'Shameful': Peace advocates denounce Navy naming warship after massacred Iraqi city of Fallujah

'Shameful': Peace advocates denounce Navy naming warship after massacred Iraqi city of Fallujah
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Peace advocates responded with disgust to the Navy's decision to name its new warship after the two battles of Fallujah, during which U.S. troops massacred Iraqi civilians.

"The future America-class amphibious ship will be named the USS Fallujah, LHA-9," Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro announced Tuesday in a speech at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. "The future USS Fallujah will commemorate the first and second battles of Fallujah, American-led offenses during the Iraq War."

Del Toro called it "an honor for me, and for our nation, to memorialize the Marines, the soldiers, and coalition forces that fought valiantly and those that sacrificed their lives during both battles of Fallujah."

U.S. troops slaughtered approximately 600 Iraqi civilians—including more than 300 women and children—along with 200 insurgents during the First Battle of Fallujah. Code-named Operation Vigilant Resolve, the battle was launched in April 2004 to avenge the deaths of four Blackwater contractors. Twenty-seven U.S. soldiers were killed during the retaliatory siege.

The Second Battle of Fallujah, known as Operation Phantom Fury, was fought

✎ EditSign from November to December 2004 to recapture the city from insurgent forces. In the process, U.S.-led occupation forces killed between 581 and 670 civilians across nine neighborhoods, according to Iraq Body Count.

"With over 100 coalition forces killed and 600 wounded, Operation Phantom Fury is considered to be the bloodiest engagement to the Iraq War and the fiercest serving combat involving U.S. Marines since the Vietnam War's battle of Hue City," said Del Toro. "This namesake deserves to be in the pantheon of iconic Marine Corps battles, and the LHA's unique capabilities will serve as a stark reminder to everyone around the world of the bravery, the courage, and commitment to freedom displayed by those who fought in those battles."

Critics called the Navy's commemoration of the battles of Fallujah "shameful."

"Some of the most heinous U.S. war crimes committed during the Iraq War took place in the city of Fallujah," The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill, who reported from Iraq during the U.S. invasion, wrote Wednesday on social media.

In a 2007 appearance on the Bill Moyers show, Scahill described the siege of Fallujah as "one of the most brutal and sustained U.S. operations of the occupation," telling Moyers that the Pentagon's murderous response to the killing of Blackwater contractors set a dangerous precedent.

In 2016, journalist Hope Hodge Seck wrote about what she called "the whisper campaign for a USS Fallujah."

"At the time, it seemed unlikely to ever happen," she tweeted Tuesday. "But now it has."

Construction on the 45,000 metric-ton vessel, the first U.S. warship named after a post-9/11 battle, is set to begin this month at the Mississippi-based Ingalls Shipbuilding, which secured a $2.4 billion contract in October.

Civilians in Fallujah, meanwhile, continue to suffer from a sharp rise in birth defects that has occurred in the wake of the 2003 invasion.

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