Four US Troops Killed
Guerrillas in al-Anbar province killed 3 Marines on Thursday.
In Baghdad, guerrillas used a roadside bomb to kill one US soldier and wound two others.
Also in Baghdad, guerrillas fired mortar shells that killed a policeman and three civilians.
Some 900 residents of a particular city neighborhood of Fallujah were allowed to return on Thursday, passing through a strict identity check. AFP writes,
‘ The returnees were entering an apocalyptic backdrop of flattened city blocks and bullet-scarred homes, where wild dogs and cats have feasted on corpses and the sour smell of the dead filled the streets for weeks. ‘
Guerrillas and Marines clashed in northern Fallujah, however, and the US bombed the city. Some of those hoping to return instead turned around and went back to their temporary shelters elsewhere. The Marines were fingerprinting and doing retinal scans of military-age men who returned, to begin building a data base of potential guerrillas. They turned by 16 men, apparently on suspicion of being connected to the guerrilla resistance.
Veteran security affairs correspondent Walter Pincus of the Washington Post points out that the guerrillas have better informants and intelligence inside US bases than the US has inside the insurgency. This point seems obvious from the outside, by one kind reader in Iraq just told me that the US officers he is talking to are convinced that they are winning and are getting better sources. I fear I think they are just being unrealistic, if so.
Iran’s foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi warned Thursday in Damascus against the forces that are trying to provoke civil war in Iraq. (Iran, as a Shiite-majority country, would like to see Iraq stay together under majority Shiite rule; since it has its own Kurdish minority, it has no interest in seeing the Kurds become independent.) In fact, Iran is likely to play a stabilizing role in Iraq, since it does not want massive turmoil on its doorstep.
The Daily Star also notes the charges of Hasan Allawi (why are they all Allawis?), the Iraqi ambassador to Syria, that a captured Baathist guerrilla had photographs on him of high Syrian officials with known Iraqi insurgents. This allegation strikes me as ridiculous. First of all, why would Syrian officials be so stupid as to pose for such a picture? And why would expatriate guerrillas be so stupid as to carry such photos with them when infiltrating into Iraq? Allawi must think we are all gullible fools.