DAILY WAR NEWS FOR THURSDAY, July 20, 2006
: Internally-displaced Iraqi Sunni children walk in a refugee camp in Baghdad July 20, 2006. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have fled their homes in fear of sectarian violence that has worsened since formation of a U.S.-backed national unity government two months ago, official data showed on Thursday. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani (IRAQ) (See below under "Reports")
Bring 'em on
: A British soldier was killed and five others were injured on Wednesday during armed confrontations with insurgents in Basra, said the spokesman for British forces. In a press release, he added that British structures and military bases in Basra were bombarded with missiles and rockets on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Armed groups bombarded the British consulate and military bases with over 100 rockets and projectiles, he said. He said three insurgents were arrested and quantities of weapons were confiscated during search operation by the British forces.
Bring 'em on
: A Marine assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province today.
U.S. and Iraqi forces surrounded and entered two towns near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Thursday in search of suspected al Qaeda militants
, the military said on Thursday. The operation follows a series of insurgent attacks in the area where 31 Iraqi soldiers have been killed by rebels in the past five weeks, said a military statement.
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
The bodies of four men were found in two areas in eastern Baghdad.
Five people were injured when police detonated a car bomb at Amin Square.
Police tried to evacuate the area before detonating the vehicle but the area was too crowded, officials said.
A car bomb went off in a busy area in downtown Baghdad on Thursday, killing a civilian and wounding 15 others
, an Interior Ministry source said. A parked explosive-packed car detonated near the Shorjah commercial area, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
At least three people were killed and 10 others wounded when a car bomb exploded on a busy central Baghdad street.
A roadside bomb struck an Iraqi army convoy south of the capital, injuring five soldiers.
Two people were killed, including a police officer, and 11 others wounded, including five policemen when a roadside bomb hit a passing police patrol
in the Sakhrah intersection on the Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad.
Iraqi police recovered the 38 bodies showing signs of torture in the capital city during a 24-hour period ending Thursday morning.
An Iraqi army convoy traveling in the western Baghdad neighborhood al-Jamia was bombed by insurgents.
Police cordoned off the area and have not released a casualty report.
One civilian was killed and six wounded when clashes erupted between gunmen and the police in the southern Dora district of the capital.
Gunmen assassinated a former official of Saddam Hussein's party in Karbala
, 50 miles south of Baghdad.
Five Iraqi soldiers were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol near Kerbala.
Ten civilians were wounded when a roadside bomb targeting a U.S. military convoy exploded on a main road near the holy city of Najaf
, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad.
Gunmen killed three engineers working in the oil refinery in Baiji
, 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad.
Iraqi police found the body of a taxi driver in his car on a main road in the small town of Numaniya south of Baghdad.
The Polish military base in Diwanija has been under attack.
Four rockets were fired at Camp Echo of the multinational forces stationed in Iraq's south-central stabilization zone. No casualties have been reported.
(unconfirmed) A Multi-National Forces (MNF) chopper crashed Wednesday in southern Iraq
, according to eyewitness reports. Eyewitnesses told KUNA Thursday, a Polish chopper crashd near a MNF military base in Diwaniya, southern Iraq. The crash was not a result of fire, although reports are inconclusive, a malfunction in the chopper is suspected. MNF spokesperson neither confirmed nor denied the news.
An Iraqi army officer was wounded when a roadside bomb went off near a joint Iraqi and Polish patrol in the southern city of Diwaniya
, 180 km (112 miles) south of Baghdad.
Gunmen kidnapped and killed a taxi driver, who was a former member of the ousted Baath Party
, on Thursday in Diwaniya.
The bodies of two people with gunshot wounds were found near Balad
, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad.
Gunmen killed a police officer near a checkpoint in Tikrit
, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad.
The body of a translator for U.S. forces was found near Tikrit with gunshot wounds
, police said. He was kidnapped on Tuesday, police added.
A car bomb killed 12 people who had gathered around a vehicle after discovering a corpse inside.
A police captain says the victims were staring at the car parked at a gas station when it blew up. Seven others were injured in the village about 155 miles north of Baghdad.
At least four people were killed and 12 wounded when a car bomb exploded in a small village between the cities of Tikrit and Baiji in central Iraq.
US Army fired two rockets on the Albu Adil village in the Iraqi city of Tikrit on Wednesday, killing two civilians.
Three people were wounded late on Wednesday when a car bomb exploded in a crowded market in the northern city of Kirkuk
, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad.
A car bomb killed one person and wounded seven in Kirkuk.
So far this month, at least 84 people have been killed in Kirkuk and surrounding areas.
(N. of) A senior Iraqi-Kurdish official accused Iranian forces on Thursday of shelling Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq.
Othman Mahmoud, interior minister of the Kurdish regional government in the north, said shelling was going on along the border about 170 km (105 miles) north of the city of Sulaimaniya. Mahmoud said it was still not clear whether there were any casualties. There was no immediate comment from officials in Iran.
Gunmen kidnapped and killed a policeman in Falluja
, 50 km (35 miles) west of Baghdad.
Governor of Mosu survived an assassination attempt
after a bomb exploded near his convoy in the city of Mosul in Northern Iraq. A security source told reporters that the explosion occurred in Al-Faisaliya area in Mosul. The source added that the explosion did not cause any damage.
At least five Iraqis were killed and 15 were wounded in clashes with British troops and insurgents on Tuesday in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
The Regional Council of Basra in Iraq blamed on Tuesday the British army for the wave of violence in the region and condemned them for the deaths of the five Iraqis killed Monday night during an operation against insurgents. (Video)
Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani urged religious and community leaders to "exert maximum efforts to stop the bloodletting."
He warned that the ongoing violence will only prolong the presence of U.S.-led forces in Iraq.
The cleric said the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra had unleashed a "blind violence" that was sweeping the country. Unless the violence stops, he said, it "will harm the unity of the people and block their hopes of liberation and independence for a long time."
U.S. spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said there has been an average of 34 attacks a day against U.S. and Iraqi forces in the capital over the past five days.
The daily average for the period June 14 until July 13 was 24 a day, he said.
"We have not witnessed the reduction in violence one would have hoped for in a perfect world," U.S. spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said at a news briefing Thursday. "The only way we're going to be successful in Baghdad is to get the weapons off the streets."
Iraq's Defense Ministry again called for members of Saddam Hussein's former army to contact military recruiting centers
: While a previous appeal did not yield substantial results, a senior army officer said the call was reissued "to reduce violence," suggesting there was hope that some insurgents might return to government service.
Hundreds of Sunni Arabs demonstrate in Samarra against plans to rebuild a massive Shiite shrine which was destroyed earlier this year
: "The people of Samarra reject any outside interference, whether by the government or Moqtada because it will bring sectarian war," said protestor Saad Mahdi, in response to plans by radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to send a "million" people to rebuild the shrine.
"The people of Samarra are all armed and it will lead to a massacre," said Mahdi, while around him people carried banners which said: "The sons of Samarra reject any interference in the city's affairs." The protest was organized by the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, the Muslim Scholars Association and local tribal leaders.
The Turkish military is moving forward with plans to send forces into northern Iraq to clear out Turkish Kurdish guerrilla bases
, the prime minister said Wednesday. But Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said officials were holding talks with the United States and Iraq in an attempt to defuse tensions.
Diplomats and officials have said repeatedly that Turkey's threats to send troops into Iraq were largely aimed at pressing the United States and Iraq to take action against guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK, whose fighters have killed 15 Turks in the southeast in the past week.
Saddam Hussein is receiving psychiatric counseling to convince him to start eating again
after 12 days on hunger strike in a U.S. military prison.
Saying that the 69-year-old ousted Iraqi president was still refusing food but taking liquid nourishment, a U.S. spokesman said such counseling was part of additional daily medical care for inmates who risked damaging their health by their actions. (...)
Saddam and three co-defendants who last ate on July 7 are all healthy, Curry said.
Iraqi officials: U.S. and coalition forces behind much of the surge in civilian casualties cited in a U.N. report
: The report by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq said nearly 6,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in May and June in a wave of assassinations, bombings, kidnappings, torture and intimidation.
However, deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie blamed U.S. and other coalition forces for much of the violence, saying their troops were responsible for about half the deaths due to "raids, shootings and clashes with insurgents."
"They came to protect the people and democracy and all the problems we have today are because of them. It is a loss for Iraq," said al-Zubaie, a Sunni Muslim. He also said Iraq's Interior and Defense Ministries had been infiltrated by militiamen who are responsible for many deaths.
Four more people seized last weekend at a sports conference have been found blindfolded and dumped unharmed in an east Baghdad neighborhood
, officials said Thursday. There was no word on the fate of Iraq's Olympic committee chairman.
Raging violence has pushed up the number of displaced people in Iraq to at least 162,000
, the Ministry of Displaced and Migration said on Thursday.
>> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
US PLAYS A DOUBLE GAME
Caught between the need to explore a possible diplomatic way out of an otherwise hopeless mess in Iraq and the domestic political need to keep the Democrats on the defensive, US President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are playing a double game on the issue of a timetable for withdrawal.
For many months, the Bush White House has been attacking some Democrats in Congress for calling for a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq. Cheney condemned such proposals in a CNN interview June 22 as "the worst possible thing we could do", and portrayed them as "validating the theory that the Americans don't have the stomach for this fight".
But for the past six months, the Bush administration has been secretly pursuing peace negotiations with the Sunni insurgents, in which it has explicitly accepted the principle that an eventual peace agreement will include a timetable for US withdrawal.
read in full...
AT LEAST ONE WAR CHEERLEADER IS WISING UP
Rep. Gil Gutknecht has been a big supporter of the war, but a recent visit to Baghdad--err, make that just the Green Zone--has got him wondering, at least a little, about the smokescreen that comes out of the White House and Pentagon on a daily basis:
Congressman Gil Gutknecht found the situation in Iraq more bleak than he anticipated during a weekend visit to the war zone, and said a partial withdrawal of some American troops might be wise.
Gutknecht, a strong supporter of the war since it began in March of 2003, told reporters in a telephone conference call Tuesday that American forces appear to have no operational control of much of Baghdad.
"The condition there is worse than I expected," he said. "... I have to be perfectly candid: Baghdad is a serious problem." [....]
While Gutknecht is still not in favor of setting deadlines for the withdrawal of all American troops, he said the situation in Iraq's largest city has clearly deteriorated. "Baghdad is worse today than it was three years ago," he said. [....]
Gutknecht was critical of some of the "spin" from Bush administration officials in the Pentagon and the State Department. He specifically pointed to past statements that a few hundred insurgents were causing the violence in the Iraq. Military officials say they've captured 10,000 even as the insurgency continues unabated. "That's a far cry from what we were told originally," he said. "... All of the information we receive sometimes from the Pentagon and the State Department isn't always true."
Gutknecht now thinks some troop withdrawals might be a good idea, although his opponent in the Nov. election, a retired command sergeant major from the National Guard, detects a whiff of pre-election conversion here.
WHO'S BEHIND THE DAILY KILLINGS IN IRAQ?
From the time of invasion of Iraq in March 2003 till June 2004, the phenomenon of death squads was unknown to Iraq and the U.S. soldiers were being killed and injured daily by the Iraqi resistance, something the Americans were unprepared for and had not expected. The U.S. response was to send John Negroponte, the former U.S. ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985 - during the worst of death squads operations there, to Baghdad as 'ambassador'.
Negroponte was notorious during his tenure in Honduras for not only failing to admit to existence of death squads there, he was almost universally believed to be directing death squads in both Honduras and Nicaragua.
His appointment as ambassador to Iraq by Bush in June 2004 until April 2005 marked the development and the formation of the now notorious Iraqi death squads. The fact that death squads were to be formed by the U.S. and let loose on the long suffering Iraqi population was so widely known and discussed that the US Newsweek magazine even ran an article speculating about the fact that the U.S. government was seriously considering the option of following the Latin American model of simply killing anyone remotely suspected of being against the U.S. interest.
A U.S. military source was quoted by the American media as saying, "The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving the terrorists. ... From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation."
The traumatized populations of Central America could have told the Iraqis of the death squad's methods. People would be kidnapped and tortured by soldiers who wore uniforms by day but used unmarked cars by night to kidnap and kill those hostile to the regime or their suspected sympathizers. Witnesses in Iraq almost always recount that the victims were abducted by people who "came in white police Toyota Land Cruisers, wore police commando uniforms, flak vests and helmets" and were armed with 9mm Glock pistols. Glock side arms are used by many U.S. law enforcement agencies and have been supplied to Iraqi security forces by the U.S. military.
read in full...
THE LESSONS THAT HAVEN'T BEEN LEARNED
Remember how the war in Iraq was going to "begin a new stage for Middle Eastern peace" by "bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions"? Those were the words George W. Bush used to sell the war during a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in February 2003. Well, those, and a few more about how Saddam Hussein was "building and hiding weapons that could enable him to dominate the Middle East and intimidate the civilized world."
Those weapons were never found, of course. As for the transforming-the-Middle East stuff? Here's where we stand today: Iraq is such a mess that even an ardent war supporter says it's time to start getting out. Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas are at war; several hundred people are dead, yet Hezbollah is still vowing to "humiliate" Israel, and -- as shown in the photograph above -- Israeli girls are still writing messages on shells destined for southern Lebanon. Beirut is under siege. U.S. troops are under attack from Taliban forces in southern Afghanistan. The president is warning that Syria is trying to reassert control over Lebanon. Iran is hoping -- successfully, so far -- that the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel will distract attention from its nuclear plans. And now Turkey is signaling that it's ready to send troops into Iraq to fight Turkish Kurdish guerrillas there.
They've got a director of lessons learned over at the White House. Is our children learning?
read in full...
>> BEYOND IRAQ
Canadian troops narrowly missed death and serious injury when an American jet dropped a 225-kilogram laser-guided bomb on their position earlier this month
(update) The Kandahar Air Field, where Canadian soldiers are based, came under rocket attack again Wednesday
as the Taliban threatened escalated attacks against foreign forces in Afghanistan. A coalition soldier was injured in Wednesday's attack when a single rocket slammed into the base.
Australian soldiers have suffered minor injuries in southern Afghanistan
: A Defence spokesman has confirmed some soldiers were injured during a coalition patrol. He says for operational reasons no details can be given on how many soldiers where injured or when the incident occurred.
THE UGLY TRUTH: OUR PRESIDENT IS AN IMBECILE
You know it, I know it and the American people know it. But everyone is afraid to say it. They say it privately, but people are afraid of saying it publicly because you will be branded as a liberal, elite, intellectual snob. But believe me, you don't have to be an intellectual to see how painfully stupid our president is.
Just look at the conversation he is having with world leaders at the G-8 summit. Mikes picked up the causal talk between the world leaders. Forget that Bush appears to have three sandwiches in his mouth while talking. Forget that he calls out to the Prime Minister of Britain as if he is Flounder in "Animal House." Forget that he uses profanity. I don't give a shit about those things.
I thought it was ridiculous that people made fun of George H. W, Bush for vomiting on the Japanese Prime Minister. What was he going to do? He had to puke, so he puked. It happens to the best of us, and more importantly, has nothing to do with his intelligence or how capable he is as a leader.
But his son's verbal vomit does have a lot to do with his ability to lead this country and the world. What I found to be the most damning is the least quoted part of Bush's comments. As you read this transcript, remember that this is not a small child talking, but the President of the United States of America:
The camera is focused elsewhere and it is not clear whom Bush is talking to, but possibly Chinese President Hu Jintao, a guest at the summit.
"Bush: Gotta go home. Got something to do tonight. Go to the airport, get on the airplane and go home. How about you? Where are you going? Home?
"Bush: This is your neighborhood. It doesn't take you long to get home. How long does it take you to get home?
" Reply is inaudible.
"Bush: Eight hours? Me too. Russia's a big country and you're a big country.
" At this point, the president seems to bring someone else into the conversation.
"Bush: It takes him eight hours to fly home.
" He turns his attention to a server.
"Bush : No, Diet Coke, Diet Coke.
" He turns back to whomever he was talking with.
"Bush: It takes him eight hours to fly home. Eight hours. Russia's big and so is China."
Russia's big and so is China??????? This guys sounds like a third grader. Do you know anyone who would have a conversation like this with their neighbor, let alone a business associate, let alone a world leader? Who's proud to know that Russia is big and so is China?
Can anyone now credibly claim that Bush is secretly working on a master plan behind the scenes and that he's just playing cowboy for the cameras? I hope the master plan doesn't involve figuring out how long it takes to get to China.
If someone is this ignorant, they're usually embarrassed and try not to talk much. But this guy is so dumb he has no idea how dumb he is. This sounds like a conversation you might have with a child, a mentally challenged child. Johnny, do you know how big Russia is? How about China?
This would all be unfortunate if George was your dentist, or worse yet, your accountant. But he is the leader of the free world. This man makes life or death decisions every day. If you say you're not scared about that, you're lying.
Would you let him do the books for your business? Would you trust your company in his hands for eight years? (No matter how Republican you are, you know you just said no to that question.) Would you trust him to be your kids' guidance counselor and take his advice seriously? If your kids were in the Army and he was their field commander, would you feel good about putting their lives in his hands?
Come on, no one is crazy enough to say yes to that. Yet, he has all of our lives in his hands. The emperor has no clothes. The emperor has no clothes. It's about time someone in the mainstream media said it. (...)
Unfortunately, right now we are in the position of being pitied by the rest of the world. We have third grader for a President. And worse yet, the Vice President has him convinced he is the second coming of Winston Churchill. Scared yet?
read in full...
TORN TO SHREDS
Your war crimes digest:
Israel destroys a hillside village
, continues to blow up Beirut's southern suburbs
, continues to target the civilian infrastructure
, warplanes flatten houses and buildings as ground troops invade southern Lebanon
, more than 300 people killed and 500,0000 displaced
, displaced expected to top 900,000 $2bn worth of damage
, 100 civilians killed in Gaza
, UN envoy suggests maybe saying something about Israel's war crimes
, refugee camp invaded
, people die under rubble of flattened homes
, Israel inflicting 'mass punishment' on a whole people
- and nowhere is safe from the bombing
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "Do you know, esteemed ladies and gentlemen, that I asked one of the American officials who talked with me perhaps two weeks after my arrest, just what was it that you based those false charges on? He said that as far as the weapons of mass destruction were concerned, "we didn't have anything to confirm what you were saying." And as for the links to terrorism, he said, because you, Saddam Hussein, did not send a letter of condolence to President Bush after the incident [of 11 September]." -- from Letter from President Saddam Hussein to the American people, dated 7 July 2006.