Air Strikes Raze Falluja Hospital

US strikes raze Falluja hospital (BBC)

A hospital has been razed to the ground in one of the heaviest US air raids in the Iraqi city of Falluja. Witnesses said only the facade remained of the small Nazzal Emergency Hospital in the centre of the city. There are no reports on casualties. A nearby medical supplies storeroom and dozens of houses were damaged as US forces continued preparing the ground for an expected major assault.

UN chief Kofi Annan has warned against an attack on the restive Sunni city.

It is the third time since the end of the US-led war that US and Iraqi forces have tried to gain control of Falluja.
They say militants loyal to top al-Qaeda suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are hiding there. Zarqawi’s supporters have been behind some of the worst attacks on coalition and Iraqi forces as well as dozens of kidnappings. Some of the hostages – foreigners and Iraqis – have been beheaded.

US troops using 155mm howitzers pounded a number of pre-planned targets in Falluja on Saturday. Along with air strikes – one of the heaviest in recent days – this is all part of what appears to be a steadily increasing pressure on the insurgents, says the BBC’s Paul Wood, who is with US marines outside Falluja. Overnight, a column of armoured vehicles and humvee jeeps carried out attacks in the outskirts of Falluja designed to draw out the rebels and provide fresh targets for the air power and artillery.

These are the kind of preliminary operations which would be carried out before a full-scale assault on Falluja, our correspondent says. The air strikes reduced the Nazzal hospital, run by a Saudi Arabian Islamic charity, to rubble. Hospital officials quoted by Reuters news agency say all the contents were ruined.

It would be nice to have some reporting on whether the hospital was shelled by mistake or was in fact a terrorist sanctuary.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Andrew says:

    Funny how before Iraq was invaded the only terrorist was Saddam Hussein, yet now after his removal Iraq we are told is full of ‘terrorsts’. What a pathetic play on words. You might not like their methods or agree with them but every Iraqi has the right to stand and fight an occupation army. How many Americans would fight an occupation of their country? A fair few Id imagine. Would you label them ‘terrorists’ too?

    As for the hospital – war crime, plain and simple. This is nothing more than a tactical military strike to deny Iraqis access to a hospital once the attempt to re-take Fallujah begins. War is a dirty business and your comments are hopelessly naive in thinking either of the two stated options. All this is doing is alienating more Iraqis and turning more of them toward the insurgency.

    It happened in Vietnam and its happening here. Does history not teach you anything?

  2. McGehee says:

    Andrew, I would think the people in Fallujah who have been putting up with these “insurgents” know more about them than you do. And from what I gather, they want Fallujah cleaned out as much as the U.S. does.

  3. McGehee says:

    And what’s pathetic is the continued attempt to portray Iraq as another Vietnam, contrary to all evidence.

  4. denise says:

    Andrew — It is of course naive to assume the US always wears the white hat; it is equally naive, and all the more sad, to assume the US is always the black-hearted villain.

    What James has asked for is further reporting into the facts, which is certainly reasonable. You have no more reason to conclude it’s a war crime than anyone has to conclude it was a terrorist den (which does happen sometimes, you know). We just don’t enough information.

  5. Anjin-San says:

    No doubt if we destroy enough hospitals in Iraq, the will become “free” much faster.

    We have killed 100k people in Iraq who did nothing to us, absolutly nothing. Meanwhile American’s buy gas guzzling SUV’s and worry about getting a built in BBQ that will allow them to hold their heads up in the neighborhood.

    Colin Powell, who actually once won a war in Iraq, is quiety telling his friends we are loosing this one.

    And of course, there are plenty of chairborne rangers cheering this madness on…

  6. misterhung says:

    AnJin-San… you’re a friend of Collin Powell?

    So…. uhhhh… what kind of car do YOU drive? Like that electricity thing? What have you given up for the children of Iraq (you always have to envoke “the children”)?


  7. McGehee says:

    I wouldn’t call Anjin-san a tool. Tools are useful.

  8. Anjin-San says:

    The Powell story was reported in Newsweek, doubters are encouraged to visit their website.

    I drive a Honda thats gets 38 mpg, for those who are interested, I also run my household on as much of a green/organic basis as possible.

    When do I mention the children of Iraq in my post? I don’t recall “evoking” them. Perhaps you were a child who was “left behind” on reading comprehension.

    “misterhung”?? wow… women must get a good laugh out of that.

  9. Anjin-San says:

    Ahhh McGehee, another chairborne ranger blogging off to war.

    I notice McGehee is unable to really support his positions, just engages in rather lame insults and misdirected anger.


  10. notherbob2 says:

    Ummmm…I’m new here, but apparently Andrew knows nothing about military history (Iraq is no Vietnam) or military tactics (hospitals consume valuable enemy resources that are otherwise available to active troops) Anjin san is a peacenik, McGehee is a Conservative and Misterhung is is a troller who normally terrorizes the chat rooms and accidentally found his way in here. Anybody notice the source of the story? (BBC) Wouldn’t it be clever to hang a sign on an ammo dump proclaiming that it is a hospital? That makes it a win-win deal, doesn’t it. Only if you have the BBC reporting, however.

  11. Jem says:

    As a serving military officer with some experience in the targeting process, I can say with absolute certainty that every effort is made to identify and precisely locate hospitals, mosques, schools, and other “protected facilities”. They are specifically identified on a “no strike” list and any strike against such a target would have been approved at the highest levels of our government (last I knew, the SecDef himself would have had to approve the strike).

    Note that I’m not attempting to say that the military never makes mistakes on that sort of thing. Sometimes, through error, incompetence, or malice, the facilities are not marked properly and are thus not identified. Other times, the information in the “no-strike” list is inaccurate. Finally, once a “protected facility” is used for military purposes (storing munitions, providing cover for sniper fire, etc.) it is no longer protected–that’s not the US position, but the position in the various Conventions. The bottom line is that before I’d accept the BBC report as fact, I’d want to know more about their source (i.e., is this an insurgent planting a lie?) and the “facts on the ground”.