Ten days in Fallujah battlefield
Twelve days after losing contact with a correspondent based in Fallujah,
Xinhua reporters were relieved to see him report back for work in deplorable
shape on Saturday.
Abdul Rahman, a 30-year-old Fallujah resident working for
Xinhua, made a phone call to the Xinhua office in Baghdad with his Iraqna mobile
on Nov. 9, which became the last message Xinhua received from him.
reported on that day that Fallujah had been ripped into two parts controlled by
US-Iraqi forces and fighters respectively.
With his words still resonating,
Xinhua reporters were happy to see Rahman safe and sound.
Relaxing on a sofa
for the first time after 10 days in hell, Rahman calmed down and recounted his
experience as a correspondent and eyewitness of the bloody fighting in the past
two weeks, as well as his tale of escaping alive.
"I could either escape for
life or stay to cover the truth. I chose the latter," he said.
beginning, the resistance in the Jolan district was strong and the American
troops backed up. After rounds of air bombings, the area became relatively
silent and the Americans pushed into the city with limited resistance," he
Rahman could not confirm if the US forces used any chemical weapons
as some newspapers claimed.
But he told Xinhua that some doctors in Fallujah
were shocked to see that many bodies were charred without apparent
With fierce clashes on the ground and bombardment by US aircraft,
many houses were leveled or people were killed.
"My friend and I heard the
groaning of some injured people under ruins of some destroyed houses, but we
could do nothing for them."
He was the witness of a scene where six injured
Iraqis dragged by several US soldiers to a street were rolled over by a
He also saw an Iraqi cameraman gunned down by a sniper while shooting
in face of US vehicles.
"I don't know how long it will take me to get over
this," said Rahman, still reeling from what he saw.
During the hardest
period, helpless Rahman ran and crawled around, looking for shelters and
In the last days, Rahman was pushed to the Shuhada district, where US
Marines said they trapped most insurgents and geared up for a duel.
the dangerous situation, Rahman decided to leave the city with the help of a
friend whose shop was destroyed in the US raids.
"I thought Abdul Rahman was
killed before he came to my house a week ago and asked me to escape with him,"
said Qahtan Mohamed Jawad, an agricultural engineer.
"We stayed together, ran
in Baghdad and there and looked for food and drinks," said the
Rahman said in the city he had ever met a woman whose husband and
two sons were shot dead in front of her eyes when the family went to US soldiers
to turn themselves in.
Hearing her story, Rahman decided not to go to a
mosque in the north which US forces said receives civilians.
The duo also
avoided the routes in the west, where helicopters and snipers were taking full
"South is the only chance," he said, "but the roads were full of
dangers and we had to crawl with bare hands in darkness and hide in houses in
daytime for fear of being shot by American snipers."
"We had only one bottle
of water and drank little each time. As for food, we only had dates," said
"On the way, we saw groups of insurgents and some spotted us. They
let us go after we told them we were reporters," he said.
nights, Rahman and Jawad crawled on unpaved roads and rough fields for about 3
kms before they reached the Euphrates river and were ferried to the southwest
On Nov. 19, they were saved by the hospitable locals in the rural area
and driven to makeshift refugee camps outside Fallujah.
In Amriahat, a small
town near Fallujah, Rahman was reunited with his brothers who were Islamic
humanitarian workers and other family members who fled the city ahead of the
"The moment when we reached the other side of the
Euphrates, I realized that we were safe," recalled Rahman, whose left arm was
wrapped with gauze, a reminder of the arduous journey.
The US-Iraqi forces
mounted the major attack against Fallujah on Nov. 8 to retake the city from
fighters loyal to Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as they
A senior US commander said last Thursday that about 1,200 insurgents
had been killed in the all-out assault, and 1,025 prisoners were
Neither the Iraqi government nor the US military released any figure
about civilian casualties.