Saturday, July 07, 2007

Report from Iraq: many Servicemen and Civilians Slaughtered

Eight US Servicemen Killed

The U.S. military on Saturday reported that eight American servicemembers were killed in fighting in Baghdad and western Anbar province over two days, reflecting the increased U.S. death toll that has come with the new offensives.

Seven US Servicemen Killed days earlier

The U.S. military on Saturday said four soldiers were killed a day earlier in two roadside bomb attacks on their patrols in Baghdad. soldier and an Iraqi interpreter were killed Friday when an explosively formed penetrator exploded near their patrol in southeastern Baghdad. Explosively formed penetrators are high-tech bombs that the U.S. believes are provided by Iran, a charge denied by Tehran.

On Thursday, two Marines were killed in western Anbar province and a soldier died in Baghdad, the latest military statement said.

Another soldier died Friday of non-battle-related cause and his death is under investigation, the military said without giving further details.

The deaths bring to 3,599 the number of members of the U.S. military who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

British troops also under heavy attack

In the far south of Iraq, British troops came under heavy attack by militants in Basra, killing one soldier and wounding three, the British military said Saturday.

The troops were hit by bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms during an arrest operation in the city before dawn, the military said in a statement. Coalition aircraft destroyed roadside bombs as the British soldiers were extracted from the city, it said.

Britain has withdrawn hundreds of troops from Iraq, leaving a force of around 5,500 based mainly on the fringes of Basra, BASRA (pronounced BAHS-rah) is Iraq's second-largest city, a port city and provincial capital in southeastern Iraq 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.. Population estimates range from 1.3-million to 1.7-million. It was badly damaged during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s and the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Predominantly Shiite Muslim, Basra suffered neglect and often repression under Saddam Hussein. British bases come under frequent mortar attacks from Shiite militias.

150 civilians killed -200 injured in Suicide bombing

TUZ KHORMATO, Iraq (AP) — A suicide bomber detonated a truck full of explosives in the crowded outdoor market of a Shiite farming town north of Baghdad on Saturday, levelling houses and stores and killing more than 100 people, officials said.

Saturday's blast ripped through the market in Armili at around 8:30 am, as crowds had gathered for morning shopping. The explosion destroyed old mud-brick houses and set cars on fire. Victims had to be transported in farmers' pickups to the nearest health facility, in Tuz Khormato, 27 miles to the north.

Authorities and residents spent hours digging bodies out of the rubble of two dozen shops and houses, police said. Accounts of the ftoll varied, hampered by the difficulty of the search and the farming town's remote location.

Deputy governor of Salahuddin province Abdullah Jabara, told state-run Iraqiya television that 115 died — 70% of them women, children and elderly. He blamed al-Qaeda for the attack.

Police Col. Sherzad Abdullah, an officer in the Tuz Khormato police, also told the Associated Press that 115 were killed and some 200 wounded. Tuz Khormato's police chief, Col. Abbas Mohammed Amin, set the toll at 150 dead.

At the market, "I saw destruction everywhere, dozens of cars destroyed, about 15 shops and many houses, even some more than 700 meters away," said Haitham Yalman, whose daughter and sister were wounded.

Weeping and screaming relatives search frantically for word of loved ones at Tuz Khormato's hospital. Ali Hussein read the names of victims being moved further north to Kirkuk for treatment. "My cousin has died in the explosion but I don't know the fate of my brother," he said in tears.

Armirli, 100 miles north of Baghdad, is a town of 26,000, mostly Shiites from Iraq's Turkoman ethnic minority. Residents said tensions were constantly high with Sunni Arabs who dominate the villages of the surrounding countryside. Iraqi security presence is scant in the region, at a remote corner of Salahuddin province near the border with neighboring Diyala province.

Earlier Blast killed 22 civilians -wounded 17

The blast — hours after a smaller suicide bombing in another Shiite village killed more than 20.

A suicide bomber detonated a boobytrapped car at around 9:30 pm at a funeral being held in the Shiite Kurdish village of Zargosh, in the Sadiya region of Diyala province about 75 miles northeast of Baghdad, police said.

The blast killed 22 people and wounded 17 others, said the head of Diyala provincial council, Ibrahim Bajilan, and a police official in the provincial capital of Baqouba, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press. The village is home to about 30 Kurdish families who had been expelled under Saddam Hussein's rule and returned after his fall.

Sunni's moving attacks beyond US offensive

There is a great probability that Sunni militants are regrouping to launch attacks in regions further away from Baghdad where security is thinner, beyond the edges of a three-week old U.S. offensive on the capital's northern flank.

The U.S. military in Iraq, beefed up by new deployments this year, is conducting an intensified security crackdown in the capital aimed at bringing calm to Baghdad. At the same time, U.S. forces are waging offensives south of Baghdad and to the north, around Baqouba, aiming to uproot al-Qaeda fighters and other Sunni insurgents who use the areas as staging ground for attacks in the capital.

American commanders acknowledge many insurgent leaders fled Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, just ahead of the U.S. assault there.

The new back-to-back bombings suggest the militants have moved a step further frm the capital, but are still are able to unleash devastating attacks.

"Because of the recent American military operations, terrorists found a good hideout in Salahuddin province, especially in the outskirts areas in which there isn't enough number of military forces there," said Ahmed al-Jubouri, an aide of the province's governor.


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