Jumhuriya and Ibn Sina Teaching Hospital - told The Associated Press they treated a total of at least 200 people for apparent bombing-related injuries. These are the survivors. At least 70 others either died during treatment or arrived dead, they said. 'Who knows how many people were hurt that didn't come to the hospitals. We can only guess,' said Dr. Mohammad Suleyman, a surgeon at Saddam General Hospital." "One village offers tiny piece of giant puzzle: war's civilian casualty count," Associated Press, 13 April 2003.
Ghazaliya district, northern Baghdad, cluster bomb: "The cluster bomb attack on the Ghazaliya district appears to be one of the largest and deadliest in a civilian area reported so far in the war. A partial survey by Newsday yesterday among people in many of the affected neighborhoods gathered eyewitness reports of 27 people killed and 54 injured. 'But actually, we must be afraid that the real death toll might easily be two or three times this number,' said Dr. Hussain Nasser, head of a first aid station at Siddiq Mosque in Ghazaliya." James Rupert, "Bomblets wreak havoc long after their initial deployment," Newsday, 22 April 2003.
April 10, 2003
Baghdad, ambulance shooting: "Two Iraqis were killed and three others wounded today when US troops shot at an ambulance on a central Baghdad street. 'The American troops just mowed down the ambulance which was transporting wounded people from the Saddam Centre for Plastic Surgery to another hospital,' Belgian doctor Geert Van Moorter told an AFP reporter." "Two killed in US fire on Baghdad ambulance," The Age/ Agence France-Presse, 10 April 2003.
April 10-14, 2003
Central Teaching Hospital for Children, Baghdad: "Aboudi Kazem knew his son was dead... He even knew Ali must be in this hospital since this is where he was brought before he died. Yet when discovery was imminent Aboudi Kazem flinched at the horror of seeing his boy's face emerge from the grave. He dragged himself to his feet and lit another cigarette while orderlies tossed earth back on to the 'wrong' boy. They moved towards another grave to dig again.... Three metres away a crowd watched the sad scene through the hospital's white fence.... Inside the hospital grounds the mood was angry.... This was the Central Teaching Hospital for Children, but the roughly 50 new graves laid out in its side garden contain more adults than children. A few new corpses were coming in, killed in shoot-outs as neighborhoods defend themselves from looters, but the vast majority of the dead were victims of American fire. 'We are the only hospital in Baghdad which receives the wounded and the dead. We are the only working hospital left,' Ahmed Mohammed, its assistant director, explained." Jonathan Steele, " In a dusty hospital graveyard, a father's desperate search for his son: Anger mixes with grief as grim rituals of bereavement are played out," The Guardian, 14 April 2003.
April 10 -24, 2003
Kirkuk, Dibs, and Kalar in northern Iraq, cluster bombs and unexploded ordinance: "Reports from hospitals in Mosul suggest a rise in deaths and injuries since the end of hostilities, only some of it attributable to the unrest in the city after its fall. But with more than 300 dead or injured so far, the population of Kirkuk appears to have suffered the most. The Guardian was told of 44 deaths caused by landmines or unexploded ordnance in the five days after the collapse of the city on April 9. And, on April 15, 17 people were killed and three injured in one blast in the district of Dibs. They were reportedly trying to take scrap from unexploded shells. Later, in the town of Kalar, The Guardian was told of a further 12 deaths and 95 injuries in the two weeks after fighting stopped." Michael Howard, "Fighting is Over But the Deaths Go On," The Guardian, 28 April 2003.
April 11, 2003
Ar-Ramadi, family of tribal chief killed: "Saddam Hussein's intelligence chief tried to arrange a meeting last week between U.S. representatives and the former Iraqi leader, leaders of Iraq's prominent Dulaym tribe told ABC News. Saddam's intelligence chief, Tahir Jalil Habbush, went on April 11 to the home of the Dulaym tribal chief in the town of Ar-Ramadi, about 50 miles from Baghdad. But U.S. warplanes then bombed the home, killing the chief and 17 family members, ABC reported." "Saddam's spy chief tried to meet US," UPI News Update, 22 April 2003.
Baghdad, cluster bomblet: "A sedan with two flat tyres pulled up, with an entire wounded family, and the corpse of a baby girl. Her name was Rawand, and she was nine months old. When her family returned to their home for the first time since the war yesterday, she crawled over to a small dark oval - a cluster bomblet - which detonated, killing her outright, and injuring her mother, and two of her boy cousins. ... Rawand's father, Mohammed Suleiman, was inconsolable. 'I am going to kill America - not today, after 10 years,' he swore." Suzanne Goldenberg, "War in the Gulf: The hell that once was a hospital," The Guardian, 12 April 2003, p. 6.
April 15, 2003
Mosul, shooting of protestors: "United States troops opened fire on a crowd hostile to the new pro-American governor in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul yesterday, killing at least 10 people and injuring as many as 100, witnesses and doctors said." "US troops accused of carnage," Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April 2003.
Baghdad, cluster bomb: "Ali Mustapha had found a small cylindrical object on the street near his Baghdad home yesterday morning. He picked it up. He played with it. He had it in his hands, and the object -- a live explosive -- blew up in his face. At Kadhymia Hospital, Dr. Ausama Saadi's diagnosis was blunt: 'He will be blind for the rest of his life.' Ali is 4. Although combat in Baghdad is virtually over, carnage continues as civilians are cut, gouged and killed when unexploded munitions in city neighborhoods suddenly detonate, often in the hands of people who don't know what they have innocently picked up. An alarming number of Iraqis being injured and killed are children, who are drawn to the small, grenade-like explosives that can look like toys." Thomas Frank, "Cluster bombs taking toll on children; the explosives can look like toys," Pittsburg Post-Gazette, 15 April 2003.
April 15-16, 2003
Mosul, shooting of protesters: "No Americans were hit, and the exact number of civilian casualties was in dispute. The head of one of Mosul's largest hospitals put the two-day total at 17 dead and 29 injured, while a U.S. military spokesman said seven Iraqis died and 12 were injured in the first incident." Mike Williams, "Marines struggle to bring order to turbulent city," Cox News, 16 April 2003.
April 15 - April 24, 2003:
Unexploded ordnance (UXO) in northern Iraq killing and maiming dozens every day: "'It is an absolute emergency,' Sean Sutton, the information manager with the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), told IRIN from As-Sulaymaniyah in northeastern Iraq. 'In the short term, this is a horrendous problem, unequaled anywhere else in the world,' he said, 'because children are playing with stockpiles of unexploded ordnance left by Iraqi forces within towns, and on their outskirts, in military and police buildings and schools.' North of Kirkuk, 11 underground bunkers full of munitions had been abandoned, said Sutton, leading to at least 30 people being killed. In the last week alone, MAG had shifted close to half a million dangerous items from around the city, he said. In the first five days following the fall of Kirkuk to coalition forces, a total of 44 people - mostly children - were killed and the same number injured, he said. In Kifri, southeast of Kirkuk, 83 had been reported killed last week, he added. In Mosul, two local hospitals visited by Sutton in the last couple of days reported receiving up to 20 injured patients daily between them - about three shrapnel glass injuries each from UXO and landmines, and six or seven burn victims each." "Unexploded ordnance killing dozens in north," IRIN, 25 April 2003.
April 26, 2003
Zaafaraniya, Baghdad, arms dump explosion: "There have been angry confrontations between residents of Baghdad and American troops following a series of explosions at an ammunition dump in Iraq. Hospital officials say at least 12 people have been killed. The US military said unknown attackers fired an incendiary into an Iraqi munitions store at Zaafaraniya on the capital's southern outskirts, triggering a series of blasts." "Anger in Baghdad after explosion," ABC Australia, 27 April 2003.
April 29, 2003
Falluja, city west of Baghdad, civil disturbance and shooting of protestors:
May 12, 2003
Basra, accident with unexploded ordnance: "Six Iraqi children were killed and 10 injured when a bomb they were trying to dismantle exploded, Britain said yesterday.... 'This tragedy highlights the terrible danger that unexploded ordnance represents for everybody, especially children,' United Nations spokesman David Wimhurst told reporters.... 'This is happening every day; it doesn't always get reported officially,' said Dominic Nutt of the British charity Christian Aid. 'There are arms dumps all over the country, and add to that the collapse of the economy and industry, and people are desperate for things to sell.' "Explosion Kills 6 Kids in Basra," Newsday (Reuters), 15 May 2003, p. 43.
III. Health conditions and collapse of care
Hospitals south of Baghdad (April 05, 2003): "There is great concern for the short-term medical and water support requirements for hospitals and water installations in the Southern towns of Baghdad Governorate (Abou Ghraib, Maymoudiyah...) and in the surgical hospitals of Hilla, Kerbala and Al Anbar. ICRC received worrying reports on the situation in Mahmoudiya were the hospital is reportedly no longer capable of dealing with the influx of injured patients, in particular since it is no longer possible to refer patients to hospitals in Baghdad for treatment and surgery due to military operations on the access roads. ICRC Baghdad cannot access these areas at this stage." International Committee of the Red Cross, "Baghdad Yarmouk Hospital: one hundred patients an hour, " Electronic Iraq, 6 April 2003.
Baghdad hospitals, effect of war and looting (April 12, 2003): "The widespread looting of public premises and especially of medical facilities and water supply systems is having an increasing impact on health care. The consequences of acts of vandalism are becoming more and more visible. There are few health professionals left in most hospitals visited so far. Key utilities (generators, AC units, medical equipment, etc.) and other medical or technical equipment that are so vital for these hospitals to resume work are lacking. Yarmouk Hospital, on the outskirts of Al Mansour district, is typical of the critical situation facing hospitals in Baghdad: it was hit directly by shells during the conflict and the third floor is totally destroyed. A few surgeons spent the last days and nights of the war inside the building. Corpses were piled in the entrance hall before being buried in the hospital grounds.
International Committee of the Red Cross, " Yarmouk hospital: Corpses were piled in the entrance hall before being buried in the hospital grounds," Electronic Iraq, 13 April 2003.
Baghdad children's hospital (April 04 - May 04, 2003): "In the hospital on Saturday evening, a cluster of distraught mothers start shrieking at an American reporter and photographer. They present their ill children for inspection and beseech us for help -- any kind of help. 'Why are you here?' one asks angrily. 'If you can't help, then leave. We don't want to be studied like specimens.' That night, still fearing the worst, Mona and Khaldoon stay at the hospital, tending to baby Maryam. In a nearby crib, a 5-day-old baby dies. In the morning, a 7-day-old dies too. It's been that way for more than a month. Doctors report seven to 14 infant deaths a week in the wards, nearly all from diarrhea." Richard Leiby, "Birth Pangs," Washington Post, 5 May 2003.
Health care system overview (May 10, 2003): "Cases of communicable disease are on the rise as Iraq's fragile health system, already in crisis from 12 years of sanctions and government corruption, is nearing collapse in the aftermath of the war. Poor sanitation and contaminated water have placed thousands at risk of contracting disease while crowded Iraqi hospitals are struggling to find doctors, medicine and equipment. The World Health Organization announced 17 suspected cases of cholera in Basra last week and warned of a possible epidemic. ... [The US adviser to the Iraqi Health Ministry, Stephen] Browning said the lack of security and looted trucks had prevented supplies from reaching hospitals.... Some aid groups working in central and southern Iraq before the war said poor security had hampered movement of supplies from their warehouses. 'Our warehouse that was in Baghdad was first hit by a missile and then looted, so those are the realities,' Kevin Henry, advocacy director for Atlanta-based CARE, told Reuters news service. Baghdad hospital... services were disrupted by the loss of power, water and staff due to the war and then by looters who stole everything from drugs to emergency room beds.... At Al-Kindi, lack of power has made the CT scanner a virtual dinosaur. Even simple tests to detect gastroenteritis can't be performed when there is no electricity, [Dr. Ahmed] Al-Safi said. At Yarmouk Hospital, a battleground only weeks ago, one lone operating theater --- previously for minor surgeries --- is being used for every surgical procedure, no matter how complicated. With little to no air conditioning and shocking sanitary conditions, patients lie in their beds with open, fly-infested wounds." Moni Basu, "Iraq health care in crisis", Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 11 May 2003.
Citation: Compiled by Melissa Murphy and Carl Conetta, Civilian Casualties in the 2003 Iraq War: A Compendium of Accounts and Reports, Project on Defense Alternatives. Cambridge, MA: Commonwealth Institute, 21 May 2003. http://www.comw.org/pda/0305conetta.html
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