I wrote a story last night about people mourning their victims in Sadr City: a child wounded by shrapnel from a U.S. military air strike, a man who lost his wife and daughter. I explained that the U.S. military was going after armed people in the area and these people were not targeted, but victims caught in this battle.
But they were still wounded or killed and their families blamed the U.S. military. It is important to tell that story.
But a conversation with a friend in the military moved me. He read the story with sadness and some outrage. The two men in the piece who said they were shot by a U.S. sniper may very well have been hit by a stray bullet, he said.
When he read that Haider Jassim, a four-year-old boy, was wounded he was moved to tears. He thought of his own child that he had to leave behind to serve in Iraq.
But he also knows how difficult it is to make the decision on whether to strike or not to strike. Sadr City is a crowded urban area and militants use rooftops and backyards to fight the U.S. military and fire rockets and mortars that kill both Americans and Iraqis.
The Mahdi Army, a militia who has been blamed for much of the sectarian violence in Iraq in the past two years, feel it is their right to resist the occupation.
"Why are they putting their families and friends and neighbors in danger," he asked me. "Why are they shooting from rooftops of civilian buildings?"
In an email he made a valid point.
"I think you know that I am personally saddened to read about the innocent victims of war - particularly children. I am a father myself and can't help but think of my own little boy," he wrote in an email. "I am a U.S. serviceman and I know that our troops do not fire indiscriminately...I'm sure that the men that were firing mortars and rockets from rooftops knew that they were endangering those who lived in those buildings. These people often put others in danger by their actions. If we are being fired upon, we must fire back. We have a right and an obligation to protect ourselves and our troops. I would hate to be the company commander that has to make those life and death decisions every day."
The point of the piece today was to show the general anger and sadness felt in Sadr City. Today our bureau will tell another story and tomorrow another. Everyone of them will anger someone, everyone will shine a light on a different struggle in this war.