US Soldier Killed in Iraq; Qur’an Desecrated; Maliki Said to Replace Division Commander

The LA Times reports:

‘ A U.S. soldier was killed Sunday and another injured when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in Salahuddin province, the military said. At least 4,078 U.S. personnel have been killed since the Iraq war began in 2003, according to the independent website icasualties.org. A car bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol in east Baghdad killed two soldiers and a civilian, police said. Ten people, including four soldiers, were injured.’

The whole US strategy of depending on tribal groups to fight Salafi Jihadis (“al-Qaeda”) was endangered when Iraqi officials learned that a US soldier was using the Holy Qur’an for target practice. Sunni Arab tribesmen threatened to stop fighting the radicals. The US in the end handled the matter by holding a ceremony in which American officers apologized for the incident. The offender is being removed from Iraq and will be punished. The incident crystallizes the contradiction in Bush administration policy, between promoting Islamophobia among Americans while attempting to cultivate Muslim allies abroad.

The US is holding about 500 juveniles, mostly in Iraq, and has placed them in adult prisons. US civil liberties groups are protesting.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says Iran is not playing a negative role in Iraq.

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has dismissed the general in charge of the Second Division in Mosul, and has appointed in his place Gen. Abdallah Abdul Sattar. He is said to also be replacing the commanders of brigades within the division.

Personally, I don’t take this report as a sign that things are going well in the current campaign in Mosul. You don’t change horses midstream when things are going well. The article says that al-Maliki is still suspicious of 2nd Division officers because of the Zanjili explosion in January, in which a building used as an arms depot exploded under mysterious circumstances.

Al-Zaman also says that al-Maliki has over the past few months put 5,000 former Baath soldiers, including 400 former officers, from Mosul back into the Iraqi military. This step is ironic, since al-Maliki was on the De-baathification committee that had excluded Baath soldiers and officers. But, in any case, he doesn’t seem to trust these ex-Baathist officers very much.

Al-Maliki spokesmen say that over 1,000 suspected insurgents have been arrested in Mosul and that the campaign is now extending to the villages surrounding the city, Iraq’s second largest. But Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Usama Nujayfi, an MP from Ninevah province where Mosul is located, is saying that “al-Qaeda” elements fled the city before al-Maliki had it attacked. He said that many of the 1,000 Mosulis now in custody are innocent. He also complained that some had been tortured for information and that there were human rights abuses involved in the current Mosul campaign.

Sawt al-Iraq reports in Arabic that Gen. Jabbar Yawar of the Kurdish Peshmerga paramilitary denied that Peshmerga units had been deployed in Mosul. Many Sunni Arab observers in Iraq see the current operation against “al-Qaeda” as a power play in Mosul for control of the city and the province of Ninevah by the Shiite Badr Corps and the Kurdish Peshmerga. Yawar said that there might be Kurds in the Iraqi forces sent to the region, but that these do not report to the Peshmerga, only to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.

McClatchy reports political violence for Sunday in Iraq:

‘ Baghdad

1 mortar round fell on al-Iskan neighbourhood, west Baghdad at 8 am Sunday. It landed on a house, destroyed the house and injured four of its inhabitants.

The US military detonated an IED under control in Amil neighbourhood, near al-Ashra al-Mubashara Mosque, southwest Baghdad at 7.45 this morning. As a result of the explosion 20 stores were burned and their contents destroyed.

4 Katyusha rockets fell on the Green Zone this morning. No casualties were reported.

A parked car bomb targeted an Iraqi army patrol at the far end of al-Rabei Street, Zayuna, east Baghdad at 1 pm killing 2 servicemen, injuring 5.

An IED left inside a Kia minibus exploded in Ataifiyah, a little to the north of central Baghdad at 1 pm injuring 2 civilians.

A roadside bomb exploded near al-Kindi Hospital, central Baghdad targeting a US military convoy. The explosion injured 3 civilians.

4 unidentified bodies wer

e found by Iraqi Police today. 1 in al-obaidi; 1 in Mashtal; 1 in Doura and 1 in Adil.

Sulaimaniyah

Iranian bombardment continues on border villages on Qindeel mountain. Today six villages were targeted and although no human casualties were reported livestock have been lost.

Basra

A hand grenade was thrown at a music, films and video games’ store in downtown Basra, in the old city. The facade of the store and a large part of the contents were destroyed but no one was hurt.

A sound bomb exploded targeting a building housing both the Union of Iraqi Labour Unions on the first floor and the Iraqi Communist Party/Basra on the second in al-Saadi Street, Basra city centre. The explosion broke many of the window panes in the building.

Armed clashes broke out between National Police and gunmen on Kornish Street, downtown Basra at 9 pm Sunday. 2 National policemen were injured as were 2 gunmen.

1 policeman killed and 2 others injured in armed clashes that broke out between Natonal Police and gunmen in Kuwait Street, downtown Basra at 10 pm Sunday.’

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