15 Turkish Soldiers Dead in Fighting with Kurds; 2 GIs wounded in Helicopter Crash; Sadrists Denounce Negroponte Visit

Fighting between Turkish government troops and Kurdish guerrillas in eastern Turkey and northern Iraq left 15 Turkish soldiers and 23 Kurdish fighters dead. Sounds like a big deal to me– countries that lose 15 men in one day are always tempted to send in more troops.

Two US blackhawk helicopters crashed in Baghdad. One Iraq soldier was killed and four people were wounded, including 2 US soldiers.

Sawt al-Iraq reports in Arabic that the Basra police claim to have arrested 8 wanted men (probably militiamen of the Mahdi Army with which the army clashed in the city late last March).

The Sadr movement in the Iraqi parliament rejected the visit to Iraq of State Department envoy John Negroponte. MP Uqayl Abdul Husain said that Negroponte was pressuring Iraq to accept quickly a status of forces agreement with the US. He said that the envoy was also attempting to add paragraphs to the agreement that would detract from Iraq’s sovereignty. He maintained that given the recent successes of the Iraqi army in subduing local militias, Iraq did not even need US troops any more and thus the agreement is superfluous. (That is rich; the successes of the Iraqi army were against the Mahdi Army, the paramilitary of the Sadr Movement!)

The United Arab Emirates is developing the natural gas in Kurdistan over the objections of the Iraqi federal government. Kurdistan on such matters acts like an independent country and does not seek permission from Baghdad.

Poland is ending its role as a member of the coalition of the willing, which in general is coming to look like a coalition of the unwilling.

Sectarian warfare in Iraq has spilled over onto Lebanon, argues Nir Rosen.

Reuters reports political violence in Iraq the last couple of days:

‘ . . . MOSUL – A roadside bomb killed two policemen and wounded another on Friday in central Mosul, police said…

MOSUL – Gunmen entered a Christian-owned shop in central Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, and shot the owner dead, police said. . . .

MOSUL – The bodies of two people who had been kidnapped were found on Friday, bearing gunshot wounds, in southeastern Mosul, police said. Another body was found in western Mosul. . .

BAGHDAD – U.S. forces killed a senior al Qaeda militant, along with one woman, on Friday in the Adhamiya district of northern Baghdad, the U.S. military said.’

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