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Reports from the city have consistently said that many civilians in US-controlled parts of the city were too afraid of US snipers to leave their homes during the siege. Dr Obaidi and Ms Wilding described cases of women, children and old men who appeared to have been shot by US soldiers. Dr Obaidi said he had seen the bodies of two men, one aged about 70, the other about 50, both shot in the forehead, in an area controlled by the US. They had been lying at the front gate of their home for two days, he said, because the family did not dare step outside to retrieve the bodies. Is he sure they were shot by US troops? "You are joking?" he said. "There are people dead in an area just controlled by America snipers. Nobody, either civilian or resistance, could enter the area. Who could kill them? We know American bullets. We are not a stupid people." Ms Wilding said an injured mother and two children had told her they were hit by US gunmen as they tried to leave their house. She also said she met an old woman, shot in the abdomen, who was still clutching a white flag. "Her son said she had been shot by US soldiers," Ms Wilding said. Dr Obaidi also said he had seen the body parts of a family in a bombed-out house: "There were seven women and five children. I saw the head of a child away from the body. Only one girl, aged four, had survived," he said. US officials say their operations have been "extraordinarily precise". Gen. Sanchez said civilian casualties were "absolutely regrettable", but were a fact on a "battlefield of this nature in an urban environment". Gen. Kimmit, also blamed militants who "hunker down inside mosques and hospitals and schools, and use the women and children as shields" for the civilian suffering. Hospital access: The US has also faced criticism for blocking access to the city's main hospital by, according to most reports, occupying the river bridge which linked it to the rest of the city. "If this hospital was working it would have saved a lot of lives," Medecins Sans Frontieres' Emergency Coordinator for Iraq Ibrahim Younis said.
At least 87 US soldiers have died in action this month (April 2004) while aid agencies counted at least 470 Iraqi dead in the Sunni city of Falluja alone last week, with 243 women and 200 children among them.
British aid worker Jo Wilding said an ambulance she was in, with flashing lights, siren blaring and "ambulance" written on it in English, was hit as it drove to collect a woman in premature labour. Ms Wilding is sure the shots came from American troops. "You can tell the shape of US marine from a mujahideen - even if you can only see a silhouette, the helmet and flak jacket are quite distinctive. Also, we were in a US-controlled part of town," she told BBC News Online. Iraqi doctor Salam al-Obaidi, a member of the Doctors for Iraq humanitarian society, worked in Falluja for six days during the fighting. Speaking to BBC News Online, he described seeing colleagues blown up in an ambulance - also clearly marked - travelling in front of him as his team tried to enter a US-controlled area. "I saw the ambulance disappear - not all of it, but the front of it, the side where the driver and paramedic were," he said. He said he and two more colleagues were injured in a second explosion. He still does not know the fate of the two people in the first ambulance. In a separate incident, Dr Obaidi said, a driver and paramedic in an ambulance were shot in a US-controlled area - one in the chest, the other in the eyes. The injured civilians inside the ambulance bled to death during the next two days as warning shots were fired when the team tried - four times - to return to collect the ambulance, he said. 'Hidden weapons': Three days into the siege, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, denied that troops were firing on ambulances.
Mon 5: 1,200 US troops seal off Falluja Tues 6: Heavy fighting, US forces say they control industrial area on east of city Wed 7: US forces bomb mosque compound, locals say up to 40 are killed, but US says no bodies found Fri 9: Women, children and old men allowed to leave city. Relief workers take some aid in. Reports speak of bodies left in the streets. Fighting resumes in evening Sat 10: Governing Council and US officials call for a truce Sun 11: Tentative ceasefire begins at 0600. Thousands flee city Mon 12: Negotiations continue through mediators for ceasefire to be extended Fri 16: First direct negotiations between US officials and local leaders Mon 19: Deal struck to reduce tensions, US announces it is 'halting operations', shaky ceasefire established --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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This is Keith Richardson's alternative news site. The site aims to promote Truth, Justice, a green clean healthy environment and a wildlife friendly world. It is currently focused on Foreign News and particularly the Middle East.