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

Thursday, March 27, 2008

War News for Thursday, March 27, 2008

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in a hostile fire attack in an eastern neighborhood of Baghdad on Wednesday, March 26th. Eight other soldier were wounded in the attack.

The DoD is reporting a new death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in a a non-hostile incident in Djibouti on Sunday, March 23. No other details were released and the incident is under investigation.

The BBC is reporting the death of a Danish soldier in a direct fire attack in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. One other soldier was wounded in the attack. Nato reports the death was on Wednesday, March 26th. Here's the Danish MoD statement.

Security incidents:

#1: A giant column of black smoke was visible near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone on Thursday after an apparent mortar strike, a Reuters reporter said.

Several mortars fell onto the fortified Green Zone, central Baghdad, on Thursday, a number of workers in the Green Zone said, while the U.S. forces confirmed the attack.“Several mortar rounds fell onto the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad and billows of black smoke were seen rising from the area with no word on casualties,” the workers, who refused to mention their names, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

Mortar rounds crashed into the heavily fortified Green Zone for the third straight day, injuring three U.S. government employees, all U.S. citizens, said U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo.

12 mortars hit the Green Zone starting at 10 am until this report was prepared at 2 pm, Thursday, said Iraqi Police. The U.S. Embassy said no one was injured.

The Green Zone diplomatic and government compound in central Baghdad was hit by repeated rocket and mortar fire in some of the worst barrages in months.

#2: Fighting has spread to Sadr's stronghold in Baghdad and other cities, with at least 50 people killed in the clashes countrywide since Tuesday, according to Iraqi officials.

Officials said the death toll from clashes in Sadr City Tuesday and Wednesday had risen to 30.

Yarmouk hospital in Baghdad on Thursday received 20 soldiers wounded in the clashes that flared up between al-Mahdi army fighters and security forces in the southern Iraqi province of Basra, a medical source said. The hospital received 20 wounded soldiers, most of them are in critical condition,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

Updating Sadr City news, since the fighting started on Monday until now, the toll has reached 38 killed and 47 wounded, Iraqi police said.

#3: Iraqi officials reported 17 more people killed in overnight clashes in Baghdad's main Shiite district of Sadr City

#4: The U.S. military said Wednesday that 16 rockets had slammed into the U.S.-protected Green Zone. One soldier with the U.S.-led coalition, two American civilians and an Iraqi soldier were wounded in the attacks, it said.

#5: In other violence reported by police, a booby-trapped car exploded near the Iraqi Red Crescent Society's offices in Baghdad, killing two civilians and wounding five.

#6: A roadside bomb struck a U.S. patrol on a road through Sadr City late on Wednesday and American troops cordoned off the area, a U.S. military spokesman said. He did not give information on casualties.

#7: An official source in the Electricity Ministry said that most power stations stopped functioning because of direct armed attacks in central and southern Iraq in the last two days. “Most power plants and energy lines were attacked in the last two days by mortar shells and machine guns,” the source, who asked for anonymity, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq. The attacks damaged several stations and suspended the work there,” he added. “The Ministry, through the operations room headed by Oil Minister Karim Wahid, continues its work to have the power restored,” he also said.Baghdad has been suffering under a blackout since yesterday, which disturbed the daily life of citizens.

#8: Several mortar shells were fired on Thursday morning at a U.S. base in southeastern Baghdad, while sirens continued to wail inside the base, said a police source. "Five mortar rounds landed on the U.S. al-Rustoumiya base in southeastern Baghdad," the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq. "U.S. forces cordoned off several streets near the base while aircrafts scoured the area for the source of the attack," the source explained.

#9: A mortar barrage hit the Ur neighborhood in northeastern Baghdad, killing a civilian and wounding two others, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

#10: Two more mortar rounds landed on the Karrada neighborhood in central Baghdad, wounding a civilian, the source said.

#11: Xinhua correspondent at the scene saw one mortar round hit the street in front of the Iranian Embassy to Iraq just outside the Green Zone, which houses the Iraqi government offices and foreign embassies, including the U.S. one.

#12: Around midday, fierce clashes erupted between Mahdi Army militia, loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and Iraqi security forces in the Shiite neighborhood of Tobchi, the source said. The clashes broke out when gunmen from Mahdi Army attacked the Shiite mosque of al-Salam which affiliated to a rival Shiite faction in the neighborhood, prompting the guards of the mosque to fire back, he said. Sounds of explosions and machinegun rattled in the neighborhood as black smoke could be seen rising over the area.

#13: Three people were killed and 15 wounded by a mortar attack on a bus terminal in central Baghdad, police said.

3 mortars hit al-Alawi bus station, central Baghdad, killing 2 civilians, injuring 15.

#14: Gunmen attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint in the Sadr City district of northeastern Baghdad, wounding four soldiers, police said.

#15: An Interior Ministry official says the well-known civilian spokesman for the Baghdad security operation has been kidnapped and three bodyguards killed in an ambush in the capital.
The attack against Tahseen Sheikhly comes amid fierce clashes between Iraqi security forces and Shiite militia fighters in Baghdad and several southern cities. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information. The official says gunmen stormed Sheikhly's house Thursday in a Mahdi Army stronghold in southeastern Baghdad and torched it.

#16: For the third day, Shiite militias loyal to Sadr sealed off their neighborhoods, blocking roads with refrigerators, burning tires and garbage. Residents were forced to close shops and stay home from work and schools.

#17: A South African citizen was killed in Iraq this week, the foreign affairs department said on Thursday.It declined to give the name of the man who died on Wednesday. Details of the incident were also not immediately available. The department said in a statement the family of the deceased had been informed, and assistance would be given with the repatriation of the body.

#18: Two people were killed and 12 wounded when mortar shells fell in Karaj Alawy area in Baghdad, as two other mortar shells fell eastern the Iraqi capital.

#19: Clashes in al-Mansour district, from Iskan neighbourhood to Abu Jafar al-Mansour began this morning between Mahdi Army members and security forces. 3 Iraqi Army soldiers were injured and the clashes continued at the time of publication

#20: Clashes between Mahdi Army members and National Police in al-Amin neighbourhood started this morning and continue until the preparation of this report at 2 pm. Casualties have not been reported until this time.

#21: The office of al-Da'wa Party in al-Shaab neighbourhood has been torched, causing only material damages.

#22: Shi'ite militants clashed with Iraqi security forces in Baghdad's Washash, Iskan, Shurta, Hurriya, Kamiliya, Fudhailiya, Ur, Shula, Mashtal and Sadr City districts, Baghdad security plan spokesman Major-General Qassim Moussawi said. Civilians and security force members had been killed or wounded, he said, but he gave no figures.

#23: Eight soldiers were wounded in clashes with Mehdi Army fighters in Talabiya in eastern Baghdad, police said.

#24: Also Thursday, a U.S. government official was killed when militants fired rockets into the Green Zone, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said.

#25: A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed at approximately 4:30 p.m. March 27 after being struck by an improvised explosive device in eastern Baghdad while conducting a combat patrol.

#26: One person was killed and four others wounded when two mortar rounds landed on an Interior Ministry prison in eastern Baghdad, police said.

#27: Two soldiers were wounded in clashes with Mehdi Army fighters in Zaafaraniya district in southern Baghdad, police said.

#28: Nine people were killed and 95 others wounded in clashes between Iraqi security forces and Mehdi Army members in different parts of Baghdad, said Major-General Qassim Moussawi, spokesman for Iraqi security forces in Baghdad.

#29: Random fire by gunmen passing in a speeding car killed a father and his son, 13 years old in Talbiyah, north Baghdad at 5 this afternoon.

#30: 1 civilian injured when gunmen opened fire randomly across Sabah al-Khayat Square in Shaab area in north Baghdad at around 5 pm.

#31: 1 mortar round fell in Battawin neighbourhood, which is a largely commercial area in central Baghdad, injuring 2 civilians at 5 pm.

#32: Clashes between gunmen and Iraqi Army in Zafaraniyah, southeast Baghdad at around 5.30 pm left 2 soldiers seriously injured.

#33: 2 mortar rounds hit the Ministry of Interior, al-Tasfeerat compound in central Baghdad at 6 pm killing 1 employee and injuring 4.

#34: A mortar shell hit a residential building in Karrada Dakhil, central Baghdad at 6.15 pm, injuring 2 residents and causing material damage.

#35: Clashes broke out between National Police and gunmen in Husseiniyah neighbourhood at around 6.30 pm and the clashes continued at the time of publication.

#36: 4 mortar rounds hit the US military base in Rustamiyah at 6.30 pm. No casualties were reported and no comment was available from the US military at the time of publication.

#37: Gunmen target a police patrol at the entrance of al-Hurriyah neighbourhood at 8 pm injuring 1 policeman.

#39: Thursday at 8 pm the Shoala Police Station fell in the control of an armed group.

#40: 5 unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad by Iraqi Police today. 1 in Ur, 1 in Zayuna, 1 in Husseiniyah, 1 in Mansour, 1 in Alawi al-Hilla, Sheikh Ma'roof.

Diyala Prv:
Balad Ruz:
#1: Four unknown bodies were found on Thursday in Baladruz, southeast of Diala, a security source said. “Police patrols found four unidentified bodies on the main road in Baladruz district,” the source, who requested anonymity, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

#1: Iraqi and US forces found 37 bodies in a mass grave uncovered in the restive province of Diyala, northeast of Baghdad, on Thursday, a US military statement said. The grave was found near the town of Muqdadiyah in the province which is a stronghold of Al-Qaeda in Iraq militants.

#1: A roadside bomb exploded targeting a civilian car in the town of Khanaqin injuring 2 civilians.

Khan Beni Saad:
#1: The District Commissioner's office in Khan Beni Saad was targeted with mortar fire by the Mahdi Army today. The security forces announced a curfew in the town in order to track the armed group.

#1: A roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol, killing four policemen and wounding four in the town of Mahaweel, 75 km (45 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

#1: In Diwaniyah, seven Iraqi soldiers and a policeman died in clashes with the Mahdi Army. Two Shiite militiamen were killed, provincial police said.

#2: One gunman was killed and eight others captured after they attacked a police patrol in central Diwaniya, 180 km (112 miles) south of Baghdad, army Colonel Ghasan Mohammed said. One policeman was wounded in the attack.

Wassit Prv:
#1: (Kut) The death toll from the armed clashes that flared up last Monday between security forces and gunmen in Wassit rose to 40 dead and 75 wounded, the chief of local police said on Thursday. The death toll from the clashes in the province rose to 40 dead and 75 wounded, all of them civilians, including women and children,” General Abdul Hanin Hamoud Saleh al-Amara said at a press conference in Wassit. “Police and army forces, backed by U.S. troops, controlled the province,” he added.

#1: At least 44 people were killed in clashes Thursday between Iraqi and US forces, and Shiite militiamen in the central Iraqi city of Kut, police chief Abdul Hanin al-Amara told AFP. "The security forces launched an operation at around midnight (2100 GMT Wednesday) to take back areas under the control of Shiite gunmen," Amara said. "At least 40 gunmen and four policemen were killed. Around 75 people were wounded. Police have now imposed full control on these neighbourhoods

Maysan Prv:
#1: On Tuesday night, a bomb damaged a domestic oil pipeline that links the Noor oil field in the southern Maysan province to the refinery in Basra, officials said. It was expected to take several days to repair the damage.

#1: Gunmen torch Badr Organization Bureau located in Hitteen Square, in the centre of Amara city. They launched 4 RPGs at the bureau, three of which hit the bureau and burned the building to the ground. The fourth hit an adjacent house, injuring one of its inhabitants.

#2: Clashes between Iraqi Army and Mahdi Army members as the regular army was crossing what is commonly known as the Yugoslav Bridge, north Amara. 2 civilians were killed and 7 injured by cross fire.

#1: Two cops, including an office, were killed and eight more were wounded in the clashes,” he added.An eyewitness from al-Ghadier region, 3 km south of Karbala, told the VOI that unknown armed men attacked a checkpoint on Wednesday night and set two police vehicles ablaze.Another witness from al-Askari neighborhood said clashes broke out at 8 pm on Wednesday between policemen and gunmen.

#2: A mortar round landed on a police station,” he noted.

#1: Gunmen attacked Iraqi troops heading to Basra, killing two soldiers in the town of al-Rifai, near Nassiriya, 375 km (235 miles) southwest of Baghdad, police said.

#1: In the central city of Hilla, where Iraqi forces have been battling Shiite militiamen, four policemen were killed in a bomb attack, police said.

Three policemen were killed and four others were wounded on Thursday when an explosive charge went off south of Hilla, a police source said. “An improvised explosive device went off targeting a police vehicle patrol in al-Kafl region, south of Hilla, killing three policemen and injuring four,” the source, who requested anonymity, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq

#2: the number of deaths from fighting in the southern city of Hillah to at least 60.

Clashes have resumed in the city centre of Hilla city causing the injury of 30 people, 22 of whom were police and army, 8 civilians amongst who was a woman and the death of 1 soldier and 2 policemen.

#3: Clashes in Chiffel neibourhood inside Hilla city continue, and the offices of al-Da'wa Party and the Supreme Council were torched by members of al-Mahdi Army causing the death of 3 policemen and the injury of 4.

#1: Three policemen were killed and three others, including two soldiers, were wounded in clashes with Mehdi Army fighters in Hamza, 35 km (22 miles) south of Hilla, police said.

#1: Meanwhile, a bomb Thursday struck the key Zubair-1 crude pipeline -- the largest pipeline to the Basra export terminal -- and will likely affect exports "heavily," the South Oil Company official said.

Iraqi oil workers will need three days to repair a crude export pipeline in the south which was bombed on Thursday, if a raging fire is put out, a Southern Oil Company official told Reuters. "Firefighters are struggling to control the fire, which is huge. A lot of crude has spilt onto the ground. The main pumping station of Zubair 1 was shut down. We will not be able to repair it unless security is provided for the crews," the official said.

#2: "Power cuts and shift workers unable to reach their work places in oil fields and pumping stations have reduced Iraq's crude oil production and exports," the official said by telephone from Basra. He didn't say how much crude oil production and exports were reduced. A shipping agent in the Persian Gulf Thursday said the rate of Iraqi oil exports from southern terminals has been down to 50,000 barrels an hour, or 1.2 million barrels a day. That is below the normal rate of around 65,000 barrels an hour, or 1.56 million barrels a day.

#3: "If the government doesn't take necessary measures to reduce power cuts and help oil workers reach their work places and transport food to workers in these work places, production would be suspended as soon as tomorrow (Friday)," the SOC official said, adding workers cannot reach their work places and there is a lack of food because of the curfew imposed by the government in and around Basra province.

#4: In Basra, residents have said that they are beginning to run out of food and water.

#5: Basra's police chief Adbul Jalil Khalaf said he survived an assassination attempt overnight, in which three of his bodyguards were killed.

#6: Heavy fighting erupted in a bastion of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's militia in Basra onThursday, witnesses said, as military operations against gunmen in the southern city entered a third day. An AFP correspondent said rocket propelled grenades and mortar, machine gun and small arms fire rocked the central Jumhuriyah neighbourhood from early morning. Iraqi troops launched security operations on Tuesday in neighbourhoods controlled by Sadr's Mahdi Army militia under orders from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to rid the city of "lawless gangs".

There was fighting Thursday in Jamhouriya, one of five neighborhoods the Mehdi Army controls, and Muqal, according to an official from Basra province and witnesses. Speaking on a condition of anonymity, the provincial official said weapons such as machine guns and grenades were stolen from a military post in the Muqal area.

An assault by thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police officers to regain control of the southern port city of Basra stalled Wednesday as Shiite militiamen in the Mahdi Army fought daylong hit-and-run battles and refused to withdraw from the neighborhoods that form their base of power there.

Col. Abbas al-Tamimi, media officer for the 14th Iraqi Army Division operating in the city, said he expected the fighting to escalate. “The gunmen have heavier and more sophisticated weapons than we have,” he said.

#7: The International Committee of the Red Cross put the toll from the Basra clashes at 20 dead but other, unconfirmed reports said 40 were killed.

#8: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is promising to pursue his fight against Shiite militias in Basra to ''the end.'' Al-Maliki made his pledge to Basra area tribal leaders Thursday as military operations against the militias continued for a fourth day despite stiff resistance. Al-Maliki told the leaders ''we have made up our minds'' to enter the fight ''and we will continue until the end. No retreat.''

#9: Fighting in Basra between the Mahdi Army and the security forces has been ongoing since early Tuesday, and the toll of the fighting is at least 97 killed and around 300 injured, a medical source in the Directorate of Health in Basra said.

#10: 5 Iraqi Army soldiers from Anbar were killed in the fighting in Basra. Their bodies were returned to their families today.

#1: Gunmen also killed a U.S.-allied Sunni fighter and wounded his wife and daughter after storming his house in the northern city of Samarra late Wednesday.

Gunmen attack a Sahwa, US sponsored militia, member's house in al-Khadhraa neighbourhood, downtown Samara and kill both him and his son and injured his wife and one of his daughters. Joint forces, Iraqi army and US military announce a curfew in order to search for the armed group, said First Lieutenant Muthanna Shakir. US military did not include this report in their release.

#1: Gunmen attacked an Iraqi army patrol in the town of Daquq, 45 km (30 miles) south of Kirkuk, killing four soldiers, police said.

Gunmen assassinated the Commander of Garmian Peshmerga Forces, of the KDP. The gunmen opened fire upon his motorcade in a town near Daqooq, south Kirkuk, killing him and 4 of his security detail.

#1: A mortar shell fell on Tel al-Jarad, Baiji city, yesterday evening killing a woman Mona Ajaj, injuring 5 civilians, amongst whom were 3 children and a woman.

#2: IED exploded targeting a soldier as he left his home going to work, in Malha neighbourhood, north Baiji, causing his death.

#1: A Kurdish police officer was killed Thursday and six members of the Kurdish security forces were wounded in an explosion in the city of Kirkuk, some 250 kilometres north of Baghdad, media reports said. The Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency said that a vehicle bomb targeted a Kurdish patrol in Kirkuk's Qods street. The blast killed a police officer and wounded six members of the Kurdish forces.

A car bomb killed two Kurdish Peshmerga security force members and wounded six, including two civilians, in the northern city of Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

A suicide car bomb targeted an Asayesh, a Kurd security intelligence agency, vehicle killing an officer, Captain Tayib Mahmoud, and injuring 2 of his security detail and 5 civilians in the proximity of the explosion. The incident took place in al-Quds Street, Tiseen neighbourhood, downtown Kirkuk city early Thursday morning.

Al Anbar Prv:
#1: 2 ready-to-use improvised explosive devices were found by Iraqi Police near 40 Street in a garbage container at 7 am Thursday. They were propane gas cylinders (used for cooking) with an addition of TNT explosive material. They were removed safely by the police and a curfew aided the security forces to capture the outlaws and the curfew was lifted at one pm.

#1: Police forces on Thursday managed to defuse a bomb, planted on a road in central Falluja, a police source said.

#1: Insurgents attacked a NATO patrol in southern Afghanistan, killing one soldier and wounding another, the alliance said Thursday. A NATO statement said the NATO soldiers were patrolling when they were hit in a "direct fire attack" Wednesday in volatile Helmand province. The nationalities of the victims have not been released. Most troops in Helmand are British, though U.S. forces and others also operate there.

A Danish soldier has been killed and another wounded in an attack by Taleban insurgents in southern Afghanistan, the Nato force Isaf says. The soldiers were patrolling when they were hit in a "direct fire attack" in Helmand province, the alliance said in a statement.

#2: Also in Helmand, militants fired a rocket at opium poppy eradication police Wednesday, killing two policemen and wounding another, said provincial police chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal.

#3: A spokesman for the German military says three soldiers have been injured in an attack on their convoy in northern Afghanistan. The spokesman for the German military command headquarters in Potsdam told The AP that two soldiers were severely injured and a third soldier was slightly hurt when their armored vehicles were overturned by a roadside explosion near Kunduz early Thursday.

Casualty Reports:

Retired Brig. Gen. C. William Fox is in the Intensive Care Unit at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He is in stable but critical condition with steady improvement, Chuck Dasey, a spokesman for the medical center in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. Fox, a urologist, is a former commander of Fort Bragg’s 44th Medical Command. He was one of two people injured when a roadside bomb detonated on Feb. 21 in Basra, south of Baghdad, the San Antonio Express-News reported. After leaving Fort Bragg, Fox became commander of Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

Corporal Wesley Barrientos, 23, lost both his legs when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq last December. Since the accident he has been recovering at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. On Wednesday.