May saw a devastating surge in US air strikes on Iraq, often in densely populated areas. In the two months from late March, the military fired more than 200 Hellfire missiles on Baghdad alone, while only six such missiles were fired in the previous three months. The US army is keeping six Apache helicopters in the air above Baghdad, around the clock.
Residents of Sadr City have described recent air attacks on the Shia ghetto as indiscriminate. One such attack damaged a hospital and several of its ambulances.
The Washington Post reported on the wounding of a ten-year-old resident of Sadr City, Zahara Fadhil, on 20 April: “‘They kill people,’ she said. Lying in bed, she gasped for air before continuing. ‘They should leave Iraq now.’”
North of Baghdad, eight people were killed, including at least two children, in an air strike on a vehicle. The US military claimed six of the victims were al-Qa’eda operatives.
Part of the increased intensity in air attacks is due to an unprecedented upsurge in the use of “Predator” drones. The US occupation forces are expected to come to rely more and more on these “unmanned aerial vehicles” as 30,000 troops deployed last year are withdrawn.