Laith Mushtaq was one of only two non-embedded cameramen working throughout the April 2004 ‘battle for Fallujah’ in which 600 civilians died.
One day, I think it was April 9, 2004, someone with a loudspeaker in Fallujah’s main mosque said: “The Americans will open a gate and women and children can go out.”
As soon as he had finished, all the women and children of Fallujah tried to find a car to leave the city but when they were in the streets, the US forces opened fire.
There’s a picture that I cannot forget. An old woman with three children, I saw her on the street and took a picture of her and the children.
She said: “We don’t have any men here, can anyone help us?” Many of the men from Fallujah worked in Baghdad, once the city was sealed off they could not get back to their wives and children.
So, some men helped her, I decided to film the scene and then I sat down to smoke.
Ten minutes later, an ambulance came down the road. I ran to follow the ambulance and when they opened the door, I saw the same woman and her children – but they were in pieces.
I still remember the nurses couldn’t carry the woman because she was in too many pieces, people were jumping back when they saw it. Then, one nurse shouted: “Hey, she looks like your mother”…
The Americans said our pictures stirred up hatred against them. But what I did was only showing what their army did on the ground. I don’t hate them, I don’t want vengeance, I just wish they had understood what they were doing.