An Iraqi cleans the rubble from his house after a raid by US and Iraqi forces in Baghdad's impoverished district of Sadr City. US and Iraqi forces backed by helicopters killed 26 militants suspected of links to "Iranian terror networks" in raids in the Baghdad Shiite district of Sadr City, the US military have said.(AFP/Wissam Al-Okaili) As yesterday's post noted, and as further reports elaborate today, the claim by the U.S. military that the dead were militants of any description is, shall we say, in dispute. And it is worth asking why, if this guy is not an Iranian backed terrorist, his house was destroyed -- C
A Fijian mercenary was killed by a roadside bomb on Saturday, while "driving a convoy of American soldiers." The man was working for an unidentified American company, and his wife was living in the U.S., hoping to gain U.S. citizenship. An acquaintance of the family says he believes two more Fijians died in the same incident, but this has not been confirmed.
A car bomb killed one civilian and wounded three others when it exploded in Saidiya district of southern Baghdad, police said. Reuters also reports;
- A car bomb killed one civilian and wounded three others at the entrance of the al-Rashid vegetable market in the Doura district in southern Baghdad, police said.
- A roadside bomb wounded three civilians in the up-scale Mansour district in central Baghdad, police said.
- Iraqi army soldiers killed eight militants and detained 29 others in operations around Iraq in the last 24 hours, the Defence Ministry said.
- The bodies of 16 people were found shot in different districts of Baghdad on Saturday, police said.
- Twelve people were wounded by a mortar round attack on Saturday in Baghdad's southern district of Doura, police said.
- A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed two policeman and wounded four civilians in eastern Baghdad, police said.
AP provides additional information on what appears to be the last incident in the Reuters report, although as is often the case the casualty totals differ so it isn't certain that these are the same. According to AP, "Two Iraqi policemen are dead after a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol in eastern Baghdad today. Police say after the blast, gunmen sped by in a car and showered the men with machine gun fire. Three policemen and three civilians in the area were wounded in the attack." And, in describing what also appears to the same incident, VoI says that five policemen were injured. (These discrepancies are minor in the overall context of the violence in Iraq, but this is a good example of how frustrating it can be trying to understand what's really going on. Much more substantive discrepancies are also common. -- C)
Suicide car bomb attack near the Al-Jadriya Bridge in southwestern Baghdad kills one, injures four. The report is unclear, but normally the attacker is not included in the casualty reports.
Xinhua reports two separate car bombings, each killing one civilian. One of them is apparently the same as the above, although the location is described in terms of different landmarks.
The bullet-riddled body of a senior police commander was discovered in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city. Colonel Nasser Hamoud was in charge of the city's prisons. He had been kidnapped along with 3 of his guards the day before. The guards were released a few hours later. Police say Hamoud's hands and legs were bound, and his body showed signs of torture.
In yet another confusing discrepancy, VoI reports discovery of the body of a senior police officer, but gives his name as Nasser Ali. This could be the same incident, but who knows? VoI also reports a separate incident in which "an officer from the joint coordination center was kidnapped on Sunday afternoon by unidentified gunmen while leaving the center, and the police started an investigation into the incident." VoI further reports that British bases in Basra came under indirect fire, ineffectually.
A suicide car bomber targeting a police station killed five policemen and wounded 14 others.
A suicide truck bomb blew up at a police checkpoint, killed two policemen and wounded four other officers.
Gunmen apparently linked with al Qaeda in Iraq militants kidnapped the deputy mayor of Yathrib, near Balad, according to police. I don't know what made the stated linkage apparent. Note: A member of the Yathrib City Council was also kidnapped exactly one week ago. -- C
The bodies of two people were found blindfolded and bound.
A woman was killed and two others were wounded when a mortar landed on their house. (South of Baghdad)
One Iraqi soldier was killed in a drive-by shooting. (Near Kirkuk)
Gunmen killed a lawyer after raiding his home late on Saturday in southwest Kirkuk.
Three Iraqi soldiers were killed and three others were injured in an armed ambush in a residential area in northern Baaquba during a security crackdown, according to a police source. A Reuters report refers to a similar casualty total when Iraqi soldiers entered "a boobytrapped house. I assume this is the same incident but the VoI report describes a gunfight, not a boobytrap.
Police retrieved the bodies of two people, shot and tortured, from a river. (That would be the Tigris. I don't know why they can't name it.)
A joint Iraqi and U.S. force arrested 15 gunmen on Sunday morning and confiscated an amount of weapons during a security crackdown, a police source said.
Other News of the Day
A U.S. soldier killed in Iraq who was the son of a king in Cote d'Ivoir was buried there Saturday in a princely ceremony. Spc. Ebe Firmin Emolo, 33, joined the army two years ago and became a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division. He was killed along with three others when their vehicle struck an explosive in April. Emolo was a prince, the youngest son of King Nanan Boa Kouassi III of the Agni people.
The Iraqi government claims the civilian death toll was down considerably in the month of June. "An officer at the Iraqi Interior Ministry's operations room said 1,227 Iraqi civilians were killed in June, along with 190 policemen and 31 soldiers. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the figures.
In May, 1,949 civilians were killed, along with 127 policemen and 47 soldiers, according to ministry figures. The total of Iraqis killed in May was the third highest monthly toll since The Associated Press began tracking civilian casualties in April 2005. " As we know, however, these official totals are far from complete.
Maliki condemns the Saturday raid in Sadr City by the U.S. Sovereignty, anyone? Somebody is for sure lying here. It's either a sample of local residents, the Iraqi police, and the Iraqi Prime Minister - or it's Lt. Col. Christopher Garver. You decide. Excerpt:
BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned a U.S. raid yesterday in Baghdad’s Shiite Sadr City slum in which American troops searching for Iranian-linked militants sparked a firefight the United States said left 26 Iraqis dead.
The U.S. military said all those killed in the fighting were gunmen, some of them firing from behind civilian cars. But an Iraqi official put the death toll lower, at eight, and said they were civilians. Residents also said eight civilians were killed, angrily accusing American troops of firing wildly during the pre-dawn assault.
"The Iraqi government totally rejects U.S. military operations ... conducted without prior approval from the Iraqi military," al-Maliki said in a statement on the Sadr City raid. "Anyone who breaches the military command orders will face investigation."
The U.S. military said it conducted two pre-dawn raids in Sadr City, killing 26 "terrorists" who attacked U.S. troops with small-arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs.
An Iraqi official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns, said eight people had died - all civilians - and 20 others were wounded. It was not immediately clear why the death tolls varied.
An American military spokesman insisted all of those killed were combatants. "Everyone who got shot was shooting at U.S. troops at the time," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver. "It was an intense firefight."
U.S. troops detained 17 men suspected of helping Iranian terror networks fund operations in Iraq, a military statement said. There were no U.S. casualties.
Witnesses said U.S. forces rolled into their neighborhood before dawn and opened fire without warning. "At about 4 a.m., a big American convoy with tanks came and began to open fire on houses - bombing them," said Basheer Ahmed, who lives in Sadr City’s Habibiya district. "What did we do? We didn’t even retaliate - there was no resistance."
According to Iraqi officials, the dead included three members of one family - a father, mother and son. Several women and children, along with two policemen, were among the wounded, they said. Houses, a bakery and some other shops were damaged by U.S. tank fire during the assault, Iraqi officials said. In the Shiite holy city of Najaf, Sheik Salah al-Obaidi, a spokesman for al-Sadr, condemned yesterday’s raids: "The bombing hurt only innocent civilians."
A policeman wounded in the raid, Montadhar Kareem, said he was on night duty in the Habibiya area when U.S. troops moved in and "began bombing houses in the area. The bombing became more intense, and I was injured by shrapnel in both my legs and in my left shoulder," Kareem said from a gurney at Al Sadr General Hospital.
Hours afterward, a funeral procession snaked through the streets of Sadr City’s Orfali district. Three coffins were hoisted atop cars. One resident, who goes by the nickname Um Ahmed, or "mother of Ahmed," stood outside her home as mourners passed by. "We are being hit while we are peacefully sleeping in our houses. Is that fair?" she cried.
Curfew declared in East Rasheed district, in apparent preparation for military action.
In response to pressure from the International Monetary Fund, sovereign Iraq raises the price of fuel. Riots are reported in Al-Kut and Basra.
I believe Susan posted this yesterday, but for those who missed it, it's important:
BAGHDAD, July 1 (Xinhua) -- A major Sunni political party on Sunday criticized the ongoing U.S.-Iraqi military operation in the province of Diyala northeast of Baghdad for heavy civilian casualties caused by it.
The Iraqi Islamic Party, headed by Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, accused the U.S. troops and the Iraqi government of conducting "collective punishment" against residents of the city of Baquba, the capital of Diyala province.
The party said in a statement that the U.S. forces and aircraft bombed several neighborhoods in western Baquba, causing more than 350 people dead, whose bodies are still under the debris. Calling for a halt to the "massacre," the party highlighted the necessity to "distinguish between gunmen and innocent civilians."
Coalition of the Leaving Department: Australian media report that Prime Minster John Howard is secretly planning to begin withdrawing forces from Iraq by February, 2008. But Howard denies it. We'll see.
WaPo's Steve Fainaru and Alec Klein report on the privatization of military intelligence in Iraq. The article also discusses more conventional mercenary contracts.
Quote of the Day
On its face, Basra’s security plan ranked as a qualified success. Between September 2006 and March 2007, Operation Sinbad sought to rout out militias and hand security over to newly vetted and stronger Iraqi security forces while kick-starting economic reconstruction. Criminality, political assassinations and sectarian killings, all of which were rampant in 2006, receded somewhat and – certainly as compared to elsewhere in the country – a relative calm prevailed. Yet this reality was both superficial and fleeting. By March–April 2007, renewed political tensions once more threatened to destabilise the city, and relentless attacks against British forces in effect had driven them off the streets into increasingly secluded compounds. Basra’s residents and militiamen view this not as an orderly withdrawal but rather as an ignominious defeat. Today, the city is controlled by militias, seemingly more powerful and unconstrained than before.
What progress has occurred cannot conceal the most glaring failing of all: the inability to establish a legitimate and functioning provincial apparatus capable of redistributing resources, imposing respect for the rule of law and ensuring a peaceful transition at the local level. Basra’s political arena remains in the hands of actors engaged in bloody competition for resources, undermining what is left of governorate institutions and coercively enforcing their rule. The local population has no choice but to seek protection from one of the dominant camps. Periods of stability do not reflect greater governing authority so much as they do a momentary – and fragile – balance of interests or of terror between rival militias.
International Crisis Group