Wednesday, March 02, 2005

War News for Wednesday, March 02, 2005 There are some who, uh, feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation." - George W. Bush, July 2, 2003 Bring ‘em on: Six Iraqis killed and 28 wounded in car bombing in central Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: A judge who sat on the tribunal that will try Saddam Hussein was assassinated in Baghdad. His son died in the same attack. Iraqi police lieutenant killed by gunmen in the Baghdad neighborhood of Doura. More police began searching for the killers and were ambushed. Two were slain. Another patrol responded to that attack and was caught by a roadside bomb that killed three more officers. One more Iraqi policeman was killed by gunmen in a separate attack near Abu Ghraib. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqi soldiers killed and three wounded in car bomb attack in southern Baghdad. Vehicle accident: Two US soldiers killed in a vehicle accident in Beiji. Iraqis against terrorism: Chanting "No to terrorism!" thousands of Iraqis rallied outside a medical clinic where a suicide car bomber killed 125 people a day earlier, braving the threat of another attack as they waved clenched fists. However, anxieties over another attack did not prevent more than 2,000 people from gathering outside the clinic Tuesday to protest the attack. Abizaid says that tunnel light is getting brighter: The top U.S. general in the Middle East said Tuesday that the failure of insurgents to prevent millions of Iraqis from voting in January shows that the violent guerrilla movement is fizzling. Citing estimates from field commanders, Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command, told a Senate committee that approximately 3,500 insurgents were involved in planning and executing the roughly 300 attacks on election day, Jan. 30. "They threw their whole force at us, we think, and yet they were unable to disrupt the elections because people wanted to vote," Abizaid said before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Some Pentagon officials have speculated that insurgent leaders may have decided to bench the bulk of their forces on Jan. 30 to minimize the risk of capture by thousands of U.S.-led and Iraqi troops walking the streets and manning polling stations. A three-day holiday was declared and the country was under virtual lockdown, with private vehicle traffic prohibited, borders sealed and the Baghdad airport closed. If we only try harder: The Pentagon is not trying hard enough to defeat the makeshift roadside bombs that are the leading killer of U.S. troops in Iraq, the commander of American forces in the Middle East said yesterday. Pentagon statistics show that over the past two months, the homemade, easy-to-hide weapons have accounted for a significantly higher share of U.S. battle deaths. In the final 10 days of February, for example, roadside bombs caused at least 15 of the 22 battle deaths. In Iraq there is a seemingly endless supply of explosives and they can be adapted for use against a wide variety of targets. They have proven to be a low-tech counterpoint to the U.S. military's high- powered arsenal. The fading coalition: Ukraine will begin pulling its troops from Iraq March 15, when the first of 150 military personnel will leave, Ukrainian officials said Tuesday. Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk will travel to Washington March 10-11 to meet with top U.S. officials. Ukraine has 1,650 troops in Iraq, the sixth largest contingent. The PR War Reality TV: The one-hour tapes constitute a sort of reality TV whose aim is to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. Aired twice a day, they serve as a counterpoint to the now-familiar images shot by insurgents of cowering hostages and beheadings. They are also a centerpiece of an intense government campaign designed to convince an edgy population that the fledgling government and its hard-hit security forces are making Iraq safer. "Terrorism in the Grip of Justice" is the title of the series, which began airing shortly before Iraq's national election Jan. 30. While it's not clear just how truthful the videos are, the provocative images seem to bolster skeptical Iraqis' confidence in a government often assailed as ineffective against lawlessness and violence. "It's a good thing because it makes me feel there is a working government developing day by day and that the security situation is improving," said Fadwa Khalifa, a 22-year-old college student in Baghdad. "But I also fear that it all may be a lie." A dissenting view: Fliers threatening staffers of U.S.-backed Al-Iraqiya TV are being distributed in the Iraqi towns of Baiji and Samarra, police and eyewitnesses said. Baghdad-based, state-run Al-Iraqiya has been airing video of people confessing to being involved in the Iraq insurgency and in acts such as beheadings and suicide bombings. The fliers say "TV is showing fake stories" of people they call sell-outs. "The plays that are being showed by Allawi TV are targeting the reputation of mujahedeen who gave lessons to the infidels -- the occupiers," the fliers say. For weeks the confessions have been aired between ads calling for recruits to join Iraqi security forces. A group called "Al-Jihad wa Al-Da'wa" signed the fliers, police and eyewitnesses said. This Is Interesting… From today’s NY Times: Also on Tuesday, a senior Iraqi official said a half brother of Saddam Hussein who was arrested recently had been captured by Iraqi and allied forces, not by Syria, as Iraqi officials had said over the weekend. This is just one paragraph from a much bigger story on other subjects, but it caught my eye. I mean, really? The Iraqi’s didn’t know their own guys caught this chump? What, did they look like Syrians from a distance? The article goes on to say: At a news conference in Baghdad on Tuesday, Iraq's defense minister, Hazim al-Shalaan, provided new details about the recent capture of one of Mr. Hussein's half brothers, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti, who has been accused of playing a major role in the organizing and financing of the insurgency. Mr. Hassan was captured by Iraqi and allied soldiers, Mr. Shalaan said, not by Syrian forces, as Iraqi officials had said Sunday. The Syrians provided the information that led to Mr. Hassan's capture, he added. He refused to say where Mr. Hassan had been captured or to provide any more information about his arrest, saying simply that it was a "small operation" in which Iraqi special forces and allied forces had cooperated. But here’s yesterday’s news: Iraqis and Syrians agree: Iraqi officials said Sunday that Syria had captured and turned over a half-brother of Saddam Hussein who has been accused of playing a leading role in organizing and financing the insurgency that has tormented Iraq since Hussein's overthrow nearly two years ago. Syrian officials in Damascus confirmed the transfer, and said that the half-brother, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti, once the widely feared head of Iraq's domestic intelligence agency, was one of a group of officials from the former Iraqi government who were arrested in Syria and delivered into Iraqi custody. An Associated Press report, quoting unnamed Iraqi officials, said there were 30 men in the group. Here’s another: Goodwill: Iraqi officials said yesterday that Syria captured and handed over Saddam Hussein’s half brother, a most-wanted leader in the Sunni-based insurgency, ending months of Syrian denials that it was harboring fugitives from the ousted Saddam regime. Iraq authorities said Damascus acted in a gesture of goodwill. Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, who had the same mother as Saddam, was nabbed along with 29 other fugitive members of the former dictator’s Baath Party in Hasakah in northeastern Syria, 30 miles from the Iraqi border, the officials said on condition of anonymity. The U.S. military in Iraq had no immediate comment. What do you suppose is going on? This wouldn’t have anything to do with the administration’s desire to focus attention on Syria as Iraq part two, would it? Americans Wake Up Commemoration: It has almost been two years since the beginning of major combat in Iraq. From all ends of the country, a countless number of fathers, brothers, sisters and mothers have united to fight an ongoing war, a war that is far from over. Although many soldiers have made it back home safely, nearly 1,500 men and women have lost their lives. To commemorate those 1,500 soldiers and fallen Iraqi civilians, the American Friends Service Committee is sponsoring Eyes Wide Open, a traveling memorial exhibit that features a pair of combat boots for each life lost in the Iraq war. Marq Anderson, the advance coordinator for the exhibit, spoke of the "sombering impact" the memorial has on the people who come to view it. "Our shoes represent 30,000 to 100,000 civilians that have been killed in Iraq during this war," said Anderson. "Now compare that number with the number of soldiers that have died. It's astronomical, and it needs to stop." Since the initial start of the exhibit in January 2004, the number of boots representing the loss of U.S. soldiers has tripled. As the exhibit continues its way throughout the country, more and more families and friends come to pay tribute to their loved ones who served overseas, attaching flowers, identification tags, photographs, notes and American flags to the pairs of boots. Antiwar: Why pick a military town as the site for an antiwar rally? As a veteran and a resident of Fayetteville, N.C. near Ft. Bragg, I can think of at least 50 reasons. Each of those reasons has a name and each were members of our community prior to their deaths in Iraq. Some may argue that voicing opposition to war in a military town is somehow disrespectful. Tell that to the military families and veterans from many wars, including the current one, who plan to gather here on March 19, the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Like the majority of Americans, we now reject the reasons used to justify the war and many of us feel that the US government failed to successfully plan for what has happened. That lack of planning affects our communities more so than most. Commentary Editorial: There's a seductive theory making the rounds that an expanded "Bush Doctrine" has planted seeds of democracy in the Middle East that are already bearing fruit. Editorial pages and columnists are making the argument that the invasion of Iraq, despite its messy aftermath, and the toppling of Saddam Hussein have led inexorably to elections in Arab lands. All aboard the freedom train! Not so fast. The Jan. 30 election for Iraq's transitional national assembly was certainly an impressive display of courage: Men and women voted in the face of death threats from insurgents who had proved their ability to kill almost at will. But ballots have not yet diminished the carnage. This week a suicide bomber blew up his car in a crowded market south of Baghdad, killing as many as 125 people in the single bloodiest attack in the country since the fall of Hussein nearly two years ago. The grind of violence, directed equally at the Shiite majority and anyone who might aid the U.S.-backed government, may still trigger a civil war or other disintegration of Iraq. Casualty Reports Local story: River Vale, NJ, soldier killed by IED in Abertha. Local story: Indiana, PA, soldier killed by IED in Abertha. Local story: Tracy, MN, soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Shreveport, LA, soldier killed in Baghdad. Local story: West Palm Beach, FL, soldier killed in Ramadi. Awards and Decorations Local story: Lansing, KS, soldier receives Purple Heart.


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