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, March 29, 2008

War News for Saturday, March 29, 2008

Photo: A burned Iraqi army tank is seen on a street in the southern city of Basra on Friday. AFP/GETTY

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Center Soldier in an improvised explosive device attack South of Baghdad on Friday, March 28th. No other details were released.

19 Tense Hours in Sadr City Alongside the Mahdi Army: By Sudarsan Raghavan/Washington Post Foreign Service

Security incidents:

#1: mortar or rockets were again lobbed from Shiite areas in eastern Baghdad toward the Green Zone, the fortified area where the U.S. and British embassies are located, along with much of the Iraqi government. It wasn't immediately clear if the rounds hit the zone or landed nearby.

Baghdad's Green Zone, seat of the government and the US embassy, again came under mortar bomb or rocket attack, but no information was immediately available on casualties or damage.

James Bays, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Baghdad, said on Saturday that missiles were still being fired. "I heard six mortars or rockets - it's difficult to distinguish between the sound of mortars and Katyusha rockets - land in the Green Zone," he said.

The U.S. military said in an e-mail they "have no reports of serious injuries" following the incoming rounds.

Ten mortar shells hit the Green Zoon today.

#2: American forces said on Saturday they had killed 48 gunmen the previous day in gun battles and air strikes across Baghdad. In one strike in northwestern Baghdad late on Friday, a U.S. helicopter fired a Hellfire missile killing 10 gunmen who attacked a checkpoint. In another incident later in the evening, soldiers on patrol returned fire after an attack, killing nine.

#3: Another 17 people have been killed in Baghdad's Kadhimiyah and other northern regions in clashes and mortar attacks, Iraqi and US officials said.

Iraqi health officials said on Saturday that the clashes have left 75 people dead in Baghdad's Sadr City, the bastion of Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, since Tuesday. Another 498 people were wounded in the sprawling neighbourhood of some two million people.

At least 133 bodies and 647 wounded have been brought to five hospitals in the eastern half of Baghdad over the past five days of clashes, the head of the health directorate for eastern Baghdad, Ali Bustan, said on Saturday.

#4: Health workers say the slum’s two hospitals are overflowing and understaffed, and a ring of Iraqi and U.S. forces around Sadr City makes it impossible to evacuate the wounded.

#5: A top aide of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr claimed on Saturday that several groups of Iraqi troops were surrendering their arms at the movement’s office in Baghdad’s Shite bastion of Sadr City. “They said “we can’t fight our own people. When we first joined the army it was to defeat terrorism and not to point the guns against the chests of our people’. We told them we would not take your weapons. They should be with you,” Afraiji said. “We gave them copies of Koran and told them to go back.” Several media photographers were at the Sadr office when the troops arrived.

Some 40 policemen in Sadr City handed over their weapons to al-Sadr's local office, one of the policemen told The Associated Press on Saturday.

#6: A roadside bomb killed one policeman and wounded three others when it hit their patrol in the Amil district of southwestern Baghdad, police said.

#7: Mortars also landed in Shiite areas of eastern Baghdad, killing at least one person and injuring 12, according to police. It was not clear from where the mortars were fired.

#8: A gunman was killed on Saturday while trying to blow up a bridge in the northern part of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, a security official said. "A terrorist fired an RPG-7 shell in the direction of the floating bridge of al-Koraiaat but the shell fell near him, killing him instantly," Maj. General Qassem Atta, the official spokesman for the Fardh al-Qanoon (law imposing) security plan, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

#9: Two mortar shells hit Arasat neighborhood, no casualties were reported.

Diyala Prv:
Khan Bani Saad:
#1: Three civilians of the same family were injured in an attack with mortars in the district of Bani Saad, 30 km north of Baaquba, on Saturday, a security official said. "A number of mortar shells fell on a house in Bani Saad district, wounding three civilians of the same family," the source, who declined to have his name mentioned, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq

#1: Six members of the Iraqi forces were killed Friday and 13 wounded in heavy fighting between the Mahdi Army and Iraqi forces in the city of Hilla, some 100 km south of Baghdad, security sources said Friday.

#2: Some 14 mortar shells hit the US consulate in the Iraqi city of Hillah, some 100 kilometres south of Baghdad on Saturday, security sources said. Black smoke was seen rising from the site, security sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
No losses have been reported from the incident.

#1: On Saturday violence was reported from the central Shiite city of Karbala in which 12 "criminals" were killed, local police chief Raed Jawdat Shakir said. He did not provide further details, but said 25 people were also arrested in the operation that began overnight.

Three gunmen were killed and six others wounded and in clashes between Mehdi Army fighters and Iraqi security forces in western Kerbala, 110 km (68 miles) southwest of Baghdad on Friday, police said. Eighteen gunmen were captured.

#1: The followers of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Saturday rejected Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's call to lay down their arms, a top aide of Sadr told AFP in Najaf. "Sadr has told us not to surrender our arms except to a state that can throw out the occupation," Haider al-Jabari, a member of Sadr movement's political bureau, told AFP.

#1: The southern city of Nasiriyah and its outskirts also saw fierce battles on Friday with local medics reporting at least 36 killed.

#1: A U.S. warplane strafed a house in the southern town of Basra, killing eight civilians, including two women and a child, Iraqi police said Saturday. Seven other people were wounded when the plane fired on a house in Basra's Hananiyah neighborhood overnight, a local policeman said on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.

#2: Meanwhile, clashes on the ground in Basra continued. "Last night we continued our operations in all areas of Basra," an Iraqi army officer told AFP on Saturday on condition of anonymity, adding that the crackdown will continue till "we have arrested all criminals."

#3: Fighting was reported in some Basra neighbourhoods on Saturday for the fifth straight day, with at least 23 people killed since hostilities began, according to Iraqi security officials and aid organisations.

#4: Also in Basra, Iraqi forces attacked a house in Mawfiqiya district, leaving four people killed from the same family, a Sadrist official told dpa.

#5: An Iraqi copter was shot down by Gunmen’s fire late on Friday in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, eyewitnesses said. "An Iraqi copter went down last night when Mahdi army gunmen fired at it near the Military Hospital in northern Basra,” an eyewitness told Asawt al-Iraq- Voices of Iraq-. Another eyewitness said that the copter was shot down in an area witnessing “fierce battles” between security forces and Mahdi army militia. So far the was no word available from Iraqi military on the incident.

#6: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is vowing to remain in Basra overseeing operations against Shiite militias until security in the city is restored.

#7: British forces today became directly involved for the first time in the battle to stamp out militias from the Iraqi city of Basra, engaging suspected Mehdi Army positions with artillery. Field pieces located in the British headquarters at Basra airport fired on a mortar crew in an insurgent stronghold of the southern port city shortly before 12.30pm local time (9.30am UK time). “We have not yet received reports of whether there have been any casualties.”

#8: U.S. jets widened the bombing of Basra on Saturday, dropping two precision-guided bombs on a suspected militia stronghold north of the city, British officials said. Maj. Tom Holloway, a British military spokesman, said U.S. jets dropped the two bombs on a militia position in Qarmat Ali shortly before 12:30 p.m. The number of people killed in the latest strikes was not yet known, he said. Iraqi police said that earlier in the day a U.S. warplane strafed a house and killed eight civilians,.

#1: The Turkish military says its warplanes hit Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq on Friday. It said the number of rebels killed in the air assault was not immediately clear.

#2: It also said that Turkish cross-border shelling Thursday killed 15 rebels. The military said it shelled areas in northern Iraq after it detected a group of Kurdish rebels preparing to attack Turkish targets.

#1: Four gunmen broke into the offices of Radio Zafar before dawn, tied up two security guards and then set the station's equipment ablaze, said Paghman district police chief Abdul Razaq.

#2: Also Friday, a three-hour clash broke out in southwestern Nimroz province after militants attacked poppy eradication forces in the Khash Rod district, provincial police chief Gen. Mohammad Ayub Badakhshi said. Two police officers were killed and three wounded, he said. Six suspects were arrested.

#3: Also Friday in Kandahar province, two gunmen assassinated a tribal leader who led efforts for peace and reconciliation in the area, said Panjwayi district chief Haji Shah Baran Khan.

#4: And in volatile Helmand province, U.S.-led coalition forces killed several Taliban militants after coming under attack, the coalition said in a statement Friday. The troops were searching for a Taliban insurgent involved in weapons trafficking in Helmand's Kajaki district when militants opened fire on them Wednesday. The troops responded, killing several insurgents and wounding a woman who was not involved in the hostilities.

#4: A bomb has exploded near a power plant in southern Afghanistan, killing two employees. Helmand province’s police chief says the remote-controlled bomb was hidden near the wall of the plant and was detonated Saturday morning. Mohammad Hussein Andiwal says two employees were killed and six were wounded. Two civilian passersby were also wounded. Andiwal says the plant machinery was slightly damaged, but the power supply was not interrupted.The explosion hit in the Gereshk district of Helmand

Casualty Reports:

Mark Ormrod of 40 Commando, lost both his legs and an arm in a Taliban landmine blast, was blown up by a landmine during a foot patrol in Helmand province on Christmas Eve. The 24-year-old has spent the last three months in intensive care and rehabilitation and will return soon to his home in Plymouth.

Kyle Anderson was a state wrestling champ. 4 years ago, an explosion in Iraq left him badly hurt. Now, Anderson is back on his feet and learning how to talk again.