Friday, May 19, 2006


We can talk about the trillion dollars the war in Iraq is costing. But in the big picture, the greatest cost is the loss of life. Of Fathers, Mothers, sisters, brothers. A greater loss there is not. So many American and Iraqi families now know the true consequence of war, and will suffer it for the rest of their days.

In Baghdad, a family loses all 4 of its men
By Sabrina Tavernise The New York Times

FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2006

BAGHDAD The Lazim family lost all four of its men this week. They were getting out of a pickup truck at a house they were building shortly after 7:30 a.m. Wednesday when a man walked up to them and sprayed them with bullets.

The youngest of the Lazims killed that day, 12-year-old Ali, was asleep in the back of the truck when the two bullets tore through his chest.

In the patterns of violence in this city, sectarian killings like this one - the Lazims are Shiites and relatives blame Sunni insurgents for their deaths - have become routine, barely registering as blips on the screens of the authorities and often vanishing without being counted. But behind each number is a story of piercing loss. One of fresh hardships for those who survive and of unexpected scraps of memories of the dead.

The deaths of the Lazims - Jodeh, 50, Falah, 25, Salah, 20, and Ali, 12 - left behind a family of women: a wife, nine daughters and a daughter-in-law.

On Friday, the women, dressed in long black abayas and carrying sleepy children, received relatives from Kut and Basra in the south in the first day of mourning after the burials Thursday.

Jodeh Lazim's widow, Ghazala Kamel, sat on a mat in the corner of a spare room in Sadr City, a slum of back alleys, open sewage and brightly colored flags, and lamented her family's fate.

Ali was tired that morning and did not want to go to work. His father, however, coaxed him along. They had only two more days of work left on the house, which they had been building for several months in Jamiya, a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in central Baghdad.

Ali had quit school two years ago to help support his family, a practice not unusual for poor Shiites here.

Kamel rose with the men before dawn. She cooked them a breakfast of rice and tomatoes. "I buried these four with my hands," she said, brandishing them. "I saw them, washing their bodies. They were so handsome. So handsome."

"Sunni militias believe Shiites are slaves," said Sattar Awad, 29, a nephew of Jodeh Lazim. "In order to dominate, they have to eliminate them."

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