Thursday, August 10, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR THURSDAY, August 10, 2006 Photo: Firemen clean the site of a suicide bomber attack in Najaf August 10, 2006. REUTERS/Ali Abu Shish (IRAQ) (See below) A suicide bomber detonated a belt of explosives near a revered Shiite shrine in southern Iraq, killing at least 35 people and injuring 122: The bomber blew himself up while being patted down by police near the Imam Ali mosque in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, said Dr. Munthir al-Ithari, the head of the city's health directorate. Shiite religious leaders in Najaf accused Sunni loyalists of former dictator Saddam Hussein of carrying out the attack. "We hold Takfiris (Sunni extremists) and Saddamists directly responsible for this horrible crime ... at the same time we hold those who embrace terrorism in Iraq and the countries supporting it as responsible," the statement said. The Iraqi army said the death toll was 35, with 122 injured. Prime Minister Nouri al-Mailiki, a Shiite, denounced the bombing as a "barbaric massacre conducted by Takfiris (Sunni extremists) and Saddamists who are seeking to inflame sectarian" passions. A statement by the collective Shiite leadership also issued a similar condemnation. A Sunni insurgent group, Jamaat Jund al-Sahaba, or Soldiers of the Prophet's Companions, claimed responsibility for the bombing in an Internet posting. It warned Shiites to stop killing unarmed Sunnis, "otherwise wait for such operations that will shake your regions like earthquakes."
Two Iranian pilgrims were martyred and nine others wounded in an explosion Thursday morning in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf, an Iraqi health official told IRNA today. Iran has called for foreign troops to leave Iraq following a deadly bombing near one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines in the southern city of Najaf. "The only way to create security in Iraq is to end the occupation by foreigners who have so far failed to bring about security," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.
The bodies of the two missing servicemen from a US Blackhawk helicopter that crashed in a waterway in western Iraq have been recovered, the military said Thursday. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: Four people were killed and five wounded when fighting broke out late Wednesday between gunmen and residents of a Shiite community in north Baghdad, police Lt. Salim Ali said. Sporadic clashes were continuing, he said. Six people were killed by a bomb in a restaurant in southern Baghdad. Seven police commandos including a senior officer were killed in a rebel ambush in Baghdad. Five people were found murdered in Baghdad. Baiji: A U.S. soldier was wounded when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb near Baiji, 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement. Muqdadiya: A brother of Sunni legislator Mudhhir al-Saadoun was shot dead by gunmen in his car in Muqdadiya, 90 km (50 miles) northeast of Baghdad. Mosul: Gunmen killed one civilian in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad. Kirkuk: Two policemen were killed and a third injured in a bomb attack targeting their vehicle south of Kirkuk. The Multi-National Forces (MNF) said one of their soldiers was injured in a bomb attack west of Kirkuk. Baqubah: Four policemen were killed and seven wounded in a mortar attack and roadside bomb in Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north Baghdad. Hawija: A roadside bomb aimed at a police patrol exploded in Hawija, southwest of Kirkuk, killing two policemen and critically wounding two others. Fallujah: A policeman was shot dead in Falluja. Haditha: An explosive charge detonated near a passing Iraqi army patrol on the main road west of Haditha town late Wednesday, killing ten soldiers and wounding five others, local residents told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. The blast, which destroyed a truck carrying the soldiers, was followed by a 15-minute fighting between soldiers and unknown gunmen, they said, adding more Iraqi and U.S. forces blocked the area searching for the attackers. There was no immediate U.S. and Iraqi military comment. In country: New Zealand Mercenary Dies In Iraq Blast: Te Ina Marokura Ngamata, 37, died when his truck transporting workers was bombed in an attack on Tuesday night. Mr Ngamata was employed by international security firm Armourgroup, the same company that employed six Fijian security guards killed in insurgent attacks on transport convoys since April. >> REPORTS Doubt was expressed by MPs yesterday as to whether British troops in Iraq were properly structured, equipped and trained for their role in an increasingly dangerous operation. The Commons Defence Committee said that soldiers in the back of Warrior armoured cars were having to endure temperatures as high as 60C (140F), which medical staff on the ground had told them could prove fatal. However, Adam Ingram, the Armed Forces Minister, had told the committee during its inquiry into conditions for troops in Iraq that there were no plans to equip Warriors and other vehicles with air conditioning. An alternative solution had been considered: to provide each soldier sitting in the back of a closed-up Warrior with coolant packs worn around their body armour. [This is NOT a parody.] The committee urged the MoD to look again at installing air conditioning in the Warriors. The MPs also criticised the MoD for failing to provide enough helicopters. They also pointed out that troops were still relying on armoured Land Rovers to get around on routine patrols, which they said were particularly vulnerable to roadside bomb attacks. >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS REFUSING TO FIGHT: AN INTERVIEW WITH A RESISTER "Three months into Iraq, my friend, a man that I drank beer with, a man that I had even gone to college with for awhile, shot an innocent civilian who was raking rocks along the side of the road. I remember having to go back to Forward Operating Base Marez, and reporting to my commanding officer what I just seen. I remember writing a mission statement. I remember requesting an investigation be done and I remember it being refused. "'I can't take this anymore!' That's what I thought to myself. This is not what I signed up for and it's not what's being shown to the American public. So, why the hell should I fight? Because what that commanding officer was telling me by refusing that investigation, was that I could pick up my M-16 or my M-4 or my M-2 and go and kill 50 Iraqi civilians because I was angry and get away with it because it's war!" Snyder angrily declares, "The American president was saying that we were liberating and we were reconstructing. Well, I expect to be doing that! I mean, who's in the wrong here? I was given false orders. I was given false information. I did expect to go and help reconstruct a society. "You know, if they want to help people in Iraq....imagine a15 year-old kid, for the last 5 years all he's seen is [US] military personnel with weapons going through his city. How is that child supposed to believe that that man, in that uniform is helping him? Now, if that child saw a convoy of logs being brought to his city, or a convoy of water being brought to his city, still guarded, it would be a completely different situation. That's where the American military messed up. Because they forgot about the perception of civilisation. They forgot about the perception of the Iraqi people." -- Kyle Snyder is a 22 year-old serviceman who took refugee in Canada read in full... HILLBILLY HEAVEN You know you're in a bad way when you start seeing imaginary Wal-Marts:
After a long day searching houses in suffocating Iraqi heat, Lance Corporal Mike Wilson of Princeton, Kentucky recalls seeing relief in the distance. Wilson said that looking through the haze he thought he saw a Wal-Mart and was ready to get some cold water for his men when he discovered it was an illusion.
I'm surprised Wal-Mart didn't try to bill him for the imaginary water. I wonder how you say "Every Day Low IEDs" in Arabic? link NOT ENOUGH WATER TO PUT OUT ALL THE FIRES I stand corrected. When the U.S. announced plans to double the number of American troops in Baghdad, I said they would taking them away from Ramadi and the rest of insurgent-dominated Anbar province. That may or may not be true, but as the Washington Post reported yesterday, they seem to be coming from Diyala province as well:
The number of attacks in Diyala each month has more than doubled, from about 200 before the Samarra mosque bombing [in February] to an average of just under 500 this summer, according to U.S. military figures. The province, which stretches from Baghdad to the Iranian border, is considered vulnerable to sectarian strife: 50 percent of its 1.5 million inhabitants are Sunni, 35 percent are Shiite, and the rest are Kurds and other groups. Mosque bombings, assassinations of leaders and sectarian kidnappings and attacks on civilians have increased, as have reports that Iraqi police and army units are agents of the violence, according to the U.S. military. . . . Military officials estimate thousands of Shiite and Sunni residents have fled their homes in mixed neighborhoods to escape violence or threats, fueling a growing trend of religious segregation. . . . And compared with a year ago, far fewer U.S. troops are in Diyala to keep a lid on the violence. Last summer, three times as many U.S. soldiers patrolled the region . . . .
Ah, but at least Iraqi army and police units are "standing up" in our place, right? Well, maybe not, judging from the WaPo article's description of a recent insurgent attack:
Police and residents said gunfighting continued at night, as the remaining residents stood watch to defend their homes. "It's not safe for us to go to the orchards. They're in the palm groves," [police 1st Lt. Khalan Adnan] Rahim said, motioning to the trees on the village edge. The following day, when resident Salman Ahmed Hamza told Turner's soldiers about a possible bomb down the street, Iraqi police refused to venture beyond their checkpoint to investigate. "It's dangerous there," said police Lt. Hasam Khalilf. "We can't go there."
Oh, well, I'm sure if they wait long enough, SCIRI's Badr Brigades or Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army will be able to spare some well-armed, ethically unburdened militiamen to help out. That seems to have been the solution everywhere else. link LEBANON WAR RESONATES IN IRAQ The U.S.-backed Israeli war on Lebanon has resonated into cracks in the Iraqi political status quo: First it shook the sectarian base of power of the ruling elites and questioned their pro-U.S. affiliation. The hundreds of thousands who poured onto the streets of the Shiite holy cities of Basra, Najaf, Karbala and Samarra as well as Baghdad were Iraqi Shiite Muslims whose majority was misled by their leading political hopefuls to distance themselves from the national resistance to the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of their country. Second it showed a divide within this sectarian base of power between an Arab-oriented and an Iranian-influenced sectarian leaderships. The divide had in fact bloodily surfaced in the early stages of the U.S.-British invasion in fierce battles in the Shiite holy cities in southern Iraq. The political instinct for survival led the rebellious Arab-oriented Shiite leadership to accept being incorporated into the so-called "political process," thus rendering its anti-occupation slogans less credible, not to say hollow. Third the war on Lebanon led to a hard-to-conceal diverging views, at least in public, between the U.S. occupying power and the Iraqi government, which the Americans are doing their best to secure in Baghdad. (...) Fourth the Iraqi mass protests have the potential to ignite a mass political movement against the US occupation, already bogged down in Iraq by the "armed resistance." However the "cracks" cannot be exaggerated and leaders on both sides of the divide remain hostage to their sectarian loyalties, thus ruling out any imminent outbreak with their alliances that could make a difference in the Iraqi national resistance to the U.S.-led occupation. The "Shiite" Hizbollah identifies more with the reportedly "Sunni" Iraqi national resistance and its Palestinian counterpart than with the reportedly "Shiite" collaboration with the U.S. occupation of Iraq. It was noteworthy that since Israel launched its air, sea and ground offensive on his country the Hizbollah leader who has turned into a popular Pan-Arab icon, Hasan Nassrullah, has lashed out at and ruled out any future "American" government in Lebanon, indirectly slamming the pro-American government in Iraq. Earlier he had publicly hailed the Iraqi resistance without directly criticizing the collusion of his co-religious "brothers." The Iraqi sectarian-led mass protests were politically hollow because they were not reinforced by either anti-occupation political or concrete moves on the ground. It was ironic to listen to the thousands of protesters sincerely chanting anti-American slogans and announcing their willingness "to go and fight in Lebanon" while the troops of the "American enemy" were a few meters away guarding against the protests spelling out of control against them and their Iraqi allies. Those slogans could have been more credible had just a few of the protesters dared to demand their leaders to overcome their sectarian loyalties and join their Sunni compatriots in resisting the foreign occupation. read in full... >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: U.S. soldiers and warplanes drove off an insurgent attack early Wednesday on a new American base in the eastern province of Nuristan, one of the country's wildest regions, killing 19 militants, U.S. Maj. Tom Sutton said. The raid on the U.S. base at Kamdesh was staged by extremists likely belonging to the Hezb-e-Islami militant group of renegade Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the military said. The militants attacked from three directions out of forests using rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. Several hundred soldiers at the base, which lies in a small town but backs onto a sheer mountain face, returned fire with mortars and small arms before jets dropped four 500-pound bombs, ending the clash, which lasted more than two hours. CENTRAL BEIRUT HIT Three very loud explosions in Ras Beirut, one closer than the next. All the cars on the street pulled over, soldiers and individuals running towards the vicinity of the Saudi embassy. An old woman hysterical with fear being dragged across the street to safety by her daughter; Filipino maids panicking, children crying. Camera crews on mopeds racing off towards Raoche. Update: They hit the old lighthouse in Raoche, which is surrounded by residential buildings. Going there now. Update 2: Four missiles hit the old lighthouse in Ras Beirut this morning, approximately 150 meters from here. The lighthouse hasn't been in use for decades; it is situated between the Saudi embassy's compound, the Hariri family complex and the Lebanese American University. Two people were injured by shattering glass, and the damage was limited. Ambulances and press vehicles were driving around in circles, because nobody knew exactly where the missiles had hit. There was talk of it having been just a "sonic boom"; I hitched a ride with a Pakistani journalist who tired of searching for the sight of the attack and took issue with his driver/fixer for wasting his time. Another missile hit near Prime Minister Saniora's house on Bliss Street. Israeli jets also dropped pamphlets over downtown Beirut warning that they would expand attacks on Beirut, as well as pamphlets warning inhabitants of the southern suburbs Bourj al Barajne, Hey el Sellom and Chiyah to evacuate. link HAARETZ: IDF STILL NOT IN CONTROL What happened in Bint Jbail recurred in Ayta al-Shab. Although it seemed that the town had been conquered, it transpired again and again that there were still Hezbollah men in it. Once again, clashes and battles took place, and again, the IDF suffered dead and wounded. Although the army had conquered the town, Hezbollah men were hiding in underground bunkers well camouflaged from the outside. The bunkers had been stocked with large quantities of food, enough to last for weeks, and ammunition, including antitank missiles and, in several cases, short-range rockets. The bunkers are connected to electricity and, according to one report, are air conditioned. When the fighting dies down, Hezbollah fighters emerge from the bunkers and set up ambushes for IDF soldiers and armored vehicles. read in full… URI AVNERY: WHY NOTHING IS WORKING AS PLANNED Now everybody already admits that something basic has gone wrong in this war [with Lebanon]. The proof: the War of the Generals, that previously started only after the conclusion of a war, has now become public while the war is still going on. The Chief-of-Staff, Dan Halutz, has found the culprit: Udi Adam, the chief of the Northern Command. He has practically dismissed him in the middle of the battle. That is the old ploy of the thief shouting "Stop thief!" After all, it is obvious that the person mainly to blame for the failures of the war is Halutz himself, with his foolish belief that Hisbullah could be defeated by aerial bombardment alone. But it is not only at the top of the army that mutual accusations are flying around. The army command accuses the government, which is retaliating in kind. On the eve of his downgrading, Udi Adam publicly accused the government of tying his hands. Meaning: the government is guilty. Ehud Olmert did not remain silent and declared that the army had not submitted any plans for widening the campaign. That's to say: if you are incompetent, don't blame me! To justify himself, Olmert added a significant sentence: "From the first day of the war, the government has not refused the army a single request!" In other words, it is the Chief-of-Staff who makes policy and conducts the war, while the political leadership just rubber stamps everything that the army "requests". But this is a sterile debate, because it ignores the main fact, which is becoming clearer from day to day: it is altogether impossible to win this war. That's why nothing is working as planned. read in full... BILLMON: A DATE THAT WILL NOT LIVE IN INFAMY The bad news:
Some 30 percent of Americans cannot say in what year the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington took place, according to a poll published in the Washington Post newspaper.
The good news:
While the country is preparing to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives and shocked the world, 95 percent of Americans questioned in the poll were able to remember the month and the day of the attacks. (emphasis added)
So only 5% of all Americans (one in 20) were unable to remember that the 9/11 attacks happened on 9/11. Whew. That's a relief. For a moment I thought we were a nation of idiots and amnesia patients. I wonder how many of them know who's buried in Grant's tomb? link TERRORISM: YOU CAN GET IT IN A CAN It's past midday and the BBC have found nothing else to talk about yet, except for the weather (ominous banks of apocalyptic clouds rolling across a nihilistic sky toward an Islamofascist sun). Literally, all other programming has been suspended. Pundits with no opinion are being begged to find one, quickly. Arrests here, searches there, endless queues of disgruntled tourists and business travellers looking pissed off. Endless speculation is compounded by the suggestion that the fact that there is speculation goes to show how chaotic the situation is. We are then told that there is some suggestion that there were liquid explosives to be hidden in fizzy drinks cans and smuggled aboard planes. (...) The narcissism is astounding. Lebanon is actually being terrorised by Israel, Iraq is actually being terrorised by America, and this merciless, cruel, sadistic, reckless destruction is easily subsumed into the fabric of daily life - the first allegation of a threat of a potential attack in Britain at some unspecified point in the future, and suddenly we are encouraged to luxuriate in the fantasy prospect of annihilation. Knowing full well that the building next door is not about to be flattened under several tonnes of explosives, we are encouraged to pretend it's World War II and evince the stoicism of Blitz survivors. The Blitzkrieg is upon Beirut, but we are supposed to imagine that little Nazis are flying over our heads. Don't be complacent. Look out your windows. Keep an eye out. Don't forget to cast a nervous glance over your shoulder. Take notes. Tell the government everything. Root out the evil within. Question your own motives. Telephone the terrorist hotline if you suspect yourself of possessing the slightest nihilistic impulse. Oh - and do try to go about your daily life as normal. read in full... QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We had hoped that in 2006 violent deaths would decrease. Unfortunately, so far, they have doubled and now two-thirds of the recorded deaths are violent deaths." -- Iraq's Deputy Health Minister Dr. Sabah al-Husseini


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