A morgue worker walks past unidentified bodies displayed in plastic bags outside the morgue in the city of Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2007. After two months in the city's morgue 30 bodies, of people that were killed in the volatile Diyala province and have not been identified, will be buried at a local cemetery in Baqouba.
Reported Security Incidents
Jarawa and Sankasar (villages north of Sulaimaniya)
According to local officials, Turkish warplanes attacked the villages, destroying several houses and a school. One woman killed, two people injured. Turkish spokespeople say the raids targeted PKK targets only, deny attacking the villages. These locations are 60 miles inside Iraq.
Three injured in bomb attack on convoy of health official Dr. Ali Bustan al-Fartusi in the al-Waziriya district of northern Baghdad. Fartusi is described as the "Baghdad al-Rasafa health department director," which I take it means he is a district leader. McClatchy gives the casualty total as three civilians, one police officer.
Four injured by bomb explosion at an intersection in al-Kisra, northern Baghdad.
Justice Ministry official escapes assassination attempt when gunmen attack his house.
U.S. Humvee destroyed by bomb attack. U.S. forces raid houses in the area, arrest two suspects, according to an Iraqi source. The U.S. has yet to comment on this incident; no word about U.S. casualties.
Kafri (a town in an area of disputed administrative control between Diyala and Kurdistan)
Liquor store destroyed in overnight bombing. No injuries.
Hilla (actually on the road to Baghdad from Hilla)
Babel governor Salim al-Maslamawi survives assassination attempt when his convoy is ambushed. No mention of casualties, although a gunfight is reported.
Four attackers killed in attack on an "Awakening Council" checkpoint. No mention of casualties among the defenders. I remind readers that the source of this information is the Anbar Awakening Council, not a neutral observer. -- C
Al Baaj (Ninevah Province, west of Mosul
In a similar attack on a tribal militia checkpoint, one defender killed, three injured; three attackers killed. Note: This is close to Tal Afar.
Three injured in suicide car bomb attack near the Education Department. Since this was described as a suicide attack, I presume that attacker was killed as well.
Three police officers killed, two injured; one insurgent killed, one captured, in gunfights. As usual, insurgents are described as al Qaeda.
City's general hospital releases 31 unidentified bodies for burial. Story does not explain when or where these bodies were found -- whether they were dumped recently or exhumed from mass graves. -- C
Baldruz (Diyala Province)
One police officer, one unidentified individual, killed in separate attacks.
Zaghaniyah (north of Baquba)
Three policemen, one attacker killed in assault on police station.
Police officer killed, two injured in bomb attack on their patrol. This may be the same incident reported by McClatchy, however, they report that it was an Army patrol, not a police patrol, and give the total injured as two.
Pvt. Daren A. Smith, 19, of Helena, Mont., died 13 Dec., in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Polk, La. The incident is under investigation.
Other News of the Day
British forces formally hand over control of Basra to Iraqis. (This is a largely symbolic gesture, as the Iraqi government does not control Basra, which is in fact balkanized among rival militias -- C) Excerpt:
With the handover of Basra, in Iraq's far south, nine of the country's 18 provinces have reverted to Iraqi government control. The commander of British forces in Basra, Maj. Gen. Graham Binns, said the city had been pulled from the grip of its enemies.
``I now formally hand it back to its friends,'' Binns said shortly before adding his signature to papers relinquishing responsibility for the overwhelmingly Shiite region, home to most of Iraq's oil reserves. ``We will continue to help train Basra security forces. But we are guests in your country, and we will act accordingly.''
Mowafaq al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser, said his government was ready and called on Basra's citizens to work together. ``Your unity is essential in rebuilding your city. You have to come together and unify - Sunnis, Shiites, Muslims and non-Muslims and nationalists,'' he said.
U.S. officials worry that a power vacuum could heighten the influence of Iran and threaten land routes used by the Americans to bring ammunition, food and other supplies from Kuwait to troops to the north.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who also attended the handover ceremony, said Britain would remain a ``committed friend'' of Iraq. But he acknowledged Britain was not handing over ``a land of milk and honey'' to local forces. ``This remains a violent society whose tensions need to addressed, but they need to be addressed by Iraqi political leaders, and it is politics that is going to have to come to the fore in the months and years ahead,'' he told the British Broadcasting Corp.
The Australian is a bit more realistic about the situation. Quote:
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the House of Commons last week that Iraq was now a democracy, that violence in Basra had fallen by 90 per cent and that the Iraqis were "taking control over their own security".
But police chief Major General Jalil Khalaf said the city's 28 militias were better armed than his men. "They control the ports, which earns them huge sums of money," he said.
As Iraq's second-largest city, with the country's only major port and nearly all its oil exports, Basra is far more populous, wealthier and more strategically located than any of the other eight of Iraq's 18 provinces already returned to Iraqi control.
It has also often been more violent, though Iraqi forces say their 30,000 troops and police in the area can now keep peace.
The mainly Shia southern province has largely escaped the sectarian warfare that killed tens of thousands of people in central Iraq. But Basra has been the scene of bloody turf wars between rival Shia factions, criminals and smugglers. Basra's police accuse militants of imposing strict Islamic codes, killing women for so-called "honour crimes".
There have been 48 women killed in six months in Basra for "un-Islamic behaviour". The murders have highlighted the strength of Islamic militias.
In one case, two teenagers saw a woman beaten to death by five or six men from the Mahdi Army, Basra's most powerful militia. They were told their home and family would be destroyed if they betrayed the killers.
Yet the city of Basra is also a lively place, with restaurants open late and little of the barricaded neighbourhoods and siege mentality that permeates Baghdad.
The factions agreed to a truce this month and killings are down. But a triple car bomb attack that killed about 40 people in neighbouring Maysan province last week served as a reminder of the potential for violence in areas vacated by the British.
Iraqi government and Kurdish leaders agree to kick the referendum on the status of Kirkuk six months down the road. This is spun as a positive agreement, but what it really means is that they are punting. The deadline was supposed to be this month. Actually, they haven't even agreed to hold the referendum in six months - they've just agreed on a six month process to talk about it some more.
Quote of the Day
The issues at hand are too serious to ignore, including credible allegations of abuse of power that if proven may well constitute high crimes and misdemeanors under our constitution. The charges against Vice President Cheney relate to his deceptive actions leading up to the Iraq war, the revelation of the identity of a covert agent for political retaliation, and the illegal wiretapping of American citizens.
House Judiciary Committee members Robert Wexler of Florida, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, calling for the impeachment of Richard Cheney