Friday, April 18, 2008


BAGHDAD — Three weeks after U.S. troops were ordered into the sprawling Shiite Muslim slum of Sadr City to stop rockets from raining down on the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad's Green Zone, they're caught in crossfire between Shiite militiamen and the mostly Shiite Iraqi army.

GIs in Sadr City under fire from friends and foesBy Leila Fadel McClatchy Newspapers Posted on Friday, April 18, 2008

American soldiers who try to move around this urban area, even in the U.S. Army's state-of-the-art Stryker armored vehicles, risk being ambushed. The soldiers in a platoon from the 25th Infantry Division quickly learned that holding a position puts them in the line of fire from both the Mahdi Army militia and the U.S.-backed Iraqi forces.

The American soldiers can't go on the offensive from the run-down two-story house they commandeered in south Sadr City, but must hunker down and wait to get shot at.

An Iraqi family evacuated the house just before the fighting started. It has rats and clogged toilets but no electricity or hot water, and no air conditioning or heating. The American soldiers have had one shower and barely a change of clothes since they got here.

Things got a lot worse last weekend, when bullets started flying at the house, targeting soldiers on the rooftop and in the rooms on the second floor.
"Where's it coming from?" the soldiers on the roof shouted to one another.
"I think it's coming from the north and west," one soldier said over the radio. "Is the Iraqi army shooting at us?"

Three times that day, the Iraqi army unit just up the road from the house was told to hold its fire because its erratic shots were hitting the house that its American allies occupied.
Three times, the Iraqis kept right on shooting.

"They told them to stop shooting," Lt. Adam Bowen, the platoon leader, told his men of the 3rd platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division, from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
More shots rang out.
"Well, that lasted," said Sgt. David Stine, 28, of Iola, Ill., laughing.

One floor below, in a green pastel living room decorated with a picture of a Japanese garden and a bouquet of plastic roses, Spc. Matthew Fisher of Evansville, Ill., pointed his weapon out the window, searching for snipers on the rooftops.

His buddies call him "I Spy" because of his knack for spotting things and sometimes seeing things that aren't there.
Bullets slammed into the green pastel door with a small window at the top, where Sgt. Jared Hicks, 23, of Three Rivers, Mich., stood guard behind a pile of bricks taken from the roof of the house, the muzzle of his rifle poking through the broken glass.

Just before 4 p.m., Bravo Company's commander went to the Iraqi army checkpoints up the road to demand that the Iraqis stop shooting.
Fisher looked out his window at the rooftops and saw a military-age man running on the roof across from him.

"Is that IA or JAM?" he asked, using the initials for the Iraqi army and for Jaysh al Mahdi, the Arabic name of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.
The Americans couldn't shoot until they were sure who was on the roof. Fisher looked at the sky and saw a flock of pigeons flying back and forth, following the directions of a man waving a flag. It appeared that militia groups were signaling each other.

Click on link to read full story.


Baghdad, Apr 18, (VOI)- One U.S. soldier was killed while 44 persons were arrested in acts of violence that took place in Iraq from 2:30pm until 9:30 pm on Friday, security sources said.

Baghdad - Voices of Iraq Friday , 18 /04 /2008 Time 10:32:16

The U.S. army said on Friday that one of its soldiers was killed in a bomb blast in northern Baghdad.The death brings the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since the beginning of military operations in March 2003 to 4038.In Basra, Major General Abdul-Kareem Khalaf, director of the Ministry of Interior's operations room, said that a total of 35 wanted men were arrested on Friday in the southern city of Basra.

“The forces managed to arrest 35 wanted men, including an accused suspected of involvement in 28 murder crimes in Basra, in addition to another accused suspected of being involved in the attempt on the life of one of top Shiite Cleric Ali al-Sistani's representatives in Basra,” he added.

In Ninewa, the official spokesman for the Ninewa operations command said Iraqi security forces on Friday arrested nine wanted men of al-Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq armed group.“The forces arrested the wanted men during a crackdown operation in Nables, Resala and al-Islah al-Zeraai neighborhoods in western Mosul,” Brigadier Khaled Abdul Sattar said.“The detainees are members of what is called Islamic State of Iraq in Mosul,” he added, noting that the leader of the group is among the detainees.


Al-Sadr followers denounce wall Americans are building

By LEE KEATH, Associated Press Writer 54 minutes ago;_ylt=AjTL4kQwpQP6H4orik6MPdlX6GMA

BAGHDAD - Followers of anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr denounced the American military's construction of a concrete wall through their Sadr City stronghold in Baghdad, the scene of renewed clashes Friday between his militiamen and U.S. and Iraqi troops.

The wall — a concrete barrier of varying height up to about 12 feet — is being built along a main street dividing the southern portion of Sadr City from the northern, where al-Sadr's Mahdi Army fighters are concentrated.

American commanders hope that construction of the Sadr City wall, which began Tuesday, will effectively cut off insurgents' ability to move freely into the rest of Baghdad and hamper their ability to fire rockets and mortars at the Green Zone, the central Baghdad district where government offices and the U.S. Embassy are located


Story Highlights
U.S. warns of suicide attacks in Baghdad "in the near future"
The U.S. military says "numerous terrorists" have entered the Baghdad area
Iraqis being warned to be vigilant for signs of terrorist activity
Al Qaeda in Iraq targeting former allies such as Sons of Iraq and Awakening groups

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Al Qaeda in Iraq is planning suicide attacks against Iraqis in Baghdad "in the near future," the U.S. military warned Friday.

Information collected by coalition forces indicated that "numerous terrorists" had entered the Baghdad area to carry out attacks using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices or suicide vests, according to a statement from the Multi-National Corps-Iraq. No details were provided.

One or more of the attacks were expected to target the Karkh district of Baghdad, where a car bomb exploded in March 2005 near the Sunni mosque Ibn Tamiya. The mosque is on the dangerous road leading to the Baghdad airport. There were no reports of casualties.

Iraqis were being warned to be vigilant for signs of terrorist activity and asked to report any unusual signs through tip lines or troops in their area.
Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces were distributing pamphlets describing signs that may indicate terrorist activity.

Brig. Gen. Qassim Atta, the spokesman for the Baghdad security plan, warned listeners Friday during the main newscast on al-Iraqia state TV.
Reiterating what the U.S. military said about credible intelligence indicating that suicide, vehicle and IED attacks are being planned by "terrorist groups," Atta asked people to be cautious and wary.

He asked them to call the Iraqi Security Forces and the hot lines for the ministries of Defense and Interior and the Baghdad security plan hot lines to report anything suspicious.
Indications of a possible suicide-vest attack include people displaying abnormal behavior such as an agitated demeanor and wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather.

Signs of a possible vehicle-borne improvised explosive attack are unfamiliar vehicles driving repeatedly around crowded areas, people taking videos or photos of these areas, cars without license plates or multiple fuel cans in the seat or trunk of a vehicle. Attackers also might use a stolen ambulance.

The Multi-National Corps-Iraq statement said that historically, al Qaeda in Iraq attacked large gatherings of people: funerals, markets and checkpoints.


You won't be reading or seeing any of what I report here about US deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan in the newspapers or on television. Nor will you read or see any reports about what is happening in Baghdad and other provinces across Iraq as well as Afghanistan. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have become the second edition of "THE FORGOTTEN WAR(S)"

Ed. Note: Everything in "Blue" can be clicked on for more details from news sources.

War News for Friday, April 18, 2008
The Washington Post is reporting the deaths of two ISAF soldiers in a roadside bombing in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan on Friday, April 18th. Two additional soldiers were wounded in the blast. The Dutch MoD reports that the attack was about twelve miles northwest of Camp Holland. They also report that one of the wounded soldiers is in critical condition and the other is listed as serious injured but stable condition. Here's the ISAF statement.

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in a roadside bombing in an neighborhood just north of Baghdad on Friday, April 18th. No other details were released.

Security incidents:Baghdad:#1: A company of government troops abandoned its positions in Sadr City when the forces came under attack from Shiite militiamen who took advantage of a sandstorm to attack, police said today. The clashes overnight killed two people and injured nine, a police commander said. The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to release the information, said it was unclear whether there were any casualties among the soldiers.U.S. troops responded with artillery fire, but no helicopters or unmanned drones were sighted, the officer said. There was no immediate comment from the Iraqi or U.S. military. The attack in Sadr City occurred late Thursday while Baghdad was blanketed by one of the worst sandstorms in months. The thick clouds of dust reduced visibility and forced the closure of the international airport. It also appeared to affect military flights.

#2: Apparently taking advantage of the reduced aerial activity, militants also repeatedly shelled the Green Zone that houses diplomatic missions and much of the Iraqi government.

#3: Around 10 am, a bomb which was planted in a civilian car at Binouk neighborhood (east Baghdad) .The driver was killed and two others were injured.

#4: A roadside bomb exploded near Musa bin Nusair fuel station in Karrada, central Baghdad injuring 2 civilians.

#5: 2 mortar rounds fell in Baladiyat neighbourhood hitting what used to be the Intelligence facility before 2003 and is now a US base at around 5.30 pm Friday. No casualties were reported.

#6: A mortar round hit stalls in the Jamila fruit and vegetable open air market causing a fire. The fire trucks couldn't enter the area to fight the fire as it was cordoned by security forces, said Iraqi police. No casualties' report was available at the time of publication.

#7: 4 mortar rounds hit al-Adala Camp in Kadhmiyah neighbourhood. No casualties were reported.

#8: 1 mortar round fell in Palestine Street, near al-Ibtisam restaurant injuring 3 civilians and causing material damages to a house.

#9: A roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi Army patrol in Dakhiliyah, Yarmouk neighbourhood, west Baghdad killing 1 soldier, wounding 4.

#10: 2 unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad by Iraqi Police today. 1 in al-Qanat Street and 1 in Hurriyah.

#11: Iraqi troops clashed with Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's militia on Friday in what was described as some of the heaviest fighting in Baghdad for weeks. An Iraqi security source described the fighting as among the heaviest since confrontation erupted there in late March. The source said seven people had died in combat lasting four to five hours. A nearby market was in flames. Ali Bustan, head of the health directorate for east Baghdad, said 132 wounded were brought to Sadr City's two hospitals by nightfall. "The Iraqi Army still hold their positions in Sadr City," U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Stover said, quoting a dispatch from U.S. troops at the front. "They are currently under attack ... but are organizing a counter-attack."

#12: A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed in an improvised-explosive device attack at approximately 1:45 p.m. April 18. The attack struck the vehicle the Soldier was riding in while conducting a combat patrol just north of Baghdad.

Diyala Prv:Khalis:#1: Six civilians were killed and four others wounded in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in Diala province, northeastern Baghdad, on Friday, a local police source said. "The blast left six killed and four others wounded in al-Khalis district, north of Baaquba," the source, who refused to have his name mentioned, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

Basra:#1: In another development, security sources told dpa on Friday that militants killed two police officers and injured a security guard in the southern city of Basra. Sources said the militants opened fire on two police officers in Basra's Jazaer area in the late hours of Thursday.

#2: Also in Basra, militants wounded a security guard, who was standing atop one of the buildings, in the city's Kornish area on Thursday.

#3: Iraqi troops cordoned off the Basra office of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's followers on Friday and prevented them holding prayers in a move that seems sure to inflame tensions.

Tuz Khormato:#1: At least two Iraqi soldiers were killed on Friday and another wounded when a bomb went off near the northern Iraqi town of Tuz Khormato, police said. Abbas Amin, an Iraqi police officer, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that an explosive device targeted a patrol in the early morning of Friday near the village of Maftol close to Tuz Khormato, which is some 185 kilometres north of Baghdad.

Kirkuk:#1: Two Iraqi army servicemen were killed and another wounded on Friday when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off near their patrol on a main road south of Kirkuk, according to an official police source. "An IED went off on the highway linking Kirkuk to Touz district, (85 km) south of Kirkuk, near al-Maftoul village, while a patrol of the Iraqi Army 3rd Brigade's 2nd Regiment, was passing by," the source, who requested anonymity, told Aswat al-Iraq –

Voices of IraqAfghanistan:#1: Two ISAF soldiers were killed and two were wounded during an explosion in southern Afghanistan early this morning.The son of the Netherlands' top military officer was killed early Friday by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, the day after his father assumed command of the Dutch armed forces, the Defense Ministry said. Lt. Dennis van Uhm, 23, was among two NATO soldiers killed and two wounded in the explosion in Uruzgan province, said spokesman Lt. Gen. Freek Meulman. The second fatality was not fully identified. All the casualties were Dutch. The soldiers' vehicle was returning to base after a large reconnaissance mission in the area, where they face Taliban insurgents, the military said. "There is no reason to believe that the roadside bomb attack was directed at Lt. Van Uhm," said Meulman.

#2: Military officials say one Canadian soldier has been injured in a roadside bombing that struck a Canadian military vehicle in southern Afghanistan. The attack occurred near Spin Boldak, a town on the Pakistani border. Canadian Forces spokesman Capt. Sylvain Chalifour says the soldier suffered slight injuries in Thursday's attack.

#3: Three Afghan civilians died in a roadside bomb blast near the capital Kabul on Friday, police said. The men were killed and another wounded when their vehicle hit a bomb laid on a road frequently used by Afghan and international forces in Logar province just south of Kabul, provincial police chief Ghulam Mustafa told AFP.


Brandon Hill was suspended after taking a call from his dad in Iraq during class.
Master Sgt. Morris Hill, Brandon's dad.

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) -- A call from a parent stationed in a war zone has landed a Texas high school student in hot water, and his mother is asking the school to ease up on the punishment.

The Copperas Cove High School sophomore received an urgent call from his father and was suspended after taking the call during class.

Master Sgt. Morris Hill is a world away in Iraq, so he had no idea that a simple call from the battlefield to his son, Brandon, would land the 16-year-old in a heap of trouble.

"He called me during class, because that's the only time that he could," said Brandon Hill, suspended for using a cell phone. "I answered the call as I was walking out of class. The teacher followed me out and said, ‘Oh what are you doing?' I said my dad was calling from Iraq, and I know he needs to talk to me."

At the high school, which is 85 miles from Austin, students are not allowed to carry cell phones.
Yet Pat Hill said before her husband left for Iraq, he made a special arrangement with the assistant principal.

"He had spoken with Mr. Fletcher," said Pat Hill. "He thought there was an agreement understood that if he called either Joshua or Brandon at school, that everything was fine.

Brandon Hill was sent to the office and suspended for two days for answering his father's call.
"It's crazy with everything that's going on," Brandon Hill said.

"If this would have been the last phone call from my husband, and he's in trouble for it and then has to deal with something happening to his dad that would be even harder," Pat Hill said. She added that she was outraged her son was suspended, and then it took a week to get a meeting with the principal.

In a written statement to KXAN Austin News, Kathy Blake, the secretary to the Copperas Cove district superintendent, said: "In an emergency situation there are procedures in place to address those individual situations. This is true for all of the students in our district. The incident in question occurred almost two weeks ago and has been resolved."

Brandon Hill has returned to school, but he still has the black mark on his record. His mother said she wants it removed and for the school to recognize the special needs of military children.
"These schools have to stop and realize, especially when you are in a military community, we support our soldiers, we support our troops," Pat Hill said. "What about them when they are in Iraq trying to reach their family?"

Yet Pat Hill said the school will not address her request to have the suspension removed from her son's record, a battle she is fighting here while her husband is away.


The media in the United States continues to either ignore what is happening in Iraq, or worse yet they take the Bush White House "talking points" and parrot them word for word without realizing they are feeding the American public a load of garbage on what is taking place in Iraq on the political front.

Pepe Escobar, the award winning journalist, and correspondent for The Real News Network explains in concise detail exactly what is taking place between the various Shiite and Sunni elements in Iraq.

For anyone wishing to know the TRUTH about Iraq instead of Bush White House spin aided and abetted by the Bush lapdog, FOX NEWS, this short video is a must view:

Synopsis of Real News video:

Latest Iraq bombing strikes at heart of US efforts

Pepe Escobar: Al-Qaeda in Iraq plans to target "Awakening Councils" and make deals with Sunni tribes

Friday April 18th, 2008

At least 50 people were killed and 20 injured when a suicide bomber struck the funeral of two brothers who belonged to the Sunni Awakening Council, an organization whose purpose is to turn Sunni fighters against al-Qaeda.In Brussels, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pleaded with NATO to provide more training and equipment to the Iraqi army, a request that The Real News analyst Pepe Escobar calls an "absolutely ludicrous proposition."

Escobar also reports on a new statement from al-Qaeda in Iraq, which suggests that the group plans to target the Awakening Council that is siphoning away their support.

Based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Pepe Escobar writes The Roving Eye for Asia Times Online. He has reported from Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, US and China. He is the author of the recently published Red Zone Blues. Pepe is a regular analyst for The Real News Network.


There has been a huge spike in suicide bombings all across the world, but mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan where the United States plays a major role as not only an invader but an occupier of both countries.

The Washington Post and MSNBC NEWS are reporting the following:

Suicide bombings up worldwide
Out of 658 attacks worldwide last year, 542 were in U.S.-occupied countries
By Robin Wright
The Washington Post


updated 4:51 a.m. CT, Fri., April. 18, 2008

Suicide bombers conducted 658 attacks around the world last year, including 542 in U.S.-occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, according to data compiled by U.S. government experts.

The large number of attacks -- more than double the number in any of the past 25 years -- reflects a trend that has surprised and worried U.S. intelligence and military analysts.
More than four-fifths of the suicide bombings over that period have occurred in the past seven years, the data show.

The bombings have spread to dozens of countries on five continents, killed more than 21,350 people and injured about 50,000 since 1983, when a landmark attack blew up the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

Today is the 25-year anniversary of that attack, the first of a series of large suicide bombings targeting Americans overseas.

"Increasingly, we are seeing the globalization of suicide bombs, no longer confined to conflict zones but happening anywhere," said Mohammed Hafez of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and author of the book "Suicide Bombers in Iraq." He calls the contemporary perpetrators "martyrs without borders."

Deadly tactics from Argentina to AlgeriaThe unpublished data show that since 1983, bombers in more than 50 groups from Argentina to Algeria, Croatia to China, and India to Indonesia have adapted car bombs to make explosive belts, vests, toys, motorcycles, bikes, boats, backpacks and false-pregnancy stomachs.

Of 1,840 incidents in the past 25 years, more than 86 percent have occurred since 2001, and the highest annual numbers have occurred in the past four years. The sources who provided the data to The Washington Post asked that they not be identified because of the sensitivity of the tallies.

The data show more than 920 suicide bombings in Iraq and more than 260 in Afghanistan, including some that killed scores of U.S. troops. All occurred after the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.

The exact number of U.S. casualties from the bombs in Iraq is classified "because it might show the effectiveness of the enemy's weapon," said Maj. Brad Leighton, a U.S. spokesman in Iraq. "They won't even give the number to me."

Beirut attacks caught U.S. by surpriseMore than 3,420 Americans have died in at least 10 major suicide bombing incidents, beginning with the embassy bombing in Beirut, which killed 63 people, including 17 Americans, and injured more than 100. The bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut six months later killed 241 and still ranks as the largest loss of American military life in a single incident since the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

Both attacks caught Washington by surprise, despite suicide bombings against the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut in 1981 and an Israeli military headquarters in south Lebanon in 1983. "We at the embassy collectively saw the political situation as improving," said Richard Gannon, the regional security officer at the time.

The FBI and the CIA still do not know the identity of the bomber who, 25 years ago, drove a dark delivery van loaded with explosives past the red-and-white-striped security booth straight into the seven-story embassy overlooking the Mediterranean, ripping off the entire front facade.
Anne Dammarell, who worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development, vividly remembers being pinned under concrete with 19 broken bones, unable to move as flames approached. She said she decided to gulp smoke to "suffocate before being burned to death. I thought that would be easier."

The FBI eventually blamed a cell of Shiite extremists that later evolved into Hezbollah, and said Iran provided aid and direction. But few specifics are known to this day, and no one has been brought to justice, as in many such attacks.

'Legions of unknown soldiers'At least two-thirds of suicide bombings since 1983 have targeted U.S. policy goals, intelligence officials say. "They may be targeting the U.S. but not hitting either the American homeland or American interests in other countries," said Gary LaFree, director of the University of Maryland's National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

Few of the perpetrators have been identified. "We're dependent on the terrorist group to make a public claim or release a martyrdom tape," said Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University, author of "Inside Terrorism." "But if the bomber was never fingerprinted or governments do not have their DNA, he or she usually remains anonymous. What makes it so formidable a tactic or strategy is these legions of unknown soldiers deployed against us."

The State Department will hold a commemoration of the Beirut attack this morning.


IRAQ: Chaos Hardening Sectarian Fiefdoms

By Ali GharibWASHINGTON, Apr 17 (IPS) -

There are an estimated 2.7 million Iraqis who have been displaced within their own country. No house; no food; no security.

Who do they turn to for help?

The international community's humanitarian organisations?

The occupying United States government?

The central Iraqi government based in Baghdad?According to a report released Tuesday by Refugees International (RI), none of these has been able to provide sufficient assistance to the most vulnerable Iraqis.

As a result, they are turning increasingly to local religious-political armed groups for their humanitarian needs -- often Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, or the Sunni militias known as Sahwa or Awakening groups, made up of former insurgents armed and funded by the U.S. military, though other militias and strongmen exist as well.

The ongoing fragmentation of Iraqi society well beyond pre-U.S. invasion levels -- caused by the flawed U.S. occupation and even encouraged by some of it and the nascent Iraqi government's policies -- has left militias and other neighbourhood strongmen the only ones able to effectively provide food, shelter, oil for heating and cooking, and the semblance of a judiciary system, according to the report entitled "Uprooted and Unstable: Meeting Urgent Humanitarian Needs in Iraq".

"The trend more and more has been [that] Iraq, leaving aside Kurdistan, resembles Somalia, where you have warlords and militias independent fiefdoms," said journalist Nir Rosen, who has spent significant time in Iraq, in a conference call to launch the report, which he co-authored.

"These militias, be they Mahdi Army, be they Sunni Awakening groups or otherwise, provide security, provide housing, and other forms of assistance."


WASHINGTON — The war in Iraq has become "a major debacle" and the outcome "is in doubt" despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon's premier military educational institute

Pentagon institute calls Iraq war 'a major debacle' with outcome 'in doubt'By Jonathan S. Landay and John Walcott McClatchy Newspapers
The report released by the National Defense University raises fresh doubts about President Bush's projections of a U.S. victory in Iraq just a week after Bush announced that he was suspending U.S. troop reductions.

The report carries considerable weight because it was written by Joseph Collins, a former senior Pentagon official, and was based in part on interviews with other former senior defense and intelligence officials who played roles in prewar preparations. » read more


The Bush administration and FOX NEWS keep telling the American public that things are improving in Iraq, however in the past three weeks over 300 Iraqis have been KILLED and another 1600 injured.

The success of the "surge" is a myth perpetrated by the Pentagon, the Bush administration and FOX NEWS.

The only success of the "surge" came in Al Anbar Province and that had NOTHING to do with the US military, but was brought about when tribal leaders decided they had seen enough violence and ran Al Qaeda out of the province.

Baghdad, Apr17, (VOI)-At least 300 individuals were killed and 1621injured during the clashes that erupted in the Shiite slum of Sadr city over the last three weeks, a Medic source said on Thursday."300 persons were killed and 1621 injured during the heavy fighting and airstrikes that have taken place in Sadr city since March25," a medical source told Aswat al-Iraq –Voices of Iraq- (VOI).

Baghdad - Voices of Iraq Thursday , 17 /04 /2008 Time 10:10:38

Sadr city along with major southern cities saw fierce clashes and heavy fighting between Iraqi government security forces and Mahdi army militias loyal to the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr over the last weeks.

The clashes started after Iraqi government announcement of a major crackdown in the southern port city of Basra, which militiamen of Muqtada al-Sadr considered it as an attempt to weaken their movement before the provincial elections due in October.

The source pointed out "the toll gives the figures of casualties from Sadr city received in two hospitals inside the slum and also al-Kindi hospital in central Baghdad.".He noted "ambulances were denied access first due to the security procedures, but now they flew into the neighborhood after recording the name of the driver and the plate number.".

Baghdad security plan authorities decided to lift the vehicle ban imposed over Sadr city last Saturday after securing the outlets of the sprawling slum, giving access for vehicles of aid, ambulances and food stuffs to enter the violence-racketed neighborhood.


Story Highlights
Audio recording purportedly is from the group's second-in-command
16-minute message posted Thursday on militant Islamist Web sites
Tape references Gen. David Petraeus' recent testimony before Congress
Speaker says U.S. presidential candidates "trying to deceive their people"

(CNN) -- Marking the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, al Qaeda's media arm released an audio recording, purportedly from the group's second-in-command, saying U.S. troops there have failed.

The audiotape allegedly is from Ayman al-Zawahiri, shown here in an image taken from a videotape.

"Where the American invasion stands now, after five years, is failure and defeat," the voice on the tape -- supposedly that of Ayman al-Zawahiri -- said in the roughly 16-minute recording, which was posted Thursday on several militant Islamist Web sites.
The tape referenced testimony by David Petraeus, the top U.S. general in Iraq, before Congress this month, when he said that further troop withdrawals in Iraq will have to wait at least another 45 days.

"It is all a silly episode to disguise failure in Iraq and so Bush would avoid making a decision on withdrawing troops -- which is considered to be a declaration of crusaders' defeat in Iraq -- and move forward the problem to be the next president's issue," he said.

CNN could not immediately confirm that the speaker was al-Zawahiri.

Al-Zawahiri's last public statement came April 3, when he said in an audio message that al Qaeda does not kill innocents and that Osama bin Laden is healthy.