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Fallujah: have water supplies been cut off?

Dan | 07.11.2004 19:35 | Analysis | Anti-militarism | Cambridge

Water supplies to Fallujah may have been cut off for several weeks, according to media reports and accounts from civilians leaving the city. This follows a patttern of cutting off water which is becoming accepted among some circles within the US military, and has been applied already in Samarra and Tall Afar. It is in direct breach of the Geneva Conventions.

"Electricity and water were cut off to the city [Fallujah] just as a fresh wave of strikes began Thursday night, an action that U.S. forces also took at the start of assaults on Najaf and Samarra."

This was reported on October 16 in the Washington Post]. Information from civilians fleeing Fallujah suggests that the water supply has not been restored since

The denial of water to civilians is becoming a standard part of US tactics in Iraq. It has been almost unreported in the US and UK, but the Iraqi press is full of reports of the US turning off water supplies to cities. It has also become a political issue in the country, discussed Muqtada al-Sadr, Ahmed Qubaysi, and other politicians. Within the US, it is now openly accepted by some military analysts

But the Marines, with their snipers and robotic assistants, are unlikely to go in before other tasks are accomplished, said Barak Salmoni, assistant professor in National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.

Salmoni cited the current bombing campaign, designed both to obliterate insurgent command posts, armories and mined areas as well as to encourage civilians to leave the city before the ground assault -- something he said would probably be emphasized by cutting off water and other supplies.

The humanitarian implications of denying water to hundreds of thousands of civilians in a climate like that of Iraq are obvious. On the legal side, it's worth bearing in mind that under protocol I of the Geneva Conventions:

it is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless
objects...such as drinking water installations and supplies...for the
specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian
population or the adverse party"

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