The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Saturday, February 23, 2008

War News for Saturday, February 23, 2008

Photo: From the BBC-PKK fighters are known to use northern Iraq as a base

Security incidents:

#1: Rockets or mortars hit the U.S.-protected Green Zone early Saturday. Starting about 6:15 a.m. local time, nearly 10 blasts could be heard in the sprawling area along the Tigris River that houses the U.S. and British embassies, the Iraqi government headquarters and thousands of American troops. Maj. Brad Leighton, a U.S. military spokesman, confirmed the Green Zone was hit by indirect fire — the military's term for a rocket or mortar attack — but could not immediately provide more details.

#2: Separately, the head of the Iraqi Journalists Union was shot Saturday. Union chief Shihab al-Timimi was hit by unidentified gunmen, police and union officials said, as he was being driven to an art gallery in Waziriya, near central Baghdad. He had just left the nearby headquarters of the union.

#3: Around 2 p.m. a roadside bomb targeted civilians in Beirut square, killing one civilian and injuring two others.

#1: A boat carrying 11 Shiites on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Karbala overturned in the Tigris river on Saturday drowning six people, police said. The boat overturned near Kut, 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Baghdad, they added. The pilgrims were headed to Karbala for Arbaeen, which marks the 40th day following the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, one Shiism's major figures who is buried there.

#1: Joint US-Iraqi forces killed 14 al-Qaeda militants in separate military operations in the city of Samra, some 125 kilometres north of Baghdad, security sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. Sources said the forces had shot dead 10 of the militants in al-Tharthar area, western Samara, adding that six of them were Arabs. The other four were killed in different parts of the city.

#2: Around 2 p.m. a roadside bomb targeted Iraqi police vehicle on a highway south of Samarra, killing two police officers and injuring three others.

#3: Iraqi police today on the Tigris River near Samarra chased a suicide bomber in a boat. The bomber was wearing a vest bomb and he detonated himself before the police could arrest him.

#1: A roadside bomb planted outside the house of Nuri Khalil, a municipal council member, killed his wife and wounded his son in Baiji, 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

Nineveh Prv:
#1: The Iraqi army and police killed three gunmen and arrested two others on Friday when they raided a town near the Syrian border in, northwestern Iraq, the spokesman for Nineveh operations, Brigadier-General Khalid Abdul-Sattar, said

#1: A roadside bomb targeting food trucks in west Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, killed the driver, police said

#1: Iraq's foreign minister has warned that any escalation of Turkey's operation against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq could destabilise the region. Hoshyar Zebari told the BBC Iraq did not approve the "limited" raid into a remote, uninhabited area, and said it should end "as soon as possible". Turkey says 24 Kurdish rebels and five Turkish soldiers have been killed.

#2: Reports from Turkey on the size of the assault force have varied from 3,000 to 10,000 soldiers. Without confirming any figures, PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, has said the offensive is limited in scale and troops will return as soon as possible. "This is a limited military incursion into a remote, isolated and uninhabited region," Mr Zebari told BBC.

#3: Kurdish rebels have killed 22 Turkish soldiers in clashes in northern Iraq, a spokesman for the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) said on Saturday. "After clashes yesterday between the PKK and the Turkish forces, 22 Turkish soldiers were killed. Not more than five PKK soldiers were wounded," Ahmed Danees, head of foreign relations for the PKK, told Reuters by satellite phone.

#4: Turkish troops destroyed five bridges across a remote mountain river on the Iraqi Kurdistan border during an incursion launched to hunt Kurdish rebel fighters, Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said on Friday.

#5: A Turkish soldier was killed and another one wounded on Saturday when a mine planted by the members of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) went off in southeastern Turkey, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported. The mine explosion took place in the province of Bingol, said the report, adding the injured soldier was rushed to a military hospital in Elazig by a helicopter.

#6: Iraqi exports of 300,000 barrels of oil per day through Turkey have not been affected by a Turkish military operation on the countries' border, the Iraqi oil ministry said on Saturday.

#7: At least 24 PKK militants and five soldiers died in clashes since Thursday evening when a Turkish force crossed into northern Iraq after eight hours of air and artillery strikes, the military said overnight. It estimated that at least 20 other rebels were killed by artillery and helicopter fire, but said the exact toll would not be known until troops reach the targeted area.

#8: Turkish forces Saturday bombed targets around Al-Amadiyah, an Iraqi Kurdish mountain town about 10 kilometres (six miles) south of the border. The shelling started at around 6 am (0300 GMT) and continued for two hours," a border guard told AFP. Villagers in the area said heavy fighting and artillery fire continued late into Friday night. They reported hearing sustained exchanges of automatic fire in the Hakurk and Sidekan regions on the Iraqi side of the border across from the Turkish town of Cukurca.

Al Anbar Prv:
#1: A tribal leader was killed and a policeman injured when militants, including a suicide bomber, attacked a base used by concerned local citizens -- groups formed by Sunni tribal leaders to fight al Qaeda, police said. The attack took place on Saturday in a village near Falluja in Anbar province.

Around 11 a.m. three suicide bombers wearing vest bombs targeted Ibraheem Teeri, a tribal sheikh from northern Fallujah, killing him and two policemen. The suicide attackers were dressed as women. The first one approached Teeri's car in a check point in Al Sheeha area and detonated his vest bomb. Less than five minutes later the second man detonated himself. Police killed the third suicide attacker and identified the three attackers, Iraqi police said.

#2: Six Iraqi policemen and seven gunmen were killed on Saturday when gunmen, believed from Qaeda, attacked four police stations near Falluja city in western Iraq, a local police source said. "Qaeda fighters launched concerted attacks, this morning, against four police stations in different parts of al-Saqlawiya district, 15 km north of Falluja," the source, who asked not to be named, told Aswat al-Iraq- Voices of Iraq.

#1: Seven Afghan security guards died Saturday when their car hit a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan, while a gunman killed a district police chief in the region, police said. The guards, who worked for a road construction company, hit the bomb in the Sarkano district of Kunar province, a mountainous area close to the border with Pakistan, said provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Jalal.

#2: Also in Kunar, a gunman shot and killed the police chief of Chawkey district Friday night, Jalal said. One man was arrested in connection with the case, he said.

#3: The Italian Ministry of Defense announced on Saturday that two Italian soldiers working within the international forces in Afghanistan (ISAF) have been wounded in a blast that targeted a military patrol in the Farah province west of the country.

On The Home Front:
#1: ($1.2B+ shot to hell) A B-2 stealth bomber plunged to the ground shortly after taking off from an air base in Guam on Saturday, the first time one crashed, but both pilots ejected safely, Air Force officials said. The aircraft was taking off with three others on their last flight out of Guam after a four-month deployment, part of a continuous U.S. bomber presence in the western Pacific. After the crash, the other three bombers were being kept on Guam, said Maj. Eric Hilliard at Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii.

Casualty Reports:

Marine Corporal Brent Phillips was part of the first U.S. invasion force to cross into Iraq in 2003. An ambush left him badly wounded, including severe injuries to his right eye. He allowed doctors to do experimental surgery implanting a special metal fitting into his damaged eye. He also came home with invisible wounds that may be harder to heal.