More than half of dead in Samarra women, children: hospital

From the WaPo:

Of the 70 dead brought to Samarra General Hospital since fighting erupted, 23 were children and 18 were women, said hospital official Abdul-Nasser Hamed Yassin, the Associated Press reported. Some residents left Samarra Sunday by floating down the Tigris River, waving white flags from boats, Reuters said.

So 41 of the 70 dead bodies at the hospital were of women and children. Yet the reporter had no problem beginning his lead paragraph in this way:

As U.S. and Iraqi troops patrolled the battered streets of Samarra, the central Iraqi city reclaimed from insurgents in two days of lopsided battle...

Assuming that we accept both of these statements are being factually correct, we can only draw the conclusion that Samarra had been held by a guerilla coalition of women and children, which could only be dislodged by a combined force of 5,000 US soldiers and Iraqi "National Guardsmen".

Of course, if we decide to maintain some kind of grip on reality, we'll probably decide that this isn't the case and that the actual guerrillas in the city - as opposed to the non-combatant kind - did what guerrillas do during a frontal assault and simply stood aside.

But this article does show the dilemma for people like Karl Vick, intrepid WaPo reporter: he is holed up at his little hotel-bunker in Baghdad, as indicated by the dateline, and is relying on AP, Reuters, and Al Arabiya to "report" the news; he hears about terrible things the US is doing in other parts of the country and he wants to report them; but he's scared - scared of getting kidnapped and having his head chopped off and scared of leading with reports that contradict the official version that a combined US-Iraqi force "reclaimed" the town of Samarra.

Unfortunately, I expect more of the same kind of reporting, where bombardment of civilian areas and killings of non-combatants are simply and unquestioningly subsumed within the struggle to "reclaim" Iraqi cities and towns.

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