Iraqis remember US bombing of crowded air raid shelter

The people of Iraq have been remembering the bombing of Al-Amiriyah Air Raid Shelter in Baghdad by the US Air Force on 13 February, 1991. The Americans targeted the shelter with two laser-guided "smart bombs", killing at least 408 civilians and wounding an unknown number of others.

Families were taking cover in Amiriyah Shelter from the US-led aerial campaign during Operation Desert Storm. According to the Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ), most of the victims of the US bombing were women, children and the elderly who were killed while they were asleep. At least 52 children and 261 women were among the 408 people killed by the US bombs.

In the aftermath, the Americans claimed that the shelter was a military command and control centre. The GICJ, however, insisted that no military personnel were present when the bombing occurred. The deliberate targeting of a civilian shelter, the Centre said, would constitute a grave breach of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and a war crime. However, the bombing was not fully investigated, and the US has never been held to account for what happened.

"Thirty years ago," tweeted Iraqi MP Ahmad Al-Jabouri this weekend, "US jets carried out a massive crime as they bombed Al-Amiriyah Shelter in Baghdad and killed more than 400 people, mostly women and children. Their bodies were turned to ash. No officials were among them."

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