A tiny bundle of blankets is unwrapped; inside is the body of a baby, its
limbs smeared with dried blood. Then the mourners peel back the blanket
further to reveal a second dead baby.

Another blanket is opened; inside are the bodies of a mother and child. The
child, six or seven years old, is lying against his or her mother, as if
seeking comfort. But the child has no head.

These are the images that American forces in Iraq had no answer to
yesterday. They come from video footage of the burials of 41 men, women and
children. The Iraqis say they died when American planes launched air
strikes on a wedding party near the Syrian border on Wednesday.

US forces insist that the attack was on a safe house used by foreign
fighters entering Iraq from Syria. They do not dispute that they killed
about 40 people, but claim American forces were returning fire and the dead
were all foreign fighters. For the video footage that shows dead women and
children they have no explanation.

So potentially damaging is the video to the US occupation that American
officials have demanded that the Dubai-based al-Arabiya television news
network, which obtained the footage, give them the name of the cameraman
who took it. Al-Arabiya has refused.

In the footage men weep and cling to the bodies of their loved ones before
they are buried. There are dozens of bundles wrapped in flower-patterned
blankets. Some of these images were shown on Western television news
yesterday, but not the most disturbing: the bodies themselves..


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