Wednesday, April 30, 2008


"Women Are Being Beheaded for Taking Their Veil Off": Honor Killings On Rise in Iraq

By Terri Judd, Independent UKPosted on April 30, 2008, Printed on April 30, 2008

At first glance Shawbo Ali Rauf appears to be slumbering on the grass, her pale brown curls framing her face, her summer skirt spread about her. But the awkward position of her limbs and the splattered blood reveal the true horror of the scene.

The 19-year-old Iraqi was, according to her father, murdered by her own in-laws, who took her to a picnic area in Dokan and shot her seven times. Her crime was to have an unknown number on her mobile phone. Her "honor killing" is just one in a grotesque series emerging from Iraq, where activists speak of a "genocide" against women in the name of religion.

In the latest such case, it was reported yesterday that a 17-year-old girl, Rand Abdel-Qader, was stabbed to death last month by her father for becoming infatuated with a British soldier serving in southern Iraq.

In Basra alone, police acknowledge that 15 women a month are murdered for breaching Islamic dress codes. Campaigners insist it is a conservative figure.

Violence against women is rampant, rising every day with the power of the militias. Beheadings, rapes, beatings, suicides through self-immolation, genital mutilation, trafficking and child abuse masquerading as marriage of girls as young as nine are all on the increase.

Du'a Khalil Aswad, 17, from Nineveh, was executed by stoning in front of mob of 2,000 men for falling in love with a boy outside her Yazidi tribe. Mobile phone images of her broken body transmitted on the internet led to sectarian violence, international outrage and calls for reform. Her father, Khalil Aswad, speaking one year after her death in April last year, has revealed that none of those responsible had been prosecuted and his family remained "outcasts" in their own tribe.

.View this story online at:


MSNBC'S host of "Hardball," Chris Matthews, departed from his nightly rants on the Hillary, Obama and McCain POTUS race, just long enough to devote one segment of his Wednesday show to the possibility the United States is laying plans to go to war with IRAN.

FOX NEWS has been hyping going to war with IRAN for months, and now CBS News is talking about a U.S. attack plan aimed at Iran.

"Hostile" Iran Sparks U.S. Attack Plan

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2008

(CBS) A second American aircraft carrier steamed into the Persian Gulf on Tuesday as the Pentagon ordered military commanders to develop new options for attacking Iran. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports that the planning is being driven by what one officer called the "increasingly hostile role" Iran is playing in Iraq - smuggling weapons into Iraq for use against American troops.

"What the Iranians are doing is killing American servicemen and -women inside Iraq," said Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. U.S. officials are also concerned by Iranian harassment of U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf as well as Iran's still growing nuclear program. New pictures of Iran's uranium enrichment plant show the country's defense minister in the background, as if deliberately mocking a recent finding by U.S. intelligence that Iran had ceased work on a nuclear weapon.

No attacks are imminent and the last thing the Pentagon wants is another war, but Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen has warned Iran not to assume the U.S. military can't strike. "I have reserve capability, in particular our Navy and our Air Force so it would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability," Mullen said. Targets would include everything from the plants where weapons are made to the headquarters of the organization known as the Quds Force which directs operations in Iraq.

Later this week Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is expected to confront the Iranians with evidence of their meddling and demand a halt.

If that doesn't produce results, the State Department has begun drafting an ultimatum that would tell the Iranians to knock it off - or else.


The month of April is shaping up to be one of the bloodiest months in a long, long time in Iraq with 925 Iraqi civilians killed in Sadr City alone, and 47 US soldiers or Marines killed during the month of April.

Sadr City bloodshed kills 925 Iraqis

by Salam Faraj Wed Apr 30, 12:08 PM ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Clashes between Shiite militiamen and security forces have killed more than 900 people in Baghdad's Sadr City, an Iraqi official said on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed to keep up the offensive.

The latest death toll from the Sadr City fighting that erupted late last month is set to make April the deadliest month this year, denting US and Iraqi government claims of improved security.

"There were 925 martyrs in Sadr City and 2,605 others have been wounded," Tehseen Sheikhly, spokesman for the government's Baghdad security plan, told reporters.


Killing of three soldiers in separate attacks in Baghdad pushes toll up to 47

The Associated Press

BAGHDAD - The killings of three U.S. soldiers in separate attacks in Baghdad pushed the American death toll for April up to 47, making it the deadliest month since September.
One soldier died when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. The other died of wounds sustained when he was attacked by small-arms fire, the military said Wednesday. Both incidents occurred Tuesday in northwestern Baghdad.

A third soldier died in a roadside bombing Tuesday night in the east of the capital, the military said.

The statement did not give a more specific location. But the eastern half of Baghdad includes embattled Sadr City and other neighborhoods that have been the focus of intense combat between Shiite militants and U.S.-Iraqi troops for more than a month.

4,059 since 2003In all, at least 4,059 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.


Study: Recruits on waivers get promoted faster

By Lolita C. Baldor - The Associated PressPosted :
Wednesday Apr 30, 2008 6:08:08 EDT

WASHINGTON — Soldiers who need special waivers to get into the Army because of bad behavior go AWOL more often and face more courts-martial. But they also get promoted faster and re-enlist at a higher rate, according to an internal military study obtained by The Associated Press.

The Army study late last year concluded that taking a chance on a well-screened applicant with a criminal, bad driving or drug record usually pays off. And both the Army and the Marines have been bringing in more recruits with blemished records. Still, senior leaders have called for additional studies, to help determine the impact of the waivers on the Army.

“We believe that so far the return outweighs the risk,” said Army Col. Kent M. Miller, who headed the team that conducted the study.

The information has not been released to the public, but the AP obtained a copy of the study.

Click on this link to read more.


Pending any further US deaths on Wednesday, this is an entire list of US military deaths for the month of April including name, hometown, province in Iraq and cause of death. Click on "BLUE" to read further details.

Place of Death - Province
Cause of Death
US: 2 UK: 0 Other: 0

Baghdad (northeastern part)
Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire

Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
US: 4 UK: 0 Other: 0

Specialist David P. McCormick
Baghdad (western part)
Hostile - hostile fire - Rocket fire

Hostile - hostile fire - indirect fire

Hostile - hostile fire - indirect fire

Hostile - hostile fire - indirect fire
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0

Staff Sergeant Shaun J. Whitehead
Iskandariyah - Babil
Hostile - hostile fire - IED, small arms fire
US: 4 UK: 0 Other: 0

Sergeant Guadalupe Cervantes Ramirez
Camp Arifjan
Non-hostile - vehicle accident

Private 1st Class John T. Bishop
Golden Hills - Salah Ad Din
Non-hostile - vehicle rollover

1st Lieutenant Timothy W. Cunningham
Golden Hills - Salah Ad Din
Non-hostile - vehicle rollover

Staff Sergeant Ronald C. Blystone
Baghdad (eastern part)
Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire
US: 3 UK: 0 Other: 0

Private Ronald R. Harrison
FOB Falcon (nr. Baghdad)
Non-hostile - injury

Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter
Ramadi (near) - Al Anbar Province
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack (VBIED)

Corporal Jonathan T. Yale
Ramadi (near) - Al Anbar Province
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack (VBIED)
US: 4 UK: 0 Other: 0

Airman Apprentice Adrian M. Campos
Dubai -

1st Lieutenant Matthew R. Vandergrift
Basra - Basrah
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Specialist Steven J. Christofferson
Baiji - Salah Ad Din
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Sergeant Adam J. Kohlhaas
Baiji - Salah Ad Din
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0

Petty Officer 1st Class Cherie L. Morton
Galali, Muharraq
US: 2 UK: 0 Other: 0

Specialist Benjamin K. Brosh
Balad - Salah Ad Din
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack (VBIED)

Specialist Lance O. Eakes
Baghdad (north of)
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0

Staff Sergeant Jason L. Brown
Sama Village
Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire, grenade
US: 4 UK: 0 Other: 0

Specialist Arturo Huerta-Cruz
Tuz - Salah Ad Din
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Sergeant Joseph A. Richard III
Baghdad (northeastern part)
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Corporal Richard J. Nelson
Al Anbar Province
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Lance Corporal Dean D. Opicka
Al Anbar Province
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0

Specialist William E. Allmon
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
US: 5 UK: 0 Other: 0

Technical Sergeant Anthony L. Capra
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Specialist Jeremiah C. Hughes
Non-hostile - injury

Sergeant Jesse A. Ault
Tunis (died in Baghdad) - Salah Ad Din
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Sergeant Shaun P. Tousha
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Specialist Jacob J. Fairbanks
Non-hostile - suicide
US: 2 UK: 0 Other: 0

Staff Sergeant Jeffery L. Hartley
Kharguliah - Baghdad
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Major Mark E. Rosenberg
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
US: 4 UK: 0 Other: 0

Sergeant Timothy M. Smith
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Sergeant Michael T. Lilly
Hostile - hostile fire - RPG attack

Specialist Jason C. Kazarick
Hostile - hostile fire - RPG attack

Sergeant Richard A. Vaughn
Baghdad (eastern part)
Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire
US: 7 UK: 0 Other: 0

Staff Sergeant Jeremiah E. McNeal
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Staff Sergeant Emanuel Pickett
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Private 1st Class Shane D. Penley
Rustamiyah - Baghdad

Colonel Stephen K. Scott
Baghdad (Green Zone)
Hostile - hostile fire - rocket attack

Major Stuart A. Wolfer
Baghdad (Green Zone)
Hostile - hostile fire - rocket attack

Captain Ulises Burgos-Cruz
Diyala Province (Died in Balad)
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Specialist Matthew T. Morris
Diyala Province (Died in Balad)
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0

Staff Sergeant Travis L. Griffin
Baghdad (near)
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

US: 46 UK: 0 Other: 0


Since The New York Times reported on the hidden ties between media military analysts and the Pentagon on April 20, ABC, CBS, and NBC have still not mentioned the report. By contrast, during their April 28 evening news broadcasts, all three networks reported on the Vanity Fair photo of Miley Cyrus, according to a Media Matters for America search* of the Nexis news database.

Times reporter David Barstow wrote that "the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform" these military analysts, many of whom have clients with an interest in obtaining Pentagon contracts, "into a kind of media Trojan horse -- an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks."

As Media Matters noted, the three networks also reportedly declined to participate in a segment on the April 24 edition of PBS' NewsHour regarding the Times story; Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC also refused to appear in the PBS segment.

By contrast, during their April 28 evening newscasts, all three broadcast networks reported on the Vanity Fair photo of Miley Cyrus, star of Disney Channel's Hannah Montana: ABC devoted about two and a half minutes to that story, while CBS and NBC each devoted about two minutes to it.

* Search terms = "publication (ABC or CBS or CNN or MSNBC or NBC or NPR or Fox) and (Pentagon OR (Department w/2 Defense) OR New York Times OR (military w/10 analys!))" Programs searched in the Nexis database on networks that didn't mention the Times report include:
ABC = Good Morning America, Nightline, World News with Charles Gibson
CBS = CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, The Early Show, Face the Nation
NBC = Nightly News with Brian Williams, Today, Meet the Press

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Half of Vets Suffering Brain and Mind Injuries Go Untreated, But Pentagon Pretends Nothing's Going on

By Penny Coleman, AlterNetPosted on April 29, 2008, Printed on April 29, 2008

The silverbacks are grooming and posturing at the microphones.

Cammo and khaki, wall to wall. Bob Ireland, an Air Force psychiatrist and consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General, welcomes the audience to the Department of Defense's sixth annual Suicide Prevention Conference and makes jokes about how suicide prevention has been the DoD's bastard child, homeless and parentless.

In January 2008, the child nobody wanted finally managed to find a home. The Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury assumed responsibility for an issue and an injury that the military has hidden and denied for generations.

It's been left up to Lt. Col. Steven Pflanz, the senior psychiatry policy analyst for the Air Force surgeon general, to report on the mental healthcare practices that have been developed for those on active duty. Kerry Knox, director of the VA's Center for Excellence on Suicide Prevention, was scheduled to share with him these introductory remarks, but is not in attendance. Apologies are made, but no one mentions how obviously difficult it would be for her to get into the self-congratulatory HOOAH! spirit of this conference when her boss just got busted big time for hiding VA suicide statistics, not just to the media but to Congress as well.
"Shh!" Ira Katz, the VA's mental health director, coyly began an email to the agency's chief communications director -- and inconveniently made public just this week. "Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among the veterans we see in our medical facilities. Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?"

Click on this link to read the full story:


U.S. shelling on Sadr City leaves 84 casualties

Baghdad - Voices of Iraq
Tuesday , 29 /04 /2008 Time 8:59:20

Baghdad, Apr 29, (VOI) - The death toll from the U.S. shelling on Sadr City in the past 6 hours reached 24 dead and 60 wounded, a medical source said on Tuesday.

“The U.S. shelling in sectors 10 and 11 in Sadr City from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm on Tuesday left 24 dead and 60 wounded, most of them women and children,” the source, who asked for anonymity, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI).

Sadr City, a stronghold of Sadr's Mahdi Army militias, has been witnessing armed clashes since Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced last month the commencement of a security operation codenamed Saulat al-Forsan (Knights' Assault) in the port city of Basra, Iraq's second largest province and an oil-hub, 590 km south of Baghdad, which he said targeted "outlaws."Hundreds of Sadr supporters were killed or wounded in intense fighting, which still continues.


Former KBR employees say workers stole from Iraq, ‘melted down gold to make spurs.

Yesterday, two former employees of embattled contract company KBR told a congressional panel that some of their coworkers frequently stole money and artwork from Iraq. One said that “some of her American colleagues doing construction work in Iraqi palaces and municipal buildings took woodcarvings, tapestries and crystal ‘and even melted down gold to make spurs for cowboy boots.’” Another said that “a KBR foreman tried to take military equipment, including two rocket launchers, detonators and ammunition.” Two weeks ago, the firm was awarded a $150 million, 10-year contract for work with the U.S. Army.


The mainstream media continues to focus all their coverage on the dustup over Rev. Jeremy Wright's comments and a concerted effort to torpedo the campaign of Barak Obama while in Iraq more US soldiers have been killed and there is widespread violence in Baghdad and every province in Iraq,

The mainstream media doesn't report on Iraq anymore, but we continue to bring readers of this blog the latest casualties from the Iraq war and the escalating violence that is sweeping across Iraq.

To obtain further information on the stories below just click on the part in "blue."

Casualty Reports:Spc. Ryan Bair of the Oklahoma Army National Guard. Just last month, Bair was manning the gun turret of his Humvee during an escort mission in Iraq when a bomb went off nearby. As he turned his head in the direction of the blast -- at that very precise second -- a sniper's bullet glanced off the left side of his helmet, just above the ear. Had he not turned his head in that flash of time, he would have been killed. Even then, the impact of the bullet knocked him down with a concussion-type injury. Many of his fellow troops in the Humvee thought he was dead. The 26-year-old Bair, attached to Company C, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Brigade, reflected on that pivotal day in March.

Sgt. Marcus Kuboy a Twin Cities soldier wounded in a bomb attack a year ago while serving in the Minnesota National Guard. The Robbinsdale native, served three years of active duty for the Minnesota Guard until he suffered serious injuries in March 2007. He was patrolling the outskirts of Fallujah with his unit when his vehicle ran over an IED bomb. The explosion severely injured Duboy's legs and broke his back, left arm and jaw. In his initial nine months of recovery, Kuboy endured eight surgeries and spent four months at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington. Kuboy, 30, a medic, is now getting more treatment in the Twin Cities.

MNF-Iraq is reporting the deaths of three Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in an indirect-fire attack in an eastern neighborhood of Baghdad on Monday, April 28th. No other details were released.

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in an indirect-fire attack in a western neighborhood of Baghdad on Monday, April 28th. No other details were released.NATO is reporting the death of an ISAF soldier while on a patrol in the Tag Ab Valley, Kapisa province, Afghanistan on Tuesday, April 29th. One other soldier was wounded. No additional details were released but we assume this to be an American soldier.

Security incidents:Baghdad:#1: Eight people were killed and 67 were wounded Tuesday in Baghdad's embattled eastern Sadr City district. Overnight clashes resulted in 42 injuries, officials at the Imam Ali and al-Sadr general hospitals said. Eight more were killed and 25 wounded in continuing firefights on Tuesday morning, said the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.Twenty-four militants were killed and four US soldiers wounded in fierce clashes between US soldiers and fighters in the Sadr City district of Baghdad on Tuesday, the American military said. The fighting erupted at around 9:30 am (0630 GMT) when a US patrol was targeted with small arms fire in which a soldier was wounded, Lieutenant Colonel Steven Stover told AFP.As the soldier was being evacuated a US vehicle was struck by two roadside bombs, small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, he said. The "complex" attack damaged the vehicle and wounded three other soldiers, he said, adding that another US vehicle was later damaged by a third road bomb. Stover said US soldiers defended themselves and "killed 24 enemy forces in a protracted gunbattle," adding that the firefight was still continuing.Shiite militants ambushed a U.S. patrol in Baghdad's embattled Sadr City district on Tuesday and more than two dozen people were killed in the fighting, a U.S. military spokesman and Iraqi officials said. Six American soldiers were wounded. The clashes broke out at 9:30 a.m. after U.S. troops were attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Stover said. As the troops were leaving the area, a vehicle was hit with two roadside bombs, Stover said.

#2: Also in Baghdad, a senior government official was killed in a roadside bombing in the north of the city. Dhia Jodi Jaber, director general at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, was hit by a roadside bomb as he left his home on Tuesday morning, the ministry's spokesman Abdullah al-Lami said.A roadside bomb blew up outside the house of Dhiyaa al-Judi, a civil servant in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, killing him and wounding two of his guards in the Utaifiya district of eastern Baghdad, police said.

#3: The U.S. military said three soldiers were killed in eastern Baghdad by indirect fire, a reference to mortars or rockets. The statement did not give an exact location for the attack, but the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City has been the scene of intense fighting recently with Shiite militiamen.

#4: A fourth U.S. soldier was killed by a shell in western Baghdad, the military said.

#5: AUSTRALIAN soldiers in Iraq have come under heavy rocket fire in Baghdad's green zone after sandstorms sent blankets of dust across the city and provided cover for insurgents.

#6: Around 1:00 p.m. two mortar shells hit al Jaish club building (the Army Club) in Karrada neighborhood in downtown Baghdad. No casualties reported.

#7: Another mortar shell slammed into the area near the neurosurgery hospital in Bab al Sharj neighborhood in downtown Baghdad at the same time. No casualties reported.

#8: Two civilians were injured when a mortar shell hit al Muheet Street in Kadhemiyah neighborhood north Baghdad around 2,45 p.m.

#9: Three civilians were injured when a mortar shell slammed into a house in Karrad Maryam neighborhood in downtown Baghdad around 3:00 p.m.

#10: Two civilians were killed and five others were wounded when a Katyosha rocket hit New Baghdad neighborhood in east Baghdad around 3:15 p.m.

#11: Several people were believed killed on Tuesday in two US air strikes in the Baghdad bastion of Shiite radical leader Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, an AFP photographer and witnesses said. "Four houses have been heavily damaged," a resident of the Sadr City district said on condition of anonymity. Another witness said US forces launched the first air strike at around 1:30 pm (1030 GMT) in the southern section of Sadr City. "As a group of people came to rescue those buried in the collapsed houses, another air strike hit them," the witness said.

Diyala Prv:Muqdadiya:#1: Elsewhere, a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a bus stop near Muqdadiyah, about 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, killing one and wounding five people, police said.

Abu Saida:#1: Also on Tuesday, a female suicide bomber blew herself up among a group of local Awakening Council fighters who were manning a checkpoint in the Abu Saida town in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, killing two of them and wounding 10 others.Khanaqin:#1: Unidentified gunmen opened fire at three civilians in Jalawlaa, Khanaqin district, (185 km) northeast of Baghdad, killing them instantly," a security source, who did not want his name mentioned, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

Balad Ruz:#1: The same source said an improvised explosive device (IED) went off near an Iraqi army patrol in Baladruz district, (45 km) southeast of Baaquba, wounding three personnel.

Baquba:#1: The supporting office of Qazanya district tribes east of Baquba found six unidentified bodies in a deserted house in one of the villages of Qazanya.

Kirkuk:#1: Two bodies were found with gunshot wounds just outside Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

#2: A roadside bomb struck an Iraqi Army patrol, wounding seven people including three soldiers in southern Kirkuk, police said.

#3: A roadside bomb wounded two policemen when it targeted their patrol in central Kirkuk on Monday, police said.

Mosul:#1: Iraqi soldiers at a military base in Mosul, the capital of the northern province of Nineveh, foiled a suicide tanker bomb attack on their base, said the provincial police. The incident occurred at about 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) when a suicide bomber tried to drive his booby-trapped tanker into the army base in the al-Tanak area in western Mosul, Brigadier Khalid Abdul-Sattar, spokesman of the provincial security operations office told Xinhua. The soldiers at the entrance of the base ordered the tanker driver to stop before they opened fire with rocket propelled grenades and machinguns, causing a powerful explosion in the tanker which was heard on all over the city of Mosul, Sattar said. Only one soldier was injured by the blast because the soldiers blew up the tanker before reaching the fortified entrance of the base, added the spokesman.

#2: An Iraqi soldier was killed and five others were injured when a suicide car bomb attacked their check point in al Yarmouk neighborhood in west Mosul on Tuesday afternoon.

Afghanistan:#1: A suspected suicide bomber killed 15 Afghans and wounded 14 more in eastern Afghanistan, close to the border with Pakistan on Tuesday, a NATO spokesman said. Initial reports said 25 Afghans were wounded in the blast near the district centre of Khogiani, a town south of the city of Jalalabad, but the number of wounded was later revised to 14, said Major Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).A suicide bomb tore through a team preparing to eradicate opium poppy fields in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing 18 people, most of them policemen, the government said. The hardline Taliban movement said one of its men carried out the attack in the small town of Khogyani in the eastern province of Nangarhar, near the insurgency-hit border with Pakistan. The bomb struck as a counternarcotics team, which included the district governor, was preparing to travel to opium fields on a mission to rip up illegal poppy crops, the interior ministry said in a statement. "Eleven police and seven (civilians) lost their lives and 31 others were wounded," it said. The district chief was among the wounded, it said.

#2: U.S. Marines began moving in to capture a town from Taliban militants in the south, their first large operation in Afghanistan since arriving to reinforce NATO troops last month. The U.S. Marines' drive into the town of Garmsir in Helmand, the world' biggest opium producing region and a hotbed of insurgent activity, is the first significant fruit of that move.Several militants were killed and 14 were arrested in western Afghanistan, while US marines and British forces launched a new major operation against a Taliban stronghold in a southern town, officials said on Tuesday. Afghan and US-led coalition forces killed "several militants" and detained 14 others during a search operation in Khash Rod district of western Nimroz province on Monday, US military said in a statement. The combined forces came under fire by rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns during the operation targeting a militant engaged in weapon movement to militants in the area, the statement said. The joint forces responded to the militants' attack with small-arms fire and air strikes, killing several of the rebels.

#3: (?) The Taliban shelled the Polish troops accused of unlawful civilian killings in Nangar Khel, Afghanistan, writes Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

#4: Sabri district chief escaped unharmed after a roadside bomb explosion blew up his vehicle in the restive southeastern Khost province early on Monday morning. Sabri district chief Gul Qasam Jihadyar told Pajhwok Afghan News the roadside bomb explosion took place on his way to the office in the district this morning. He said: "The explosion blew up a taxi after our vehicle passed." Blaming insurgents for the roadside bomb explosion he said the civilian taxi was damaged however no casualties caused to the onboard people. Taliban fighters have issued no comment on the incident.


Juan Cole, the award winning journalist, reports on the increase in mortar and rocket attacks in Baghdad, and how many construction projects paid for US taxpayer money have been abandoned before they were finished because of security problems.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mortar, Rocket attacks in Baghdad; in aftermath of Militia Campaign

Baghdad has been roiled for the past three days with major fighting between Iraqi government/ US forces and the Mahdi Army militia in east and north Baghdad, leaving 45 militiamen dead and an unstated number of Iraqi troops. At one point on Sunday, the a Mahdi Army company nearly took a government checkpoint in the northeast, and the US had to bring in a tank to save the Iraqi army unit.Guerrillas launched numerous mortar and katyusha rocket attacks on Monday.

Reuters reports: "A mortar round landed behind the Rashid Hotel in the Green Zone government compound, wounding five people including a child, police said . . . Five people were wounded in a mortar attack in Abu Nawas street in central Baghdad . . . Three mortar bombs landed on a police station in Jazair district, eastern Baghdad, wounding three policemen . . . A mortar blast wounded one person in the Mansour district, western Baghdad . . .

"On Monday, Two mass graves have been found in Iraq in the past two days, each with about 50 bodies in them. Sunni Arab guerrilla groups made "collaborators" or rivals disappear this way as an object lesson.The alleged flow of arms from Iran to south Iraq has not in fact increased in recent months (and my own suspicion is that US authorities mistake some black market arms selling for Iranian-government supplied weaponry). So why does the Bush administration and Pentagon stridency about Iran go up an down without reference to any facts on the ground? Seems to me that they deploy charges against Iran in an Orwellian way, as a tool of diplomatic pressure, when it suits them.

McClatchy profiles Brg. Gen. Qassem Suleimani of the Quds Force within the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. It is a good story, but it reflects the breathlessness of Green Zone conspiracy theories. For instance, some American alleged to the reporters that Suleimani engineered the victory of the Shiite religious parties in January 2005 over Iyad Allawi. Allawi had been appointed by the US, was an ex-Baathist, and a known CIA asset. He was defeated by a coalition list of Shiite parties that had struggled against Saddam Hussein and were endorsed by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Attributing their defeat of Allawi to the Quds Force is just silly. Likewise, the allegations of extensive Iranian spying on Iraq or of bringing in "Hizbullah" from Lebanon (for which there is no good evidence) are unproved and the premise is unnecessary. If the Badr Corps was until recently part of the Iranian military, as the authors concede, then you don't need to posit a lot of phantom Iranian agents who are providing intelligence on Iraq to Tehran. Badr, Ahmad Chalabi, and other supposed US assets are double agents, guys. If Iraq were crawling with Iranian agents, the US would have more Iranians in custody than it does (last I knew, it was like 5 diplomats).

AFP draws aside the curtain on the micro-economy of the struggle between the Islamic State of Iraq of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and local clans in Iskandariya south of Baghdad, which centered on the region's fish farms. The article also gives evidence that al-Baghdadi, who the US military maintains is a fictive personality created by foreign fighters to give themselves Iraqi legitimacy, is a real Iraqi person with a history in the Iskandariya area. The US is mostly fighting Iraqis in Iraq, but is reluctant to have this fact become known.

A lot of money was wasted on phantom reconstruction projects in Iraq left incomplete because of poor contractor performance. In other words, US tax payers made an involuntary contribution to Friends of George, which would be a good way of summing up the Iraq occupation in general.

The US Pentagon is suspending a campaign to influence the retired military talking heads who come on television in the US, after the NYT blew the whistle on it. Reuters notes: "Sen. Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, also said some of the analysts appeared to be working for defense contractors, raising a potential conflict of interest." You always suspected these things about corporate media coverage of Iraq, but seeing it in cold black and white is bracing. I have more than once been put opposite some sunshine peddler on radio or television and wondered whether the person was on the take.McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Monday:
' Baghdad- Around 11 pm Sunday, 4 mortar shells hit the Green Zone (IZ) in central Baghdad. No casualties reported.- Around midnight, 3 mortars hit the intelligence headquarters in Baladiyat neighborhood (east Baghdad). No casualties reported.- Around 3 am, three mortar shells hit Mamil neighborhood. Five people were injured in that incident.- Around 8 am, a mortar hit the Green Zone (IZ) in central Baghdad. No casualties reported.- Around 10 am, a mortar hit the area beyond the Sa'aa restaurant at Mansour neighborhood (west Baghdad). Two civilians were injured in that incident.- Around 1 pm, 3 mortar shells hit Al-Jazaer police station in Sadr city. Three policemen were injured with some damage to the building.- Around 1:30pm, An American warplane targeted a Hino truck which was carrying Katyusha missiles at Al-Qanat street (east Baghdad). Two people were injured in that incident.- Around 2 pm, a motor bicycle bomb targeted Sahwa members (also known as Sons of Iraq). One member was killed and three others were injured.- Around 2 :15 pm, a roadside bomb targeted a civilian car (Toyota Pick up ) which was carrying technicians employees of the power supply service on the high way of Nahdha neighborhood (north Baghdad).Three of the employees were injured in that incident.- Around 2:30 pm, a roadside bomb targeted the Sahwa members check point at Adhamiyah neighborhood (north Baghdad) near Qasim Abu Al-Ghas restaurant .Three members were injured in that incident.- Around 4:30 pm, a Katyusha missile hit Al-Sadeer hotel in Karrada neighborhood (central Baghdad).No casualties or damage recorded as it was in the garden of this hotel.- Around 5 pm, a mortar shell hit an area behind the Rashid hotel in the green zone (IZ) which is a residential compound .Five people were injured in that incident including a child.- Around 5 :30 pm, a roadside bomb targeted an American patrol in Amil neighborhood (west Baghdad) .No casualties reported on the American side .While we have four civilians injured in that incident including a child and woman.- Police found 6 dead bodies in Baghdad today: 4 were found in Karkh bank of Baghdad ; 1 in Kadhimiyah, 1 in Hurriyah, 1 in Dora and 1 in Yarmouk. While 2 were found in east Baghdad (Risafa bank); 1 in Ur and 1 in Jisr Diyala.Diyala- Around 4:30 pm, gunmen of the Qaeda attacked Al-Bayjat village (south of Baquba ). The residents of the village who join the Sahwas (Sons of Iraq) councils resisted them and killed five gunmen including a leader.Kirkuk- Sunday night, gunmen opened fire on an Iraqi army soldier at Tuz Khurmatu (south of Kirkuk).The soldier was killed at once and the gunmen ran away.Basra- Before noon, gunmen killed a Sadrist leader at Timimiyah neighborhood downtown Basra. Also his wife was injured as she was with him walking home. '


Unsafe Haven
Baghdad's Green Zone has become the latest battleground in the struggle for Iraq.

Lennox Samuels
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 4:05 PM ET Apr 28, 2008

For several days there was a lull. But then rockets and mortars started slamming into the Green Zone on Sunday afternoon and kept coming well into the night, as if the Shiite fighters in Sadr City were making up for the respite. A heavy dust storm choked Baghdad, adding a sense of claustrophobia while providing the insurgents cover.

"They're getting closer and closer," noted veteran security expert Mike Arrighi. Arrighi, who works and lives in the tightly defended Zone, says that this week's barrage shows the same "consistency, intensity and ferocity" of the initial attacks that began almost a month ago. That bombardment tapered off after the first week, as the U.S. military quickly neutralized many Shiite launch sites. But this week's barrage suggested that the militants haven't yet had the fight knocked out of them.

This could turn into a drawn-out siege. Infuriated by recent Iraqi government crackdowns on Shiite militias and criminals in Basra and southern Baghdad, the insurgents in the impoverished neighborhood of Sadr City appear have set their sights on the psychologically important Green Zone.

The shelling has killed two American soldiers and two civilians who worked for the U.S. government or military and injured at least two dozen others.

In Sadr City, U.S. and Iraqi retaliation has left dozens dead. U.S and Iraqi Army brass say they have crippled the insurgents' ability to fire rockets into the area, but this week's renewed shelling has some worried that the Green Zone may become a new battleground in the struggle for Iraq.

Cornered in their sprawling inburb of about 2.5 million people and stoked by incendiary rhetoric from radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who threatened all-out war against the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the Shiite groups have lashed out at the Zone with heavy mortars and Katyusha rockets. They had few options other than the airborne offensive.

Heavy fortifications and massive concrete barriers make small-arms attacks virtually impossible. The ground campaign ordered by Maliki has thinned their numbers. Rigorous security at checkpoints and ever vigilant Zone police patrols have made car bombs, IEDS and suicide bombings much harder to organize. "They have to go over our heads," says a U.S. embassy staffer who requested anonymity.

Click on link to read full Newsweek story.

Monday, April 28, 2008


The mainstream media in the US have gone totally ballistic over Rev. Jeremy Wright's speech at the National Press Club and it has given them just another reason not to cover the war in Iraq.

We have not been "told" by owners and editors to avoid the war and so we keep bringing our blog readers the latest from Iraq.

Here is a potpourri of events in Iraq on Monday. Click on BLUE for more details.

Three Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers were killed as the result of an indirect-fire attack in eastern Baghdad at approximately 1:05 p.m. April 28. Another soldier was killed by indirect fire in western Baghdad, the military said separately.

Shelling of the Green Zone continues, at least three more rocket or mortar strikes. No reported casualties at this time.The U.S. has also reported killing additional Iraqis in the ongoing clashes in Sadr City since Whisker's post this morning.

The total of Iraqi dead in the past 24 hours is now given as 45. The ongoing violence occurs in the context of a sandstorm which has grounded U.S. attack helicopters.Note: there have been additional incidents reported in various places around the country since Whisker's post this morning. I'll let him compile them tomorrow.Other NewsThe Pentagon says it has "suspended" a program to falsely present retired military personnel on U.S. television as "independent" analysts, which was reported in the New York Times last week. However, they apparently intend to bring it back once the dust has settled.It is revealed that a Tufts University Institute and a Finnish non-governmental organization have been sponsoring meetings among Iraqi factional leaders outside of the country, beginning in September 2007. The participants now plan to continue to meet in Baghdad. However, the Sadrists are not participating and it is not clear what support there may be within the rival communities for this process.

AP reports that the U.S. is having difficulty handing over reconstruction projects to Iraqi authorities. Excerpt:
The U.S. is struggling to hand Iraq control of many of its reconstruction projects after spending tens of billions of dollars on them since the 2003 invasion, a report said Monday."The U.S. program continues to have serious weaknesses that ultimately could place much of the U.S. reconstruction investment at risk," warned the report by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.Since 2003, Congress has approved $46 billion to rebuild Iraq's war-torn infrastructure, including oil production plants and pipelines. The expectation after the U.S. invasion had been that it would take up to 18 months for Iraq to assume responsibility for reconstruction efforts, using its oil revenues.In recent months, lawmakers have suggested that Baghdad pay more of the tab for the war in light of Iraq's burgeoning oil revenues, which are expected to hit $70 billion this year — twice what was initially expected because of soaring fuel prices. Democrats and even some Republicans say Iraq will be more likely to accept responsibility for the projects if they are financially invested.Administration officials, reluctant to restrict U.S. aid and slow progress, have countered that Baghdad is already taking control. Earlier this month, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker declared in congressional testimony that "the era of U.S. major infrastructure projects is over." Indeed, in recent months, the U.S. has refocused its spending on smaller local projects and building the capacity of the Iraqi security forces, rather than the major bricks-and-mortar efforts that dominated the early part of the war.But according to the inspector general, the U.S. and Iraq have yet to agree on the terms of handing over many of these assets. And with no one senior-level Iraqi official in charge of overseeing the transfers, U.S. officials are resorting to negotiations at the local level and, in some cases, handing over projects without explicit consent.

Richard Butler doesn't know who kidnapped him or why. However, he says he'd prefer to be kidnapped by unknown militants in Iraq than held prisoner by the Americans. "I was pleased I wasn't being mortarboarded in Guantanamo or being held for six and a half years like an Al-Jazeera cameraman, for instance," he said. And I guess I'll call that the Quote of the Day.


4 U.S. soldiers die in Baghdad attacks

BAGHDAD (AP) — Four American soldiers were killed Monday in rocket or mortar attacks in separate volleys in Baghdad.

The attacks raised the monthly U.S. death toll to at least 44, making it the deadliest since September.

Three of the Multi-National Division — Baghdad soldiers were killed just after 1 p.m. in an eastern section of the capital, the military said.

The statement did not give an exact location for the attack, but the area has been the scene of intense fighting recently between Shiite militiamen and U.S.-Iraqi troops.

Another soldier was killed by indirect fire in western Baghdad, the military said separately, using its term for a rocket or mortar attack.

In all, at least 4,056 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Earlier Monday, militants shelled Baghdad's Green Zone as troops tried to push Shiite fighters farther from the U.S.-protected enclave and out of range for their rockets and mortars.
At least three more salvos hit the Green Zone in central Baghdad, but there were no reports of injuries. In Sadr City — the stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia — U.S. soldiers battled deeper into the district a day after fierce clashes that killed at least 38 suspected militants, the military said.

U.S. soldiers killed seven more extremists Monday after coming under small-arms fire in Sadr City, the military said. Four of the suspects were killed in an airstrike and three others by an Abrams tank crew, according to a statement.

Sadr City has become the center of a showdown between the Iraqi government and the Mahdi Army, which is led by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. U.S. forces have been increasingly drawn into the battles — including operations seeking to curb a rise in mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone.


Baghdad Green Zone blasted under cover of storm.

Iraqi police said eight missiles or mortars had hit the Green Zone and another 14 fell in other parts of the Iraqi capital, killing two people and wounding 20.

By Wisam Mohammed and Peter Graff

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Militants bombarded Baghdad's Green Zone with rockets, taking advantage of the cover of a blinding dust storm to launch one of the heaviest strikes in weeks on the fortified compound.

The strikes appeared to defy a renewed call for a ceasefire issued on Friday by Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, which has seen many of his masked gunmen leave the streets of the Sadr City slum where they hold sway in eastern Baghdad.

Reuters correspondents heard the missiles whistling overhead and exploding inside the heavily fortified government and diplomatic compound on the west side of the Tigris River. Sirens wailed, ordering people to take cover.

"The Green Zone has received several rounds of IDF (indirect fire) but I can't say more than that," U.S. embassy spokesman Armand Cucciniello said. "The duck and cover alarm sounded and people ran out for cover."

Militiamen have fired 700 missiles and mortars over the past month, but U.S. forces had said they believed they had reduced the fighters' ability to strike the Green Zone by occupying the part of the Sadr City slum closest to it.


The US military continues to say the "surge" is working, however on Sunday alone 179 Iraqis were killed and another 131 wounded.

The Green Zone was hit by mortar attacks and at this time it is still unclear if there have been any casualties.

Meanwhile, back in the United States the mainstream media continues to treat the Iraq war like it was all over. Seldom are there reports on the violence that is escalating in Iraq, and April saw the highest number of IED attacks on US troops in months.

Sunday: 179 Iraqis Killed, 131 Wounded; Mass Graves Found
Updated at 12:25 a.m. EDT, April 28, 2008

At least 101 bodies were found in two separate mass graves. Another 78 people were killed or found dead, and 131 more were wounded in other violence. No Coalition deaths were reported.
In political news, several dozen lawmakers from different blocs staged a sit-in, asking that the blockade of Sadr City and the military operations there be ended. Meanwhile, attempts at bringing boycotting Sunni politicians back into the Shi'ite-led government are underway.
Fifty bodies were recovered from a grave in al-Kabba. The victims had been bound and handcuffed, and the bodies were in varying states of decomposition. The village is in the greater Baquba area, where numerous mass graves have been found.
Another 51 bodies were found in Mahmudiya, just south of Baghdad. Authorities have found a number of mass graves there in recent weeks. Family members were able to identify some of the victims.
In Baghdad, six dumped bodies were found. A pair of roadside bombs killed an Iraqi soldier and wounded six people in Mansour. In Maalif, five people were killed and 15 more were injured during clashes. A suicide bomber killed three people and wounded nine others in Zayouna. A roadside bomb in Shabb killed three policeman and wounded 14 people. In Kadhimiya, mortar fire left one dead and six wounded. Five people were injured during shelling in Baladiyat. Mortars fell in the Green Zone, but no casualties were reported. A roadside bomb targeting a U.S. patrol in Amin failed to cause casualties, but mortars that fell there killed one person and injured seven more. Also, U.S. forces reported killing 22 gunmen who attacked a checkpoint in northeastern Baghdad.
Overnight clashes in Sadr City left 10 people dead and 43 wounded. Women and children were among the casualties. Also, U.S authorities reported killing seven suspects in separate incidents.
In Mosul, clashes left one civilian dead and another injured. A civilian was shot and killed during a separate incident. Two separate roadside bombs left four injured. Two civilians were injured when gunmen attacked a checkpoint in southern Mosul. Four policemen were killed during a suicide bombing. Also, gunmen shot dead a man and a woman in central Mosul.
In Diyala province, one Awakening Council (Sahwa) leader was killed and three others were wounded in separate incidents. A police officer was killed and three others were injured when their vehicle overturned after coming under fire from gunmen. Also, three Iraqi army servicemembers were arrested in connection with the escape of an al-Qaeda leader.
A woman was killed and four civilians were wounded when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb planted in Samarra.
An Iraqi soldier was killed during a drive-by shooting in Tuz Khormato. Also, two men and a woman were arrested after an explosives belt was discovered in their possession.
Gunmen killed a police officer outside his home in Diwaniya.
A roadside bomb in Ninewah province killed two policemen and wounded five others, including civilians.
The body of a policeman was found near Baiji.
Seven suspects were captured in Basra.
Four suspects were arrested in Karbala.
In al-Shatra, security forces freed a hostage.
Two policemen were gunned down in Tikrit.
Gunmen attacked the al-Khaldiyah police station near Ramadi. One gunman was killed. Two gunmen and two policemen were injured.


A Storm of Sand and Shelling. Heavy Fire Aimed at Green Zone as Ground Forces Continue Push Into Sadr City

By Sholnn FreemanWashington Post Foreign ServiceMonday, April 28, 2008; A10

BAGHDAD, April 27 -- Shelling rocked the Green Zone as a sandstorm blanketed Baghdad on Sunday, days after U.S. commanders said they had nearly eliminated deadly rocket and mortar attacks on the heavily fortified government zone through a security crackdown in the eastern slum of Sadr City.

Clashes continued over the weekend in Sadr City, where U.S. and Iraqi forces have confronted fighters tied to the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The U.S. military said drones fired Hellfire missiles, killing at least three men believed to be engaging in bomb attacks.

Abu Ammar al-Mayahi, a Mahdi Army fighter, said that U.S. and Iraqi forces continued to press into Sadr City on Sunday but that the dust storm curtailed U.S. use of air power.
Ground forces had been limited to city blocks at the edge of the district where authorities are building a security wall, he said. "The situation is intense," he added. "The weather is dusty. They are trying to get further inside."

Civilians living in the Green Zone said the rocket and mortar attacks Sunday were in double digits. A U.S. Embassy spokesman said there were no reports of casualties in the zone. A military spokesman said he knew of at least two Iraqi civilians killed and one wounded in the shelling, which often falls short of the compound.

The continuing violence has dimmed hopes that a cease-fire order issued by Sadr in August and reaffirmed on Friday would ease tensions in the city. Sadr said Friday that his threat this month of an "open war until liberation" did not mean a fight against Iraq's government, but rather "the occupier," meaning U.S. and allied foreign troops.

The move was seen as an attempt to lower tensions between Sadr's political movement and the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Maliki initiated an offensive against Shiite militiamen last month in the southern city of Basra, and it quickly spread to Baghdad. Iraqi commanders have described Sadr City, where the Mahdi Army holds much control, as a foothold for armed outlaws.

The neighborhood was the scene of a sit-in protest Sunday led by members of the Sadr bloc in parliament, demanding an end to a three-week-old blockade of Sadr City and an end to military operations there.

Falah Hasan Shanshal, a parliament member who is a Sadr City resident, was among the protesters. He called for "dialogue and understanding" in place of the fighting, which he said was killing innocent women and children. He also called for a second sit-in on Monday.

On a satellite television program, Yaseen Majeed, a media adviser for the prime minister, called the sit-in a "cover for the outlaws."

Also Sunday, President Jalal Talabani met with parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani to discuss ways to end the Sadr City fighting, which he described in a statement as a "crisis between the government and the Sadr trend."

Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Baghdad, said late Sunday that U.S. soldiers were tracking several engagements in eastern Baghdad, which he said amounted to "un-aimed harassment fire." Stover said the attacks involved small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

"We are not the aggressor," he said. "We went into south Sadr City to stop the rocket and mortar attacks."


Baghdad Green Zone blasted under cover of storm
By Wisam Mohammed and Peter Graff

BAGHDAD, April 27 (Reuters) - Militants bombarded Baghdad's Green Zone with rockets on Sunday, taking advantage of the cover of a blinding dust storm to launch one of the heaviest strikes in weeks on the fortified compound.

The strikes appeared to defy a renewed call for a ceasefire by Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, which has seen many of his masked gunmen leave the streets of the Sadr City slum where they hold sway in eastern Baghdad.

Reuters correspondents heard the missiles whistling overhead and exploding inside the heavily fortified government and diplomatic compound on the west side of the Tigris River in Baghdad. Sirens wailed, ordering people to take cover.

Iraqi police said eight missiles or mortars had hit the Green Zone and another 14 fell in other parts of the Iraqi capital before nightfall in several quick bursts, killing two people and wounding 20.

"The Green Zone has received several rounds of IDF (indirect fire) but I can't say more than that," U.S. embassy spokesman Armand Cucciniello said. "The duck and cover alarm sounded and people ran out for cover."

Several more missiles were fired late on Sunday evening but it was unclear if there were any casualties.

Go back to link to read the full account by REUTERS.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Suspected Shiite extremists hammered the U.S.-protected Green Zone Sunday in the fiercest salvo in weeks, apparently taking advantage of a sandstorm that blanketed the capital and grounded the American aircraft that normally prowl for launching teams.

By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press WriterSun Apr 27, 4:01 PM ET;_ylt=AgTkXvusbgT5LuDIpzyzocNX6GMA

Thunderous explosions resounded throughout the evening as rockets or mortar shells slammed into the heavily fortified area in central Baghdad.

Sirens wailed in the Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy and much of the Iraqi government on the west side of the Tigris River. The public address system warned people to "duck and cover" and stay away from windows.

The U.S. Embassy confirmed the area was hit by indirect fire, the military's term for rocket or mortar attacks, but said it had no immediate word on casualties.

The Green Zone has been regularly shelled since fighting broke out over a U.S.-backed government crackdown against militias that began in late March. At least four Americans, including two soldiers, have been killed in the attacks.

But the U.S. military has claimed success with operations that have effectively sealed off the southern section of Baghdad's Sadr City, a militia stronghold that is believed to be one of the prime launching sites for the Green Zone attacks.

American commanders have blamed what they call Iranian-backed Shiite factions they say have broken with a cease-fire imposed by al-Sadr in late August.

A local hospital official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information, said one person was killed and 11 others wounded in street battles.

In all, at least 349 Iraqis have been killed since the daily clashes began on March 25, 34 of them since Wednesday, according to an Interior Ministry official who declined to be identified for the same reason.

Heavy clashes also broke out between Shiite militiamen and Iraqi troops in the Maalif area on the southwestern edge of Baghdad. Police said that five people died and 14 were wounded in the fighting. The U.S. military said its forces were not involved.

AP Television News footage from the area showed a minibus riddled with bullets and a pool of blood in another minibus.

Two suicide car bombers also targeted Iraqi forces elsewhere in Baghdad. One killed three people and wounded nine and another killed two and wounded five.

Northeast of Baghdad, Iraqi troops also unearthed a mass grave containing more than 50 decomposed bodies in an orchard in an area that had been controlled by al-Qaida in Iraq near Baqouba, according to the Diyala provincial coordination center.


Green Zone attacked during sandstorm
Salvo comes amid political talks, reports of 100 bodies in two mass graves
MSNBC News Services
updated 12:09 p.m. CT, Sun., April. 27, 2008


BAGHDAD - Militants fired a salvo of rockets or mortars at the heavily guarded Green Zone in Baghdad on Sunday, while officials reported that Iraqi security forces had found more than 100 bodies in two mass graves.

The militants apparently were taking advantage of a sandstorm that blanketed the Iraqi capital Sunday and grounded U.S. helicopters and drones that normally track their activities.

Green Zone blastsIn Baghdad, at least eight rounds slammed into the Green Zone, which houses the Iraqi government and U.S. Embassy, said a police official who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Sirens could be heard from the area and loudspeakers warned residents to take cover. There was no immediate word on casualties or damage.

An Iraqi military spokesman said that over the past month, militants had fired a total of 712 missiles and mortar rounds inside Baghdad.

"They were all Iranian-made brought into Iraq in many ways," Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi told reporters. He did not elaborate on how the security forces had determined the origin of the exploded munitions.

The Green Zone has been regularly shelled since March, and two American soldiers were killed in the bombardment earlier this month.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, a suicide car bomber blew himself up at a security checkpoint in the eastern neighborhood of Zayouna killing three people and injuring nine, a police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to release the information.

U.S. spokesman Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll said a series of recent car bombings and suicide attacks showed that al-Qaida in Iraq remains "a very lethal threat" and said the military would continue to pursue the insurgents "with great intensity."

Fifty bodies were found in a mass grave in central Iraq on Sunday, a military source in the area said, and another team said it had discovered more than 50 bodies in a grave south of Baghdad on April 17.

The grave found on Sunday was in the village of al-Guba, 50 miles north of Baghdad, in the troubled Diyala province, where al-Qaida Sunni Arab militants have regrouped after being driven out of other parts of the country.

Most of the bodies had their hands bound and gunshot wounds in the head. Some were decomposed, according to the military source, who declined to be named.

All items are here:
'The duck and cover alarm sounded and people ran out for cover.' Baghdad Green Zone blasted under cover of storm 27 Apr 2008 Militants bombarded Baghdad's Green Zone with rockets on Sunday, taking advantage of the cover of a blinding dust storm to launch the heavy strike.

Reuters correspondents heard the missiles whistling overhead and exploding inside the heavily fortified government and diplomatic compound on the west side of the Tigris River.

Iraqi police said eight missiles or mortars had hit the Green Zone and another 14 fell in other parts of the Iraqi capital, killing two people and wounding 20.

Updates to follow.


The situation in Iraq continues to spiral out of control and the mainstream media in the United States continues to act like everything is fine in Iraq.

More than 50 Iraqi lawmakers have staged a sit-in protesting US troops and the military action against the citizens of Sadr City in Baghdad.

Nobody seems to be in control and as each day passes the situation in Iraq approaches the boiling over point.

There is a very strong possibility the friction between the Iraqi lawmakers and the US military in Iraq could end up spreading to other provinces in Iraq and then the country will once again be thrown into an all out civil war.

MPs stage sit-in to protest blockade on Sadr City

Baghdad - Voices of Iraq
Sunday , 27 /04 /2008 Time 7:21:37

Baghdad, Apr 27, (VOI) – More than 50 lawmakers representing different blocs staged on Sunday a sit-in demanding the blockade imposed on the eastern Baghdad district of Sadr City for three weeks now be lifted and for military operations to cease, a legislator from the Sadrist bloc, or Iraqis loyal to Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, said.

"The sit-in, which began at 12:00 p.m. in Sadr City, aims at having the military operations within it come to a halt and the blockade lifted," Falah Shanshal, a member of parliament from the Sadrist bloc, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI)."We call for dialogue and understanding away from killings that target the innocent women and children in the city," Shanshal said."The sit-in will end at 5:00 p.m. today.

If the government fails to respond to the legislators' demands, we will plan another sit-in for Monday," he added.The Sadrist bloc holds 30 out of a total 275 seats in the Iraqi Parliament.Shanshal said that the sit-in was attended by Safiya al-Suhail, an independent member of parliament, Ahmed Radi, an MP from the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front (IAF), Samira al-Musawi, an MP from the Shiite Unified Iraqi Coalition (UIC) and Mustafa al-Lahiti, a lawmaker from the Arab Bloc for National Dialogue.


If things weren't already bad enough in Iraq, about 50 Iraqi political leaders have announced they are protesting the US military forces siege of Sadr City inside of Baghdad. Also, a top US military commander says he doesn't think the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr are paying any attention to his wishes to stop the violence in Iraq. The country is in total chaos and the mainstream media in the United States continues to ignore the growing crisis in Iraq.

Iraqi political leaders protest U.S. siege of Sadr City

Hussein Kadhim and Raviya H. Ismail McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: April 27, 2008 02:07:16 PM

BAGHDAD, Iraq_ About 50 leaders representing a variety of Iraqi political blocs took to Baghdad's Sadr City on Sunday, a stronghold of fiery religious leader Muqtada al Sadr, to protest the U.S.-led siege of that area.

The leaders promised to work together with Sadrists to remove insurgents and weapons in the area. But they also had six other demands of the government, including that it immediately suspend military activity in the city, supply basic services to residents and prioritize peaceful solutions over military conflicts.

"Whatever point the crisis reaches we will keep our efforts to put an end to it," said Ahmed Radhi, a member of the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni Muslim bloc. Radhi said the leaders formed a committee to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to solve problems plaguing Sadr City.

"We have a delegation meeting with Maliki to let him know the real situation going on in the city," said Nassar al Rubaie, a Sadrist. "We have lawmakers from different blocs and parties to come and watch the situation on the ground."

Lawmakers representing the Iraqi National Accord, the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue and the Kurdish alliance also were present. The leaders said they were moved by pictures of civilian casualties as well as the health crisis plaguing residents in Sadr City.
The protest came just days after Sadr instructed his Mahdi Army militia to stop fighting the mostly Shiite Iraqi security forces in Sadr City and the southern port city of Basra. The U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have continually battled with insurgents in both areas since Maliki led a siege of Basra at the end of March.

Sadr's latest message, delivered during Friday prayers, called for the bloodshed between Iraqis to stop, yet asked for a united force against the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
"We want liberation of ourselves and our lands from the occupier," part of the message read. "To have a real government and have real sovereignty."

There has been relative calm in the east Baghdad slum of Sadr City in the past few days after weeks of pitched battles and bombings between Iraqi security forces and insurgents.
In other areas of Baghdad violence continued. Up to five people were killed in separate bomb attacks and gun battles in the Mansour, Zayuna and Bayaa areas Sunday. Insurgents also fired rockets and mortars into the Green Zone, the heavily fortified compound that houses U.S. and Iraqi administration offices. No casualties were reported.

But the U.S.-backed Iraqi forces in Sadr City are not only fighting Mahdi Army militiamen, said Lt. Col. Steve Stover, the U.S. military spokesman for Baghdad.
"I don't think it's all Muqtada al Sadr (followers) and I don't think everyone is listening to him," Stover said. Insurgents are "continuing to attack us now even since Sadr's last message."


This is the latest list of US casualties in Iraq. To obtain further details on each GI killed in Iraq, click on the part in "blue."

Latest Coalition Fatalities

04/25/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. Guadalupe Cervantes Ramirez, 26, of Fort Irwin, Calif., died April 23 at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, of injuries suffered in a vehicle incident. He was assigned to the 2nd Transportation Company (Heavy Equipment Transport...

04/25/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Staff Sgt. Shaun J. Whitehead, 24, of Commerce, Ga., died April 24 in Iskandariyah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when he encountered an improvised explosive device while on a dismounted patrol. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment...

04/25/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Staff Sgt. Ronald C. Blystone, 34, of Springfield, Mo., died April 23 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered when he encountered small arms fire during a dismounted patrol. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment...

04/25/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 2)
1st Lt. Timothy W. Cunningham, 26, of College Station, Texas...died April 23 in Golden Hills, Iraq, of injuries suffered in a vehicle incident. They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team...

04/25/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 2)
Pfc. John T. Bishop, 22, of Gaylord, Mich...died April 23 in Golden Hills, Iraq, of injuries suffered in a vehicle incident. They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division...

04/25/08 DoD Identifies Marine Casualties (2 0f 2)
Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter, 19, of Sag Harbor, N.Y...assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune...died 4/22 from wounds suffered while conducting combat operations...

04/25/08 DoD Identifies Marine Casualties (1 0f 2)
Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale, 21, of Burkeville, Va...assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune...died 4/22 from wounds suffered while conducting combat operations...


A dispute over the number of Iraqi civilians, including women and children, who have been killed in the latest attack by US forces in Baghdad, appears to have been resolved.

Here is how the story unfolds: (click on part in BLUE to read the account)

BaghdadClashes continue between U.S. and Iraqi forces and JAM (Sadrist) fighters in "eastern Baghdad" (presumably Sadr City). Reuters reports 10 people killed, including a woman and 2 children, 42 injured. AP gives a lower casualty total but does say that 4 of the injured are children. Al Jazeera gives the death toll as 8, wounded as 44. AFP appears to resolve the conflicting death tolls, reporting that 8 people were killed during the overnight, including the civilians, while the U.S. military reported 2 more militants killed in the morning.Suicide bomber attacks checkpoint in Zayouna neighborhood, killing 2 Iraqi soldiers and injuring 5.One killed, 4 injured in clashes between U.S. forces and fighters believed to belong to JAM in western Baghdad suburb of al-Bayyaa. Car bomb attack on police patrol near al-Shaab kills 1 police officer, wounds 3. VoI also reports IED attack on an army patrol in Mansour, killing 1 soldier and injuring 6. This is probably the same incident which Reuters describes somewhat differently,as two bombs exploding within a few minutes of each other, killing 1 soldier and injuring 4 soldiers and 2 civilians.

Tuz KhurmatoDrive by shooting kills 1 Iraqi soldier.

MosulOne civilian killed, 1 injured, apparently in crossfire during clashes between security forces and unidentified gunmen.VoI also reports an unexplained attack that killed a man in the Souk al-Maash district.Reuters reports a roadside bomb attack at an unspecified location in Nineveh Province, killing 2 police officers and injuring 3 officers and 2 civilians.VoI reports additional incidents in Mosul:
"Four civilians were wounded in two separate improvised explosive device (IED) blasts in Mosul, while Iraqi police defused two others in the eastern part of the city," Brig. Khaled Abdul-Sattar, the official spokesman for the Ninewa operations command, told Aswat al-Iraq.In other statements, Abdul-Sattar said that two civilians were wounded when unidentified gunmen attacked a checkpoint in southeastern Mosul.
An official source in the Iraqi army said that two civilians were killed and another wounded in two separate attacks in Mosul. (Not clear whether either or both of these correspond to the attacks reported separately.)
Another security source in Mosul said that four policemen were killed and three others injured when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vehicle near an Iraqi police patrol in the eastern part of the city.


Official says suicide bomber detonated her taxi near stadium
Iraqi soldier, traffic officer among those killed, official says
Official: Roadside bomb in western Baghdad kills police officer
U.S. military says it killed seven "special group extremists" in Sadr City

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A female suicide car bomber attacked an Iraqi security forces' checkpoint in eastern Baghdad on Sunday, killing three people, military officials said.
The bombing came as fighting in the capital's Sadr City neighborhood killed at least seven Shiite militants.

The suicide bomber detonated her taxi near Shaab stadium in a mostly Shiite area of eastern Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said.

An Iraqi soldier and a traffic police officer were among the fatalities. Fourteen others were wounded in the blast, the official said.

In western Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded Sunday morning, killing one Iraqi soldier and wounding six people, including soldiers and bystanders, the official said.
The soldiers were on foot patrol in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Mansour at the time of the blast.

In other incidents, eight people were killed and 44 others were wounded Saturday night and Sunday morning in Sadr City, the Interior Ministry official said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said it killed seven "special group extremists" in Sadr City during that time.
All but one of the alleged extremists were targeted by airstrikes.