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F-16s turn Iraqi family against Americans
( 2003-11-11 10:14) (Agencies)

The Jawal family was one of the few in this flashpoint town who liked the Americans -- until U.S. F-16 jets dropped 500-pound bombs near their home.

"We used to have hopes of the Americans after they removed Saddam (Hussein). We thought they would deliver on their promises," said Khatoun Jawal.

"We liked them until this weekend. Why did they drop bombs near us? Some of my children were so scared they fainted."

A U.S. military source said F-16 fighter-bombers dropped three 500-pound bombs near Falluja, west of Baghdad, on Sunday after unspecified attacks on U.S. troops.

U.S. forces resumed air strikes at the weekend for the first time since the end of the war to topple Saddam, after guerrillas shot down three U.S. helicopters, killing 22 soldiers.

The Jawals and other families clustered in a score of cement hovels on the edge of Falluja, a hotbed of anti-U.S. fury, said they had heard no shooting before the jets roared overhead.

Their account underscores how the U.S. military is enraging some Iraqi civilians, instead of winning them over, as it hunts down guerrillas who have killed 151 U.S. soldiers since U.S. President Bush declared major combat over on May 1.

Khaled Jawal said the family were fast asleep when they were jolted awake by thunderous bombing that scattered heavy pieces of shrapnel as close as three yards from their door.


"It was so loud. The children were hysterical," he said.

A neighbor, Maha, fainted. "I was terrified. They took me to the hospital to calm me down," she said, pulling up her sleeve to show part of an intravenous drip still taped on.

Like many Iraqis, the Jawals were happy when the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam in April. American promises of democracy and freedom were soothing after years of iron-fisted rule.

Saddam is gone but life has not improved for the Jawals, who live in squalor amid old tires and a cannibalized military truck. With no running water, the villagers drink and bathe in a dirty well. Mangy dogs sniff through dry scrubland nearby.

The father of the family has not been able to work for years because he lost the use of an arm when Saddam sent him and hundreds of thousands of others to the war front with Iran in the 1980s.

The parents and eight children can only afford chicken once a week and other meat once a month.

Standing beside a bomb crater three feet deep and nine feet wide, about 70 yards from their hovel, Khaled screamed at his mother for mentioning how the family had once liked the Americans.

"Be quiet. Bush is a dog who is a son of a dog," he said.

Nearby a six-year-old held up a twisted piece of shrapnel as big as his forearm. Minutes later gunfire erupted. It could have been locals, but the Jawals said it had to be Americans.

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