Thursday, August 17, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR THURSDAY, August 17, 2006 Photo: U.S. soldiers patrol in Dora district in Baghdad, August 15, 2006. REUTERS/Ross Colvin Bring 'em on: Two more American soldiers were killed in combat, the U.S. command said. (...) The two American fatalities included one soldier killed Thursday when a roadside bomb exploded near a foot patrol south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. The other was a soldier from the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division who died Wednesday of wounds suffered in Anbar province, stronghold of the Sunni Arab insurgency west of Baghdad. This month, at least 26 U.S. service members have died in Iraq - 17 of them in Anbar. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS In Country: Iran has launched a cross-border operation into an area in northern Iraq, following attacks on its border patrol points, Iraqi Kurdish media reported yesterday. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan's (PUK) press office claimed on its webpage Pukmedia.com that, in response to terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)-affiliated PEJAK's attacks on Iran's border patrol points on Tuesday, the Iranian Army launched a comprehensive ground operation on the northern Iraqi regions of Haci-Umran and Kandil. There was no immediate response from Iranian officials in Ankara. The report claimed that PEJAK militants took heavy casualties from the Iranian Army in the Konelacan region. According to Pukmedia, the Iranian Army also shelled the regions of Seripaye, Kanikoxerese, Geruy Gezgezke, Gabalek, Berdunaz, Mergan, Derawi Melazade, Hozi Mergesir and Pirerok near Kandil, in response to the attacks of PEJAK. Baghdad: Four people were killed and 12 injured in a car bomb explosion in Sadr City. The parked car exploded a little after noon near a market, damaging many shops, said police Lt. Adil Salih. He did not have any other details.
(update) The Iraqi army general command said in a statement that seven people were killed and 15 injured.
A suicide car bomber blew himself up against a passing police patrol wounding three policemen and two civilians in Baghdad's upscale Al-Mansour neighbourhood. Baqubah: Six people were killed in a string of shootings in and around Baquba, north of the capital, police said. Three of the dead were brothers, who owned an agricultural equipment shop, while another was a salesman. The four were shot in the centre of Baquba market. A fifth victim was gunned down by men after they stole his car outside Baquba, while a civilian from the village of Zhagania, north of town, was shot dead in a coffee shop, police added.
Nine civilians, including three brothers, were assassinated in separate attacks in Baquba.
Muqdadiyah: 20 people were wounded including three policemen when three mortars rounds slammed into a market n Muqdadiyah, northeast of Baquba. Two bodies were recovered from the Mahrut river near Muqdadiyah. An Iraqi interpreter working on a U.S. military base was killed by gunmen in Mahmudiya, about 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad. Mahmudiya: A roadside bomb exploded near a gas station in Mahmudiya wounding two civilians. Two bodies were recovered from the Mahrut river near Muqdadiyah. Daquq: A roadside bomb killed two civilians and wounded a third in the town of Daquq, 45 km (25 miles) south of Kirkuk. Suweira: Police said they had pulled five corpses from the Tigris river near the town of Suweira, southeast of the capital. Balad: An Iraqi soldier responsible for protecting oil facilities was shot dead in Balad, north of Baghdad Mosul: A senior police offcer was shot and killed in Mosul. Sinjar: Nine people were wounded, including four civilians, when a suicide car bomber targeting Kurdish security forces blew himself up on a road in Sinjar, northwest of Mosul. Fallujah: The bodies of two men with gunshot wounds, bearing signs of torture, were found dead just north of Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad. Gunmen killed a policeman in the city of Falluja. Karbala: (update) A day of violent clashes with militiamen loyal to a local Shiite cleric left at least 18 people dead: The Karbala skirmishes, which also spread to a second Shiite city, were seen as a sign of growing tension between unofficial militias and goverment forces. Checkpoints were thrown up around Karbala, with only local people allowed in or out, after Ayatollah Mahmud al-Hasani called on his supporters to converge from around Iraq and confront government security forces. Hasani spokesman Dhia al-Musawi said the militia was switching to passive resistance. "Followers from Hilla and Basra are going to come to Karbala. They will hold a sit-in wherever they are stopped by the police," he said. One policeman was killed and another injured in Karbala itself and another officer was shot dead in an ambush by Hasani's supporters overnight in Kut, 150 kilometres (80 miles) away, police said. During Tuesday's fighting, Hasani's militia killed three Iraqi soldiers and three civilians, an official at the city medical directorate said. The clash reflects growing tension between Iraq's US-backed security forces and increasingly confident Shiite militias, some of them followers of local preachers, others linked to parties in the fragile coalition government. >> NEWS U.S. and Iraqi forces said Wednesday that a three-day security sweep has cleaned up - at least for now - a Baghdad neighborhood notorious for kidnappings, murders and bombings: U.S. and Iraqi military commanders said the operation in Amariyah is a small step in an uphill campaign to halt the wave of sectarian and insurgent violence in the capital - neighborhood by neighborhood. Some 12,000 Iraqi and U.S. troop reinforcements are pouring into Baghdad as part of the new security crackdown that began this month amid a surge in Sunni-Shiite violence and fears of a civil war. On Sunday night, it was Amariyah's turn to be sealed up in a cordon-and-search operation. "Since we began the operation, not one person from Amariyah has died, not one act of violence has occurred. We have demonstrated that it can be done," Col. Robert Scurlock Jr., commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, told reporters. >> REPORTS About 3,500 Iraqis died in July in sectarian or political violence nationwide, the highest monthly death toll for civilians since the war started in March 2003. Last week, the [Health] ministry said about 1,500 violent deaths were reported in the Baghdad area alone in July. U.S. commanders are rushing nearly 12,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops to the capital to try to end the carnage. >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS EVERYWHERE THAT YOU'RE NOT, CONT'D The Los Angeles Times this morning checks in on the U.S. military effort to clamp down on death squads in Baghdad:
Sweating through their uniforms, Capt. Ed Matthaidess and his men hunted through the heart of this Shiite neighborhood. In 120-degree heat, they spent six hours searching drawers and sewers alike. By the end of the day, their afternoon search had yielded slim pickings: four AK-47s and a tiny green water pistol. While Matthaidess and his Charlie Company were searching Shula in northwest Baghdad this week, other troops built concrete walls around a Sunni neighborhood to the south. Both actions were part of a stepped-up effort by 12,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops to stem sectarian bloodshed in the capital. . . . However, U.S. warnings about the operation appear to have given gunmen ample time to hide their weapons and disappear. "The hard-core Al Mahdi guys left on the first day," said Matthaidess, of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. He was referring to Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr's Al Mahdi militia, which U.S. military officials believe is behind many of the kidnappings and extrajudicial executions of Sunni Arabs here.
Meanwhile, the New York Times shares some statistics that might surprise even hardened cynics observing the Iraq debacle:
The number of roadside bombs planted in Iraq rose in July to the highest monthly total of the war, offering more evidence that the anti-American insurgency has continued to strengthen despite the killing of the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Along with a sharp increase in sectarian attacks, the number of daily strikes against American and Iraqi security forces has doubled since January. The deadliest means of attack, roadside bombs, made up much of that increase. In July, of 2,625 explosive devices, 1,666 exploded and 959 were discovered before they went off. In January, 1,454 bombs exploded or were found.
Think about that. Three years into the insurgency, guerrillas are planting an average of nearly 100 new roadside bombs every day. Even the Pentagon understands what that means:
"The insurgency has gotten worse by almost all measures, with insurgent attacks at historically high levels," said a senior Defense Department official who agreed to discuss the issue only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution. "The insurgency has more public support and is demonstrably more capable in numbers of people active and in its ability to direct violence than at any point in time." . . . The increased attacks have taken their toll. While the number of Americans killed in action per month has declined slightly - to 38 killed in action in July, from 42 in January, in part reflecting improvements in armor and other defenses - the number of Americans wounded has soared, to 518 in July from 287 in January. Explosive devices accounted for slightly more than half the deaths. An analysis of the 1,666 bombs that exploded in July shows that 70 percent were directed against the American-led military force, according to a spokesman for the military command in Baghdad.
It's no wonder that the Bushites are starting to think desperate thoughts:
. . . some outside experts who have recently visited the White House said Bush administration officials were beginning to plan for the possibility that Iraq's democratically elected government might not survive. "Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy," said one military affairs expert who received an Iraq briefing at the White House last month and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity. "Everybody in the administration is being quite circumspect," the expert said, "but you can sense their own concern that this is drifting away from democracy."
But can they really be fantasizing about an anti-Shiite coup? Aside from the fact that it would multiply the U.S. occupation's enemies well past the ability of our military to handle them, what would be the point? Since nearly all of the relevant power in the country is essentially outside of government control already, or at best only paying lip service to it, staging a coup in Iraq would be like trying to steal a car that's already been stripped for parts and is sitting on wooden blocks. Or maybe like trying to hijack a flight-simulator game in an arcade. link >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: A U.S. military vehicle hit the Soviet-era mine late Wednesday in Paktika province, killing on soldier. A bomber drove an explosive-laden car into a joint U.S.-Afghan army convoy on the main Kandahar-Kabul highway, seriously wounding one U.S. soldier. The wounded soldier was part of the team that trains Afghan National Army, said Col. Tom Collins, a U.S. military spokesman. A Royal Irish Soldier was today fighting for his life after being shot in the head in Afghanistan.
The Scottish soldier, a member of the Third Battalion, is believed to have been shot during fighting with Taliban forces in the Helmand province. It is believed the incident happened last week but details have only emerged now.
A bomb dropped by a U.S.-led coalition aircraft killed 10 police in southeastern Afghanistan. The U.S. military said the "incident is under investigation." The policemen were killed when coalition aircraft mistakenly "dropped a bomb" on a two-vehicle border police patrol in Turwa area of southeastern Paktika province, said Gen. Abdul Rahman, Afghanistan's deputy chief of border police. There were no survivors, he said. Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, said they were aware of the reports but could not "divulge details at this time."
(update) A bomb dropped by a US warplane in southeastern Afghanistan killed 12 border police and wounded two more, the provincial governor said.
BILLMON: STICKS AND STONES Madame Supertanker's diplomatic strategy: If breaking their bones doesn't work, try calling them names.
"I don't think there is an expectation that this (U.N.) force is going to physically disarm Hezbollah," Rice said. "I think it's a little bit of a misreading about how you disarm a militia. You have to have a plan, first of all, for the disarmament of the militia, and then the hope is that some people lay down their arms voluntarily." If Hezbollah resists international demands to disarm, Rice said, "one would have to assume that there will be others who are willing to call Hezbollah what we are willing to call it, which is a terrorist organization." (emphasis added)
If she keeps talking like that, she's going to hurt poor Sheikh Nasrallah's feelings. It's pitiful. Just pitiful. Update 1:30 PM ET: It's a very cold day in hell when I agree with Rush Limbaugh about anything. But I guess Old Scratch better get his long johns on:
"There's no question that the Hezbos, that the Syrians, and the Iranians think they won big here. They won, and so they're going to lay down their arms voluntarily? And guess what we're going to do if they don't? We're going to call 'em names, yeah!"
link LOWERING THE BAR The idea that high explosive can be made quickly in a plane toilet by mixing at room temperature some nail polish remover, bleach, and Red Bull and giving it a quick stir, is nonsense. Yes, liquid explosives exist and are highly dangerous and yes, airports are ill equipped to detect them at present. Yes, it is true they have been used on planes before by terrorists. But can they be quickly manufactured on the plane? No. The sinister aspect is not that this is a real new threat. It is that the allegation may have been concocted in order to prepare us for arresting people without any actual bombs. Let me fess up here. I have just checked, and our flat contains nail polish remover, sports drinks, and a variety of household cleaning products. Also MP3 players and mobile phones. So the authorities could announce - as they have whispered to the media in this case - that potential ingredients of a liquid bomb, and potential timing devices, have been discovered. It rather lowers the bar, doesn't it? read in full... QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Our mission is not to let them fail catastrophically." -- one U.S. officer, speaking on condition of anonymity about the Iraqi troops in Diyala.


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