Sunday, April 20, 2008


The media in the United States no longer provides data on the number of US casualties in Iraq, and never tells the American public how many Iraqi citizens have been killed since President Bush, Vice President Cheney and the "White House Warmongers" decided it was a bright idea to invade a country that had absolutely NOTHING to do with the 9/11 attack. (click on this link for detailed stats on casualties from the war)

To add insult to injury, President Bush won't even allow any photos taken of the dead servicemen returning to Dover AFB in flag-draped coffins.

It wasn't long ago, a family of one service member killed in Iraq managed to get on the Dover AFB as their son was returned from Iraq.

They thought there would be an honor guard to help remove his flag-draped coffin from the military aircraft, but instead there was no military honor guard and his remains were unloaded with the rest of the baggage from the baggage compartment of the military plane.

That is a clear indication of how President Bush and Vice President Cheney feel about the brave young men and women who serve in the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

Is it any wonder the recruiters are having to use all kinds of sneaky methods to try and sign someone up for the service? They even go so far as offering to give them a down payment on their house, and a $40,000 signing bonus to just to get them to put their name on the dotted line.

Who in their right mind would want to nothing but human cannon fodder in a war where you can't tell the enemy from the good guys because nobody wears a uniform except the US military, which makes them prime targets for the insurgents and terrorists.

And the worse is yet to come!

If you have been reading this blog, you know Muqtada al-Sadr and the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq are promising an all out bloodbath aimed at US troops---mostly in Baghdad. The attacks are expected to begin in two week, if not sooner.

General David Petraeus still lives in the delusional world that he is in charge of multi-national forces or the "coalition of the willing" in Iraq, but a quick run through the list of troops in Iraq indicates over 98 percent of the military personnel in Iraq are American soldiers or Marines.

There is no "coalition of the willing." That is another myth just like the myth that the "surge" has been a success when 55 Iraqis were KILLED on Sunday ALONE, and another 78 WOUNDED.

The link above provides a lot of information you will NEVER see in the mainstream media, and most of all on FOX NEWS, because they are all in bed with the Bush White House.

The Iraq War has become the second "Forgotten War." The Korean War was the first "Forgotten War."

I should know. I was a Cpl. (E-4), Squad Ldr, United States Army Combat Engineers and a Korean War veteran with an Honorable Discharge from the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

Incidentally, there is ONLY one person, Colin Powell, in the original Bush White House who took us to war that can claim they have an Honorable Discharge from the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

They all were too chicken to serve in the military or as Cheney did use six deferments to get out of the draft during the Vietnam War years.

Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE at


It was just another typical "peaceful" Sunday in Iraq. The "surge" was working like a charm because ONLY 75 Iraqis were KILLED, and ONLY 58 wounded. Condi Rice slipped into Baghdad in the cover of the night with all but the landing lights off on her plane, and then was rushed to the Green Zone while wearing a flak-jacket because "the surge" has been such a roaring success.

While Rice and Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki discussed the fate of Iraq inside the Green Zone, mortar shells and rockets slammed into the Green Zone and at one point Rice and al-Maliki had to be taken to a safer place to continue their talks about how "safte" Iraq has become since the "surge" was introduced by President Bush and General Petraeus.

Also while Rice and al-Maliki were patting each other on the back about how well the "surge" has worked, the rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was preparing his Mehdi Army and suicide bombers for an allout attack on US forces in Baghdad. (see my post below for more details of the upcoming attack by al-Sadr and the Mehdi Army).

While rockets and mortars were screaming into the Green Zone and death was everywhere in Baghdad and across Iraq, Bush and his parrot FOX NEWS were once again LYING to the American public about how well the "surge" is working in Iraq.

Is it that Bush and FOX NEWS can't read, or is it that Bush and FOX NEWS are living in some horrible state of denial and can't face reality?

Probably both!.

Editorial comment by BILL CORCORAN, editor of CORKSPHERE.

Sunday: 75 Iraqis Killed, 58 Wounded

Updated at 6:30 p.m. EDT, April 20, 2008

Early reports from Sadr City and Baghdad suggest that fighting between the Mahdi army and security forces has increased. Meanwhile, a mass grave has been found near Muqdadiyah. At least 75 Iraqis were killed and another 58 were wounded in violence across Iraq. No Coalition deaths were reported.

A mass grave has been discovered near Muqdadiyah in a Hambes village orchard. This one contained at least 30 decomposed bodies. A second source reported 100 bodies. A third source reported a second grave was found as well.

A day after Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr warned the Iraqi government that he would end his unilateral cease-fire if the government does not stop harassing his followers, fighting in Sadr City and Baghdad has reportedly increased. Clashes continued in Sadr City, but also broke out in New Baghdad and Kubra al Ghizlan.

In Sadr City, nine gunmen were killed at a U.S. checkpoint during retaliatory gunfire. Three gunmen were killed when they were found planting a bomb. Eight more were killed in separate events. Hospital officials said four civilians and two boys were killed in overnight clashes. Another 22 people were wounded.

In Baghdad, a katyusha rocket wounded seven people in Abu Dsheer. Mortars landed on Qanat St. and Husseiniyah, but no casualties were reported. Mortars in Kadhimiya left two dead and 14 wounded. In New Baghdad, five people were injured during a roadside bombing. A bicycle bomb explosion in Abu Ghraib killed two people and wounded four more. Six dumped bodies were found.

Two people were killed and five were wounded during an IED explosion near Diwaniya.
Two contractors were found dead in Rashad.

In Muqdadiyah, an off-duty police officer and his driver were killed during a drive-by shooting. The officer's pregnant wife was wounded.

The Sinjar council official and his brother were found dead just hours after they were kidnapped from their home. Also, gunmen blew up a power plant.

Three minibuses carrying university students near Baquba were stopped and their drivers were kidnapped. In other report, nine students and a driver were kidnapped. A third report noted that Iraqi security forces freed some of the students
A weapons cache was found in Mosul.

Gunmen killed a police officer in Suleiman Beg.


Rice praises Iraq unity as cleric threatens war

by Lachlan Carmichael 2 hours, 17 minutes ago

BAGHDAD (AFP) - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a surprise visit to Baghdad on Sunday said Iraqi leaders were more united than ever, as Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr warned of a war against the government.

Rice also said that security in Iraq had improved but, during her stay in Baghdad's Green Zone, the heavily fortified area was rocked by an explosion which, according to a US official, could have been a rocket attack.

More than 60 people, including 40 Shiite fighters, were reported killed since Saturday in clashes with security forces, Iraqi and US officials said.

"I see a coalescing of a centre in Iraqi politics in which the Sunnis, the Kurdish leadership and the elements of the Shiite leadership that are not associated with these 'Special Groups' (alleged Iranian-backed Shiite groups) have been working better than at any time before," she said.
"It is indeed a moment of opportunity in Iraq thanks to the decision of the Iraqi prime minister and the unified Iraqi leadership."

The US military claims that "Special Groups", many of them from Sadr's feared Mahdi Army militia, are being trained by Iranian covert agents to fight American forces in Iraq.
Rice stopped in Baghdad before heading to Bahrain and then on to Kuwait for talks on a regional conference of Iraq's neighbours on Tuesday on the battered country's security.

Her visit comes a day after Sadr threatened to declare "open war" if the crackdown by Iraqi and US forces against his loyalists is not halted.

Rice gave a cautious response to Sadr's latest salvo which came as Iraqi and US forces battle Shiite militiamen, mostly from his Mahdi Army militia, in Baghdad's Sadr City and in the southern city of Basra.

"It's been very difficult to get a read of what his motivations are and what his intentions are," Rice said.
"I know he's living in Iran. I guess it's all-out war for everybody but him. His followers can go to their deaths and he will still be living in Iran. I don't know how seriously to take him or not."


Can Iraq's Parliament Fight Back?

By Maya Schenwar, TruthOut.orgPosted on April 18, 2008, Printed on April 20, 2008

A surprise announcement by Iraq's Cabinet on Monday opened up the possibility that resistance to a prolonged US occupation may come from a much-ignored source: the Iraqi Parliament.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's administration, moving into the third round of negotiations with the Bush administration over a "status of forces agreement" (SOFA) to establish a long-term US military and economic presence in Iraq, declared that the agreement must be approved by Parliament before it becomes law. Previously, Maliki had maintained that Parliamentary ratification was unnecessary.

Submitting the document to Parliament may not only hold up the process of getting it signed and sealed - it could also change the terms that govern the US presence in Iraq for years to come.
Since Maliki and President Bush released a "Declaration of Principles" in November spelling out their vision of postwar US-Iraqi relations, they've been immersed in closed-door deliberations on the specifics. During a long string of Congressional hearings, including last week's testimony from Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the Bush administration has reiterated that it does not plan to consult Congress before signing a SOFA. (It has indicated that it may do so for the other prong of its long-term agreement with Iraq - a nonbinding "strategic framework agreement" governing economic and political ties - but has made no commitment on that front.) Meanwhile, both countries' legislative branches have been vocally challenging their administrations on what they say is a broad overstepping of the bounds of executive power.

On the US side, that resistance has taken the shape of a series of House Foreign Affairs Committee hearings, investigating the constitutionality of an executive-only bilateral agreement that looks, for all intents and purposes, like a treaty - which is supposed to be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate. By calling it an "agreement" instead, the administration skirts that requirement.

On the Iraqi side, Parliamentarians have an even more solid case: the Iraqi Constitution requires legislative ratification of any international agreement.

If the Maliki administration does as it says and submits the SOFA to Parliament, it's sure to meet with roadblocks, according to Catherine Lutz, author of "The Bases of Empire: The Global Struggle against U.S. Military Posts."

"Opinion within the Parliament is much less US-friendly than in the executive branch," Lutz told Truthout. "Parliament could add amendments and changes to the agreement."


In Sadr City's new wall, shadows of Gaza, VietnamAijaz Ahmad: Wall meant to partition Sadr City's residents is population control ahead of elections 17 hours ago view

bio: Aijaz Ahmad context links As violence continued in Baghdad's Sadr City district on Friday, attention turned to the wall US forces are building through the neighborhood--a wall that is reminiscent of the one Israel built around the Palestinian territories, as well as US military tactics used during the Vietnam War.

The Real News analyst Aijaz Ahmad says that the ostensible purpose of the Iraqi government's wall--to keep insurgents under control--is only part of the story. Ahmad tells The Real News that it is meant to be a form of "population control" ahead of this year's elections, which the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a vocal opponent of the US occupation, is expected to sweep. The result of the decision to build the wall is the transformation of an entire Baghdad neighborhood into a virtual prison, Ahmad says.


The surprise visit of Secetary of State Condoleezea Rice to Iraq did nothing to halt the violence as it spirals out of control. Rockets hit the Green Zone where Rice was meeting with Iraqi officials.

Rice in Iraq, violence surges after Sadr threat
By Sue Pleming 1 hour, 19 minutes ago;_ylt=AqCRU0pbB9Fwdq58UA33N41X6GMA

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice backed Iraq's crackdown on militias in a visit on Sunday to Baghdad, where the worst fighting in weeks erupted after Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr threatened all-out war.
Rockets blasted the fortified Green Zone compound where Rice met Iraqi officials and praised their month-old campaign against Sadr's followers.
She had harsh words for the reclusive cleric, who on the eve of Rice's visit vowed "open war" if the crackdown continues. Sadr has not appeared in public in Iraq in nearly a year.
"He is still living in Iran. I guess it's all out war for anybody but him," Rice told reporters. "His followers can go to their death and he will still be in Iran."
A military spokesman said U.S. forces had killed 20 fighters overnight in a series of gunbattles and helicopter missile strikes in Sadr City, the east Baghdad slum that is a stronghold of Sadr's militia.
"I would say it's been the hottest night in a couple of weeks," the spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Stover said.
Arriving on an unannounced visit, Rice met Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and said she wanted to support what she called a new political "centre" in Iraq that has backed Maliki's anti-militia campaign.
"It is indeed a moment of opportunity in Iraq thanks to the courageous decisions taken by the prime minister and a unified Iraqi leadership," Rice said in brief televised remarks with President Jalal Talabani after they held talks.
A rebellion by Sadr's Mehdi Army militia -- whose tens of thousands of black-masked fighters control the streets in many Shi'ite areas -- could abruptly end a period of lower violence at a time when some U.S. forces are starting to leave Iraq.


While Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice makes a surprise visit to Baghdad, the rebel cleric Muqutada al-Sadr has issued a warning to the the US to "back off or all options are open."

Iraqi lawmaker to U.S.: Back off or 'all options are open'
Story Highlights
NEW: U.S. military shuts down Green Zone as Condoleezza Rice arrives
Lawmaker: U.S. launching "dirty" political conspiracy against Shiite cleric
Speaker calls on fighters to "offer the head of an American as a gift" to Bush
Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatens "war" against Iraqi government

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- An Iraqi lawmaker warned the U.S. military Sunday that if it doesn't immediately end its attacks on Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army, "all options are open to us."
Fawzi Tarzi, a Sadrist member of parliament, made his remarks as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unannounced visit to Baghdad. His comments also follow airstrikes and firefights Saturday that left seven Shiite militants dead in Baghdad's Sadr City.
"Let it be known that disbanding the Mehdi Army will mean the end of [Prime Minister Nuri] al-Maliki's government, and therefore the siege of Sadr City and Shula should end immediately or all options are open to us," Tarzi said. "There is a fierce military and media campaign and a dirty political conspiracy planned and supported by the occupier against the Sadr trend."
Sadr City has been the scene of many clashes in recent weeks between U.S. and Iraqi security forces and the Mehdi Army.
Tarzi called on humanitarian organizations and the world media to visit Sadr City to see what he described as a "humanitarian tragedy." The Baghdad neighborhood is plagued with "random airstrikes and raids," which are causing a deteriorating humanitarian situation, he said.
More than 400 people have died and 1,300 have been wounded in the attacks, Tarzi said, citing hospital figures.
Al-Sadr on Saturday gave his "last warning" to the Iraqi government that he would "declare a war" unless U.S. and Iraqi forces stop their assaults on his followers.
Loudspeakers at Sadr City mosques announced al-Sadr's warning Saturday evening, calling for followers to fight the "occupier," a witness said.
According to the Interior Ministry, Saturday's Sadr City clashes killed nine Iraqis and wounded 15 others.
The Interior Ministry said Sadr City clashes continued into Sunday morning.
Al-Sadr's threat was issued the same day that a man claiming to be the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq urged his fighters to launch an offensive against U.S. forces in the next few weeks.
The speaker was identified as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri, on several Islamist Web sites that posted the recording.
Within the the next month, militants should "offer the head of an American as a gift to the deceitful [President] Bush," he said.
The speaker also called for attacks on members of Iraqi awakening councils, a movement of mostly Sunnis who have joined forces with the U.S. and Iraqi governments in battling Islamic jihadists loyal to al Qaeda in Iraq.
The U.S. military shut down the International Zone on Sunday after U.S. officials announced Rice's arrival. Rice met with Iraqi leaders and U.S. officials in the heavily fortified district that houses U.S. and Iraqi governmental offices.
The military said it was shutting down the area, also known as the Green Zone, for "force protection purposes."
Witnesses said they saw vehicles being turned away from checkpoints near the zone.
Rice had announced she would depart Saturday for Bahrain and then on to Kuwait for Tuesday's Iraqi neighbors conference.
Other developments
• Gunmen set up a fake checkpoint Sunday and ambushed a minivan carrying college students in the northern city of Baquba. The gunmen shot and killed one person and wounded two others, Baquba police said. They kidnapped three students and a driver, police said.
• Authorities imposed a curfew in Nasiriya on Saturday after sporadic clashes killed four police officers and 16 militia members, an Interior Ministry official said.


Is there still some moron out there who believes the "surge" is working? If so, get the net for the poor mope before he hurts himself or somebody else.

This is proof positive the "surge" is a myth perpetrated on the American public by General Petraeus, President Bush and, of course, the Bush talking parrot, FOX NEWS.

Saturday: 2 US Soldiers, 95 Iraqis Killed; 185 Iraqis Wounded
Updated at 12:05 a.m. EDT, April 20, 2008

At least 95 Iraqis were killed and 183 were wounded in the latest attacks. Many were killed or injured in Sadr City where fighting between the Mahdi army and security forces continues.

Two American soldiers were killed in separate incidents. Meahwhile, the Australians are delaying their withdrawal, while civil war is breaking out between Sunni factions.

One American soldier was killed when an IED exploded yesterday in Salah ad Din province. The DOD reported the death of an American soldier the day before in Sama village during a small arms attack.

Police in Sadr City reported receiving 12 bodies and treating 71 people for injuries during overnight clashes between the Mahdi army and security forces. Hospital officials said they treated of 130 people for injuries. Late in the day, rockets hit the Sadr Hospital, but the number of casualties was not reported. Health officials did report that three women were killed and 40 others were wounded in today's clashes.

In Baghdad, two gunmen were also killed during an airstrike. A mortar killed one person last night on al-Nidhal Street. During security operations, 12 Iraqi soldiers were killed and 39 were wounded, while 12 gunmen were killed and 18 more were detained. Gunmen wounded and Interior Ministry official. One dead body was found.

The heaviest fighting in weeks was reported in Basra, only a day after Iraqi security forces harassed Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's followers. No casualties were reported, but government forces claim to have captured Hayaniya, which is a Mahdi army stronghold; however, the militia observed a unilateral cease-fire and offered no resistance. A spokesman from Sadr's office called the humanitarian situation in the neighborhood, "tragic."

Sixteen decapitated bodies were found in a state of decomposition in Diwaniyah.
In Mosul, a roadside bomb killed two and wounded 12 others. Two dumped bodies were found. Gunmen wounded three people during a drive-by shooting. Also, an IED killed one civilian and wounded five more this afternoon.

In Kirkuk, one person was killed and four were wounded during a car bombing. In Tirkalan, a roadside bomb killed a policeman and wounded two more.

A firefight near Nassiriya in Suq al-Shiyoukh left 20 gunmen, four security personnel and one civilian dead. One gunman and two security personnel were injured.

A body was found in Mussayab.

Eight suspects were arrested in Karbala.
In Arbil, a journalist was killed reportedly over a family dispute.

Also, 40 families were who were forcibly relocated from Khalis have returned home.
A child was killed and three others were wounded during a roadside bombing in Baquba.

Twenty-two suspects were detained in Mosul and Baiji.
The official spokesman for Ninewah security operations survived an assassination attempt unscathed.


We've known it for several years, but you couldn't get anyone to listen. The cable news networks have hired "military analysts" who are making money off the war as lobbyists or sit on the Board of some of the biggest defense contractors.

The New York Times in their Sunday newspaper exposes the former military officers who go on TV as impartial observers of the war, but in reality are working for defense contractors or have strong ties to the Pentagon.

It is expected that more former military officers will be revealed in the days and weeks to come as working for the various cable news outlets as "military experts" when in reality they are making a killing off the war.

NYT: U.S. military groomed TV analysts
Paper: Extensive ideological, business ties raise issue of manipulation
URL: Click on this link to read the full story New York Times story:

updated 11:50 p.m. CT, Sat., April. 19, 2008

NEW YORK - Many U.S. military analysts used as commentators on Iraq by television networks have been groomed by the Pentagon, leaving some feeling they were manipulated to report favorably on the Bush administration, The New York Times said in Sunday editions.

A Times report examining ties between the Bush administration and former senior officers who acted as paid TV analysts said they got private briefings, trips and access to classified intelligence meant to influence their comments.

"Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks," the newspaper said.

The Pentagon defended its work with the analysts, saying they were given only accurate information.

Ties to military contractorsMany of the commentators also have ties to military contractors who are vested in U.S. war efforts, but those business links are seldom disclosed to viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks on which they appear, the newspaper said.

President George W. Bush has been engaged in a long struggle to halt a drain in public support for the Iraq war, in which more than 4,000 American soldiers have died, and to boost support for his post September 11 war against terrorism.

One case cited by the Times was in the summer of 2005, when accusations were rife over human rights violations at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay on Cuba, where foreign terrorism suspects are held.

The Times said administration communications officials flew a group of retired military officers to the camp on a jet normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney to give their side of the case. Many in the group have subsequently appeared as commentators on the TV networks.

The Times quoted Robert Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, as saying, "It was them (the Bush administration) saying, 'We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.'"
'I felt we'd been hosed'Kenneth Allard, a former NBC military analyst who taught information warfare at the National Defense University, told the Times the campaign amounted to a "coherent, active," sophisticated information operation.

As the situation in Iraq deteriorated, he saw a gap between what analysts were told in private briefings and what subsequently was revealed in inquiries and books.
"Night and day," he told the Times. "I felt we'd been hosed."
Some analysts said they had suppressed doubts about the situation in Iraq for fear of jeopardizing their access.

Many others, however, denied having been co-opted or allowing their business interests to affect their on-air work, while some said they had recused themselves from coverage that touched on business interests, the Times report said.

Report mentions NBC analystsThe Times cited several examples involving NBC News analysts. ( is a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft.)
The newspaper said NBC analyst Montgomery Meigs, a retired Army general, reported favorably on the U.S. military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after the military flew analysts there for a carefully choreographed visit in June 2005.

The Times said that two NBC analysts, Barry R. McCaffrey and the late Wayne A. Downing, were on the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which the paper described as an advocacy group created with White House encouragement in 2002 to make the case for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. The Times said the men were on the boards of major military contractors.

It quoted Rick Francona, an NBC analyst, as saying that he didn't think the network was aware that he was participating in frequent briefings the Pentagon conducts with selected military analysts.
The newspaper said NBC News declined to discuss how it hires and monitors military analysts. The Times quoted the network as saying in a short statement: “We have clear policies in place to assure that the people who appear on our air have been appropriately vetted and that nothing in their profile would lead to even a perception of a conflict of interest.”

8,000 pages of documentsThe Times said it based much of its report on 8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records it secured by suing the Defense Department and which it said described years of private briefings, trips and what it called "an extensive Pentagon talking points operation."

It said Pentagon documents referred to the military analysts as "message force multipliers" or "surrogates" who could be counted on to deliver administration "themes and messages" to millions of Americans "in the form of their own opinions."

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman defended the Defense Department's work with military analysts, saying they were given only factual information about the war.
"The intent and purpose of this is nothing other than an earnest attempt to inform the American people," he told the Times, adding it was "a bit incredible" to think retired military officers could be "wound up" and used as "puppets of the Defense Department."


Story Highlights
NEW: Speaker calls on fighters to "offer the head of an American as a gift" to Bush
NEW: Speaker also calls for attacks on members of Iraqi awakening councils
Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatens "war" against Iraqi government
Al-Sadr turns Basra offices over to Iraqi Security Forces

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A man claiming to be the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq mocked the death toll of American troops and urged his fighters to launch an offensive against U.S. forces in the next few weeks

The speaker was identified as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri, on several Islamist Web sites that posted the recording.

"The reason I give this speech is that the enemy declared -- even though it might be lying -- that its death toll in Iraq has reached 4,000," he said.
"So we call upon our heroes ... to ask every group within a month from the time it hears this, to offer the head of an American as a gift to the deceitful [President] Bush," he continued.

As of Saturday, 4,036 U.S. troops had died in the Iraq war.

The speaker also called for attacks on members of Iraqi awakening councils, a movement of predominantly Sunnis who have joined forces with the U.S. and Iraqi governments in battling Islamic jihadists loyal to al Qaeda in Iraq.

Also Saturday, radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatened to "declare a war" unless U.S. and Iraqi forces stop their assaults on his followers.
"I'm giving the last warning and words to the Iraqi government," al-Sadr said in a statement on a loyalist's Web site.
"They should take the road of peace and drop the violence that they use with their people. Otherwise, they will be like the destructive [Saddam Hussein] government."

The cleric also assailed the United States, saying, "From the other side, the occupier made us targets for his planes, tanks, mortars and his deceptive policy by demanding me not to stand against the Iraqi government, which -- if it weren't for us -- it would not exist.
"It is like the occupier would ignore the fact that his army is standing against the government, to prevent it from being an independent government with full sovereignty."
The warning was a reminder of al-Sadr's bloody rebellions in 2004 against U.S. forces in Najaf and Baghdad.

Al-Sadr recently renewed for six months the cease-fire he imposed in August on his Mehdi Army militia, a move that the U.S. military has credited with helping reduce violence across Iraq.
But an uprising like the one al-Sadr threatened Saturday would ultimately fuel inter-Shiite fighting through Sadr City and other Shiite communities.

Intense fighting between Iraqi security forces and al-Sadr's Mehdi Army continued Saturday in the southern city of Nasiriya and in Sadr City, the cleric's Baghdad stronghold.
Twelve people were killed in overnight fighting Friday into Saturday between Iraqi security forces and the Mehdi Army in Sadr City, an Interior Ministry official said. Six dozen people were wounded.

In Nasiriya, sporadic clashes spilled into Saturday, leaving four police officers and 16 militia members dead, the ministry official confirmed. The clashes prompted authorities to impose a curfew in the city Saturday.
In another southern city, Diwanyia, which witnessed deadly fighting between Iraqi forces and the Mehdi Army last month, officials discovered 14 decapitated bodies. An interior ministry official said the bodies appear to be a few days old.
Meanwhile, Iraqi troops began a new phase of the security operation launched March 25 by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, dubbed Charge of the Knights. The operation aims to clear militants from their strongholds in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, a spokesman for the British army said.