No Longer Unknowable: Falluja's April Civilian Toll is 600
Tuesday 26th October 2004
Today the Iraq Body Count (IBC) website has published its analysis of the civilian dealth toll in the April 2004 siege of Falluja. This analysis leads to the conclusion that betweeen 572 and 616 of the approximately 800 reported deaths were of civilians, with over 300 of these being women and children.
A Falluja Archive carrying relevant and related excerpts from nearly three hundred contemporary news reports is also being made available on the website, and constitutes the largest publicly-available resource for investigators researching the human consequences of the siege.1 IBC's number for the civilian dead emerges from detailed and exhaustive analysis of these reports as well as others more recently published.
Press spokesman, John Sloboda said
Data recently released to the public by the Iraqi Health Ministry has allowed IBC to resolve a problem we have been struggling with for months: how to reconcile casualty figures reported by local doctors of 800 total dead with a much lower estimate (280 dead) produced in short order by the Iraqi Health Ministry (IHM), soon after US Gen. Mark Kimmitt told the press that the CPA would ask the Ministry to 'get a fair, honest and credible' figure. Details of our analysis are provided on the website,2 but it now appears incontrovertible that the IHM estimate was quietly withdrawn once media attention moved away from Falluja, leading us to conclude that their estimate was acknowledged to be flawed.
The IBC totals are based on multiply-cited reports from doctors and eyewitnesses that no less than 308 of those killed were women and children. This number demonstrates the huge impact of US attacks on civilian areas, and allows the conclusion to be drawn that many of the males killed must also have been non-combatants.
There are clear reports of 600 people killed in total up until April 12th, most of them killed before US forces began to permit women and children to be evacuated from the town. Civilian totals have been derived by assuming a conservative ratio of one civilian adult male killed for every woman killed prior to April 12th, and by using the minimum-maximum range to account for differing possible numbers of women and children remaining in the targeted areas after the exodus had begun.
The project's Principal Researcher, Hamit Dardagan, commented
The unique IBC Falluja Archive allows members of the public to examine for themselves the multiple violations which yielded this shocking toll. These include attacks on ambulances and sniper fire at children as well as the aerial bombardment of residential areas. Talk of "precision strikes" is mere techno-babble when these are part of military campaigns causing thousands of civilian deaths and injuries.
The failed US attempt to "pacify" Falluja via "overwhelming" military means was first and foremost a disaster for its civilian population. The fact that it also embarrassed those who ordered it is of little sigificance in comparison, except in one regard. Current US plans to launch a "final assault" on Falluja, supported by back filling from UK troops, suggest that we can expect another human catastrophe whose scale no one can judge in advance but which will certainly result in the destruction of innocent lives. The question planners in Washington, London and Baghdad — and the public at large — need to consider is this: are the next attacks being planned as a true measure of last resort? If not, it is not just mass slaughter that is being contemplated here, but mass murder.