AP reports that:
‘ A bomb exploded at a checkpoint Tuesday in Baghdad, wounding five American soldiers and three civilians, the U.S. military said. Iraqi officials claimed it was a suicide bombing and said two people were killed. The attack occurred just after noon as women were being searched before being allowed to enter a commercial street in the predominantly Sunni Amariyah neighborhood in southwest Baghdad, according to a local police official and an Iraqi army officer.” ‘
The wounding of these US troops follows a day after five US troops were killed in a roadside bomb attack on Monday in Mosul. This attack was the second-deadliest this year, and brings the total so far for US fatalities in Iraq to 37, far more than December’s 23. The commitment of troops to an actual set of engagements in Mosul led to these recent deaths, and I have for some time wondered if the fall in troop deaths was simply because they were no longer being committed to ground campaigns in any numbers. The recent attack on Arab Jubour appears to have been done mainly from the air, as Tom Engelhardt points out, and when afterwards troops were sent in, they were at risk from roadside bombs.
AP reports that a ceremony was held on base on Tuesday for the five troops killed Monday, as their bodies were loaded in an airplane:
‘ At a U.S. base outside Mosul, scores of U.S. troops and an honor guard stood at attention on the airfield tarmac as five coffins of their slain comrades were loaded onto a plane for the journey home.
A cold wind blew as the bleak ceremony began. Five groups of eight pallbearers each took turns unloading a flag-draped coffin from the back of five Humvee ambulances, as about 75 members of the fallen soldiers’ unit stood at attention.
At least 100 other soldiers stood erect and silent through the 30-minute ceremony. Even civilian workers at the airport of Forward Operating Base Marez on the outskirts of Mosul formed an honor line as the dead soldiers bodies’ were loaded into a gray C-130 transport plane.
Soldiers refused permission to photograph the ceremony, saying the pain of the sudden loss of five comrades was too great, and that not all the families had been notified.
“President Bush should be out here watching this ramp ceremony to see what it is really like,” said one soldier, who asked not to be identified.
“The people who created this war need to be thinking about the families of these 18-year-olds who are dying.” ‘
Let me just repeat that last phrase: “The people who created this war need to be thinking about the families of these 18-year-olds who are dying.” That was said by one of our patriots in Iraq. It is true. It made me cry a little.
On Tuesday, 9 headless bodies and 10 heads [sic] were found in a field in Diyala province. McClatchy says that police found DVDs containing confessions that the men belonged to an Awakening Council group. So this was likely Baathists of Salafi Jihadis killing what they saw as collaborators. The US gives a stipend of $250 a month to most Awakening Council militiamen.
US officers in Iraq seem uncomfortable with the diction of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who announced that the current military operation in Mosul would “finish off” “al-Qaeda.” Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling said that taking on the rebels would be “a long process.”
McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Tuesday:
4 Iraqi Army servicemen and 6 civilians injured as IED exploded targeting an army patrol in Bab al-Sharji, Sadoon St. in central Baghdad at 08:00 this morning.
3 policemen and 5 civilians injured as IED exploded targeting a police patrol Sina’a St, the industrial neighbourhood near The University of Technology at 08:30 this morning.
An IED targeted an American military patrol in Canal St. east Baghdad. No casualties reported.
3 civilians injured in an IED explosion in al-Dakhiliya neighbourhood, al-Yarmouk, south Baghdad at 10:30 am..
A mortar round hit al-Fdhailiyah neighbourhood, east Baghdad injuring 2 civilians at 11:00 am.
3 Katyusha missiles hit the green zone starting at 02:50 this afternoon at almost 30 minute intervals. No casualties were reported. . .
3 bodies were found in Baghdad today by Iraqi Police. 1 in Ma’amil, 1 in Shaab and 1 in Doura.
A vehicle born IED driven by a suicide bomber targeted an American military patrol in al-Thubbat neighbourhood, central Mosul Killing 1 and injuring 15 civilians. The Americans cordoned the area off. No American casualties were reported.
2 policemen killed and 2 injured as gunmen attacked a vehicle carrying 4 policemen of the Mosul police force on the main road to Baghdad yesterday afternoon.
An armed group attacked a police commander’s motorcade which was also carrying some high ranking officials of the Tharthar area near Saqlawiyah town 20 km to the north of Fallujah, but were unsuccessful in their attempt. A police force was sent on their trail, with allegedly Sahwa members. They rounded up 20 people suspected of being amongst the attackers and executed them in the same neighbourhood. [sic]
Two truck drivers were abducted and taken along with their trucks on the route between Fallujah and Tharthar. Their hands were bound and they were killed by releasing their freight of pebbles upon them.
The police at Saqlawiyah police station opened fire upon two suspicious men headed for the police station. The two men then exploded and it was found that they had been wearing explosive belts. 5 policemen were superficially injured.
District Commissioner of Salman Bek district and member of the provincial council for the Kurdistan Coalition party, Talib Mohammed Mustafa survived an assassination attempt. He and his driver got away from the attack that was carried out with machine guns and other light weapons on the main road to the south of Tuz.
Fatma al-Haseni was seriously injured and her two colleagues were killed by gunmen in the Mahatta neighbourhood on the way between Baghdad and Tikrit this afternoon. Al-Haseni and her deceased colleagues worked for the Furat satellite station.’