Monday, June 19, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR MONDAY, June 19, 2006 Photo: U.S. Army soldiers and U.S. Marines rest in a house in Ramadi, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, June 19, 2006. Hundreds of U.S. and Iraqi troops pushed into an eastern section of Ramadi, one of Iraq's most violent cities, the latest step in a campaign to gradually bolster their presence in city neighborhoods that for months have largely been under insurgent control. (AP Photo/Jacob Silberberg) (See below under "Ramadi") Iraqi rebels 'holding US troops': An insurgent group in Iraq says it is holding two missing United States soldiers. In an internet statement, the group said it had abducted the soldiers during an attack on a checkpoint near Yusufiya, south of Baghdad, on Friday. Within minutes the group issued a second statement saying it had kidnapped four Russian diplomats and killed a fifth on 3 June. The claims, on a site linked to militants, have not been confirmed. They were posted by the Mujahideen Shura Council - a grouping of insurgents that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq. The first message read: "Your brothers in the military wing of the Mujahideen Shura Council kidnapped the two American soldiers near Yusufiya." One US soldier was killed during Friday's incident, but nothing had been heard of his two colleagues. They were named by the US military as Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker, both from the 101st Airborne Division. In the second message, the group said it had carried out an attack on a convoy carrying Russian diplomats in the Mansour area of Baghdad, where many embassies are based. "God has enabled the lions of monotheism to arrest four Russian diplomats in Iraq and kill the fifth," the statement read. The message urged Moscow to withdraw its troops from Chechnya within 48 hours or "face the consequences". Bring 'em on: Spc. Jeremiah S. Santos, 21, of Minot, N.D., died in Baghdad, Iraq, on June 15 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations. Santos was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. (DefenseLink) Bring 'em on: Spc. Brent W. Koch, 22, of Morton, Minn., died on June 16, in Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV. Koch was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry Combined Arms Battalion, Hutchinson, Minn. (DefenseLink) Bring 'em on: Cpl. Michael A. Estrella, 20, of Hemet, Calif., died June 14 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. (DefenseLink) OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: A parked car bomb struck an Iraqi army convoy on Monday, killing five people and wounding nine. The explosion occurred at 10 a.m. on Mustansiriyah Square in eastern Baghdad, Lt. Ahmed Muhammad Ali said. He said three soldiers and two civilians were killed and nine passers-by were wounded. A car bomb targeting a police checkpoint in southern Baghdad killed three people and wounded three. A car bomb struck a patrol in western Baghdad killing four commandos and wounding six. (25M. West of) An insurgent sniper killed an Iraqi soldier some 25 miles west of Baghdad. An Iraqi convoy fired back at the attacker and two civilians were wounded. Najaf: One person was killed and five wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in Kifil town near Najaf. Al Madain: Police said gunmen stormed a house in Al-Madain town, south of the capital, and shot dead a woman, her son and daughter, who had been asleep inside. Fallujah/Hillah: Roadside bombs in Fallujah and Hillah killed four civilians. Karbala: (Near) Police Lieutenant Colonel Shahid Salah Hammud from Ain al-Tamur police station was killed, along with his three bodyguards, when gunmen ambushed his convoy on a highway between Al-Tamur and the southern city of Karbala. (West of) Gunmen killed police Col. Abdel-Shahid Saleh as he was heading to work west of Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad. Amarah: An electrical worker identified as Saadoun Abdul-Hussein Radi, a former member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, was gunned down as he was going to work in downtown Amarah, 180 miles southeast of Baghdad. An armed group shot dead four policemen in a residential area in central Amarah. Gunmen killed an army officer during a raid on his house in Amarah. A soldier was injured when gunmen opened fire on him as he was leaving his house in Amarah. Ramadi: Hundreds of American and Iraqi troops backed by a U.S. gunship pushed into eastern Ramadi. No U.S. casualties were reported but six insurgents were thought to have been killed by fire from the AC-130 Spectre gunship in the initial hours of the operation, U.S. commanders on the ground said. Sporadic gunfire between U.S. troops and insurgent snipers echoed throughout the neighborhood.
Helicopters flew over the Iraqi town of Ramadi and warplanes could be heard screaming overhead as U.S. troops hunted down insurgents in the rebel stronghold on Monday, a Reuters witness said. He said seven tanks moved along Masarif Street and July 17 Street. Two explosions were heard but the cause was not clear.
Mosul: Gunmen trying to kill a former army major in the northern city of Mosul missed their target but killed a civilian. The army major was injured. A car bomb detonated near an American convoy, which rolled through the blast apparently unscathed.. The explosion killed a high school girl and wounded 19 other civilians. Latifiya: A family of four Iraqis were killed in al-Latifiya, south of Baghdad, a police source said. The source said that gunmen raided the house of a Shiite Iraqi, assembled the house's residents and shot them dead. Gunmen killed three civilians Monday when they opened fire on their vehicle in Baquba, north-east of Baghdad. Basra: An Iraqi translator working for the British armed forces in the country was shot dead in Basra, security sources said on Monday. The Iraqi security sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that gunmen stormed the home of the translator in central Basra on Sunday night. The sources said the gunmen had opened fire, killing the translator and wounding his wife. Baqubah: Insurgents shot three Iranian men to death near the Diyala province travel office in Baqubah. A police source said that when they searched the bodies, they found Iranian national documents and forged Iraqi credentials. Police also said the men had U.S. and Iranian currency and a small video. Mahmoudiya: A bomb exploded in a market in Mahmoudiya, about 30km south of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 10. >> NEWS London welcomes coalition withdrawal from Iraqi province: "I welcome the announcement today by the Iraqi prime minister that the Iraqis are taking over full control of al-Muthanna province," [Blair's official spokesman] said Monday. "That means they are taking control of civil institutions as well as the security responsibility." Based on the city of Samawa, the province is patrolled by Australian troops under British command. Some 600 Japanese service personnel are also deployed in Al-Muthanna. An environmental disaster is brewing in the heartland of Iraq's northern Sunni-led insurgency, where Iraqi officials say that in a desperate move to dispose of millions of barrels of an oil refinery byproduct called "black oil," the government pumped it into open mountain valleys and leaky reservoirs next to the Tigris River and set it on fire. The resulting huge black bogs are threatening the river and the precious groundwater in the region, which is dotted with villages and crisscrossed by itinerant sheep herders, but also contains Iraq's great northern refinery complex at Baiji. The fires are no longer burning, but the suffocating plumes of smoke they created carried as far as 40 miles downwind to Tikrit, the provincial capital. Italian prosecutors request indictment of a U.S. soldier over shooting of an Italian intelligence agent at a checkpoint in Iraq last year. Death penalty asked for Saddam Hussein and two of his co-defendants. Iraqi government announces it will release 300 prisoners from Abu Ghraib prison today, another in a series of releases that began this month and will eventually free 2,500 people. Two Lebanese businessmen arrested by Iraqi police who suspected them of links to terrorism were freed in Baghdad, an official source in Beirut said. >> REPORTS NYT poll: 60 percent support for setting a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops, vs. 36 percent opposed. 87% Of Iraqis Want U.S. Troops To Get Out: Iraq's prime minister says he wants Iraqis to take over security from the U.S.-led coalition in 18 months, and a recent poll found that 87 percent of ordinary Iraqis want a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. 10% Of Total British Military In Iraq Down With PTSD: The number of soldiers diagnosed with psychiatric problems brought on by the stress of service in Iraq has dramatically escalated since the beginning of the war, according to new figures from the Ministry of Defence. In 2005, the military authorities were notified of 727 cases of troops with psychiatric disorders brought on by their period in Iraq - an average of 60 each month, or two every day. The figure is nearly 10 per cent of the total British military presence in Iraq. It includes 66 troops who developed such serious mental problems that they had to be airlifted out for treatment back home. An Oregon soldier who was arrested after refusing to deploy with her Army unit to Iraq for a second tour says she was coerced into a sexual relationship with her immediate supervisor: Suzanne Swift, a specialist with the 54th Military Police Co. based at Fort Lewis, Wash., said three sergeants began propositioning her for sex shortly after she arrived in Iraq in February 2004. Swift said she ended up having a sexual relationship with her immediate supervisor, but it wasn't her choice. "In a combat situation, your squad leader is deciding whether you live or die," she said in an interview with the Register-Guard newspaper on Wednesday. "If he wants you to run across a minefield, you run across a minefield." HOW TO DRIVE 98 PERCENT OF ALL MEN INSANE "What Jim had seen tallied with the studies conducted after the Second World War by military historian General S.L.A. Marshall. He interviewed thousands of American infantrymen and concluded that only 15 to 20 percent of them had actually shot to kill. The rest had fired high or not fired at all, busying themselves however else they could. "And 98 percent of the soldiers who did shoot to kill were later found to have been deeply traumatized by their actions. The other 2 percent were diagnosed as "aggressive psychopathic personalities," who basically didn't mind killing people under any circumstances, at home or abroad. "The conclusion, in the words of LTC Dave Grossman of the Killology Research Group, was that "there is something about continuous, inescapable combat which will drive 98 percent of all men insane, and the other 2 percent were crazy when they got there." read in full... MERCENARY FEELS BETRAYED BY HALIBURTON David Meredith was one of tens of thousands of American civilians who believed the high salary to be earned as a contractor in Iraq outweighed the risks. "Before, I was a cool, laid-back, easygoing guy," said the 37-year-old truck driver and father of four. "Since I came back from Iraq, I have suicidal thoughts, angry outbursts, insomnia, flashbacks." Meredith, who spent one year in Iraq from 2004-2005, is among thousands of military and civilian veterans of the Iraq conflict to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. US soldiers get psychological treatment. Meredith says he gets no help from his former employer, Halliburton, which had major contracts in Iraq. (...) Now back at home in Kansas, the driver relies heavily on anti-depressant drugs and his wife's health insurance to pay the medical bills. A local doctor diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but Halliburton's insurer refuses to pay for treatment. He can no longer work as a driver because of the drugs he takes. "I feel betrayed," he said. read in full... BOMB BLAST AND FLAMES - A CLOSE CALL IN BAGHDAD The familiar sound of a siren blared as I drove around Baghdad searching for signs of a government security crackdown. A police car sped past. Seconds later, a car bomb targeting the vehicle exploded just 10 metres away. After covering the relentless bloodshed in Iraq since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003, I had photographed so many victims of bombings, sectarian beheadings and shootings that I thought I had grown numb to violence. But nothing prepared me for the scene unfolding on the wide, two-laned road in Baghdad's northern Qahira district, a mixed Sunni and Shi'ite area of the capital. The blast sent shrapnel flying in all directions as huge balls of flames moved skyward. People fled the scene screaming and crying. The charred body of a dead man sat upright, engulfed by huge flames. A teenage boy was also on fire. He managed to grab a rod extended to him, and was pulled out of the inferno. I counted four bodies, but couldn't tell if they were dead or seriously wounded. I had always arrived at the scene after the bombings or shootings. This was the first time I was actually there at the moment of attack. And now I was watching its victims. I have never seen someone just sit there and burn, a helpless victim of Iraq's carnage. A police source later said two people were killed and seven were wounded in the blast, which he said had apparently targeted the police patrol which had swept past me. read in full... MORGUE REVEALS IRAQ'S DESCENT INTO HELL The morning rush had begun at the health ministry's morgue in Baghdad, and by 9.30am last Thursday 36 coffins already lined the street outside. A muffled wailing came from the minibuses parked nearby where women shrouded in black waited to go inside and search for loved ones, knowing too well what they would find. The single-storey Al-Tub al-Adli morgue, whose nondescript appearance belies the horrors within, has become synonymous with the seemingly unstoppable violence that has turned Baghdad into the most frightening city on earth. It is here that bodies from the nightly slaughter are dumped each morning. The stench of decaying flesh, mingled with disinfectant, hits you at the checkpoint 100 yards away. read in full... FROM THE EMBASSY, A GRIM REPORT Hours before President Bush left on a surprise trip last Monday to the Green Zone in Baghdad for an upbeat assessment of the situation there, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq painted a starkly different portrait of increasing danger and hardship faced by its Iraqi employees. This cable, marked "sensitive" and obtained by The Washington Post, outlines in spare prose the daily-worsening conditions for those who live outside the heavily guarded international zone: harassment, threats and the employees' constant fears that their neighbors will discover they work for the U.S. government. read in full... >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS FINALLY! THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAS A PLAN FOR IRAQ A new one, I mean. The old plan - accept flowers from grateful Iraqis, locate WMD, create democracy and the rule of law, depart in five months - had definite appeal, but it didn't work out. The new plan is that we're going to get the Iraqis to come up with a plan. That's why the president paid a surprise visit to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki this week. Perhaps sensing that Maliki's response to a cheery "See you shortly!" from George W. Bush might be something along the lines of "Not if I see you first," Bush dropped in on Baghdad's Green Zone unannounced, giving Maliki only five minutes' notice of his arrival. That's leadership for you. As the president explained: "One reason I went to Iraq yesterday, no matter how secretive the trip was, was to get a firsthand feel for how those people are thinking over there.... I understand leadership.... You've got to have a plan. And that's what I found in Iraq." In fact, he found that the Iraqis have a "plan to succeed," "a robust plan" and "a plan to improve security." They also have a "plan to bring militias and other armed groups under government control," a plan a "plan ... to improve the Iraqi judicial system," "a plan to revitalize the Iraqi economy" and "plans on electricity and energy." The president may have mentioned other nifty Iraqi plans too, but after I got past 20 references to the word "plan" in the transcript of Bush's post-Baghdad news conference, I lost count. (The president also managed to use some form of the word "success" 33 times.) But let's not get distracted here. The bottom line, for you doubters, is that Bush really does have a new Iraq plan. It consists of making it "clear to the government there that ... it's really up to them to put a plan in place and execute it." Now is that a plan or what? link HADITHA UNCOVERS THE UGLINESS OF THE WAR PARTY The Haditha massacre is far worse than My Lai, which has been committed by hastily trained and generally reluctant soldiers. Haditha was the work of the elite corps of America's Imperial Forces. Years of training and tens of thousands of dollars have been spent on these Marines, and now people are asked to believe that they suddenly went crazy and shot unarmed civilians when one of their comrades died? (...) War supports are claiming that the antiwar movement is "exploiting" Haditha as an excuse to "cut and run" - but, as usual, they miss the point. The real impact of the Haditha massacre is going to be felt in Iraq, among those whose hearts and minds should be won by occupation forces, who failed to accomplish this mission from day one. Before the occupiers lose the "will to win" in the face of American war crimes, Iraqis will regain the will to resist an occupation that has become intolerable. Some analysts even suggest that the Iraqis could achieve unity by a common hatred for the occupiers. Those who challenge the physical evidence, including the videotape and the photographs, and discredit the testimony of the Iraqi witnesses represent the extreme wing of the Haditha revisionists - the denialists, who view the world through a distorting lens. In fact, the Haditha massacre reveals the War Party in all its ugliness; a group of shameless professional liars who will say anything rather than admit the truth about this increasingly disastrous war. The Haditha massacre wasn't committed by a few bad soldiers. It is the inevitable consequence of a flawed policy that cannot be implemented without inflicting massive casualties on the enemy, and that includes Iraqi civilians, none of whom are presumed to be "innocent" in a country where the overwhelming majority wants the occupation to end. read in full... FIVE YEARS OF WAR ON TERRA Come September this year, it will be full five years of President George Bush's War on Terra (Texanese for 'terror'...I won't be reminding you again). As the duration of War on Terra has now almost matched that of the 2nd World War, let us see how the man from Texas has done in his War on Terra in the last five years. Let us turn to a survey done by one hundred leading American foreign policy analysts. Released by the Foreign Affairs Journal on June the 14th, the report is titled as "Terrorism Index". The participants of the survey included an ex-secretary of state and former heads of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, along with well-known members of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment. The majority served in previous administrations or in senior military ranks. Chances are, they know what they are talking about. The overwhelming consensus of the report on the War on Terra is not quite what the ruling cabal in the US wants to hear. read in full... >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: Bring 'em on: Sgt. Russell M. Durgin, 23, of Henniker, N.H., died on June 13, in Korengel, Afghanistan, when his unit took small arms fire. Durgin was assigned to the 32nd Infantry Battalion, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y. (DefenseLink) Bring 'em on: Capt. Patrick D. Damon, 41, of Falmouth, Maine, died in Bagram, Afghanistan, on June 15, from a non-combat related cause. Damon was assigned to the Army National Guard's 240th Engineer Group, Augusta, Maine. (DefenseLink) Bring 'em on: Sgt. Roger P. Pena Jr., 29, of San Antonio, Texas, died in Musa Qulah, Afghanistan, on June 14, when his convoy came under enemy small arms fire during combat operations. Pena was assigned to the 10th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y. (DefenseLink) Bring 'em on: Two coalition soldiers were killed conducting combat operations in Afghanistan's Asadabad district in Kunar province today, officials in Afghanistan said. A coalition force patrol was conducting security operations in Asadabad when its all-terrain vehicle struck a roadside bomb. British troops, backed for the first time by attack helicopters, today pushed deep into rebel territories in southern Afghanistan that have not been under government control for 30 years. Taliban fighters have killed 30 people in an ambush the in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan. U.S. soldiers descended on a mountain ridge Sunday, setting up fortified posts and mortar positions overlooking a key Taliban transport route. There are signs that insurgents in Afghanistan are planning to attack Kandahar city. QUOTE OF THE DAY: "When the leaders of the West today talk about 'human rights', the only human right they really care for is the right to property" -- Al-Intiqad's interview with Swedish activist and writer Jan Myrdal


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