US Marine Killed; 23 Iraqis Killed in Separate Attacks;
US Helicopters mistakenly Kill 5 Policemen at Samarra’
Anbar province: Guerrillas fighting US troops in Anbar Province, which covers Ramadi and Fallujah, killed a US Marine on Sunday. The Marines killed 4 of the guerrillas.
Baghdad: Guerrillas ambushed a convoy of American and Iraqi troops on the road to the Baghdad airport, killing two Iraqi soldiers of them and wounding 11. (The Americans had already passed when the bomb went off). In an attack launched near the central bank in downtown Baghdad, guerrillas fired a mortar round that injured 6 police officers and killed 4 Iraqi civilians, including two bank employees, a bank guard, and a passer-by [-az-Zaman]. The attack occurred at al-Rashid Street, an area with lots of shops. Meanwhile, behind the Palestine Hotel, downtown, shots rang out and hotel security returned fire. No casualties were reported. A lot of Westerners stay at the Palestine Hotel.
Samarra’: Something happened in this mixed Sunni-Shiite city north of Baghdad,but the reports are very mixed and it is hard to know what. The US military maintains that its base near Samarra’ took mortar fire, and that it replied with helicopter gunships to the source, killing at least 4 Iraqi guerrillas. The Bahrain Times says that the mortar fire went into a “residential neighborhood,” not a US base. Az-Zaman maintains that the US forces mistakenly targeted Iraqi police guarding the home of interim Interior Minister Faleh al-Naqib, killing 5 of them. Earlier, the US helicopter gunships had destroyed the Samarra’ police station. Iraqi police told the newspaper they did not rule out friendly fire on the part of the US. I have no idea which of these stories is correct. Will advise when I can sort it all out.
Tikrit: Assassins killed Sheikh Izzuddin al-Bayati, a leader of the al-Bayat tribe and a member of the provincial governing council for Salahuddin. This killing stands in a line of assassinations of mid-level government officials in the past two weeks. Al-Bayati had been a Baath official in Najaf. His tribe has both Turkmen and Arab branches (which demonstrates once again that a “tribe” is often based on fictive kinship and is a little like a political party, which can be joined or left over time). In Tikrit, a poster was distributed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s group, threatening death to officials who collaborate with the occupying authorities and singling out Jasim Jabbarah, an Iraqi official in Salahuddin working with police intelligence against the insurgents.
Baquba: Guerrillas fired mortar shells into a residential neighborhood. They hit a civilian home and killed a husband and wife.
Fallujah: Residents of Fallujah continue to maintain that the US bombs fell on a popular neighborhood in Saturday’s F-16 attack, not on a terrorist safe house. Rescue workers digging through the rubble report glimpsing bodies of women and children below. The Mayor of Fallujah promised residents of the neighborhood that he would cut off relations with the US over the incident. In contrast, Newsday reports that interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi gave his blessings to the strike:
“We know that a house which had been used by terrorists had been hit,” Allawi said. “We welcome this hit on terrorists anywhere in Iraq.” His comments are likely to generate anger among Iraqis, who already are suspicious of Allawi because of his close ties to the CIA and British intelligence during the more than 20 years he spent in exile.
Sy Hersh is reporting that hundreds of Israeli intelligence agents are operating in and from Iraqi Kurdistan, gathering information on Iran’s nuclear program and stirring up Syrian Kurds to make trouble for Bashar al-Asad in Syria. I have talked about the likelihood of such a presence here in the past. The nexus of disinformation about the Saddam government and about terrorist activity in Iraq may lie in tales fed to Mossad by the Kurds, who in turn passed it to Washington. The Kurds have steadily and implausibly alleged a Saddam/al-Qaeda connection.