Iraqi Red Crescent ordered from Fallujah
Monday, December 6, 2004. 8:19am (AEDT)
The Iraqi Red Crescent (IRC) says it has left Fallujah on US military orders after the aid agency was told the former insurgent stronghold was not safe.
"Multinational forces asked the IRC to withdraw from Fallujah for security reasons and until further notice," the organisation's spokeswoman Ferdus Al Ibadi told AFP.
Ms Ibadi, speaking in Baghdad, had said earlier that the agency left of its own free will, but she said she was only informed after the IRC left the city that it had been told to do so by US marines.
The IRC distributed food, water and blankets to around 1,500 people in the city, whose population was around 300,000 before a massive assault by US-led forces began on November 8.
"We went today to Karma and in two days' time we will visit refugees in other places around the city," Ms Ibadi said, referring to a town about five kilometres north of Fallujah.
The US military said the IRC had requested a military escort out of the city and that it had secured the organisation's headquarters immediately afterwards.
"All military-age males in the IRC building were properly vetted and approximately eight were detained," US Marine Major M Naomi Hawkins said.
The US military had since Thursday been interviewing military-age males who came to the IRC for food aid as well as testing them for gun powder, a potential sign of insurgent activity, an AFP correspondent said.
The Marines confirmed that they had cordoned off the building on Thursday when they began vetting males.
There had been friction between the IRC and the US military as the agency was prevented from distributing aid throughout the city.