Saturday, December 16, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY, December 16, 2006 Photo: A U.S. military helicopter shoots flares while flying over Baquba, the capital of Diyala province, October 5, 2006. U.S. and Iraqi forces are struggling to ease sectarian tension in one of Iraq's most volatile areas where much of the population seeking security turns to terrorists, not Iraqi troops or police, a U.S. commander said on Friday. (Samir Mizban/Pool/Reuters) Bring 'em on: Pfc. Paul Balint Jr., 22, of Willow Park, Texas, died Dec. 15 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, of injuries suffered when his unit came in contact with the enemy using small arms fire during combat operations. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Friedberg, Germany. (DefenseLink) Bring 'em on: Two British soldiers were wounded in an explosive device blast in northern Basra, the media spokesman for the Multi-National Forces in southern Iraq said on Saturday. "An explosive charge went off last night near a British patrol in the area of al-Kindi (8 km north of Basra), wounding two British servicemen and damaging a British military vehicle," Tane Dunlop told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) by telephone. Dunlop said the British base at Basra International Airport (25 km northwest of the city) came under Katyusha attacks but no damage resulted.
According to the spokesman of the MNF in the south captain Tane Dunlop 3 British bases were attacked since last night by 12 katusha missiles and 1 RPG, but no casualties were reported.
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: Iraqi army special forces and US advisers called in an air strike Saturday and killed an enemy gunman during a raid on Sadr City, in east Baghdad, the US military said. The assault was launched to arrest the leader of an armed gang accused of mounting car bomb and rocket attacks and setting up illegal checkpoints to trap civilians as part of the Iraqi capital's vicious sectarian war. A US military spokesman said six suspects were detained but it was not immediately clear whether the group's leader was among them. During the operation gunmen were spotted "displaying hostile intent" and a US warplane was called in to fire in support of the raiding party "resulting in one enemy fighter killed and one enemy fighter wounded", a statement said.
Iraqi and U.S. forces detained six suspects in a raid and an airstrike Saturday on the Shiite slum of Sadr City that left one fighter dead and another wounded, the U.S. military said. The raid was aimed at capturing the leader of an illegally armed group of more than 100 people suspected in kidnappings, killings, illegal checkpoints, rocket attacks and bombings against security forces and civilians in northeastern Baghdad, according to a statement. The military did not identify the target further or say if the militant leader was among those detained. Sadr City is a stronghold of the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia that is loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and blamed in much of the sectarian violence in the capital. Special Iraqi army forces, with coalition advisers, detained six suspects in the operation and coalition aircraft struck after fighting erupted on the ground, the military said. It said no civilians or Iraqi or coalition forces suffered casualties and damage was minimal. AP Television News footage showed three burned-out cars and a house with blackened walls and shattered windows. "At 2 a.m. we were sleeping when we heard a big explosion and our house caught fire," witness Jassim Abid Fazaa told APTN. "We fled outside the house to see shrapnel pieces everywhere. There was a warplane dropping bombs on the area."
The Multi-National Forces said on Saturday an Iraqi army special force, backed by U.S. forces, arrested three men suspected of attacking Iraqi security forces in a raid to a mosque in Baghdad. Today 22 dead bodies were found in Baghdad, some were tortured and handcuffed, 1 was found in Shaab area, 1 Madaain, 2 Sadr City, 4 Amil, 3 Hurriyah, 2 Bayaa, 3 Shoala, 1 Saidiyah, 2 Dora, 1 Adil, 1 Kadhemiyah and 1 Abu Atsheer. A mortar shell fell at Al Yaseen Sunni mosque in Dora area southern Baghdad, no casualties were reported but there was damage to some parts of the mosque. An IED exploded near the railway station in Al Qadisyah area, 1 civilian was killed and 2 others were injured. Fallujah: Clashes erupted on Saturday between the U.S. forces and unknown gunmen after an explosive device blast damaged a Hummer within a U.S. vehicle patrol in southern Falluja, 45 km west of Baghdad, an eyewitness said. The U.S. army said on Saturday a man suspected of being a leader of Qaida in Iraq armed group was arrested in Falluja city, 45 west of Baghdad. Hilla: Two people, including a soldier, were killed when two explosive charges went off near an Iraqi army checkpoint on a highway northeast of Hilla, 110 km south of Baghdad. Kirkuk: The Iraqi army arrested on Saturday two gunmen near Kirkuk, 250 km northeast of Baghdad. Police patrols found two dead bodies in Shwan area northern Kirkuk. An Iraqi army officer was killed and three soldiers wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in the Rashad district, 40 km south of Kirkuk. Baqubah: The Iraqi police, backed by the U.S. forces, arrested in a search campaign eight suspects, including two Egyptians, in western and northern Baaquba, 60 km northeast of Baghdad. Gunmen killed two policemen when they attacked a checkpoint near a cemetery in Baquba. Police in Baquba sent the bodies of 10 unidentified people, including a woman, to the city's morgue on Friday, hospital official Shakir Ahmed said. Two civilians, including a woman, were killed and five wounded in clashes between Iraqi soldiers and insurgents in Baquba's Ameen neighbourhood. Zuhra: Gunmen shot dead tribal sheikh Sattar al-Khadran, the leader of the Bayati tribe in Zuhra village, with a companion just north of Baquba. Basra: An indefinite curfew was imposed in the southern Iraqi city of Basra as announced by police vehicles roaming the city, according to eyewitnesses. "Armored vehicles of the Iraqi army cordoned the Basra governor headquarters," an eyewitness from Basra's main city of al-Ashar told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). Meanwhile, a member of the Basra province council who asked not to be named told VOI that these were "precautionary measures in case some clan embark on security-destabilizing actions." The source did not name the clan. On Friday, unidentified gunmen killed a tribal chief of the Bani Tamim clan and two escorts in an armed attack in downtown al-Cornish street. Following the attack, scores of vehicles boarded by gunmen from Bani Tamim clan wandered about the city shooting in the air and threatening the killers of their chief. Bani Tamim is one of the largest and oldest clans in Basra. It dates back to the period preceding the Islamic conquest of Iraq. Mosul: A man selling canisters of cooking gas was shot dead by gunmen in the northern city of Mosul. A car mechanic who was shot to death in Mosul. In Country: A Kiwi [NZ] soldier working for a private security firm in Iraq has been killed in an attack on the convoy he was being paid to escort. Steve Gilchrist, 33, was killed instantly when the armoured vehicle he was travelling in was hit by an armour-piercing shell as he was escorting a convoy of trucks. >> NEWS Military planners and White House budget analysts have reportedly been asked to provide Bush with options for increasing American forces in Iraq by 20,000 troops or more. Citing unnamed senior administration officials, The New York Times said the request indicates that the option of a major "surge" in troop strength is gaining ground as part of a White House strategy review. (...) If adopted, such an increase would be a major departure from the current strategy advocated by General George Casey, which has stressed stepping up the training of Iraqi forces and handing off to them as soon as possible, The Times said.
The 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division is expected in Kuwait shortly after the new year, a senior Defense Department official told The Associated Press on Friday. The official requested anonymity because the plans had not yet been announced. The 2nd Brigade, made up of roughly 3,500 troops, is based at Fort Bragg, N.C., and would be deployed in Iraq early next year if needed, the official said. The move would be part of an effort to boost the number of U.S. troops in Iraq for a short time, the official said. The plan was first reported by CBS News.
Iraq's army has "opened its doors" to all former members of Saddam Hussein's army, the prime minister said Saturday at a national reconciliation conference boycotted by one of his main Shiite allies, a major Sunni group and Iraq's exiled opposition. Despite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's effort to reach out to Iraq's Sunni Arabs and some former members of Saddam's outlawed Baath Party, the gathering was overshadowed by rising sectarian tensions and political divisions. The radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, one of al-Maliki's key political backers - refused to attend the meeting [see below the unspinned version -- zig], as did a major Sunni group [this would be the party of Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who recently met with Bush in Washington and declared he has "no objections" to the Decider's "political realignement" plan for Iraq -- zig] and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite. >> REPORTS Gorilla's Guides: TODAY'S MOST IMPORTANT STORY Al-Sadr Issues Statement Favour of Istanbul Conference: Sadrists Attend Meeting Basra Great Mosque Pledge To Protect Sunnis: This is a very big story. The story is about Muqtada al-Sadr supporting the "Iraqi People's Support Conference" in Istanbul. This was the Sunni conference held in Istanbul yesterday and the day before. Muqtada al-Sadr has issued a statement supporting it. He said that it "supports our brothers [the Ahl ul-Sunna, the Sunni people - Ali]," and that his entire concern was for the success of meetings such as this of people whose aim is:
"to extricate themselves from the grasp of the occupation and of the Baathists"
He went on to say:
"I will not accept the intervention of any country in the affairs of Iraq, and will continue to reject the occupation."
He added that he was "ready to attend conferences in support of the Ahl ul-Sunna, those in support of the Shiites, or those in support of Iraq as a whole or indeed of any Islamic country" Aswat al Iraq's reporter then reminds the readers that the green zone government spokesman issued yesterday a statement in which he (Ali al-Dabbagh) condemned the Turks for hosting such a conference which he described in these terms:
"This conference currently held in a neighbouring country sends a wrong message to Iraq that is translated into acts of violence inside the country," Ali al-Dabbagh, the "government" spokesman went on to say this: "Such conferences are against the Iraqi people,"
and said that the neighbouring countries should refrain from holding such conferences.[You can read an English language account of this on the Aswat al Iraq English pages here - Ali] Muqtada al-Sadr also called in his statement for unity and the closing of ranks, saying that our only weapon against weapon power was that we Muslims unite.He added that he was innocent of shedding Muslim blood and that were he qualified to issue fatwahs he would "If I were a scholar qualified to issue fatwas, I would without hesitation ban the killing of our brothers [the Ahl ul-Sunna -Ali] in Iraq or outside of Iraq" and that whomsoever does that is "the enemy of God and His Prophet and his family until the Day of Judgment." The original URL of the story is here. There is a second much later story which you will find here that deals with the meeting in that was held today in the great mosque of Basra of clerics, and tribal leaders from both the Sunni and Shiite communities. The meeting was attended by a delegation representingMuqtada al-Sadr. The Sadrist delegates pledged to protect all members of the Ahl ul-Sunna. Amongst the others attending were members of: . The Iraqi Islamic Party. . The Association of Muslim Scholars. . Various Sunni delegations. . The Association of Islamic unity. These "seized the opportunity" to reiterate their ban on belonging to takfiri and terrorist organisations, the spilling of blood, and their demand that the tombs of the Imams [in Samarra - Ali] be rebuilt. Following their issuing these fatwas Muqtada al-Sadr sent a delegation to the dialogue and today's meeting has been the result. It is important for readers to remember that al-Sadr's movement sent both weapons and fighters to Fallujah when the Americans laid waste to the city and slaughtered many of its civilian inhabitants. That al-Sadr's group were the only ones to send aid, weapons, and fighters, and this has not been forgotten. It is particularly important for American readers to remember this. read in full...
Missing Links: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE ISTAMBUL CONFERENCE (1) Iraq is of central importance, and throughout its history has been subject to occupation and so on, but a loyal population has always resisted that. (2) Sunnis elsewhere cannot tolerate what the Iraqis are going through in terms of violation of their territory, sovereignty and rights, at the hands of the occupation, without taking concrete steps to provide Iraq with assistance. (3) The occupation bears the reponsibility for the slaughter that is occurring in Iraq, in practical terms because it is providing the political umbrella under which this is going on, and in legal terms because the occupation forces' continuing attacks give Iraqis the right to prosecute them under international law. (4) The Safavid political parties share in the responsibility, both because of their connivance with the occupation generally, and more particularly because of the activities of their militias. (5) The current political process in Iraq, under the aegis of the occupation, is without legal right. (6) Criticism of Arab and Islamic governments for their silence about this, their lack of aid to Iraqis, and particularly to Sunnis. These regimes are doing nothing about the aggressive steps of both America and Iran. (7) Praise for the management of the Iraqi resistance which is the force that has stymied the occupation plans. read in full...
Free Iraq: IRAN'S POISON... Short summary: On Thursday, November 23, 2006, a bomb exploded in a market in Thawra City (Sadr City) that caused the death and wounding of tens of civilians. The culprit was caught the next day by Al-Mahdi army who control Thawra City. His name is Firas Al-Rikabi. He confesses in this video (in Arabic) [translation here] that Hakam, who lives in the nearby Rashad district, had given him the bomb and the detonator and instructed him to place it among the crowd and blow it up, for $200 bounty. Both Hakam and Firas are Shi'ites. Hakam belongs to the Badr and SCIRI Iranian backed shi'ite militias who now control the police in the Interior Ministry (who are responsible for the recent mass kidnappings) and the army in the Defence Ministry (being trained to step up by the American occupiers to allow Bush to step down). Hakam is now being sought by the Mahdi Army. They executed Firas after the recording of his confession. link Al Jazeera: U.S. ATTACKS RED CRESCENT IN IRAQ The U.S.-led occupation forces in Iraq are accused of attacking the Iraqi Red Crescent offices and vehicles in the country. Jamal al-Karbouli, Vice-President of the Iraqi Red Crescent, the war-torn country's biggest humanitarian organisation with staff of 1,000 and 200,000 volunteers, described continuous attacks by U.S. occupation forces as the biggest problem facing the organisation's work in Iraq. The U.S. military didn't comment on the recent allegations brought against it by the humanitarian group. Al Karbouli cited an incident which occurred last week in the Iraqi city of Fallujah involving a U.S. attack on the organisation offices. "We had our offices attacked by American forces. They detained the volunteers and staff for more than two hours," Mr Karbouli said during a meeting of international Red Cross organisations in Geneva. Also two Red Crescent cars were burned in the attack, he added. Among other violations cited by Al Karbouli were attacks by the U.S. forces on the organisation's headquarters in Baghdad. "Four to five times they have attacked the headquarters; they break doors and windows, just to see. And they didn't find anything and they left," he said. read in full... LA Times: A BATTLEFIELD CALLED SCHOOL Iraq's schools, long touted by American officials as a success story in a land short on successes, increasingly are being caught in the crossfire of the country's escalating civil war. President Bush has routinely talked about the refurbishment and construction of schools as a neglected story of progress in Iraq. The U.S. Agency for International Development has spent about $100 million on Iraq's education system and cites the rehabilitation of 2,962 school buildings as a signal accomplishment. But today, across the country, campuses are being shuttered, students and teachers driven from their classrooms and parents left to worry that a generation of traumatized children will go without education. Teachers tell of students kidnapped on their way to school, mortar rounds landing on or near campuses and educators shot in front of children. This month insurgents distributed pamphlets at campuses, some sealed inside an envelope with an AK-47 bullet. "To the Honest People of Baghdad," one pamphlet read, "we want you to leave the schools, hospitals, institutes, colleges and universities until the illegal government of [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki is put down. We want your full cooperation on this." No credible current national school attendance statistics exist in Iraq, whose education system was once considered a model in the Arab world. But examples abound of schools being closed or left mostly empty as parents flee the country or keep their children home. read in full... >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Michael Schwartz: US ROOTS IN IRAQ TOO DEEP TO PULL To put it bluntly, the ISG is not calling on the Bush administration to abandon its goal of creating a client regime that was supposed to be the key to establishing the US as the dominant power in the Middle East. Quite the contrary. As its report states: "We agree with the goal of US policy in Iraq." If you ignore the text sprinkled with sugar-coated words like "representative government", the report essentially demands that the Iraqi government pursue policies shaped to serve "America's interest and values in the years ahead". Don't be fooled by this often quoted passage from the report: "By the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq." The ebullient interpretations of this statement by the media have been misleading in three different ways. First, the combat brigades mentioned in this passage represent far less than half of all the troops in Iraq. The military police, the air force, the troops that move the equipment, those assigned to the Green Zone, the soldiers that order, store and move supplies, medical personnel, intelligence personnel and so on, are not combat personnel; and they add up to considerably more than 70,000 of the approximately 140,000 troops in Iraq at the moment. They will all have to stay - as well as actual combat forces to protect them and to protect the new American advisers who are going to flood into the Iraqi Army - because the Iraqi Army has none of these units and isn't going to develop them for several years, if ever. Second, the ISG wants those "withdrawn" American troops "redeployed", either inside or outside Iraq. In all likelihood, this will mean that at least some of them will be stationed in the five permanent bases inside Iraq that the Bush administration has already spent billions of dollars constructing, and which are small American towns, replete with fast food restaurants, bus lines and recreation facilities. There is no other place to put these redeployed troops in the region, except bases in Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, none of which are really suited to, or perhaps eager to, host a large influx of American troops (guaranteed to be locally unpopular and a magnet for terrorist attacks). Third, it's important not to ignore those two modest passages - "subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground" and "not necessary for force protection". In other words, if the Iraqi troops meant to replace the redeployed American ones are failures, then some or all of the troops might never be redeployed. In addition, even if Iraqi troops did perform well, Americans might still be deemed necessary to protect the remaining (non-combat) troops from attack by insurgents and other forces. (...) Evidently, the "grave and deteriorating" situation in Iraq has not yet deteriorated enough to convince even establishment American policymakers, who have been on the outside these past years, to follow the lead of the public (as reflected in the latest opinion polls) and abandon their soaring ambitions of Middle East domination. If they haven't done so, imagine where Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are in policy terms. So far, it seems everyone of power or influence in Washington remains committed to "staying the course". read in full... Whatever It Is I'm Against It: THEY WILL DO IT ANYWAY Condi Rice tells the WaPo that there is no need to talk to Iran and Syria about helping stabilize Iraq: "If they have an interest in a stable Iraq, they will do it anyway." Two things wrong with that which you wouldn't think would need to be explained to the nation's top diplomat: 1) they aren't doing it anyway, 2) the purpose of diplomacy is not, generally speaking, to persuade nations to do what they already want to do anyway. link Blah3: HOW BAD IS IT IN IRAQ? THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW Sure, we know that the violence in Iraq has gotten much worse over the past few months. But just how much worse has it gotten, exactly? Justin Rood tells us about how the Bush administration refuses to tell Congress how bad thengs are getting - the Pentagon has declared the numbers classified. I don't know about you, but that makes me think that the violence has increased to levels far beyond what we've seen to this point - and much, much worse than anyone wants to say. link An Arab Woman Blues: NEW AGE ME AND I'LL NEW AGE YOU... (...) my friend Joanna, a European, sent me an email. She has been reading my blog and is concerned about my "state". She believes that I am zooming in on too much negativity and am not seeing the glass half full but am adamant to see it half empty. Little does she know that there is no "glass" left. I know she means well and being spiritually evolved, she can afford to be detached somewhere out there in Europe. Her explanation for the Iraqi Disaster is simple. She says it is all Karmic . All the dead, maimed,tortured Iraqis are paying their dues for past sins from some other reincarnation. I asked her if Othman , Omar and all the D.U babies also qualified ? She said "yes". What about the raped girls like Abeer and the castrated men in Abu Ghraib? An affirmative "yes" was her reply."We don't know what horrors they committed in their past lives, they might have been members of the Nazi Gestapo" she added. Ok- now am relieved to know that . She suggested I apply some "spirituality" to the whole thing . I will follow her advice and this what I will ask of you : Take a map, spot Iraq on it. Visualize it as a burning hell hole, kind of pitch black. Now close your eyes and send positive vibrations to Her and her people. Send beams of white light (please make sure it is not phosphorus) Burn incense and let the fumes rise up and imagine them purifying the land of the Tigris. Apply mental fragranced healing balms to the wounded and torn apart and chant your favorite mantra. Stand in a circle and dance to the beat of cosmic drums and channel Sumerian spirits. Meditate with a burning white candle and go Zen Iraq. Reiki it. Shaman it. Trance it. Do your Holotropic breathing on it ... I don't care...as long as you send some Love our way . You can implore whichever Divinity you fancy. Allah, Elohim, God, Christ, Mother Nature and the four Elements, Buddha, Krishna, Shiva, Shakti , Cosmic Consciousness , your Higher Self ... absolutely anything. Just make sure it is not the blond blue eyed Dude from Texas. read in full... >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: One ISAF soldier was injured while conducting a foot patrol with Afghan National Security Forces in the Pashmul area, approximately 25 kilometres west of Kandahar City. The ISAF soldier stepped on an anti-personnel mine and was immediately evacuated to a nearby ISAF medical facility. There are no reports of any other ISAF or ANSF casualties. Robert Lindsay's Afghanistan Wrapup for December 14, 2006
Thursday, December 14 Zabul Province: Suicide bomber attack on a police commander's vehicle as it travelled along a crowded street killed 4 civilians and wounded 25 more. It is not known if the commander was hurt. Asadabad, Asadabad District, Kunar Province: French M-2000D Mirages attacked Taliban fighters battling US troops near here. For the past few weeks, the Asadabad area has been bombed continuously, even as winter looms. Now Zad, Now Zad District, Helmand Province: Royal Air Force GR-7 Harriers attacked Taliban forces battling British troops near here. Now Zad has been being bombed almost every day for the past few weeks with no end in sight. Wednesday, December 13 Siah Choy, Panjwayi District, Kandahar Province, Late: NATO launched an airstrike on a Taliban command post here, completely destroying the post. A number of Taliban commanders were said to have been killed in this attack. A US B-1B Lancer dropped a GBU-38 on the target. Now Zad, Now Zad District, Helmand Province: US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and a B-1B attacked Taliban fighters again near here, with the A-10's firing cannons at the rebels. The B-1B dropped GBU-31s and GBU-38s on Taliban positions. Kabul: French M-2000Ds attacked guerrillas battling NATO forces near here, dropping GBU-12s on their positions. Orgun-E, Urgun District, Paktika Province: Air Force A-10s and French M-2000Ds attacked guerrillas battling US troops near here. Urgun is being bombed regularly in recent weeks.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The first time I came here with Sen. McCain we went rug shopping. Yesterday, we moved around in a tank." -- US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham in a press conference in Baghdad during a joint visit to Iraq with US Sens. John McCain and Joseph Lieberman


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