29 Dead, 111 Wounded in Wave of Bombings
2 Marines Dead, 7 US Troops Wounded
Street Battles in Samarra
Sameer Yacoub of AP reports that guerrilla violence killed 29 persons in Iraq on Friday.
Near the Jordanian border, a roadside bomb killed two US Marines. The wave of bombings left 111 persons wounded. One bomb late in the day was detonated near the home of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. He was unharmed, but 3 of his security guards were killed and 9 other persons were wounded.
In Baghdad, one of several suicide bombings targeted an Iraqi army base in the Shaab district, killing 8 and wounding 20. Some of the dead were Iraqi soldiers. Another car bomb exploded near a gendarme patrol, leaving 6 policemen dead and 45 persons wounded. At Andalus Square in the center of the city, a car bomb killed 2 Iraqi soldiers and wounded 7 other persons. In the Rustamiyah district of southeastern Baghdad where an Iraqi military academy is situated, a car bomb wounded two US soldiers in a convoy. In the north of the capital at the old Defense Ministry building, a suicide bomber killed 2 Iraqi soldiers and wounded 14 persons. Other bombs hit in east and west Baghdad, creating casualties in both areas (including one wounded US soldier).
As I have pointed out before, when you can have this kind of coordinated bomb attack in Baghdad, including attacks on US convoys and even a tank, we may conclude that the US military simply does not control the capital of the country it conquered two years ago. As far as I can see, the US military controls little more than the ground on which it stands at any one moment, which is the goal of the guerrilla movement.
A farmer on the outskirts of the capital discovered the corpses of five men who had been handcuffed and blindfolded before being shot. Such murders have typically been reprisals by Sunnis or Shiites on the other community. The Times of London discusses the growing hatred between Sunnis and Shiites and argues that it threatens to erupt in civil war.
Al-Zaman says that a bomber hit Sharqat near Mosul in the north.
In Samarra, the same source reports, US forces fought running street battles with guerrillas. Guerrillas armed with machine guns,anti-tank missile launchers and mortars had spread out in the streets of al-Mu`tasim district in the center of the city. Al-Hayat says that guerrillas destroyed one Bradley fighting vehicle in the course of the fighting.
Samarra is one of those cities that the US claims to have conquered over and over again, but the guerrillas always come back. The intrepid Ed Wong of the New York Times observes that even in devastated and tightly controlled Fallujah, the guerrilla movement is making a comeback.
Likewise, al-Zaman reports clashes between US troops and guerrillas in the city of Zuhur in Mosul province and in Taqatu` in Muthanna.
Yacoub also reports that in the northern oil city of Kirkuk, two suicide bombers accidentally blew themselves up prematurely. They took an innocent bystander with them.
In Buhriz, near the northeastern city of Baquba, guerrillas shot 3 Iraqi policemen to death.
In Haswa, half an hour’s drive south of Baghdad, a suicide bomber killed 5 Iraqi soldiers and left 10 wounded.
Reuters adds that “a suicide bomber [had] blown himself [up] while a policeman shot at him in an attempt to target a Shi’ite mosque in Jamila area to the south of Babel. A police source said that three civilians and two policemen were injured in the blast.”
‘ During a Friday sermon at a mosque, a prominent Sunni cleric condemned the violence, especially the Wednesday suicide bombing that killed the 18 children. Sheik Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samarrai, a moderate member of the Association of Muslim Scholars, called the attack Wednesday a “crime” but added that the Americans and their international partners share some of the blame. “The (U.S.-led) occupation that has destroyed the country and turned things upside down is responsible for that,” al-Samarrai said. ‘
Trudy Rubin of the Philadelphia Inquirer has visited the new Iraqi army for herself. She concludes that there are about 3 out of 80 military battalions that could and would hold their own against the guerrillas. [I dropped a zero when I did this the first time and am correcting.] It is hard for me to figure out how many fighting battalions Iraq will have, or how big each is. Some of the 160,000, as one reader pointed out, must be support troops. Anyway it doesn’t seem likely that the three combat battalions amount to more than 3000 or 4000 men. Rubin concludes that the US military is not coming home any time soon. She says that even Sunni Arab leaders confessed to her their fears that Sunnis would be massacred by the Shiites if the Americans left.