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Since 1st March, 1999
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War rules broken in Falluja: Amnesty

London, Nov. 15 (Reuters): The rules of war protecting civilians and wounded combatants have been broken by both sides in the week-long assault on the Iraqi city of Falluja, the human rights group Amnesty International said today.

US warplanes bombarded diehard areas of Falluja on Monday and troops hunted remaining insurgents house-to-house, while heavy clashes broke out in other cities and insurgents attacked the country's oil network.

The US military says it has taken control of Falluja, but scattered pockets of resistance remain, particularly in southern parts. Large areas lie in ruins, devastated by the ferocity of the military's seven-day onslaught. Insurgent activity has also surged across Iraq's Sunni region.

The London-based group, which gave examples of what it said were breaches of the rules by both US troops and insurgents, demanded that all violations be investigated and those responsible brought to justice.

Not only had the attacking US and Iraqi troops failed to take the necessary steps to ensure that non-combatants did not come under fire, but insurgents had also abused flags of truce and fired indiscriminately.

'Amnesty International fears that civilians have been killed, in contravention of international humanitarian law, as a result of failure by parties to the fighting to take necessary precautions to protect non-combatants,' Amnesty said.

Amnesty said 20 Iraqi medical staff and dozens of other civilians were killed when a missile hit a Falluja clinic on November 9, according to a doctor who survived the strike ' though it was not known who fired the missile.

On the same day a nine-year-old boy bled to death after being hit in the stomach by shrapnel. Unable to take him to hospital because of the fighting, his parents buried him in their garden.

Elsewhere a woman and her three daughters were reported killed when their house was bombed, Amnesty said.

It also said a British television programme, Channel Four News, broadcast footage on November 11 that appeared to show an American soldier firing a shot in the direction of a wounded insurgent behind a wall and then commenting: 'He's gone'.

'Under international humanitarian law the US forces have an obligation to protect fighters hors de combat. Amnesty International calls on the US authorities to investigate this incident immediately,' the human rights watchdog said. It said insurgents were also reported to have violated international humanitarian law.

'In one incident, some Iraqis are reported to have come out of a building waving a white flag. When a Marine approached this group, insurgents opened fire on the Marines from different directions.'

A US military official in Iraq also accused insurgents of storing weapons in mosques and schools. Insurgents were reported to be firing from a mosque on November 10, Amnesty said.

'All violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law must be investigated and those responsible for unlawful attacks, including deliberate targeting of civilians, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, and the killing of injured persons must be brought to justice,' it added.

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