FORTY-SEVEN people were massacred in two bombing raids by American warplanes in occupied Iraq early yesterday morning, close to the Syrian border.
The air strikes took place on the western Iraqi town of Al-Qaim.
In one house alone, 35 people were killed when it was bombed.
Twelve more people were killed in a second strike on another house.
Qaim hospital staff are desperately trying to save others who are wounded.
The US military admitted it had destroyed the houses, claiming that ‘suspected terrorists’ were hiding in them.
The bombing began at just after six o’clock in the morning.
The atrocity took place after the failure of the Bush administration to win support for plans to divide up Iraq under a new ‘constitution’, drawn up, at the insistence of US President George W Bush, inside the heavily fortified Green Zone in the centre of Baghdad.
An uprising is rapidly developing across the US-UK occupied country by Iraqis of all regions and religions – Sunnis, Shias, Turkomen and Kurds – against the scheme to ‘federalise’ the country and set one part of Iraq against another.
Following the outbreak of mass demonstrations in towns and cities up and down Iraq, Sunni leaders announced yesterday that they were opening talks with Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader of poor and working class Shias, to prepare a nationwide struggle to defeat the plans to impose the ‘constitution’ through a phony referendum in mid-October.
‘We would like to cooperate with Moqtada al-Sadr and very soon we will start negotiations with him,’ said Sunni negotiator Salih al-Mutlag.
Moqtada al-Sadr’s supporters have vowed to reject any ‘constitution’ while US and British occupation forces remain in the country.
They led two fierce uprisings against the occupation in 2004.
‘It is not just about the Sunnis any more. It is about all those who do not want Iraq to break up, including the Shia,’ said al-Mutlag.
‘Once we have these people together, we will go for a national conference,’ he said.
The calls for a national conference are a clear sign that a national liberation movement, including all ethnic and religious groups, is rapidly emerging to drive out the occupation forces that were ordered into Iraq in March 2003 by US President Bush and British Prime Minister Blair, despite massive worldwide opposition.
But despite growing calls in America to withdraw US troops and the massive protests which have erupted across Iraq, US President Bush was still claiming on Monday that he was ‘very optimistic’ about imposing the partition plan on the Iraqi people.
Bush said the Iraqi people would ‘get to make the decision this fall’, but did not say what would happen if the Iraqis refused to accept the plan.
Demonstrations took place over the weekend and on Monday all demanded a united Iraq, accusing Bush and Blair of trying to break-up the country in order to steal its oil wealth.
The ‘constitution’ was agreed on by puppet Kurdish and Shia leaders, who were told that they could take over northern and southern Iraq with their own militias and purge anyone suspected being a supporter of the Ba’ath party.
It was then presented as a fait accompli to the parliament set up by the occupiers, which meets in their fortified ‘Green Zone’.
• Second news story
‘WE WANT OUR JOBS!’
GATE Gourmet strikers are firm in their determination to maintain their unity and win 100 per cent reinstatement on their old terms and conditions.
At the mass picket at Heathrow Airport yesterday, TGWU members told News Line that they would like their shop stewards to call a meeting of all the 670 locked-out workers to ensure that each and every one of them rejected the proposal that some of them should sell their jobs and go for ‘compensation’.
Picket Mr S Singh told News Line: ‘We must maintain our unity.
‘We are not here for money, we want our jobs.
‘We want our shop stewards to call a meeting of all of us so we all do the same and that is reject.
‘We are all sticking together for reinstatement and that’s all of us, including the shop stewards.
‘No victimisation. No 200 names to be excluded.’
Fellow striker Manjinder said: ‘The shop stewards must keep doing their duty and maintain our unity so that our rights are preserved.
‘They should call a meeting of everybody to inform them of what’s going on and to tell them we are all rejecting.
‘We are all going for reinstatement.
‘Our shop stewards are doing their duty, but they should keep on stressing we are all going for reinstatement.’
TGWU full-time officer, Paul Baulch, told News Line: ‘A delegation is going to America on Friday or Saturday to meet with fellow Gate Gourmet workers, members of UNITE HERE, to see if we can get some solidarity action.
‘There is also going to be a national rally at the TUC. The date has not yet been fixed for that.
‘Members have received the letters this morning and it seems most people are choosing not to take the money and run and that has been our position throughout.
‘Talks between Gate Gourmet and the TGWU began again at 3.00pm today.’
Mrs Gill told News Line: ‘Why should we take the money, it will never last and we will be losing our jobs. We are supporting each other to the end.’
Brem said: ‘No-one will take the money. We have spoken to everyone and they all want their jobs back on the old terms and conditions.’