I guess there's a fairly good chance that some of the people mentioned in this story will be better off six months from now than they were a month ago or a year ago. Others, surely, will be dead or dying -- some undoubtedly are dead now. None, however, are apparently dancing around GIs and strewing them with rosewater...
NEAR BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Worn out by days of bombing, thousands of Iraqi civilians fled Baghdad on Saturday, trudging to relative safety behind U.S. military lines or else heading north away from the relentless American advance.
Men, women and children walked for hours through the fierce heat of an early summer's day, carrying at most the odd plastic bag, blankets or tin kettle between them.
"We are very tired, " said one bearded man, with a young girl in his arms. "I need rest," he sighed, explaining that he was escaping round-the-clock bombing of the Iraqi capital....
One woman dressed in black held up a blue plastic cup, the only thing she was carrying. "Water, water," she pleaded from passers-by as the temperature hit 35 Celsius (95F), then frowned when she saw there was none on offer.
U.S. Marines peered down from the gun turrets of their armored vehicles as the grim-faced families traipsed past. One serviceman offered a bottle of water to an Iraqi, but was immediately rebuked for his generosity.
"We're here for a war, not a humanitarian mission, OK?" a gunnery sergeant yelled at him.
Several women carried yellow plastic packages of U.S. humanitarian rations, but Marines said the bulk of the food aid was 10 km (six miles) further south, where the military had set up a distribution station far from the front lines.
"We don't have any means to help them. All the humanitarian supplies are behind us," said first sergeant Matthew Brookshire, standing by his Humvee all-terrain vehicle.
"If we started giving it out then we'd be swarmed by civilians. We don't know who's friendly and who's not," he said....