Wednesday, March 20, 2013

'Shocked & Awed'

Today is the 10th anniversary of the day the Americans came to Iraq in 2003, though not of course in 'suits and ties'. I continue the testimony of Raed Jarrer from the previous post:

"The real bombing started on March 21, 2003. This was the Shock and Awe. We were shocked and awed indeed, even for a family like us that has gone through many campaigns of US bombings. It was hell. Our house is located near Baghdad's airport and one of Saddam's palaces, and the bombs and missiles targeted these two sites intensively.

"I remember the first night, my mother was very scared. She was hiding under a blanket and reading the Qur'an. Everyone was telling her the blankets would not save her if the ceiling fell on our heads, but she was really, really scared. My dad looked very frightened as well. My two brothers and I wanted to go to the roof to watch the bombs, like we usually did during US attacks, but my parents didn't let us go.

"Within the first few hours, all of our windows were shattered. That night, our main door was ripped out of the wall and thrown inside the house. Just imagine the pressure. And every time a bomb falls, you see dust coming out of the walls. It's so crazy, the intensity.

"Those so-called bunker-buster bombs felt like earthquakes. Our house was shaking like a swing. It was going up and down and up and down, front and back. It was very intense. We all stayed in our safe room.

"The bombing continued for days. It did not stop for a minute. It was just bombing and bombing and bombing and bombing. After the first 3 or 4 days, I remember one morning we woke up, and it was actually done. So we went outside to assess the damage. The destruction was huge. Nothing was working: we did not have electricity, we did not have water. And we could see some sites around our house that had been completely destroyed by US missiles.

"A few weeks later our neighborhood was attacked and we had to flee our house. We put some clothes and money in 2 large suitcases and ran to our cars. I still remember the sound of bullets flying around us, and huge explosions. People running around in the streets, ambulances with a bunch of injured people in each of them. I drove one car with one of my brothers, and my parents took the other car with my other brother. Someone was running away, pushing his TV on his bike, with his wife and children running behind him. People were driving away very fast. We left everything - our house, the well, the food, the fuel, the safe room - and stayed at my uncle's place until Baghdad fell on April 9.

"We heard it on the radio. They described the statue being pulled down. Then I saw the first US tank rolling down the street. We thought it was an Iraqi tank, but then we saw an American flag. Some people were cheering for the tank from their roof tops. That broke my heart. I cried." (pp 302-303)

1 comment:

Peter D said...

I was pleased to see John Howard, in a recent 60 Minutes interview, mention in passing that while he recieves a generally positive response from the people he meets on the street, he often encounters people who poke their finger in his chest and call him a "war criminal." You could tell it's happened to him so often that he's past the stage of denying any basis to the accusation.