Wedding video contradicts US version of attack


A home video taken in Iraq supports victims' claims that US forces bombed a wedding celebration and killed up to 45 people in the attack.

The dead included the cameraman, Yasser Shawkat Abdullah, hired to record the festivities, which ended on Tuesday night before the planes struck. The video was obtained yesterday by Associated Press Television News (APTN)..

There may have been some kind of celebration. Bad people have celebrations too
US Brig General Mark Kimmitt

The US military says it is investigating the attack, which took place in the village of Mogr el-Deeb about five miles from the Syrian border, but that all evidence so far indicates the target was a safe house for foreign fighters.

"There was no evidence of a wedding: no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration," Brig Gen Mark Kimmitt, the chief US military spokesman in Iraq , said on Saturday.

"There may have been some kind of celebration. Bad people have celebrations too."

But video that APTN shot a day after the attack shows fragments of musical instruments, pots and pans, and brightly coloured beddings used for celebrations, scattered around the bombed-out tent.

The wedding video shows a dozen white pick-up trucks speeding through the desert escorting the bridal car - decorated with colourful ribbons. The bride wears a Western-style white bridal dress and veil. The camera captures her stepping out of the car but does not show a close-up.

An AP reporter and photographer, who interviewed more than a dozen survivors a day after the bombing, were able to identify many of them on the wedding party video - which runs for several hours.

APTN also travelled to Mogr el-Deeb, 250 miles west of Ramadi, the day after the attack, to film what the survivors said was the wedding site. A devastated building and remnants of the tent, pots and pans could be seen, along with bits of what appeared to be the remnants of bombs, one of which bore the marking "ATU-35" similar to those on US bombs.

A water tanker truck can be seen in both the video shot by APTN and the wedding tape obtained from a cousin of the groom.

A stocky man with close-cropped hair playing an electric organ features prominently on the video. Another tape, filmed a day later in Ramadi and obtained by APTN, showed the musician lying dead in a burial shroud - his face clearly visible and wearing the same tan shirt as he wore when he performed.

Brig Gen Kimmitt said US troops who swept through the area found rifles, machine guns, foreign passports, bedding, syringes and other items that suggested the site was used by foreigners infiltrating from Syria.

The video showed no weapons, although they are common among rural Iraqis.   Brig Gen Kimmitt has denied finding evidence that any children died in the raid although a "handful of women" - perhaps four to six - were "caught up in the engagement".