Friday, March 28, 2008


Bush: US will show Iran who rules
Fri, 28 Mar 2008 21:53:42

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and President George W. BushThe US claims Iraq success will send a 'clear message' to Iran that it cannot have its way with other countries in the Middle East.

“The reason why it's ... important to be successful in Iraq, is because, one, we want to help establish a democracy in the heart of the Middle East, the most volatile region of the world,"

President George W. Bush said at a White House news conference with visiting Australian Premier Kevin Rudd. "Two, we want to send a clear message to Iran that they're not going to be able to have their way with nations in the Middle East,” he continued. Earlier, Iran advised the Bush Administration to stop blaming other nations for its wrongdoings in Iraq. "The US is exhibiting clear signs of projection bias and President Bush's recent remarks shows he is desperate to run away from the reality of the grim situation in Iraq," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said Friday.


In a press conference today, President Bush was asked to explain how his views on Iraq fit with new Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s belief that Australian troops should withdraw from Iraq. Bush said there was no conflict, adding that the U.S. is also “withdrawing troops” because of a “return on success”:

And by the way, we are withdrawing troops. It’s called return on success. And our intention is to pull down five — you know, five battalions by July. Troops are coming out — five brigades, excuse me. Troops are coming out, because we’re successful. And so, I would view the Australian decision as return on success — returning home on success.

Watch it: Click on this link to see Bush speak about troops in Iraq:

According to Bush, “troops are coming out because we’re successful,” but they’re also staying in Iraq because we’re successful. On the anniversary of the war, Bush said he will not order further withdrawals because he refuses to “jeopardize the hard-fought gains” of the past year.

This week, Bush was presented with a plan for a “pause” in troop reductions from top military officials, in order to preserve recent “security gains.” The New York Times reported:
Troop levels in Iraq would remain nearly the same through 2008 as they have been through most of the five years of war there .. But it now appears likely that any decision on major reductions in American troops from Iraq will be left to the next president.

In reality, this week’s spike in violence across southern Iraq reflects how the U.S. presence — particularly the surge — has done little to bring long-term security to Iraq.

small withdrawal isn’t a “return on success.” Rather, in the face of increasing pressure from military officials about the strain on soldiers from the war, Bush is being forced to withdraw some troops because it is the only way to sustain his surge while giving troops some rest.


Q1: Does the latest uptick in violence mean that the surge in Iraq failed?
By Samuel Brannen

A1: So far, the surge has failed in its stated goal of translating security gains in the country into political reconciliation among the Kurdish, Arab Shi'ite, Arab Sunni, and other minority populations (and the various groups and tribes within each of these populations). Even political accommodation—a less heartfelt form of 'getting along' than reconciliation—has not occurred to an adequate degree. The Council of Representatives of Iraq has not passed all of the necessary reforms to set the scene for a stable country, and those laws that have been passed have in many cases not been applied by the fledgling government. And while the surge, coupled with U.S. political accommodation with some previous Sunni and Shi'ite insurgent factions, succeeded in drastically reducing violence across the country from record highs of the summer, a good day in Iraq still means an average of a dozen Iraqis dead and many more injured, along with a continued stream of attacks on U.S. troops. By any measure, it is unlikely that the United States can draw down below 140,000 troops any time soon. The Iraqi minister of defense estimates that he will not be able to provide for Iraq's internal security until 2012 and border defense until 2018.

Q2: What is causing the uptick in violence?
A2: This latest uptick is caused by different geographies of violence in Iraq. Most of the 'baseline' violence is perpetrated by the remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq, which was and is mainly an Iraqi Sunni Arab–run organization despite its name and the foreign nationality of many of its suicide bombers (the majority from Saudi Arabia and North Africa). The organization transformed over the past eight months and moved from Anbar Province and the ring of towns around Baghdad to the area surrounding Mosul, further north. It continues to disrupt the country with countless bombings, kidnappings, and executions, killing Iraqis and Americans wherever it can, in loose coordination with other groups of 'irreconcilables'—Sunni Arab Ba'athist leftovers from the Saddam era who are extremely angry about the 'awakening' elsewhere in Sunni Iraq. Additional increases in violence are accounted for by the loosely confederated followers of Moqtada al-Sadr and his 60,000-strong militia (Jayysh al-Mahdi, or JAM), who for the most part had been observing a ceasefire for the past seven months.

Q3: What does it mean that the Sadrists are no longer observing the ceasefire and the predominantly Shi'ite government of Iraq is now fighting the Shi'ite Sadrist movement?
A3: An already fragmented society, Iraq continues to cleave. The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is composed of two main factions: Al Dawa (Maliki's party) and the Supreme Islamic Iraq Council (SIIC), led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. They are especially displeased with Moqtada al-Sadr because of his enormous political popularity. The fighting that has occurred this week has been concentrated in Baghdad and the southern province of Basra, which the British turned over to the Iraqis in December 2007. The situation in Basra is less about Sadrists than it is about various Shi'ite factions fighting for control of the oil-rich region. The good news is that the ground operation to bring order to the province is being conducted at the behest of the government of Iraq and by Iraqi Army and police forces—something that would have been impossible a year ago due to a lack of capacity on the part of the Iraqi security forces. The bad news is that the Shi'ite power struggle in the country may have only just begun. Iraq may choose its next government by the barrel of a gun and not at the ballot box.

Samuel Brannen is a fellow with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.


U.S. Deaths Confirmed By The DoD:
Reported U.S. Deaths Pending DoD Confirmation:

DoD Confirmation List

Latest Coalition Fatality: Mar 28, 2008
03/28/08 MNF: MND-C Soldier attacked by IED
BAGHDAD - A Multi-National Division - Center Soldier was killed as a result of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device attack south of Baghdad March 28.

03/28/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Gregory B. Rundell, 21, of Ramsey, Minn., died March 26 in Taji Iraq, of wounds suffered from small arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

03/28/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Staff Sgt. Joseph D. Gamboa, 34, of Yigo, Guam, died Mar. 25 of wounds suffered when he came under indirect fire in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.

03/27/08 MNF: MND-B Soldier attacked by IED
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.

03/27/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (4 of 4)
Pvt. George Delgado, 21, of Palmdale, Calif...assigned to the 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division...died March 24 in Baghdad...from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an IDE on March 23.

03/27/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 4)
Staff Sgt. Christopher M. Hake, 26, of Enid, Okla...assigned to the 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division...died March 24 in Baghdad...from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an IDE on March 23.

03/27/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 4)
Pfc. Andrew J. Habsieger, 22, of Festus, Mo...assigned to the 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division...died March 24 in Baghdad...from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an IDE on March 23.
03/27/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 4)

Spc. Jose A. Rubio Hernandez, 24, of Mission, Texas...assigned to the 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division...died March 24 in Baghdad...from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an IDE on March 23.

Post Iraq Deaths Not Confirmed By the DoD
McDonald, James W.
Wasielewsk, Anthony Raymond
Cassidy, Gerald J.
Richards, Jack D.
Salerno III, Raymond A.
Smith, John "Bill"
Note: The soldiers listed above died from wounds received in Iraq, however, the DoD has not included their deaths in their official count.


President Bush on Friday refined his remarks about Iraq. On Thursday, Bush had said the battle for Basra was a "positive moment." On Friday, Bush changed the outlook and said the violence eruputing all across Iraq was a "defining moment."

It is obvious the Iraqi Army is not up to the taks of containing the Mehadi militia in Basra, and U.S. airstrikes have been ordered to try and bring some kind of peace to the embattled second largest city in Iraq.

Bush is finally getting honest with himself and the American public. It is about time. Perhaps he is finally listening to his military commanders who are saying the situation in Iraq is now on verge of total collapse and Iraq is in an all out civil war.

The following list of killings and violence took place in Baghdad on FRIDAY and all across Iraq as well as Afghanistan and STILL the mainstream media refuses to report on these incidents that impact on 160,000 military personnel in IRAQ and 30,000 U.S. military in AFGHANISTAN.

We start off with the latest casualty report followed by a province by province report on violence all across IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN.

How in the world can President Bush, Vice President Cheney, FOX NEWS and the ALL the mainstream continue to ignore these documented facts about IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN. The answer is they can't, and President Bush appears to see the hand-writing on the wall.

Editorial comments by BILL CORCORAN, editor of CORKSPHERE

War News for Friday, March 28, 2008

Casualty Reports:Army Sgt. Javon Jordan, was critically wounded in Iraq. According to Crowell-Grate, Jordan, 32, was wounded Sunday by a roadside bomb that exploded next to the vehicle in which he was riding. Three of his fellow soldiers were killed. Jordan was flown to a military hospital in Germany with a severe head injury, and is expected to be flown to Bethesda Naval Medical Center today if he is stable enough, Crowell-Grate said. She's planning to fly to Washington, D.C., today to join her daughter Michelle, Jordan's wife, at his bedside. "If he's stable enough, they're going to fly him back," she said. "They're not expecting him to make it."

Specialist Matthew McCool was hurt when an improvised explosive device went off near his Humvee. An overnight attack in Iraq, has left a Kern County soldier seriously wounded. Matthew received a concussion, shrapnel in the head and was air lifted to a green zone hospital inside Baghdad.

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in an improvised explosive device attack in an eastern neighborhood of Baghdad on Thursday, March 27th. No other details were released.

The Herald Tribune is reporting the death of a a U.S. government employee who in an indirect fire attack in the green zone in Baghdad on Thursday, March 27th. No other details were released.

The Mail&Guardian is reporting the death of a South African citizen (contractor) in Iraq on Wednesday, March 26th. No other details were released.

Security incidents:Baghdad:#1: In Baghdad there have been clashes in at least 13 mainly Shi'ite neighborhoods, especially Sadr City, the vast slum named for the cleric's slain father where his followers maintain their power base. "There have been engagements going on in and around Sadr City. We've engaged the enemy with artillery, we've engaged the enemy with aircraft, we've engaged the enemy with direct fire," said Major Mark Cheadle, spokesman for U.S. forces in Baghdad.

#2: In one strike before dawn, a U.S. helicopter fired a hellfire missile at gunmen firing from the roof of a building, killing four of them, Cheadle said. A Reuters photographer there filmed windows blown out of cars and walls pocked with shrapnel.

#3: U.S. forces said they killed 27 fighters in operations in the capital on Thursday.

#4: U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in Sadr City, the vast Shiite stronghold in eastern Baghdad, as an offensive to quell party-backed militias entered its third day. Iraqi army and police units appeared to be largely holding to the outskirts of the area as American troops took the lead in the fighting. Four U.S. Stryker armored vehicles were seen in Sadr City by a Washington Post correspondent, one of them engaging Mahdi Army militiamen with heavy fire. The din of American weapons, along with the Mahdi Army's AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, was heard through much of the day. U.S. helicopters and drones buzzed overhead.

#5: In Baghdad, a U.S. helicopter also fired a Hellfire missile during fighting in the Baghdad's militia stronghold of Sadr City early Friday, killing four gunmen, military spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Stover said. Ground forces called for the airstrike after coming under small-arms fire while clearing a main supply route at 4:10 a.m., he added. Iraqi police and hospital officials in Sadr City said five civilians were killed and four others wounded in the attack.

#6: Sporadic fighting was reported in predominantly Shiite areas in eastern Baghdad despite a curfew banning unauthorized movement in the capital was imposed from 11 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Sunday.

#7: Thirty-nine people were killed and 389 others wounded in the clashes that erupted on Tuesday in Sadr City, eastern Baghdad, a medic said on Friday.

#8: The fortified Green Zone in Iraq's capital has again come under attack by rockets or mortars. A thick cloud of smoke was seen over the zone Friday about 2:30pm, shortly after two rounds hit. It was the day's first attack on the area.4 mortar rounds hit the Green Zone at around 5 pm today. No casualties were reported.2 mortar rounds fell on the Green Zone at 7.45 pm. No casualties were reported

#9: The daughter of Iraq's Sunni vice president says two guards at her father's offices were killed during shelling of the Green Zone. Lubna al-Hashemi says four others were injured in the shelling that left thick clouds of smoke rising over the heavily fortified area of central Baghdad.

#10: The office of Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi was hit in a mortar or rocket strike on Baghdad's Green Zone government and diplomatic compound on Friday, and a security guard was killed, an official in his office said. Hashemi was not in the office and nor were any of his staff as it was the Muslim Friday holiday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

#11: A U.S. air strike in Baghdad's Kadhimiya neighbourhood killed three people and wounded six, police said.The US military made an air strike at an armed group during a surveillance trip in the sky of al-Kadhimiyah area at 3 pm today, killing 3 gunmen, injuring 8, Iraqi Police said. No comment was available from the US military at the time of publication.

#12: Police said four people were killed and three wounded in a second Sadr City air strike later in the day.

#13: Gunmen capture a National Police patrol in al-Amin neighbourhood, east Baghdad at 10 am today. The US military and Iraqi security forces have intervened to find out the fate of the 3 policemen in the patrol.

#14: Gunmen capture 2 National Police patrols, set the policemen free and make off with the vehicles and weapons in al-Darwish Junction, al-Alam neighbourhood, southwest Baghdad.

#15: Clashes broke out between gunmen and the Iraqi Army in Bayaa, west Baghdad at around one this afternoon. No casualties were reported.

#16: 3 mortar rounds hit al-Muthanna military base in central Baghdad at 3 pm. No casualties were reported.

#17: Rocket attacks in the Green Zone, the diplomatic and government compound, killed two and wounded four, police said. A U.S. embassy spokeswoman said no Americans were seriously injured in the attacks.

#18: 3 mortar rounds hit al-Muthanna military base in central Baghdad at 3 pm. No casualties were reported.#19: The US military carried out air strikes on section 8 in Sadr City from 5 pm to 8 pm. 12 people were killed and 60 injured, Iraqi police said. No comment was available from the US military at the time of publication.

#20: 2 mortar rounds fell on a commercial centre near the rail track in Qadisiyah neighbourhood west of central Baghdad injuring one woman.

#21: 2 mortar rounds hit the traffic tunnel under the suspension bridge (one of the entrances to the Green Zone) in Karrada at 5.15 pm injuring 3 civilians.

#22: Clashes broke out between Mahdi Army members and the Iraqi Army in Washash, central Baghdad this evening. No casualties were reported.Diyala Prv:Khan Bani Saad:#1: Five U.S. soldiers were wounded in an attack that targeted a military convoy of the Multi-National Force, a media advisor for the MNF said on Friday."A U.S. convoy was the target of an attack with light arms and bombs in the area of Bani Saad, (30 km) north of Baghdad, on Thursday morning. Five U.S. soldiers were wounded," Abdul-Latif Rayan told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI). A source from the Bani Saad police, who spoke on condition of anonymity, had told VOI that an improvised explosive device (IED) went off near a U.S. army vehicle, prompting the U.S. soldiers to cordon off the scene and impose a curfew.

Mahmoudiya:#1: At least 12 militia fighters were killed and seven others wounded in fighting in Mahmoudiya, according to an Iraqi army official.

#2: The local office of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, meanwhile, claimed 15 Iraqi soldiers had been captured, including two officers, in the city, about 20 miles south of the capital.Kut:#1: The U.S. military said in a statement on Friday that members of an Iraqi Special Weapons and Tactics unit (SWAT) and U.S. special forces had killed 14 militants and wounded 20 in fierce battles in Kut on Wednesday. Nine SWAT members were killed.Two Iraqi security forces also were killed and three wounded in Kut, police said.Clashes between Mehdi Army fighters and Iraqi security forces killed three police officers and wounded two militants in Kut, 170 km (105 miles) southeast of Baghdad, police said.

Hilla:#1: Rockets or mortars also were lobbed at a U.S. facility in the southern city of Hillah, although no casualties were reported, the military said.The U.S. consulate in Babel came under an attack with 14 Katyusha rockets on Friday but no information yet about losses or casualties, a security source from Babel police said."All rockets fell within the consulate environs but there is no information yet about the results of the missile attack," the source, who did not want his name mentioned, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq

Diwaniyah:#1: In the city of Diwaniyah, some 200 kilometres south of the capital, two police officers were injured and a militant was killed in fighting between the Iraqi forces and militants in Akrad district, VOI said.

#2: Also in Diwaniyah, militants targeted an Iraqi patrol in Somar area on Thursday, leaving one civilian dead and another two, seriously injured.

#3: Gunmen killed the mayor of the Ghmash neighbourhood in Diwaniya, 180 km (112 miles) south of Baghdad, sparking "very severe" clashes between Iraqi security forces and Mehdi Army fighters, police said. An office of Moqtada al-Sadr's followers was burned in retaliation.#4: Seven mortar rounds fell into the headquaters of Iraqi army 8th division, 3 km west Diwaniya, leaving no casualties among servicemen", an Iraqi army source, who requested anonmity, told Aswat al-Iraq-Voices of Iraq

Karbala:#1: Three gunmen were killed and seven others captured when they attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint in the Husseiniya district north of Kerbala, 110 km (68 miles) southeast of Baghdad, police said.

Nassiriyah:#1: Police said four people were killed and 14 wounded in clashes in Nasiriyah.Fierce fighting in the Mahdi Army stronghold of Nasiriyah also killed at least four people, including two policemen and two civilians, and wounded 14, an officer said, adding that the clashes had spread to other parts of the city.Three policemen and two civilians were killed and 25 people wounded in clashes between Mehdi Army fighters and Iraqi security forces in Nassiriya, 375 km (235 miles) southwest of Baghdad, a hospital source said.

#2: A Reuters witness said Mehdi Army gunmen had seized control of Nassiriya, capital of the southerly Dhi Qar province. Mehdi Army fighters have held territory or fought with authorities in Kut, Hilla, Amara, Kerbala, Diwaniya and other towns throughout the Shi'ite south over the past several days.In Nassiriya, a Reuters reporter said he could see groups of fighters with machineguns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The sound of sporadic gunfire echoed through the streets. Police appeared to be staying in their stations.intense clashes between Iraqi forces and militants broke out in the city of Nasiriyah, some 350 kilometres south of Baghdad, resulting in the deaths of four police officers and 12 injuries, the Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency said.Karma:#1: Mortars killed two policemen and wounded 23 people including 13 policemen in Karma, a town 80 km (50 miles) north of Basra, police said.Shatra:#1: Militants have also taken control of the town of Shatra, 40 km to the north (Basra), he said, citing witnesses.

Al Qama:#1: Five people were killed and two others wounded in clashes between the Bani Malek clan and gunmen north of Basra on Friday, an official security source said. "Clashes broke out between the Bani Malek clan and security forces on one hand and gunmen on the other in al-Qarna, (100 km) north of Basra, after a policeman belonging to the clan died of wounds he sustained in fighting with gunmen two days ago," the source, who declined to be named, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI). "Clashes were still going on," he said.

Basra:#1: A British military official says coalition jets have dropped bombs on Basra for the first time since clashes erupted this week between Shiite militias and security forces. The official says Iraq security forces asked for airstrikes on at least two locations. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. The official could not provide additional information on the nature of the targets or how many people were killed or injured in the bombings.

#2: The Iraqi ground commander in Basra, Major-General Ali Zaidan, told Reuters his forces had killed 120 "enemy" fighters and wounded around 450 since the campaign began.Earlier on Friday, another medic told VOI hospitals in the unrest-stricken city of Basra received more than 60 bodies and 300 others wounded until Thursday evening in clashes flaring up in southern Iraq.

#3: But Reuters television footage from Basra showed masked gunmen from Sadr's Mehdi Army still in control of the streets, openly carrying rocket launchers and machine guns.American-trained Iraqi security forces failed for a third straight day to oust Shiite militias from the southern city of Basra on Thursday#4: Oil exports from Basra of more than 1.5 million barrels a day provide 80 percent of Iraq's government revenue. An explosion at a pipeline damaged exports on Thursday, but they were back to normal on Friday.

#5: Basra was reported to be quiet on Friday morning, as were the other two flashpoint southern towns of Kut and Hilla, where there have been heavy clashes between Mehdi Army fighters and U.S. and Iraqi forces this week.

Mosul:#1: Unidentified gunmen killed a woman on Friday inside her house in southeastern Mosul, the official spokesman for the Ninewa operations command said. "Unknown gunmen stormed the house in Somer neighborhood in southeastern Mosul to kill her husband, but he fled," Brigadier Kahled Abdul Sattar Saadon told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq

Afghanistan:#1: The U.S.-led Coalition forces have killed several militants while conducting an operation to capture a Taliban leader and disrupt Taliban facilitation networks in southern Afghan province of Helmand, said a statement released here on Friday. Coalition forces were fired by several insurgents during their search of compounds in the Kajaki district on Wednesday targeting a Taliban insurgent linked to weapons facilitation operations, the statement said. "Coalition forces firing in self-defense during multiple engagements killed several insurgents and discovered a wounded civilian not involved in hostilities after the engagement," it said. Four other individuals who were suspected with links to the targeted Taliban insurgent and Taliban weapons facilitation operations were arrested, it further added.


The following MSNBC video explains what is happening in both Baghdad and Basra Iraq as conditions worsen all across the already war torn country.


Perhaps this is what President Bush was alluding to when he told a reporter from the TimesOnLine that he viewed the violence in Iraq as a "positive moment:"

Thursday: 225 Iraqis, 1 US Soldier, 3 US Contractors Killed; 538 Iraqis Wounded

Updated at 12:21 a.m. EDT, Mar. 28, 2008

Although the fighting continues in Basra, followers of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad instead took to the streets in mostly peaceful protests. The cleric himself has asked for peace talks, but the prime minister is refusing. At least 225 Iraqis were killed or found dead and 538 more were wounded in various incidents across Iraq. Also, the FBI is in possession of three new bodies belonging to kidnapped American contractors, and an American soldier was killed this afternoon by an IED explosion in Baghdad.

Ten of thousands of al-Sadr followers protested peacefully in Baghdad. They are demanding an end to the U.S.-backed Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who was once championed by al-Sadr, and to his crackdown against the Mahdi Army. The prime minister has said that he will see the crackdown through to the end, even though the Sadrists are asking for peace talks. The demonstrations were held in predominantly Shi'ite neighborhoods, in particular the Sadr City suburb, which was named for al-Sadr's father. Some analysts believe the crackdown is actually meant to politically cripple the cleric. The Mahdi Army was observing a unilateral cease-fire at the time of the crackdown.

Meanwhile, the casualty totals from the Mahdi Army clashes in Baghdad has risen to 30 people dead and 200 more wounded, upping yesterday's figures by 16 dead and 60 wounded. Many of the wounded are women and children caught in the crossfire.

Four soldiers were wounded during an armed attack in Sadr City. U.S. forces killed two suspects who were launching indirect attacks, and another 24 suspects were killed in and around Baghdad. Also, a spokesperson for the Baghdad Security Plan was kidnapped from his home in the al-Amin neighborhood.

In more violence, three people were killed and 15 more were wounded during a mortar attack on a bus terminal in Karaj Alawy. Two people were wounded by mortar fire in Batawin. Mortars falling on a prison left one dead and four injured.

In Ur, one person was killed and two were injured during mortar shelling. A car bomb near a Red Crescent office left no casualties. No casualties were reported as a Dawa Party office in Shabb was set on fire. Three people were injured during separate shelling in Karada. Also, five dumped bodies were recovered.

As many as 29 people were killed and another 39 more were wounded during an air attack by U.S. forces in Hilla. Some unconfirmed reports have placed the number of dead at sixty. In street clashes as many as 30 have been wounded, including women and children.

In Basra, the casualty figures were upped by 60 dead and 300 injured to a total of 100 people killed and 500 others wounded over the last three days. Reports out the city today mention heavy mortar fire and more armed attacks. Last night, a roadside bomb killed three bodyguards working for the city's police chief. Also, some of the police casualties are being treated in Baghdad.

The totals so far in Kut have been 49 people killed and 75 more injured, adding 31 dead and 63 wounded since yesterday's preliminary reports.

Four Iraqi soldiers were killed in Daquq when gunmen attacked their checkpoint.
Gunmen attacked an army patrol in near Nasariya in al-Rifai, killing
two Iraqi soldiers.
In Kirkuk, a car bomb
killed two Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers and wounded six others, including two civilians. These may have been in two separate events.

A roadside bomb killed four policemen and wounded four more in Mahaweel.

Four bodies were found near Balad Ruz.

Outside Muqdadiyah, police have found a mass grave containing 37 bodies. The age of the grave was not given, but it could date from the Saddam era. Mass graves from that period and quite a few recent ones dot the Diyala province.

Also, a main oil pipeline outside Basra was bombed.

Clashes with the Mahdi Army left three policemen dead in Hamza. Another officer was wounded along with two Iraqi soldiers.

In Diwaniya, one gunmen was killed and a policeman was wounded in an operation that netted eight suspects.

Security forces arrested 48 in Karbala.

A roadside bomb in al-Kafl left three policemen dead and another four wounded.

A bomb in Fallujah was defused.

In Amara, a Badr party office was attacked with rocket propelled grenades. A resident of a neighboring structure was injured. Two people were killed and seven wounded in the crossfire during clashes at the Yugoslave Brigde.

In Samarra, al-Qaeda connected gunmen killed a father and son, who were members of the Sons of Iraq organization. A woman and a child were also injured.

Eight Iraqi soldiers were wounded during clashes in Talbiyah. A father and son were killed in a drive-by shooting.

A mortar in Baiji killed a woman and injured five civilians including a woman. A roadside bomb killed an Iraqi soldier.

A roadside bomb in Khanaquin injured two civilians.

The district office in Khan Bani Saad was attacked but no casualties were reported.
Power plants throughout southern and central Iraq were
attacked and left inoperative.

Yes, that has to be it. That long list of killings and shootings all across Iraq must be what President Bush was talking about when he said he viewed all the violence in Iraq as a "positive moment."


"Body of War" Depicts Personal Cost of War in Iraq

The film documents the struggle of Thomas Young, coping with severe paralysis and life in a wheelchair, its impact on his psyche, his wrecked marriage, his family and his political development from military enlistee into a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Tomas Young was one of those injured, on April 4, 2004, in Sadr City. Young is the subject of a new feature documentary by legendary TV talk-show host Phil Donahue and filmmaker Ellen Spiro, called Body of War. In it, Young describes the incident that has left him paralyzed from the chest down:

By Amy Goodman, King Features SyndicatePosted on March 27, 2008, Printed on March 28, 2008

We just passed the grim milestone of 4,000 U.S. military members killed in Iraq since the invasion five years ago. Still, the death toll climbs.

Typically unmentioned alongside the count of U.S. war dead are the tens of thousands of wounded (not to mention the Iraqi dead). The Pentagon doesn't tout the number of U.S. injured, but the Web site reports an official number of more than 40,000 soldiers requiring medical airlifts out of Iraq, a good indicator of the scale of major injuries. That doesn't include many others. Dr. Arthur Blank, an expert on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), estimates that 30 percent of Iraq veterans will suffer from PTSD.

"I only managed to spend maybe five days in Iraq until I got picked to go on my first mission. There were 25 of us crammed into the back of a two-and-a-half-ton truck with no covering on top or armor on the sides. For the Iraqis on the top of the roof, it just looked like, you know, ducks in a barrel. They didn't even have to aim."

Donahue has his own personal link to the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. It was just weeks before the invasion that his nightly program, MSNBC's top-rated show, was canceled. As revealed shortly thereafter in a leaked memo, Donahue presented a "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war. He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives ... at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity."

Tomas Young enlisted in the military soon after Sept. 11, 2001. Earlier this week, Vice President Dick Cheney said: "The president carries the biggest burden, obviously. He's the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans, but we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, an all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm's way for the rest of us."

Young, speaking to me from Kansas City, Mo., where he lives, responded to Cheney: "From one of those soldiers who volunteered to go to Afghanistan after Sept. 11, which was where the evidence said we needed to go, to [Cheney], the master of the college deferment in Vietnam: Many of us volunteered with patriotic feelings in our heart, only to see them subverted and bastardized by the administration and sent into the wrong country."

Body of War depicts the personal cost of war.

In one of the most moving scenes in the film, Young meets Sen. Robert Byrd, the longest-serving senator, with the most votes cast in Senate history (more than 18,000). Byrd said his "no" vote on the Iraq war resolution was the most important of his life. Young helps him read the names of the 23 senators who voted against the war resolution. Byrd reflects: "The immortal 23. Our founders would be so proud." Turning to Young, he says: "Thank you for your service. Man, you've made a great sacrifice. You served your country well." Young replies, "As have you, sir."


President Bush told a reporter from the TimesOnLine that the violence in Basra and other parts of Iraq, including the mortar shelling of the Green Zone, was a "positive moment."

From The Times
President Bush: Iraq violence is a 'positive moment'
Tom Baldwin in Washington

President Bush gave warning yesterday that Iraq’s “fragile situation” required the US to maintain a strong military presence there, even as he defended the withdrawal of British troops from Basra, the scene of heavy fighting in recent days.

In an interview with The Times, he backed the Iraqi Government’s decision to “respond forcefully” to the spiralling violence by “criminal elements” and Shia extremists in Basra. “It was a very positive moment in the development of a sovereign nation that is willing to take on elements that believe they are beyond the law,” the President said.

Asked if British troops had retreated to the relative safety of the Basra airbase too hastily last year, Mr Bush said that the pullback had been “based upon success” in quelling violence, adding that he remained grateful for the contribution made by British Forces from “day one” of the war.
Mr Bush, who had spent the morning being briefed on Iraq by the Pentagon before an imminent announcement on US troop levels, said that despite “substantial gains” since the US military surge began last year, much work was needed to “maintain the success we’ve had”.

There has been speculation that he plans to hold the current level of troops at about 140,000 through the autumn and possibly beyond in the hope he can bind in his successor — be it a Democratic or Republican president — to his Iraq strategy.

Mr Bush insisted yesterday that decisions would not be made by those who “scream the loudest” in calling for troops to come home. Instead, in his interview with four international journalists, including The Times, he said: “I understand people here want us to leave, regardless of the situation, but that will not happen so long as I’m Commander-In-Chief.”

His comments came before a visit next week to Eastern Europe and the final Nato summit of his presidency, being held in Bucharest. Despite being hobbled by unpopularity abroad and at home — where attention is focused on the race to succeed him — Mr Bush appears determined to shape his legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The President gave a glimpse of some of the resentment felt by Washington towards other Nato allies whom he said needed to be “encouraged” to take obligations in Afghanistan seriously. The definition of the summit’s success, he added, would be to ensure Nato stayed relevant.

But he heaped praise on President Sarkozy of France, who has announced his intention to send another 1,000 troops to the Afghan battlefields. It was notable, perhaps, that he avoided expressing similar sentiments about Gordon Brown after a period, since Tony Blair’s departure from Downing Street, in which differences of tone, if not substance, have emerged between Britain and the US.

Asked if Mr Sarkozy now represented America’s most important bilateral partner, Mr Bush replied that the relationship with Britain was “never as special” as during times of war, before citing the alliance between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as “the current relationship — the more modern relationship — between Tony Blair and myself”.

He added: “It’s going to be hard for any nation to trump the United Kingdom as our greatest ally. Having said that, no question that the relationship \ is changing for the better.” President Sarkozy — whom he described as a “highly energetic and decisive” leader — deserved credit, he said, for not being “interested in creating divisions in the transatlantic relationship”.

France’s offer of an additional 1,000 troops “pretty much ensured” next week’s summit would be a success, he said, adding that the British, French and Canadian troops who “will be in harm’s way” represented a strong statement that Nato was ready to rise to the challenge in Afghanistan.

Mr Bush ended the interview by announcing that he was accepting an invitation to meet President Putin of Russia after the Nato summit at the Crimean resort of Sochi. It will be the last opportunity for talks between the two leaders before Dmitri Medvedev becomes president in May.


Independent sources estimate the real number of the US troops killed in Iraq at more than twice the official figure.

US loses another soldier in Iraq Fri, 28 Mar 2008 11:18:52

Another US soldier is killed in Iraq.A roadside bomb attack has killed a US soldier during a combat patrol in the eastern parts of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the US military says.

The military says the attack occurred during a combat patrol by the Multi-National Division-Baghdad in Iraq's capital city.

The military did not reveal the exact location of the attack but US forces have been engaged in fierce gun battles with Shia fighters in eastern Baghdad's Sadr City, the bastion of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The death raises the number of American service members killed in Iraq since the war started five years ago to at least 4,004.


Just yesterday President Bush was bragging about how the Iraqi Army has taken up the fight against the Mahadi militia in Basra, but now there are reports the assault has stalled and the Iraqi Army are not up to the task.



BAGHDAD — 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.

American officials have presented the Iraqi Army’s attempts to secure the port city as an example of its ability to carry out a major operation against the insurgency on its own. A failure there would be a serious embarrassment for the Iraqi government and for the army, as well as for American forces eager to demonstrate that the Iraqi units they have trained can fight effectively on their own.

During a briefing in Baghdad on Wednesday, a British military official said that of the nearly 30,000 Iraqi security forces involved in the assault, almost 16,000 were Basra police forces, which have long been suspected of being infiltrated by the same militias the assault was intended to root out.

The operation is a significant political test for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who traveled to Basra to oversee the beginning of the assault. It is also a gamble for both the Iraqi and American governments. The Americans distrust the renegade cleric Moktada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia, who consider the Americans occupiers.

The dominant Shiite groups in Mr. Maliki’s government are political and military rivals of Mr. Sadr, and Mr. Maliki is freer now to move against him because Mr. Sadr’s party is no longer a crucial part of his coalition.

But if the Mahdi Army breaks completely with the cease-fire that has helped to tamp down attacks in Iraq during the past year, there is a risk of replaying 2004, when the militia fought intense battles with American forces that destabilized the entire country and ushered in years of escalating violence. Renewed attacks, in turn, would make it more difficult to begin sending home large numbers of American troops.

Click on link to read full story.


The Iraqi government has called for an emergency session on Friday in an attempt to do something about the violence that is sweeping across Iraq.

By Ross Colvin

BAGHDAD, March 28 (Reuters) - Iraqi lawmakers will hold an emergency session on Friday in an attempt to end violence in the oil city of Basra after an army crackdown on Shi'ite militia sparked fighting across the south and mass protests in Baghdad.

Authorities have imposed a three-day curfew in the capital to contain the violence, in which more than 130 people have been killed since the government launched the offensive on Tuesday against fighters loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The assault on Iraq's second biggest city has exposed deep divisions between rival factions within Iraq's majority Shi'ite community. It is also a major test for U.S.-backed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's ability to prove Iraqi forces can stand on their own and allow U.S. forces to withdraw.

With violence spreading across the Shi'ite south and affecting the country's vital oil exports, lawmakers called an emergency session on Friday.

"Today (Thursday) we reviewed the situation in Basra. We agreed to hold an emergency session tomorrow to discuss the Basra situation and how to resolve it," parliament speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani told Reuters.

Mashhadani said representatives of Shi'ite and Sunni parties in parliament, including lawmakers loyal to Sadr, had agreed to attend the special session starting at 3 p.m. (1200 GMT).

Click on link to read full story....



March 27, 2008

Long before Joanne Richardson's third child, a son, joined the Army, he was a bespectacled kid who loved to draw, and had his first and last fight with a childhood best friend in North St. Paul.

Not so long before Spc. Gregory B. Rundell, 21, was killed by enemy sniper fire while manning a guard tower in Iraq Wednesday, the soldier was pulled over doing 90 miles per hour in his mother's beloved car. The recent recruit joked to his little brother in the passenger seat that he might ask the trooper for a military discount.

Richardson, her four remaining children and a throng of puffy-eyed relatives said Thursday night that they wanted people to know those things about Rundell, a warrior who died bravely for his country, but to his family was so much more.

"I would like you all to know that Greg was a good kid," Richardson said at a news conference at the St. Paul National Guard Armory Thursday night. "When Greg decided to join the Army it broke my heart because I knew this day might come."

Lt. Col. Almarah Belk with the Department of Defense said the soldier was killed by small arms sniper fire in Taji, Iraq.

Click on link to read full account.


The Green Zone in Baghdad has been put on a curfew by the United States State Department as mortar attacks continue to hit the area which houses the U.S. Embassy and many of the top elements of the Iraqi government.

International Zone under curfew as attacks continue

Story Highlights
NEW: Senior U.S. official: Insurgents' weapons may have been made in Iran
Two U.S. government officials killed in attacks over two days
Fighting rages on for third day in Basra and other Shiite regions in Iraq
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki gives Basra militants till Saturday to surrender

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's government imposed a weekend curfew in Baghdad on Thursday amid clashes between government troops and Shiite militia fighters, and U.S. Embassy staff were told to remain indoors after days of rocket attacks left two U.S. government employees dead.

The curfew, which took effect at 11 p.m. Thursday (4 p.m. ET), bans pedestrian, motorcycle and vehicle traffic through 5 p.m. Sunday, said Gen. Qassim Atta, an Iraqi military spokesman.
Sixteen rockets were fired Wednesday and 12 on Tuesday. U.S. Embassy workers in Iraq were told to remain in secure buildings and wear protective clothing as rockets continued to rain down on Baghdad's International Zone.

Also called the Green Zone, the International Zone is a heavily fortified central Baghdad district housing the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government offices.

A senior U.S. official says the insurgents may have had recent training allowing them to conduct more precise targeting of the rockets, believed to be made in Iran. Watch a report on the rockets and their origins »

Meanwhile, the name of the U.S. government official killed in the attacks Thursday has not been released, an Embassy spokesman said.

Another U.S. employee, Paul Converse, died Wednesday from wounds he sustained Sunday, officials said.

And a U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad on Thursday, the U.S. military reported.

Iraq's parliament called a special session for Friday to address the crisis caused by three days of fighting between government troops and Shiite fighters. Meanwhile, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for an end to attacks on his followers.

Fighting between Iraqi government troops and what officials call rogue or outlaw members of Shiite militias has spread through southern Iraq's Shiite heartland to Baghdad since the launch of a government crackdown in Basra on Tuesday.

Three days of fighting have left more than 100 Iraqis dead.

Casualty figures from Basra weren't available Thursday, but the number of deaths is expected to rise from the 40 to 50 reported Wednesday.

The fighting threatens to unravel a seven-month cease-fire by al-Sadr's Mehdi Army. Watch how militias send a message to al-Maliki »

Al-Sadr issued a statement Thursday urging "all groups to adopt a political situation and peaceful protest and to stop shedding the Iraqi blood," according to a senior member of his movement.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has been overseeing the operation in southern Iraq, has ordered militants to surrender their weapons by Saturday.

Click on link to read the rest of CNN report.