MOSCOW, May 27 (RIA Novosti) – The recurring strikes on Fallujah General Hospital by Iraqi government forces fighting armed groups in the western province of Anbar suggests the targeting of civilian infrastructure, a serious violation of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Tuesday.
“The government has been firing wildly into Fallujah’s residential neighborhoods for more than four months, and ramped up its attacks in May,” HRW special adviser Fred Abrahams said, according to the group’s statement. Abrahams went on to explain that “this reckless disregard for civilians is deadly for people.”
Human Rights Watch said that the Iraqi government’s campaign against militant opposition groups involved bombings of the hospital, leading to civilian casualties and the mass flight of local residents “caught between government forces and opposition groups.”
The core concern of the human rights defenders is that all hospitals – civilian and military alike – enjoy special “immunity” under the laws of war. They cannot be targeted by any warring side, even if their infrastructure is used to treat enemies.
“The crimes by some opposition armed groups are abhorrent, but the Iraqi government cannot use them to justify its own unlawful attacks. Iraq’s allies should condemn the targeting of civilian infrastructure, the apparent use of barrel bombs and other indiscriminate attacks,” Abrahams concluded, commenting on the HRW statement.
Fallujah has long been torn by attacks from all sides of the Iraqi conflict. For several years, the city was the site of infamous open-air burn pits for US army waste until Congress banned the practice, triggering a number of lawsuits filed by former officers. US military officials, however, deny the allegations that exposure to dangerous toxins could have caused health problems.