64 Dead in Iraq; 4 US Troops Killed;
Bombings in Baghdad, Bodies in Baquba;
US vs. Mahdi Army in Diwaniya
AP reports that 64 persons were killed or found dead in Iraq on Saturday. Among them were 4 US troops, killed by a roadside bomb near Baquba.
27 bodies were found in Baquba, a mixed city northeast of the capital. Police found 7 bodies in the northern Turkmen city of Tal Afar. Karbala authorities said that 22 Shiite shepherds had been killed and that 6 of their bodies were found in al-Anbar province. Police found 12 bodies in Baghdad.
McClatchy says that guerrillas came into Baquba and chased 21 shopkeepers out of their shops, then burned them, causing over a million dinars of damage. Some parts of Baquba also took mortar fire on Saturday.
A car bomb in the Shiite Sadr City part of Baghdad killed 1 and wounded 5. Guerrillas in Baghdad set off 5 roadside bombs and sent mortar shells on some neighborhoods, wounding over a dozen Iraqis. US forces raided the offices of Khalaf al-Ulyan, a member of parliament from the Sunni Iraqi Accord Front.
Major fighting continued in Diwaniya between US forces, allied with the local police, and the Mahdi Army militia. The Shiite fundamentalist militia had been taking over entire neighborhoods of the city and making them offlimits to police and central government figures. Reuters says that local Iraqi authorities reported that 13 bodies came into the morgue and that 41 persons were injured. They said that 6 of the dead were non-combatants killed when US warplanes bombed a house said to be used by militiamen. The US maintained that only one person, a deadly militiaman, was killed in the attack.
Aljazeera reviews the reports of some Iraqi bloggers that the Wall Street Journal is not publishing.
Iran barred Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki from its air space during his trip to Japan Saturday evening. Al-Maliki had had good relations with Tehran and it is not clear why Iran took this step. A recently freed Iranian diplomat claimed Saturday that he had been tortured while in US custody.
The Telegraph has discovered documents indicating that the British authorities plan to have troops in Iraq through 2012 at least. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government is claiming that a recent British raid on a police HQ in Basra violated Iraqi sovereignty. They want an apology.
A British captain who knows Arabic and Pushtu and has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan has concluded that both wars are wrongheaded and counter-productive and that good men are now getting killed for an effort that is a “shambles.”
US detention centers in Iraq are alleged to be terrorist training grounds, according to the LAT.
William Douglas of the McClatchy wire service examines Bush’s allegation that if the US leaves Iraq, the “terrorists will follow us here.” He finds that security experts generally find the claim unsubstantiated and exaggerated. (I.e., it is propaganda, folks.)
Hannah Allam finds anxiety increasing among Saudi Arabia’s newly emancipated Shiite Muslims that the violence in Iraq between Sunnis and Shiites will cost them. Moves toward granting them more rights by the Wahhabi authorities have slowed recently.