U.S. forces used cluster munitions extensively in and around al-Hilla. Dr. Sa`ad al-Falluji, director and chief surgeon of al-Hilla General Teaching Hospital, provided Human Rights Watch with copies of the hospital’s records of civilian casualties due to combat in al-Hilla from March 23 to April 11, 2003. At the time, he was only able to provide numbers for casualties resulting from cluster munitions. These figures included casualties both during cluster munition strikes and from hazardous submunition duds after the strikes. Dr. al-Falluji said submunitions caused 90 percent of the injuries his hospital treated during the war.
Al-Hilla morgue provided some death records to Human Rights Watch. The director said that the morgue could not keep accurate records of the dead due to the pace of the war but estimated that the number was in the dozens.
Hospital and morgue records reported a total of 551 civilian casualties due to submunitions, including nineteen deaths, 515 injuries, and seventeen non-specified. Of the nineteen reported civilian deaths, fourteen were male and five were female. Eleven of the nineteen were children under the age of eighteen. Of the 515 reported injuries, 127 (25 percent) were children; 385 were male, 127 were female, and three did not have the sex recorded.
Fifteen civilian deaths and 171 injuries occurred on one day, March 31, as the U.S. Army pushed by al-Hilla on its way to Baghdad, according to al-Hilla hospital and morgue records. Nadir, an outlying district of al-Hilla, was particularly hard-hit by ground-launched submunitions. Hospital records show that 142 (28 percent) of the 515 injuries occurred in Nadir, including 109 on March 31. According to the New York Times, the strikes on Nadir killed thirty-three civilians on March 31.428 Neighborhood elders in Nadir kept records that indicated that by September 2003, civilian casualties totaled 194 (thirty-eight dead and 156 injured) from both cluster strikes and cluster duds. Their documents listed 144 men, thirty-seven women, and thirteen whose sex could not be determined.
Dr. al-Falluji said that most of the 221 injuries recorded from April 1 to 11 were caused by submunition duds. Human Rights Watch researchers found predominantly U.S. ground-launched submunition duds in al-Hilla although there were a small number of duds from air-dropped cluster bombs as well. Post-war hospital records from May through August in al-Hilla list thirty-two injuries from submunition duds, including twenty-six male and six female.
Note: Children are those under eighteen years of age.
428 Tyler Hicks and John F. Burns, “Iraq Shows Casualties in Hospital,” New York Times, April 3, 2003.