2 Marines Killed, 4 Wounded Near Qaim
14 Iraqis Killed, 48 Wounded in Mosul Warfare
Jackie Spinner of the Washington Post writes that guerrillas detonated roadside bombs near Qaim close to the Syrian border on Wednesday, killing two Marines in separate incidents and wounding 4.
US forces engaged, wounded or captured several guerrillas at Tall Afar (north of Mosul), and in Tikrit, and killed one (at Tall Afar).
Around noon on Wednesday, guerrillas launched the most violent attack in the northern city of Mosul has seen since the US occupation of the country began. Although Mosul is in the north, it is still a largely Arab city. The some 70 to 90 guerrillas that invaded it, according to al-Zaman and al-Hayat, included elements of the small Kurdish radical Islamist group, Ansar al-Islam, which has in the past been linked to al-Qaeda. Among the 14 persons killed in the fighting was Khalid Sayyido, the brother of Ansar al-Islam leader Mulla Krekar. [Update: Mulla Krekar is denying the death of his brother in this incident, and it still remains unclear if Ansar al-Islam really was involved)].
The fighting broke out in southwest Mosul. Wa’il Isma’il Ahmad, a Mosul police officer, told al-Hayat that “a number of gunmen forced merchants at gunpoint to close their shops throughout the city,” adding, “Another group drove civilian vehicles and distributed weapons to the people, instigating them to kill the American troops.” He said that the guerrillas sent his forces a letter saying they would not be attacked if they remained neutral, since the target was American troops.
The guerrillas subjected the mansion of the governor of Ninevah to mortar fire, and attempted to occupy the main banks. They also targeted police stations in the Nabi Jirjis quarter in the center of the city. The governor of Mosul, Duraid Kashmula, announced on local television that National Guardsmen had crushed the insurgents. He described them as “alleging” that they were Islamists. The police chief said that a group of radical Islamists had come into Mosul and were supported by a small number of the city’s inhabitants. He said that they were trying to kidnap women from the city. He thanked the inhabitants of Dukka, Birkah, Khatuniyah, and Mosul al-Jadidah for helping rout the attackers, most of whom were killed but a few of whom were captured. Local television showed 7 corpses of the attackers. The fighting in several neighborhoods of Mosul between National Guards and the radical fundamentalists resulted in the killing of 14 persons, including 2 women, and the wounding of 48.
The guerrillas also, according to al-Zaman, attacked the bases of the Iraqi National Guard in the city and fought a running 5-hour gun battled in the city. Explosions and light arms fire were heard in several city quarters.
Spinner wrote that the armed guerrillas ran through the Yarmuq and New Mosul neighborhoods and attacked a police station and the home of Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawar.
The police story about Mosul makes no sense in some respects. The guerrillas would not have distributed weapons to the ordinary folk unless they were sure that the weapons would not be used against them. The anecdote even brings into question whether this was an attack of Kurdish fundamentalists from outside the city, or whether it was more homegrown. (Which is not to doubt that Khalid Sayyido and other Kurdish fundamentalists were involved; but if they acted alone, would they have had the confidence to give weapons to Arabs in the street? On the other hand, maybe the Ansar story is a myth. Hard to tell.)
What represents itself as an American soldier’s account of the fighting in Mosul Wednesday is at My War – Fear and Loathing in Iraq. I can’t vouch for its authenticity, and a whois search turned up nothing on the site.
In other news, the governor of al-Anbar province, Abdul Karim Birjis, resigned from his position in order to meet the demands of guerrillas who had kidnapped his three sons.
Several Jordanian and Turkish hostages were rescued or released. I don’t say much about the hostage situations here because they are artificially created for PR purposes by the guerrillas. But they are having a significant economic impact in forcing regional companies and truckers unions out of Iraq, and the hostage situation in al-Anbar has now resulted in a major resignation.