Friday, September 03, 2004

More Battles

After the War...? 
Accounts from a woman in Baghdad
Posted Sept. 3,2004

Last night, with another appartment full of visitors,
another 6 or 7
mortars or rockets took off and the sirens went off
again. We decided that
it was a clever tactic of the Mahdi Army. There are no
'on the ground'
fighters in Kerrada, so the military cannot really
attack the area. By day
Kerrada continues as always - you would never guess
that at night the area
has been used a a launchpad for attacks on the Green
And the BBC is busy report that 'lawless' Sadr City is
where the attacks
are being launched from. Popycock!!
The Mahdi Army
could never hit the
Green Zone from Sadr City and they would not even try
- what utter
rubbish! And we certainly would not hear the bangs or
see plumes of smoke
from here - Sadr City is around 10 kilometres away.
Each night we have heard much more gun fire and more
gun battles with
return fire than usual - although it is very difficult
to say exactly
where it is coming from.

Yesterday Ali (with the smile) visited us. We were so
happy. We had not
seen him for 3 or 4 weeks and we have been so worried
about him. We did go
looking for him, but to no avail. Tha day after we
last saw him, he was
due to come back and get some new clothes. He did not
come. Instead, he
had bumped into some old friends who were living in
the House of Mercy
Childrens' Home in Al Rashad in Bagdad and he went
there with them and
stayed there. He has his own room, cupboards and lots
of clothes and is
being fed well. This we can see for ourselves - he has
honestly grown
taller and, apart from a nice big black eye he had got
from crashing into
the goalpost while playing football, he looked
wonderful. He now worked
collecting scarp aluminium by day and the sheikh at
the Chidrens' Home
collects and saves the money he earns for him and any
other child that
works. There seems to be more freedom, trust and
responsibility for their
own actions given to the children here than in Al
Wazerya and it seems to
suit our Ali well. He could not stop smiling and he
wanted nothing, just
to see us - he had been to see us several times
before, but we had been
out. It was fantastic to see him.
We asked him how things were in Al Rashad. Ali told us
how the House of
Mercy was situated next to a US Army Base in Al
Rashad. The Mahdi Army was
attacking this base nightly with RPGs, mortars and
AK47's. Then the
Americans would set off flares which stay in the sky
lighting up the area
for 5 minutes in order to be able to see the Mahdi
Army fighters so that
they could counter attack. When the flares die, the
Mahdi Army attack
again and so it goes on and on. Ali said that all the
children in the
House of Mercy were terrified and were unable to sleep
at all.
Howza (Islamic Pressure Group) run this childrens'
Home and in order to
register to live there, a child must first go to
Sadr's (Moqtada's
deceased father's) office in Sadr City . Ali had been
to the office
yesterday for something else and had seen 2 US tanks
destroyed and burnt
out from fighting with the Mahdi Army the night

When we heard about the curfew in Sadr City , my
translator became very
concerned about his friends who live there. Some of
them work as guards at
the Paelstine/Sheraton complex and we wondered how
they would be able to
leave and return from work if the area was under
curfew. Indeed, many of
the guards that protect US/coalition interests in
Bagdad , are Shia and
live in Sadr City . Would these places end up with no
guards? So last night
Wejdy rang Ali to check if he and other friends were
okay. Yes,
thankfully, they were - the fighting has not yet
reached their area of
Sadr City - the area we visited last Monday. And they
had not experienced
any trouble leaving Sadr City to get to work. As the
boys spoke, there was
a bang from Kerrada as a rocket was fired off. A
second later, Wejdy could
hear commotion and shouting from Ali's end of the
phone. The checkpoints
at the Palestine/Sheraton had come under attack - the
rocket we had heard
leave had hit the first checkpoint on Abu Newas Street
which protects the
rear of the Bagdad Hotel - casualties so far unknown.
We are very concerned about the safety and well-being
of our friends
during this trying time. Although they work as guards
for the coaltion,
they fully support Moqtada Al Sadr and the Mahdi Army.

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