Thursday, February 22, 2007

INSURGENTS USE HUMAN SHIELDS and children to hide behind when attacking U.S. troops.

Boys on bikes cycle backwards and forwards on a footbridge over a small canal lined with houses and groves of date palms. Women in headscarves look anxiously in groups from windows. Men walk with shopping bags. A gunman, clutching an AK-47, bobs his head around the corner of an alleyway close to a school. Once. Twice. On the third occasion a child, a boy seven or eight years old, is thrust out in front of him. The gunman holds him firmly by the arm and steps out for instant into full view of the Bradley's gunner to get a proper look, then yanks the boy back and disappears.

"That is really dirty," says Specialist Chris Jankow, in the back of the Bradley, with a mixture of contempt, anger and frustration. "They know exactly what our rules of engagement are. They know we can't fire back."

A few minutes and a few hundred metres later the performance is repeated. A woman and three small children emerge uncertainly from behind a building, little more than a shack. They stare at the approaching armour. After a few seconds they retreat from view; then the process is repeated. The third time they emerge, a fighter is crouching behind them with a rocket-propelled grenade aimed at Jankow's Bradley. The group disappears.

There is a long pause, a moment of excruciating moral conflict for the soldiers and for the gunner in particular. Not to shoot would be to imperil their own lives or those of their colleagues, both American and Iraqi. To shoot would be to risk killing civilians who have been shoved in front of their guns to shield insurgent fighters.

Please read this excellent report from the Guardian. The utter callousness and depravity of our enemy will break your heart. Compare that with the morality of our soldiers.

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