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News :: Human Rights : International
A Town Becomes a Prison --Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches
20 Jan 2006
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website **
** Website by **
*Inter Press Service*
Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed

*SINIYAH, Iraq, Jan 20 (IPS) - People of Siniyah town 200 km north of
Baghdad are angry over a six-mile long sand wall constructed by the U.S.
military to check attacks by rebels.*

"Our city has become a battlefield," 35 year-old engineer Fuad
Al-Mohandis told IPS at a checkpoint on the outskirts of the city. "So
many of our houses have been destroyed, and the Americans are placing
landmines in areas where they think there might be fighters, even though
most of the time it is near the homes of innocent civilians."

Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division have been coming under nearly
daily attack from roadside bombs.

Fuad said the U.S. military was now enforcing a curfew from 5pm. He said
"so many explosions occur now which terrify our children."

The U.S. military began to use bulldozers Jan. 7 to build a large sand
barrier around the town in an effort to isolate fighters who have been
attacking U.S. patrols. Oil pipelines from the area which lead to Turkey
have been regularly sabotaged by resistance groups.

The drastic measures have enraged many of the 3,000 residents of the town.

"They think by these measures they can stop the resistance," Amer, a
43-year-old clerk at the nearby Beji oil refinery told IPS. "But the
Americans are creating more resistance by doing these things. The
resistance will not stop attacking them unless they pull out of our

The clerk said he had not been able to leave his house for several days,
and was unable to work or to visit family members outside Siniyah.

The U.S. military has named the project of building the huge sand wall
'Operation Verdun' after a battle from World War I. Occupation forces
believe the city has become the main launching pad for attacks on their
patrols, as well as mortar attacks on their nearby Summerall Base.

Checkpoints have been set up near the town, with U.S. and Iraqi security
forces checking every car for weapons and explosives.

"We can't work any more, our income depends on distributing fuel,"
driver Abdul Qadr told IPS at one of the checkpoints. "We are in a very
bad situation. The city is isolated now and they are putting barricades
everywhere to stop the fighters. Our houses are raided daily while they
are searching for foreigners, yet they can't find any of them."

Abdul Qadr, who grew up in Siniyah, told IPS he and his neighbours felt
they were in a "concentration camp". That is also how residents of
Fallujah and Samarra have described their towns after U.S. forces built
similar walls around them.

An 18km long wall has been constructed by the U.S. military in Samarra,
while Israeli-style military checkpoints remain in place in Fallujah.
The occupation forces have imposed similar measures also in other towns
such as Al-Qa'im, Haditha, Ramadi, Balad, and Abu Hishma.

While such security measures have been in place for some time in several
towns, the attacks on security forces have only risen, to an average of
more than 100 a day over recent months.

"The Americans think the fighters are coming from outside Iraq,"
Qadr. "But they are not. Can't they see the only real solution is to let
the people of a country rule themselves?"

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and
international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on
the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's
Photography Media . Any other use of images,
photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on
another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of
course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.

This work is in the public domain
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