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Sunday, December 14, 2003

HRW report on preventable civilian deaths in Iraq
A major report by Humans Right Watch called Off Target: The Conduct of the War and Civilian Casualties in Iraq criticises the US, the UK + the former Iraqi government for their conduct during the recent war.

The report:

* Criticizes U.S. air strikes on electrical + media facilities

* Says the U.S. and British forces did not secure large caches of weapons + ammunition abandoned by Iraqi forces, and the ready availability of these explosives also led to dozens of civilian casualties.

* Estimates that the use of cluster munitions in populated areas caused more civilian casualties than any other factor in the coalition´s conduct of major military operations in March and April.

* Says U.S. and British forces used almost 13,000 cluster munitions, containing nearly 2,000,000 submunitions, that killed or wounded more than 1,000 civilians.

* That “decapitation” strikes (which used satellite phone intercepts to try to eliminate prominent members of the Iraqi elite located within 100m of a signal) failed to kill a single Iraqi leader, in 50 attempts, but did kill dozens of civilians.

* Iraqi forces, are also criticised for their use of human shields, abuse of the Red Cross + Red Crescent emblems, use of antipersonnel landmines, and placement of military objects in mosques + hospitals.

* The Iraqi military´s practice of wearing civilian clothes also eroded the distinction between combatants + civilians