Monday, June 30, 2003
Q&A: The Iraq weapons row: "What is the row over the UK Government's evidence of Iraqi weapons all about?"
In BBC: War in Iraq
In CBS News: Iraq Crisis
Romanian worker dies in West Bank attack: "Israeli and Palestinian commanders shook hands Monday, bulldozers dismantled checkpoints and Palestinian traffic flowed freely in the Gaza Strip - the most significant sign of disengagement after 33 months of bloody fighting."
In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq
Iraq Democracy Watch: "No extra for rebuilding
As armed resistance increases, the Jordan Times reports that, "Protecting the lives of US and British soldiers is taking precedence over reconstruction and the creation of a new government."
In other words, as I have been repeating ad nauseum recently, we don't have the manpower in Iraq to take care of both civilian and military objectives. And that means that living conditions in Iraq will stay well below the standards (?) that were in place while Hussein was in power and will likely continue to deteriorate for the foreseeable future.
Which feeds in to the resistance.
And prevents us from producing and selling the oil that is supposed to help fund this venture (although it is looking more and more like pin money in comparison with the costs of the occupation, even if we can get oil production running properly. See previous post .)
Multiple papers cited Senator Biden's call for NATO's help. We are also paying off other countries to send forces for that "international look," expensive in military ventures as it is in fashion. No one is touching the idea so far of UN peacekeepers. Or of sending more American troops.
We don't seem to be enlisting the help of the Iraqis, themselves, very well, either. The Washington Post quotes a policeman in Samarra saying,
No one is happy with the Americans, no one in this entire area... They are occupiers, and they act as occupiers. It's a military force and we don't want to have any relations with them.
Which may explain why we don't seem to be getting a great deal of help from the police at the local levels. Who, by the way, might be uneasy about looking like they are too close to the Americans -- an increasingly dangerous thing to do. Just speculation, but it would make unfortunate sense.
While most historical analogies are misleading, the situation is beginning to look a bit like the occupied territories in Israel / Palestine -- at least in terms of what looks like a cycle taking shape -- of resistance, and then counter-resistance using "overwhelming combat power" (as The Guardian quoted US officials describing the latest offensive). Which then radicalizes the opposition, etc., etc.
It is also interesting that the Brits seem to be taking lessons from their experience in Northern Ireland, and handling things a bit better in the south. Compare that to Paul Bremer telling the BBC yesterday that we were going to "impose our will."
The core problem, of course, is that -- despite Mr. Rumsfeld's coyness -- we are, indeed, encountering guerilla operations. And the US has never done particularly well fighting guerillas without proxy forces."
When the U.S. says jump, it wants Pakistan to jump (29 June 03) in Radio Free USA
Are U.S. journalists truly spineless? (30 June 03) in Radio Free USA
In Electronic Iraq
U.S. Signals Saddam May Be Alive Amid Crackdown: "A top U.S. official signaled Washingtonbelieves Saddam Hussein may be alive as U.S. forces launched anoperation to crack down on armed resistance blamed on die-hardsupporters of the toppled Iraqi leader. (Reuters)"
In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq
Iraqi Intifada Gearing Up: "The Iraqi intifada hits second gear, and weapons of mass destruction fade ever further from the news pages."
In Back to Iraq 2.0
War Blog Iraq War Update Sidewinder
Big U.S. RaidsTarget Fighters in Central Iraq
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
June 30, 2003
Camp Boom, Iraq - U.S. forces kicked off a massive sweep yesterday, raiding more than 20 towns across a wide swath of Iraq and netting at least 60 suspects in a show of air and infantry power designed to crush resistance and stem a wave of deadly attacks on American troops.
The raids by the 4th Infantry Division and Task Force Ironhorse troops came as the U.S. civilian administrator of Iraq said American forces must kill or capture Saddam Hussein so he can no longer be a rallying point for anti-coalition attacks.
The latest operation began at 2 a.m. local time across an area of central Iraq stretching from the Iranian border to areas north of Baghdad. It is expected to last for several days, according to military officials in Camp Boom, near Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.
The region has become "the nexus of paramilitary activity in central Iraq," the military said in a statement.
There were no reports of U.S. casualties, the military said, nor was there any indication that the operation had netted any of the most-wanted Iraqi fugitives.
"We go in with such overwhelming combat power that they won't even think about shooting us," Lt. Col. Mark Young said before the start of the operation.
The raids targeted loyalists from Hussein's former Baath Party, "terrorists suspected of perpetrating attacks against U.S. forces and former Iraqi military leaders," the military said.
At least 63 American soldiers have died in Iraq since major combat was declared over May 1, close to one-third of them killed in attacks, raising the total U.S. death toll to more than 200 since the March 20 start of the war. Some 42 British forces have died.
The American forces arrested a man in Khalis, 45 miles north of Baghdad, suspected of recruiting others to launch attacks on U.S. troops. In Dojima, police raided the homes of alleged Hussein loyalists they suspected of hiding arms, including rocket-propelled grenades - the weapon used in many recent ambushes.
The military also announced the arrest Saturday of 15 suspects in Mosul, in northern Iraq, confiscating Baath Party documents and Republican Guard uniforms, as well as weapons.
Insurgents have stepped up their attacks against U.S. troops in recent days, carrying out ambushes against military convoys, shooting soldiers and lobbing grenades. U.S. officials in Washington have said repeatedly that no centralized Iraqi resistance to American rule remains, but commanders on the ground suggest some organization.
Young called the resistance in areas northeast of Baghdad "an organized effort." Capt. John Wrann, also involved in the new operation, said: "It's got to be a coordinated thing."
The top U.S. official in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, stressed the need to capture Hussein. "I think it is important that we either catch him or kill him," Bremer told the BBC. "There is no doubt that the fact that we have not been able to show his fate allows the remnants of the Baath regime to go around the bazaars and villages and say Saddam will come back, so do not cooperate with the coalition."
Bremer said progress was being made in restoring basic services to the country such as health care, water and power. He said Baghdad now had 18 to 20 hours of electricity a day and that law and order would soon be restored. "Am I satisfied? No," Bremer said. "We will do our best, and we will succeed. I do not know when that will be."
Copyright (c) 2003, Newsday, Inc.
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Visit Newsday online at http://www.newsday.com
In JuneauEmpire.com: Associated Press
Foreign worker killed in West Bank attack: "A Romanian construction worker was killed Monday in a Palestinian shooting attack in the West Bank, only a day after the three largest Palestinian factions said they would observe a temporary truce."
In JuneauEmpire.com: Associated Press
Hollywood legend Katharine Hepburn dies: "Her backyard acting blossomed into a career for the ages: Four Academy Awards, 12 nominations, 60 years of stage and screen brilliance, a lifetime of feisty independence."
In JuneauEmpire.com: Associated Press
Frist endorses idea of gay marriage ban: "The Senate majority leader said Sunday he supported a proposed constitutional amendment to ban homosexual marriage in the United States."
In JuneauEmpire.com: Associated Press
Tropical storm prompts warning for La.: "Tropical Storm Bill gained pace as it churned toward the Gulf Coast, causing emergency officials across an already saturated south Louisiana to brace for the prospect of flooding."
In JuneauEmpire.com: Associated Press
Pakistan sentences two militants to death: "An anti-terrorism court Monday sentenced two Islamic militants to hang after finding them guilty of planning a suicide car bombing that killed 11 French engineers last year."
In JuneauEmpire.com: Associated Press
Sunday, June 29, 2003
TIMES NEWS TRACKER
Bremer, L Paul III
United States Armament and Defense
Bremer Says More Attacks Won't Deter the Allies
By AMY WALDMAN
AGHDAD, Iraq, June 29 — The American civilian administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, warned tonight that attacks against allied targets in Iraq could escalate, but vowed that the resistance would not deter the country's reconstruction.
"We're certainly not panicked," he said in an interview with several newspapers tonight, one of several meetings he had with news outlets over the weekend. "We're not going to get deflected from our direction by an attack now and then, tragic as it may be."
The attacks "are a sign of weakness," he said of those responsible for them, adding, "And I think we have to anticipate that as we succeed, we will continue to see attacks, and indeed you may find an escalation to terrorism as we go forward."
Referring to those carrying out assaults on coalition forces, sabotage of infrastructure and attacks on Iraqi and American civilians, he said, "These are people who do not want the coalition to succeed."
He put the blame for the attacks, as he has before, on remnants of the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein, members of the Saddam Fedayeen paramilitary force and "perhaps some terrorists." While he maintained, as have allied commanders, that the attacks were not centrally coordinated, he said "some of them are quite professional," and had probably been committed by former Fedayeen members.
At least five or six of the attacks, including the shooting of a soldier in the head in a Baghdad market on Friday, were carried out in a similar manner, Mr. Bremer said, suggesting "a clear understanding of how body armor works."
Of attacks in recent days on civilians cooperating with the allies, he said, "They may be targeting civilians as a way to intimidate people from working on reconstruction." But he added, "I'm not prepared to say we're entering a new phase yet."
He reiterated the importance of killing or capturing Mr. Hussein as a way to sap the vigor of the resistance, and curb the fear of the Iraqi people. He said all available assessments suggested that Mr. Hussein was still in Iraq.
Mr. Bremer said that the attacks would not deter an expansion of the American-led civilian administration here, and that he had requested several hundred more people to be sent to bolster the administration and deploy around the country.
In the meantime, he said, the military was continuing to carry out hundreds or thousands of small-scale reconstruction projects across Iraq.
Mr. Bremer sketched out a series of measures that the coalition is using to funnel money and resources to the Iraqi people.
Salaries are being paid to 1.3 million civil servants, although many have little work to do. Stipends are being given to about 200,000 officers, and one-time payments to 300,000 military conscripts.
Some $150 million was spent to buy wheat and barley from Iraqi farmers, and the coalition is continuing to provide food rations. About $200 million also being spent on emergency programs directed at creating jobs.
Mr. Bremer said that the Iraqi economy had been destroyed from within, referring to Mr. Hussein's spending on weapons and palaces, and that it could not be rebuilt quickly. Reconstruction, he said, "will not be self-financing," but will require international donor support.
Iraq will be a rich country eventually, he said, "but it will need bridging money from international capital over the next few years."
Mr. Bremer said he disagreed with criticism of the planning for postwar Iraq, saying it was hard to move forward when there were people bent on disrupting progress, and "at least one country" — referring to Iran — interfering in Iraq's affairs.
"I think basically there was a plan," he said of the postwar preparations. "It's just damn difficult to execute."
,000 SDF troops to be sent to Iraq in Oct, paper reports
Monday, June 30, 2003 at 10:50 JST
TOKYO — Japan is planning to send more than 1,000 Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel to help rebuild Iraq, possibly starting with a dispatch of ground troops in early October, the Tokyo Shimbun reported Monday.
Around 500 Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) troops will likely be deployed from Hokkaido and will supply fuel and water to U.S. forces and citizens in Baghdad, the daily said, citing a Defense Agency outline on reconstruction efforts in Iraq. (Kyodo News)
TAJI, Iraq--The bodies of two U.S. soldiers who had disappeared while on guard duty three days earlier were found dead just west of here Saturday, ending an intensive search and with it, hope that they would be rescued.
The deaths were the latest reported in a dispiriting week as U.S. and British forces came under sporadic attack throughout Iraq. The violence, which left six Americans and six Britons dead, ranged from execution-style shootings at a crowded Baghdad street market to mob violence in southern Iraq.
The Army confirmed the identities of the two soldiers found Saturday as Sgt. 1st Class Gladimir Philippe, 37, of Linden, N.J., and Pfc. Kevin C. Ott, 27, of Columbus, Ohio. They were assigned to the 18th Field Artillery Regiment of Fort Sill, Okla.
They disappeared Wednesday night while patrolling on regular guard duty at a captured munitions storage depot about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad. After they failed to respond to a routine radio call, the military launched a large air and ground search for the men.
Military officials would not comment on the condition of the bodies, the details of their discovery or any indication that the men had been held prisoner before their deaths.
After a series of house-to-house searches throughout the area where the soldiers were last seen, U.S. troops arrested four people at 3 p.m. on Friday and found the missing soldiers' Humvee half an hour later some 20 miles northwest of Mamamiyat. Their weapons were not found. Another eight Iraqis were detained for possible involvement in the incident.
The depot the men were guarding is in an area that had been a stronghold of fedayeen paramilitary forces loyal to ousted leader Saddam Hussein.
People in Taji, a village a mile or so north of the Tigris River set on a bucolic landscape of irrigated fields and palm trees, did little Saturday to indicate that their loyalties had changed.
Residents said the two bodies were found west of here, next to an area of ``storehouses.'' Some said the soldiers had been kidnapped near the Tigris River; others said they had been abducted near the warehouses where they were found.
``They intimidated us; they searched our houses. They aren't here to help us. They are occupiers,'' said one older man, who, like other villagers here, declined to be identified. ``They are trying to root themselves in Iraq.''
The area is made up, predominantly, of members of the Halabsa, a very conservative and traditional tribe. One man, about 30 years old, said: ``Nobody else is going to kick them out for us. We will do it. We will do operations every day.''
Asked where the bodies of the dead Americans could be found, he responded with an insult. ``Go look in the garbage dump!''
The shaky relationship between occupier and occupied came to the fore in a confrontation Sunday morning in Fallujah, a restive town west of Baghdad that's seen a number of attacks on U.S. troops since the Americans shot and killed 20 protesters during a demonstration in April.
A shouting match broke out when an Iraqi civilian, Jamal Shalal Habib al-Mahemdi, accused a U.S. soldier of stealing $600 (U.S.) from his car.
The soldier tried to wave the man on, but, at the behest of bystanders, his superior officer, Sgt. James Phillips, searched his pockets and found the money. Phillips then returned the bills to Mr. al-Mahemdi, who waved them above his head and cursed the soldier.
It was not clear if the soldier, whose name was not immediately available, would be disciplined. Major Sean Gibson, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said he had not heard of the incident but was sure it would be investigated.
The incident was witnessed by an Associated Press photographer.
Meanwhile, two American troops were injured and an Iraqi civilian was killed when an explosive device went off alongside a U.S. military convoy on a road leading to Baghdad International Airport, the military said.
In other violence, insurgents on Sunday ambushed a U.S. patrol west of Baghdad using rocket propelled grenades.
One of the grenades struck a Bradley fighting vehicle patrolling near Khaldiyah, 55 kilometres west of Baghdad, but didn't cause any significant damage or injuries. U.S. troops returned fire with 25-mm cannon, but apparently failed to inflict any casualties on the attackers, who ran away.
Release Number: 03-06-96
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TASK FORCE IRONHORSE LAUNCHES OPERATION SIDEWINDER
TIKRIT, Iraq – Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division and Task Force Ironhorse conducted more than 20 simultaneous raids involving attack aviation, armor and infantry forces detaining more than 60 suspected opposition members and seizing multiple illegal weapons along with various military documents.
Operation Sidewinder is the third in a series of operations, the first two were operations Peninsula Strike and Desert Scorpion, focusing on sweeping through the task force’s area of operations to root out elements attempting to undermine coalition efforts to restore basic infrastructure and stability in the region.
The raids target former Ba’ath Party loyalists, terrorists suspected of perpetrating attacks against US forces and former Iraqi military leaders, and to locate weapons and ammunition caches. The nexus of paramilitary activity in central Iraq is located along an approximate stretch of the Tigris River from Samarra to Baghdad, and is the location of several destabilizing influences in the region.
No coalition forces casualties were reported in the raids. Sidewinder is an ongoing operation. More details will be released as they become available.
For additional information contact:
CJTF-7 COALITION PRESS INFORMATION CENTER
914 360 5082/5089
JuneauEmpire.com: Associated Press: "Katharine Hepburn, winner of a record four Academy Awards, died Sunday at her home, her executor and town authorities said. She was 96."
In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq
2 militant groups announce Mideast truce: "The militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups announced Sunday that they are suspending attacks against Israel for three months."
In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq
Death of nine Marines linked to friendly fire in IraqWar.info
US still confident of catching Saddam, confronting growing attacks in Iraq: "The United States remained confident of bringing former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to book, while on the ground the military dug in its heels as the US death toll in the Iraq conflict rose above 200. (AFP)"
In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq
Two U.S. troops wounded in Iraqi attack: "Two American troops were wounded and an Iraqi civilian was killed in an attack on a U.S. military convoy early Sunday on a road leading to Baghdad International Airport, the military said, the latest in a string of attacks that has left more than 200 Americans dead since the war began."
In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq
From where's Raed
Thursday, June 26, 2003 ::
The most insane city, I just can’t imagine a city where so much explosive metal is lying around. The latest in the line of stories which at the moment could only happen in Baghdad is an explosion the Karadah street, just off the main road. A photographer walks down that road and sees someone lying on the street with loads of blood around him and missing one leg. No one wants to get near him. The guy had a hand grenade in his pocket, the idiot. And somehow the detonator goes off, boom, bye-bye leg. The funny thing was that there were some people around the guy who looked around very nervously. No one would tell you what was going on. Until you meet the friendly small shop owner who knows everybody. He says the actual explosion happened in a tea-shop down the road where lots of no-good types meet. And the guy’s hand grenade blew up in that tea-shop but his “friends” were so anxious that no one comes in that tea-shop, snoops around and finds god knows what, they clean the place up real fast, drag him to the other end of the street and leave him there.
Why would he have a hand grenade in his pocket? Well, many reasons. I don’t think he is the fedayeen type, like that taxi driver I met a couple of days ago. It just happens to be the weapon of choice for house robberies, you can’t say no to a man with a hand grenade, can you?
:: salam 6:56 AM [+] ::
Puerto Rican soldier killed in Iraq
Sunday, June 29th, 2003.
By Sandra Ivelisse Villerrael of Associated Press
SAN JUAN - The Pentagon has confirmed the death of a Puerto Rican soldier in Iraq, saying he had been killed apparently while investigating a car theft for the U.S. military.
Spc. Richard P. Orengo, 32, died Thursday from gunshot wounds in An Najaf, 100 miles (161 kilometers) southwest of Baghdad, the U.S. State Department said Friday, but gave no further details of the incident or his mission in An Najaf.
Orengo, who was born in New Jersey but lived in Toa Alta, had been assigned to the 755th Military Police Company in north-coast Arecibo. He was sent to Iraq last month. He also has worked since 1996 as a policeman with the motorcycle unit of Bayamon.
Police Superintendent Victor M. Rivera Gonzalez said he would ask Gov. Sila Calderon to hold a full military funeral for Orengo, since "he died in service."
His widow, Carmen Berrios Rodriguez, released a statement Friday asking for "support in this moment of deep pain for me and each member of my family." He also leaves behind three children aged 7, 8 and 18.
Orengo is the third Puerto Rican to be killed in the war on Iraq. Marine Cpl. Robert Marcus Rodriguez, 21, died in March when his tank plunged off a bridge and landed upside down in the Euphrates River. He was born in the central town of Orocovis.
Army Spc. Gil Mercado, 25, who was born in Paterson, New Jersey, but lived his teenage years in west-coast Isabela, died in April of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Puerto Ricans were made U.S. citizens in 1917, and 3.4 million of them now live in the mainland United States.
Though islanders serve in the U.S. military, they cannot vote for president and have no vote in Congress. The military has deployed more than 5,400 Puerto Ricans in its campaigns abroad - the largest deployment from the U.S. Caribbean territory of 4 million since the Korean war.
There are more than 53,000 Puerto Ricans in the U.S. armed forces, almost half of whom are on active duty, according to the Pentagon.
Mounting casualty figures
The most recent American casualties were two soldiers wounded when a convoy was attacked on a highway in Baghdad, U.S. military officials said. An Iraqi civilian was killed in the attack.
The Americans were assigned to the 18th Military Police Brigade, the official said. The extent of their wounds is unknown.
An unidentified explosive device hit the convoy as it traveled along Highway 8, a main road between Baghdad and the airport, a military official said.
It came just hours after U.S. soldiers guarding the Iraqi National Museum in Al Salihiya were attacked Saturday evening as a vehicle approached their position and then sped away.
Several Iraqi witnesses said two men driving a red Volkswagen threw grenades in an apparent attempt to hit a U.S. self-propelled Paladin howitzer positioned adjacent to small office building. There were no reports of casualties.
Two soldiers were found dead Saturday about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad after an exhaustive search using helicopters, armored vehicles and tanks, U.S. Central Command said.
Sgt. 1st Class Gladimir Philippe, 37, of Linden, New Jersey, and Pfc. Kevin Ott, 27, of Columbus, Ohio, were traveling in a Humvee near a checkpoint when military officials lost contact with them on Wednesday.
Ott's brother-in-law, Jim Pack, said: "We understand very vividly that freedom is not free," Pack said. "The price is very high. And we understand that they have a job to do to ensure that freedom for us, and we are very proud of all of them."
It was not immediately clear how Ott and Philippe died, but 12 people have been detained in connection with the case, officials said.
The U.S. government is expected to classify their deaths as "hostile," raising to 23 the total number of U.S. troops killed by hostile fire in Iraq since the end of major combat was announced May 1. The six British troops all died in a single incident last week.
U.S. Searches for Guerrillas in Sweep Across Central Iraq
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS
ALAD, Iraq, June 29 — American military forces carried out a series of predawn raids across central Iraq today, hoping to root out guerrilla groups that have been attacking soldiers and to project an intimidating display of power.
The raids involved thousands of soldiers and hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles. Starting about 1 this morning, the raids struck homes, farms and abandoned buildings from the northern edge of Baghdad to the city of Tikrit.
"We want to send a message of `Don't mess with us,' " said Army Lt. Col. Aubrey Garner, commander of the Silver Lions Battalion, which is part of the Fourth Infantry Division.
"They will see that we have the flexibility to bring firepower anywhere and anytime," he continued. "The ability is almost magical."
In raids about 40 miles north of Baghdad, Colonel Garner's battalion seized a small arsenal that included more than a dozen guns ranging from Iraqi pistols to Kalashnikov automated rifles and ammunition.
They also arrested three men, including a potentially valuable member of Iraq's former military intelligence service named Amir Ismael Mohammed. Mr. Mohammed was found with five different identity cards, and the house he was in contained technical publications on missile guidance systems and printouts of an Internet search on weapons production.
The Associated Press reported that soldiers in another raid nearby had arrested a man suspected of recruiting young men to launch attacks on Americans.
But Army units fanned out to dozens of different locations, generally moving in on their targets around 2 a.m. and often interrogating people until well after the sun had come up.
Airplanes backed up the ground troops, dropping low-level flares that provided just enough light to let soldiers see easily with their night-vision goggles.
Dubbed Operation Sidewinder, the fast-moving and nearly simultaneous raids were focused most intensively on villages and towns north of Baghdad, including Balad. The area, which some have nicknamed the "arc of danger," has been the staging ground for an accelerating stream of often deadly guerrilla attacks on American troops as well as on electricity and water installations.
Those attacks hit a new intensity in the past week, killing more than a half-dozen American soldiers in Baghdad and areas to the north. Among the victims were two soldiers kidnapped in their Humvee near here on Tuesday and, after nearly four days of exhaustive manhunts, found dead on Friday.
But the victims also included a soldier who was shot in the head at point-blank range while shopping at an outdoor market in Baghdad on Friday and numerous ambushes with rocket-propelled grenades and remotely detonated bombs.
The rising number of soldiers killed and wounded has become a major worry for American occupation officials.
L. Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority and the top civilian administrator in charge of Iraq, said tonight he was "certainly not panicked" by the attacks and that Americans had in the past two weeks begun receiving tips from Iraqi citizens.
"Plain old citizens are now confident enough that they are willing to provide us with information," Mr. Bremer said in a meeting with several reporters tonight. "Most of it is pretty good."
But it was unclear that today's campaign produced concrete results. Unlike a similarly massive set of raids earlier this month, the ones today did not lead to any major firefights — an indication that the raids had not located groups devoted to violent attacks against coalition troops.
The two raids carried out by the Silver Lions Battalion produced tantalizing hints of militant activity, as well as of people who might still be loyal to the Baath Party of the former president Saddam Hussein.
But the raids did not uncover what intelligence officials had been hoping to find. One raid, against a compound that had at one time been used by the Badr Brigade, a Shiite militia groups, turned up little more than two families of squatters.
In a second raid on a farmhouse several miles south of here, officials had been hoping to capture a high-ranking intelligence officer named Col. Asad Adeen.
An extensive search of the farmhouse and several adjoining buildings produced one technical pamphlet written by Colonel Adeen and one of his relatives. Soldiers also found a considerable cache of automated weapons, including two Kalashnikovs that were concealed by women under their bed blankets.
The soldiers quickly rounded up 14 men, handcuffed them and covered their heads with sacks to keep them disoriented. Arabic-speaking interrogators then quizzed most of the men for the next several hours.
But in the end, the soldiers released all but three of the men. "The target was Adeen, not these other people or members of his family," said Colonel Garner. And even the three men that soldiers arrested for further questioning, he said, were not necessarily organizers of any violent attacks or underground members of a Baath Party resistance group.
Meanwhile, attacks on American troops continued on Saturday and today. Two soldiers were wounded and an Iraqi civilian was killed today after coming under attack while in a convoy on the road to Baghdad International Airport
Family Remembers Fallen Soldier
June 29, 2003
The military says a soldier from central Ohio has been found dead in Iraq Saturday.
Private First Class Kevin Ott of Columbus was reported missing Wednesday from the town of Balad, about 25 miles north of Baghdad.
His body was found about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad.
Ott had served in the Army a little over a year. He and Sergeant First Class Gladimir Philippe of Linden, New Jersey and their Humvee disappeared while they were on guard duty.
Ott's parents say he was inspired by the 9-11 terrorist attacks to join the military. The graduate of Williamsport Westfall High School enlisted in January 2002.
His parents, who live in Orient, say he was a jokester who was active in his church, taught Bible verses to children and was working toward a college degree.
Of at least 200 U.S. troops killed since the start of the war on March 20th, about a third died since major combat was officially declared over May First.
© Associated Press and Dispatch Productions, Inc., 2003. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
U.S. Arrests 60 During New Iraq Operation
Sunday June 29, 2003 5:49 PM
By BORZOU DARAGAHI
Associated Press Writer
CAMP BOOM, Iraq (AP) - U.S. forces launched a massive operation early Sunday to crush insurgents and capture senior figures from Saddam Hussein's ousted regime, arresting more than 60 in a show of force designed to stem a wave of deadly attacks on U.S. troops.
Also Sunday, the U.S. civilian administrator of Iraq said American forces must kill or capture Saddam so he can no longer be a rallying point for the attackers.
``We'll get our hands on him, dead or alive,'' L. Paul Bremer told CNN's ``Inside Edition.''
The operation, dubbed ``Sidewinder,'' was taking place in a huge swath of central Iraq stretching from the Iranian border to the areas north of Baghdad, and was expected to last several days, military officials said.
More than 20 raids involving air and ground forces were carried out, military officials said. The region has become ``the nexus of paramilitary activity in central Iraq,'' the military said in a statement.
The military also announced the arrests of 15 suspects in Mosul in northern Iraq a day before the operation, confiscating Baath party documents and Republican Guard uniforms, as well as weapons.
There were no reports on U.S. casualties in Operation Sidewinder, nor was their any indication that any top fugitives had been captured or killed.
On a road leading to Baghdad International Airport, an Iraqi civilian was killed and two American troops were wounded in an attack on a U.S. military convoy, military officials said.
Among those arrested in the operation was a man in Khalis, 45 miles north of Baghdad, suspected of recruiting young men to launch attacks on Americans, military officials said.
In Dojima, an upscale town where Sunni Muslim residents recently cleaned the still-standing portrait of Saddam, police raided homes of alleged Saddam loyalists they suspected of hiding caches of arms, including rocket-propelled grenades - the weapon of choice in many recent ambushes.
The operation, named after a rattlesnake, began at about 2 a.m. Sunday, with officers simultaneously raiding as many sites as possible.
``We go in with such overwhelming combat power that they won't even think about shooting us,'' Lt. Col. Mark Young said earlier.
U.S. officials in Washington have said repeatedly that no centralized Iraqi resistance to American rule remains. But from the view on the ground, Young said, U.S. military personnel face ``an organized effort.''
``Somewhere in Diala province, something happens every night,'' said Capt. John Wrann, referring to the province northeast of Baghdad where much of the operation was taking place. ``It's got to be a coordinated thing.''
Insurgents have stepped up their attacks against U.S. troops in recent days, carrying out ambushes against military convoys, shooting soldiers in Baghdad, and lobbing grenades at patrols.
Bremer said holdout Baath Party members and perhaps terrorists from neighboring countries drew strength from Saddam's apparent survival.
``I think it is important that we either catch him or kill him,'' Bremer told the British Broadcasting Corp.
The attack on the road near Baghdad airport involved an improvised explosive device. Two vehicles were damaged. It was not clear if the explosive device was thrown at the convoy, or placed in the road, said Cpl. Todd Pruden, a military spokesman.
The wounded were evacuated to a military hospital and no arrests were made. The identity of the Iraqi civilian was not released, nor was it clear if the victim was a passer-by or had been traveling with the U.S. soldiers.
In other violence, insurgents using rocket propelled grenades ambushed a U.S. patrol west of Baghdad on Sunday.
One grenade struck a Bradley fighting vehicle patrolling near Khaldiyah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, but didn't cause any significant damage or injuries. U.S. troops returned fire with 25 mm cannon, but the attackers ran away.
At least 63 American troops have died in Iraq since major combat was declared over on May 1. The military has confirmed the identities of 138 soldiers killed before that date, for a total of 201 so far, while the names of several other casualties have not yet been made available. Some 42 British troops have died in the current conflict.
The American death toll was still far below the 382 U.S. troops killed in the 1991 Gulf War.
It is impossible to know how many Iraqi soldiers have died since the war started on March 20. An Associated Press investigation completed earlier this month found that at least 3,240 civilians died throughout the country.
In the BBC interview, Bremer said progress was being made in restoring basic services to the country and health care, water and power supplies were improving. He said 240 hospitals across the country and 95 percent of health clinics were now operating and Baghdad now had 18 to 20 hours of electricity a day.
He added that law and order had to be restored to ensure the country could be rebuilt.
``Am I satisfied? No,'' said Bremer, ``We will do our best and we will succeed. I do not know when that will be.''
2 groups agree to halt attacks on Israel: "The militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups announced a three-month suspension of attacks against Israel on Sunday - effective immediately - a breakthrough in attempts to end almost three years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting."
In JuneauEmpire.com: Associated Press
U.S. arrests 60 during new Iraq operation: "U.S. forces launched a massive operation early Sunday to crush insurgents and capture senior figures from Saddam Hussein's ousted regime, arresting more than 60 suspects in a show of force designed to stem a wave of deadly attacks on U.S. troops."
In JuneauEmpire.com: Associated Press
A soldier makes it home in time
Army specialist Ryan Hoey makes it back from Iraq to mourn the death of his mother
Sunday, June 29, 2003
By DIANE O'DONNELL
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
Operation Enduring Strength. That's what fueled the siblings of Army specialist Ryan Hoey to bring their brother home from Iraq to attend their mother's funeral.
Led by Tammy Gallo, the third oldest of Kathleen Gallagher's nine children, the crusade began on June 15 when her mother was ailing in Staten Island University Hospital in Ocean Breeze.
Try Our Classifieds
A phone call to Hoey's Fort Sill base in Lawton, Okla., put the 33-year-old Tottenville woman in touch with Sgt. Alma Bass who instructed her to contact the American Red Cross. The agency contacted the 231st Target Acquisition Division where he was a member of a radar unit in Iraq.
Within hours of notifying the agency of her mother's critical condition, the 57-year-old Rosebank woman died.
In times of conflict and war, the Red Cross serves as the main communication between troops and their families. Since November the agency has seen a 48 percent increase in communications, said Neal Gorman, a Red Cross spokesman.
In March the agency handled 5,997 serious health and death messages and 1,432 for birth announcements. There are currently 36 Red Cross emergency communication staff in Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
At midnight on June 16, Mrs. Gallo was informed by the Red Cross that her brother was on the move in the desert at an undisclosed location.
"On the 17th I still had not heard anything," said Mrs. Gallo, whose concern grew with each passing hour as she planned funeral arrangements. First thing that morning she called the borough president's office who referred her to Rep. Vito Fossella's office.
By 9:30 a.m., Mrs. Gallo was on a conference call with Sherry Diamond, district director of the Republican congressman's borough office and Loren Smith, Fossella's legislative assistant in Washington, D.C. Smith, in turn, contacted the Army's liaison office on Capitol Hill.
A little over five hours later on Tuesday, Mrs. Gallo received a phone call from her brother.
"I felt relieved, but I still had a mission. I had to get him home," said Mrs. Gallo, who had power of attorney for her brother's affairs while he was enlisted.
She thought her brother would be on a convoy the next morning to Kuwait International Airport. A phone call Wednesday morning from Fossella bolstered her spirits.
But delays pushed Hoey's departure to Thursday, the first day of Ms. Gallagher's wake.
Distraught, Mrs. Gallo began another series of phone calls to the Red Cross, Sgt. Bass and Fossella's office. At 9 p.m. Kuwait time, Hoey's military flight was scheduled to take off. But it didn't.
"From there the waiting game began," said Hoey relating how his flight was delayed three successive times, then canceled at 11 p.m.
The next available flight would be 12 hours later and land in Baltimore, ruling out any chance of coming home in time for the wake.
Frantic calls ensued between Hoey and his sister, who added call waiting, call forwarding and 3-way calling to her phone to deal with the crisis. In all, Mrs. Gallo estimates she logged over 200 phone calls between agencies, officials and family.
"More than anything I wanted to be there for my family," said Hoey.
Stateside, Mrs. Gallo and her family began scouring the Internet in search of flights out of Kuwait.
Meanwhile, through interpreters from the Air Force and Marines, Hoey was told of a civilian flight that would cost $1,100 on Kuwait Air. With a 9 a.m. departure on Friday, Kuwait time, the direct flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport would just make the last viewing at Virginia Funeral Chapel.
"You never saw so many people move so fast at ATMs," said Mrs. Gallo who mobilized her siblings and wired the money within minutes.
At 4:30 p.m. Friday, Hoey arrived at the airport and rushed to the Dongan Hills funeral home for the last viewing of his mother.
"We're a very strong family, that's the way our mother raised us," said Mrs. Gallo. "Our strength with each other has really helped us through."
Although Hoey's homecoming was bittersweet, the 27-year-old received good news -- the Army will reimburse the cost of his airfare and he will spend the remainder of his military hitch at Fort Sill.
At least 58 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since major combat was declared on May 1. Hoey will be discharged September 2004.
Diane O'Donnell is a news reporter for the Advance. She may be reached at email@example.com.
Posted on Sun, Jun. 29, 2003
Marines' plan to secure bridges went awry amid barrage of firepower
BY NANCY SAN MARTIN
HONORING THEIR LOST BROTHERS: Members of Task Force Tarawa mourn on April 13 for friends who were killed in Nasiriyah. It was only when they reached Al Kut - three weeks after the deadly battle - that the Marines were able to stop moving long enough to hold a memorial service for their fallen. JOE RAEDLE/GEDDY IMAGES
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C - Just before the first explosion, the young U.S. Marines in the amphibious assault vehicle had been laughing as they rode through Iraq.
'We thought, `Yeah, this is cool.' We were pumped up. We were sitting back, going, ''Yeah, let's go!'' recalled Cpl. Randy Glass, of Bethlehem, Pa.
Then came the agonizing cries. ''I looked down and I thought I didn't have a leg,'' said Glass, 20. ``Blood was coming out like a faucet . . . I didn't know I still had a foot until one or two hours later.''
On a sun-scorched corner of Iraq, within a 500-yard radius, in the span of just 3 ½ hours, 18 American Marines were killed all around Glass on March 23 in what was likely the bloodiest single battle of the Iraq war.
One 40-man platoon alone suffered 11 killed as Iraqi gunners and mortar crews poured murderous fire on units from Task Force Tarawa in the southern city of Nasiriyah. An American A-10 may have killed a half-dozen Marines.
''It was a bloodbath,'' recalled Staff Sgt. Anthony Pompos, 28, one of the veterans of Nasiriyah.
The Marines from Charlie Company, the unit that suffered the record casualties, returned home last Sunday aboard the USS Ponce, almost exactly three months after the battle.
The homecoming was largely joyful. Relatives gathered on the grounds of this Marine base as yellow ribbons and bows with stars and stripes hung from trees along the highway to the main gate. Among a row of handwritten posters: ''You Got the Bad Guys, Daddy,'' and ``Welcome Home Dimple Man.''
Wounded comrades who had been evacuated during the March 23 battle also greeted the veterans at dockside in crutches and bandages. One had an eye patch. Later, at Camp Lejeune, Joe Nixon, a former Marine himself, carried special dog tags he wanted to hand out to members of his dead younger brother's unit: ``In Remembrance. Patrick R. Nixon Cpl. USMC. Iraq 03/23/03.''
The stories of the returnees paint a chilling picture of a sudden and deadly enemy attack, of Marine tanks missing from the front lines because they had to refuel, of Americans firing on Americans, of desperate cries for help and valiant attempts at rescue.
''Five minutes into the firefight and they're already doing what they know,'' Pompos recalled. ``They are saving limbs, fighting back, getting their buddies out. There is no way to train for that.''
CONVOY LOSES WAY
Plans deteriorate: `Things began to get heated up'
The first two days of the war had gone well for the 1st Battalion of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, part of a 7,000-strong unit renamed Task Force Tarawa for the Iraq campaign. It had met little resistance.
Their mission was to secure two critical bridges on a road that passes through Nasiriyah, a city of 300,000 about 200 miles south of Baghdad. The south bridge spans the Euphrates River, and another to the north is over an irrigation canal.
By the time the Marine convoy reached Nasiriyah on the morning of March 23, part of an Army supply convoy had become lost and wandered into the city, sparking a pitched firefight in which nine Army soldiers were killed and six were taken prisoner, including Pfc. Jessica Lynch.
The battalion's plan seemed simple enough.
Its Bravo Company was to cross the southern bridge over the Euphrates, then turn east and help secure the three miles of paved highway between the two bridges known as Ambush Alley. The road, one of the main arteries to Baghdad, is lined with ramshackle homes and two-story buildings. Alpha Company then was to secure the southern bridge and the west side of the road, while Charlie Company was to follow the same eastern path taken by Bravo and take control of the northern bridge.
But the plan quickly deteriorated as the Marines crept forward at midmorning. The southern bridge turned out to be higher and longer than expected, making it more difficult to secure because platoons couldn't get to their positions as quickly as planned. As soon as the Marines crossed the southern bridge ''things began to get heated up,'' Pompos told The Herald.
Bravo Company could not wheel east on its planned course because of the unanticipated length and height of the bridge and instead veered off further ahead. The two tanks attached to Bravo got stuck in the mud. Ten other tanks attached to the battalion had been called back for refueling earlier, several Marines said.
Combined Anti-Armor Teams, groups of infantrymen who ride in vehicles equipped with either M2 .50-caliber machine guns or MK19 automatic grenade launchers, were called in to boost the defenses.
Within minutes, eight Iraqi tanks were destroyed, Pompos said: ``That opened up the road for us.''
Charlie Company finally pushed ahead across Ambush Alley amid a barrage of gunfire. But then came a thunderous boom from a rocket-propelled grenade or mortar that hit a boat-shaped amphibious armored vehicle -- a ''track'' -- near the tail of its convoy.
''All of a sudden I hear a boom, then the track is on fire,'' said Pompos, who was aboard the vehicle immediately behind.
Glass, in the third year of his enlistment, was among some 20 Marines in the burning track.
''I thought my body blew apart because I couldn't feel nothing,'' he said. ``Everything was so fast. It got pitch black inside the track . . . I couldn't feel anything. I knew I was alive, but that's it.''
His left foot had been blown apart and left hanging by pieces of skin and tendons. At least three other Marines in the track were also wounded, including the driver, Sgt. Michael Bitz, 31, of Ventura, Calif.
But the track didn't stop. Fearing more casualties by halting in the middle of the firefight, the platoon's commander ordered Bitz to keep moving. ''Go, go, go,'' he yelled, banging on Bitz's helmet.
The track rumbled forward with flames bursting from the rear. As some of the Marines stood up through the open hatch and fired at the Iraqis, others tried to stop the blood flowing out of the wounded. One of Glass' buddies used a rifle sling to tie a tourniquet just under his knee.
At the northern bridge, the Marines spilled out of the track. Some were on fire and used their hands to pat down the flames.
For Bitz, the driver, it was too late. He died at the scene.
Over the next hours, the booms and pops of RPGs and mortars filled the air. Radiant streaks of gunfire lit up the ground. Shrapnel flew in all directions.
As more Marines went down, the firing became too intense for helicopters to land near the north bridge and evacuate the casualties. The wounded Marines had to be loaded aboard tracks and driven back south across Ambush Alley. Adding to the mayhem was an Air Force A-10 jet that was strafing the area.
Several Marines said the A-10, equipped with a rapid-fire anti-tank cannon, made seven to eight runs before it was finally called off. They believe it killed as many as six of their comrades.
The number of Marine deaths because of friendly fire during the battle remains unclear. The Pentagon is investigating.
`I GUESS THIS IS IT'
Officer tells of mortar round
that killed three instantly
First Lt. James Reid, 26, of Charlie Company said he was on foot helping secure the north bridge area when a mortar round exploded nearby. He was knocked down and felt a sharp pain surge through his right arm. Three other Marines were killed instantly and several others were wounded.
Reid told his wounded troops to stay put while he went for help. As he ran, another explosion went off in front of him. He was thrown in the air and when he landed on the ground, blood was pouring from his head.
'I remember thinking, `Well, I guess this is it,' '' Reid said.
He managed to get up again and reached the track that was to carry the casualties back across Ambush Alley. He told them about his wounded troops.
Making his way back to his injured Marines, Reid heard a thud and was knocked to the ground a third time. A bullet had struck him in the shoulder.
Reid was among 14 Marines with serious injuries who were evacuated from the battlefield.
''When I got on the chopper, I thought there had been at least 50 guys killed,'' he said. ``I figured that if my guys got hit that bad, the other platoons must have gotten hit hard, too.''
Eleven of the 18 Marines killed were in Reid's 3rd Platoon.
A BOOM, THEN SCREAMS
`I just wanted my little girl to see her dad again, that's all'
And other units were indeed also hit hard.
First Sgt. Jose Henao, who has spent 22 of his 41 years in the Marines Corps, said he had just finished checking on a four-man mortar team and was headed toward other Marines when thunderous explosions shook the ground. Henao rushed back, but the four had been killed instantly. He placed them side by side and covered the bodies with a poncho.
After that, each deafening boom or hail of gunfire was followed by screams. ''First Sergeant!'' Henao said he heard again and again. ``First Sergeant! First Sergeant! . . . Everybody was calling me.
'That's when I realized, `Man, I might get shot, too.' ''
For a moment, Henao thought of his wife and 8-month-old daughter. ''I just wanted my little girl to see her dad again, that's all,'' Henao said, biting his lip and shutting his eyes to hold back tears.
The fighting didn't ease up until near dusk, when Alpha Company pushed a dozen more tracks across Ambush Alley as reinforcement. When it was all over, six tracks had been immobilized, at least two of them ``catastrophic kills.''
Reid said he got a better idea of his platoon's fatalities while aboard the USS Comfort hospital ship in the Persian Gulf. An email from his superiors said, ``Ask Lt. Reid if he knows where 12 of his missing Marines are.''
''I just felt helpless,'' Reid recalled. 'I had to say, `I don't know.' ''
But it could have been worse. The Iraqi fighters appeared to have been lousy shots. ''If those guys were more professional with their weapons systems, 250 Marines would be dead,'' said Henao.
Charlie Company spent another week in Nasiriyah, then moved north to secure the city of Al Kut, where it finally managed to stop moving long enough to hold a memorial service for its fallen.
''I'll admit it, I cried like a baby when I tried to talk about my Marines,'' Pompos said.
Charlie Company never made it to Baghdad. It was pulled out of Al Kut on May 17 and put aboard the USS Ponce for the long trip home.
The day after the welcome home ceremony at Camp Lejeune, Cpl. Glass, who nearly lost his foot, went to a tattoo parlor in nearby Jacksonville.
On his forearm, he had the artist tattoo the face of a woman with a tear drop running down her cheek.
''This is for the sorrow and tears we all shared for our lost brothers,'' he said. ``I wanted to get something to honor my friends.''
Hussein shadow haunts Iraqis
By Craig Nelson, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 29, 2003
BAGHDAD -- More than two months after Saddam Hussein's ouster from power, Iraqis seldom exhibit any "Where's Elvis?" frivolity when asked to speculate about the location of his hiding place.
But wherever he may be, Hussein's legion of enemies in Iraq is virtually unanimous about one thing: They want him to suffer and suffer terribly.
"He should put in a car and taken around Iraq so every Iraqi can see him and so every Arab leader can see the fate they'll meet if they do what he did. Then he should be put in a cage in a zoo and fed little bits of food like the animal that he is," said Salman Ali, 24, a watermelon seller in the predominantly Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Karada.
Behind Ali, plastered across the wall of a building, was one explanation for his venom: photocopied pictures of 161 neighborhood Shiite men whom he said were executed in Hussein's prisons for practicing their brand of Islam.
With U.S. forces stepping up their search for Hussein following the capture of his personal secretary last week, Iraqis who loathe the former leader are of many minds when it comes to his whereabouts.
Most, however, share the view of many U.S. officials that he is alive and hiding in Iraq.
"I'll be disappointed if Hussein's killed by American soldiers," said Abbas Mohammed, 38. "It would be too comfortable for him to die like that. What's the most painful way to die? Whatever you can think of won't be enough for him. I want to drink his blood."
Yet for all the visceral hatred of Hussein, Iraqis still live under the shadow of the 66-year-old fugitive. Reports Sunday that he and his two sons may have been killed in a U.S. attack on a four-vehicle convoy in western Iraq last week have not dampened fears that he might return.
U.S. military officials also say Iraqis are reluctant to go to work for U.S.-led coalition forces because they are scared that if Hussein returns he will take revenge on them.
"He's in Iraq and he's watching us," said Majida Hikmat, 45. "We're afraid. He may come back."
The specter of Hussein also haunts Iraqis' visions of the future. While few say they want to see Hussein back in power, they long for an antidote to traffic jams, long lines at the gas pumps, garbage on street corners and electricity shortages.
Sawsan Abdul al-Razak, for one, would like to see Hussein return. "I admire him because he has a strong personality and he's a strong man," said the 43-year-old member of the Sunni sect of Islam, from whose Iraqi followers Hussein drew support. "I hope he comes back."
Talking with visitors this week in the living room of her home in the northern Baghdad district of Amariya, she denounced Iraqis who failed to defend Hussein's regime as "hypocrites" and insisted that if he returned, "a lot of Iraqis would support him because we don't feel safe and the Americans can't ensure security."
Saturday, June 28, 2003
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Jason Burke, Baghdad
Sunday June 29, 2003
The bodies of two missing American soldiers were found yesterday as news emerged that a growing campaign of Iraqi resistance to coalition occupation may have been planned before the war began.
Allied officials now believe that a document recently found in Iraq detailing an 'emergency plan' for looting and sabotage in the wake of an invasion is probably authentic. It was prepared by the Iraqi intelligence service in January and marked 'top secret'. It outlined 11 kinds of sabotage, including burning government offices, cutting power and communication lines and attacking water purification plants.
What gives the document particular credence is that it appears to match exactly the growing chaos and large number of guerrilla attacks on coalition soldiers, oil facilities and power plants.
At least 61 US troops have died in Iraq since major combat was declared to be over on 1 May, including at least 23 in attacks. The latest death came on Friday when a soldier was killed in an ambush, and another shot in the neck and critically injured. Grenades were thrown at a US convoy as it passed through the Thawra area, a poor, mainly Shia Muslim part of the capital that had been largely free of anti-American violence.
US officials dismiss their casualties as 'militarily insignificant' and point out that there are 55,000 US troops in Baghdad. But the repeated attacks damage the forces' image of invulnerability and lead to harsher security measures that risk alienating swaths of the population.
A series of major operations involving hundreds of arrests have apparently failed to quell the unrest, much of which is believed to be committed by criminals hired by wealthy former Baath Party officials. Some attacks are also sponsored, security offi cials believe, by hardline religious groups.
It is not known who was behind Friday's attack although the prime suspects are Sunni Muslims from the west of Baghdad, where resistance to the US has so far been strongest. It is possible that they chose to attack Americans in a Shia Muslim area to bolster the impression that Iraq's majority Shia population, who have hitherto been relatively supportive of the occupying forces, are joining the fight against the coalition.
The spiral of violence has also hit British troops after six military policeman were killed and eight other soldiers injured in the southern Iraqi town of Majar Kabir. Yesterday UK troops returned to the village where the men were killed after dropping leaflets promising that there would be no 'mass punishment'.
Military officials insisted they were not offering an amnesty to those who were responsible for the killings. 'The priority is to win back the hearts and minds of the people,' an Army spokesman said. 'But by doing that one of the benefits will be that hope fully we will be able to catch the people responsible. There is certainly no amnesty.'
There is still no explanation of why the RMP detachment was not assisted by the substantial British forces near by when it was surrounded by an angry mob. Sources within the RMP in the UK told The Observer they suspected that the detachment may have been short of ammunition. One soldier recently returned from Iraq said that a shortage had led to ammunition being taken from military policemen to give to frontline units.
'When I was in Kosovo we had to borrow ammo and grenades off the Para Regiment to feel as though we were suitably armed when isolated. Apparently we were "policemen not soldiers", so we weren't issued it,' one source said. 'I know from friends in the Gulf that they had had a lot of ammo withdrawn because of this attitude. It cost them their lives.'
British military officials dismissed the claims last night. 'The idea that we send anyone out without enough ammunition is simply rubbish,' one said.
In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq
Remains of missing U.S. soldiers found in CNN - War in Iraq
U.S. SOLDIER DIES FROM INJURIES SUSTAINED IN VEHICLE ACCIDENT in CENTCOM: News Release
Mandela unrelenting ahead of Bush tour of Africa in Radio Free USA
US push for global police force (28 June 03) in Radio Free USA
N.C.-Based Marines Return Home From Iraq
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Families and friends greeted troops with tears and cheers Saturday as the last wave of Marines from Task Force Tarawa returned to their home base from Iraq.
"I'm super blessed," said Gunnery Sgt. Bryant Davis, 36, of Atlanta, who let out three "Wooos!" after embracing his young nieces outside Camp Lejeune's barracks.
Davis was one of 2,000 Marines aboard the USS Kearsarge, the last of the seven-ship Amphibious Task Force East that arrived on the North Carolina coast this past week.
"It's a beautiful day to come to the United States of America," said Davis, an 18-year Marine veteran.
Troops from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, which saw heavy fighting and 23 members die during the war, began arriving in stages at Camp Lejeune and neighboring bases a week ago. A total of 7,000 ground troops and aviators were expected to be home by Sunday.
Marines came ashore on landing crafts as the sun rose Saturday. Awaiting families at the pier held children, signs and mementos of their returning Marines.
The parents of Lance Cpl. Michael Thompson carried a sign with the signature of first- and second-graders at St. Luke's Lutheran School in Culpeper, Va., where Thompson's mother, Andrea, teaches.
"We are relieved to have him home," Andrea Thompson said. "It's been an emotional roller coaster."
The Virginia-based flotilla carried about 5,000 sailors, more than 7,000 Lejeune-based Marines and tons of heavy equipment and aircraft during service in the Middle East. The Kearsarge is due back at its home port in Norfolk, Va., on Monday.
While in Iraq, brigade members helped rescue Army Pvt. Jessica Lynch and captured 1,000 prisoners of war. They also helped liberate the cities of Nasiriyah, Amarah, Diwaniyah and Kut. Fifty-eight brigade members were wounded.
"We can't forget the ones who didn't make it home," Andrea Thompson said.
Over half of Camp Lejeune's 30,000 troops were overseas in Iraq and other stations this winter and spring. About 2,300 members of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit returned a month ago.
Brenda Echterling, 44, of LaGrange, Ind., worried her son, Lance Cpl. David Echterling, would be delayed further when the Kearsarge was ordered to travel to Liberia to evacuate U.S. citizens after civil war broke out there. But the Kearsarge was ordered home again after a cease-fire agreement was signed in Liberia earlier this month.
Brenda Echterling said: "I started crying when I found out his ship had been diverted to Liberia, but it's OK now. He's home."
Melissa D'Orta cried tears of joy as her husband, Staff Sgt. Jeramie D'Orta of Orange County, Va., approached her with daughter Nicole, and son, Vincent, already in his arms.
"I'm home, baby, I'm home," the sergeant said. "It's all right."
His wife said later: "It's just wonderful."
Associated Press Writer
June 28, 2003, 6:55 PM EDT
Sgt. 1st Class Gladimir Philippe called home nearly every week and counseled his little brother to swear off girls and keep his head on straight. Pfc. Kevin Ott owned a gray and chrome Harley-Davidson motorcycle that he'd rev up at 7 a.m. whenever the weather was nice.
The bodies of the two soldiers _ Philippe, 37, of Roselle, N.J., and Ott, 27, of Orient, Ohio _ were discovered northwest of Baghdad early Saturday. The soldiers were reported missing three days earlier from the town of Balad, 25 miles north of the Iraqi capital.
The soldiers, both members of an artillery unit based in Fort Sill, Okla., disappeared Wednesday night amid a torrent of the guerrilla-style attacks and sabotage that have marred U.S. efforts to re-establish order since Saddam Hussein's ouster.
The U.S. death toll since the war in Iraq began now exceeds 200. About a third of U.S. troops killed in the Iraqi conflict have died in attacks or accidents since major combat was declared over May 1.
Philippe entered the Army in November 1988, and Ott had served since January 2002, said Maj. Steve Stover, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon. Philippe saw action in the Gulf War.
The eldest of nine children, Philippe enlisted after graduating from Elizabeth High School. He competed on the school's bowling team, and he carried a passion for the sport into adulthood, said Fedlyn Philippe, 16, Gladimir's youngest brother.
"He was like my best friend and my brother at the same time," Fedlyn said. "He was a person I could just talk to. I looked up to him a lot."
Fedlyn said members of his large extended family were still assembling at the Philippe home by midday Saturday. Gladimir's stepmother, who had just gotten the news after returning from work, sobbed loudly in the background.
Gladimir's father, Renisse Philippe, brought his family to New York from Haiti in 1970 and moved to New Jersey two years later.
On Friday, he said his son was not too concerned about combat in Iraq. "That's his job," the elder Philippe said. "He's going to do his job."
Gladimir called home two or three weeks ago, and left a long message when no one was home to receive the call, Fedlyn said.
The Army "was something (Gladimir) chose to do," his brother said. "He always told me not to join. He told me to play basketball and keep my head strong and don't worry about girls, and to do good in school."
Ott's parents live in Orient, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, and have requested privacy. A woman who answered the phone at the Ott home Saturday said, "Please don't bother us at the moment, and thank you very much for respecting our wishes."
Matt and Anna Gailis, who have lived next door to the Otts for about a year, spoke of Kevin's passion for his Harley, which he'd take out early in the morning.
"He was in and out at odd hours," Matt Gailis, 31, said. "He seemed like a nice enough guy."
Five other Army soldiers from New Jersey have died during Operation Iraqi Freedom: U.S. Army Spc. Kyle Griffin, 20, of Emerson; Master Sgt. Terry Hemingway, 39, of Willingboro; Cpl. Michael E. Curtin, 23, of Howell Township; Army Spc. Gil Mercado, 25, a native of Paterson whose family lives in Puerto Rico; and Spc. Narson B. Sullivan, 21, of North Brunswick.
Once Hailed, Soldiers in Iraq Now Feel Blame at Each Step
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS
AGHDAD, Iraq, June 28 — After riding into Iraq on a wave of popular euphoria, American and British forces are unexpectedly finding themselves the brunt of criticism for everything that goes wrong these days.
"We are furious about people pointing guns at us," said Hamid Hussein, 33, pushing his broken-down Volkswagen bus to the front door of his house this morning. A United States Army Humvee was parked in the middle of his street, and a soldier in the turret ordered Mr. Hussein in English to stop where he was.
If the complaint is not about security, then it is about the lack of electricity this week in Baghdad.
"Don't talk to me about Saddam Hussein," snapped Ibrahim Aullaiwi, a 46-year-old shop owner in the poor neighborhood of New Baghdad. "The Americans are in charge of everything here. They could have brought generators in here within 24 hours."
Like Mr. Aullaiwi, many residents of Baghdad seem to ignore the fact that the electricity disruption was caused at least in part by sabotage and looting. Seething in 110-degree heat without air-conditioners, fans or refrigerators, many residents were already furious about chronic power failures over the past two months.
Whether battling saboteurs or snipers, American and British occupation leaders find that the public mood has turned critical, even though countless Iraqis remain pleased that Saddam Hussein is gone and still place considerable hope in the Americans and British to improve things.
The scorn, and the risk to the Western forces, can go together. That was the case when an angry crowd in the southern town of Majar al Kabir killed six British soldiers on Tuesday, and many residents contended that the British set off the disturbance by trying to search Muslim homes, a claim the British dispute.
American soldiers sometimes infuriate Iraqis by running afoul of time-honored tradition. On Thursday, soldiers on patrol in an Army convoy here heard gunshots and rushed into a house from all sides. It turned out there was a wedding party under way, a ceremony that often occurs on Thursday evenings and is celebrated with gunfire. The Americans added to the anger among the revelers by roughly grabbing and arresting a young man who was trying to sneak off in a taxi with his gun, according to a witness.
Earlier this month when thousands of American troops raided what they believed were bases for loyalists to Saddam Hussein, provoking a lengthy firefight that killed four Iraqis, the Shiite newspaper Al Dawa described the deaths as "martyrdom."
The drumbeat of daily attacks on allied soldiers, meanwhile, is forcing military leaders to strike back with measures that often increase anger and fear.
Soldiers in full-body armor, often without translators, show up at houses in the middle of the night and politely but firmly demand to search for weapons. Jittery soldiers in Humvees and tanks point machine guns at Iraqi cars that show the slightest hint of irregular behavior.
The tensions seem certain to increase. Attacks on American soldiers, though they do not endanger the overall military plan, have continued steadily for three weeks.
Today in Baquba, about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad, an unidentified person threw a grenade at American soldiers in a Humvee. The grenade missed the soldiers but wounded two Iraqis who happened to be shopping nearby.
The scene made for grisly images today on Al Jazeera, the Arabic television network based in Qatar: bloodied Iraqis at the sides of American soldiers.
Late Friday night, a grenade attack in the Baghdad district of Thawra left one American soldier dead, four soldiers wounded and one Iraqi interpreter wounded.
In yet another neighborhood of Baghdad that night, residents said someone fired a rocket-propelled grenade at an American armored personnel carrier. Military officials could not confirm the incident as of early this afternoon.
Those were merely the most recent deadly incidents in a week that included sniper attacks on individual soldiers, bombs placed under trucks and rocket-propelled grenades fired at Humvees.
American military commanders have greatly stepped up the pace of house-to-house sweeps, in which hundreds of soldiers temporarily close off neighborhoods and then search each house for weapons or any hints of loyalty to Saddam Hussein.
The searches usually proceed without serious conflicts, but the experiences are jarring for many people. On one recent raid, soldiers handcuffed and detained a man who had posters of Mr. Hussein in several of his rooms. The man went peacefully and was released after questioning.
British commanders, who have prided themselves on their ability to project a friendly image to Iraqis, learned this week just how explosive such searches can be.
Conservative Shiite Muslims in the southern town of Majar al Kabir had demanded that British soldiers refrain from house searches because they were disrespectful.
British commanders said they agreed to the demand, but troops set off a melee on Wednesday simply by showing up in the town. Mobs cornered and then killed several soldiers in a police station, and several more outside. Six soldiers died and eight more had been wounded by the time the dust settled.
Today, British forces returned to Majar al Kabir accompanied by at least five tanks as well as helicopters overhead. To ease tensions, the British have distributed leaflets begging residents to believe in the soldiers' peaceful intentions.
"Do not let rumors and misinformation split us apart," the leaflets say. "We will not return to punish you. That was the tactic of Saddam's regime."
One problem facing both British and American officials is their own limited ability to communicate through mass media. The American-led Coalition Provisional Authority inaugurated radio and television broadcasts last month, but the television broadcasts are only a few hours a night and are mostly devoted to reruns of Arab-language entertainment shows.
Meanwhile, Iraqis listen to television broadcasts from the Iranian network Al Alam, which is overwhelmingly critical of American forces in Iraq and the United States in general. Television sets here can receive Al Alam with the help of a large antenna. For the growing number of Iraqis with satellite dishes, the most influential source of news may be Al Jazeera. It has been critical of the allied forces and has assiduously and quickly reported attacks on American soldiers.
Meanwhile, Iraq has seen a flood of new newspapers. While some are balanced, and one or two are pro-American, many are plainly hostile.
An article on the front page of Al Haqiqa, one of several Shiite newspapers, reported that "unemployment and the chaos of security are the root causes of Iraqis clashing with Americans."
And in a separate front-page headline, the newspaper quoted a prominent Shiite leader as saying, "No Dialogue with the Occupier."
June 28, 2003
By Thana Dharmarajah
Back in the comforts of his Souris home after serving five months in Iraq, Lance Cpl. William Slade Brandon is thinking about leaving behind his life as a marine.
"I don't think I want to put my family through that again," says the 22-year-old, who came home Monday night.
Brandon was the crew chief of an amphibious assault vehicle with the 2nd Expeditionary Force.
He left his base in the U.S. for Kuwait Feb.8, and was posted near An Nasiriyah in southern Iraq before the war started. As the war began, his unit's first mission was to secure the oil fields in various cities and push on to Baghdad.
"I don't think I could ever know what they were going through," says Brandon of his parents. "I hope I never have to. I can't imagine how hard it was for them while I was over there."
In early March, Brandon's parents were devastated to hear the news that eight marines from his division were missing in action.
Robert and Esther Brandon spent months watching CNN, Newsworld and scouring the newspapers to find tidbits of information about her son's division.
"We were under a lot of stress," says Robert. "We were worried a lot."
"As parents, to have a son or daughter in the military, you know what the job is, but it doesn't take the worry away."
The former Canadian Forces reservist, who has dual citizenship, joined the U.S. Marines in the fall of 2000.
He plans on leaving the U.S. marines next September and pursuing further education.
However, his experience in Iraq has opened his eyes to another world.
Back in Canada, he realizes the many advantages the Western world has.
"We have so much more than those people," says Brandon. "I'm hoping what we did over there is going to make life better for the Iraqi people."
He says many of the Iraqis appreciated the U.S. presence, as he talks about one man and his son, who would visit them each day to offer them pita bread, goat's milk yogurt and tea.
Looking back, Brandon also remembers moments he was scared stiff for his life.
He thinks back to "tank night." A severe dust storm was blowing through An Nasiriyah, and their unit heard an Iraqi armoured unit was 130 miles north of their location, heading towards them.
Brandon's unit headed north and set up their defence. Soon after, they saw the Iraqi convoy moving in front of them about seven kilometres away.
"We started hitting them with arty," he says, but they couldn't see well.
As the dust storm grew severe, they had to stop.
"You couldn't see anything. You couldn't see the hands in front of your face."
The other marines were yelling at each other over the radios, and Brandon passed out in the back of the vehicle from sheer exhaustion.
"I had said my goodbyes," he says.
But, the dust storm managed to save their unit because the Iraqi convoy could no longer spot them.
Although, Brandon is leaving behind marine life, he says enlisting in the U.S. marines had always been his dream.
"I wanted to be part of what I thought was the best," he says, pointing out through his research he learnt the U.S. marines had the highest standards and the best training.
Since he was four, Brandon grew up playing with G.I. Joes and toy guns.
But, heading off to war is another story.
"Being a kid and playing with toy guns, it wasn't the same thing."
Campbell 'threatens to take BBC battle to watchdog': "Alastair Campbell could take his bitter battle with the BBC to the Broadcasting Standards Commission."
In Ananova: War In Iraq
US soldier dies in convoy attack in BBC: War in Iraq
COALITION CONTINUES EFFORTS TO REBUILD IRAQ (JUNE 28, 2003) in CENTCOM: News Release
Wed Jun 25, 2:56 PM ET
By ALAN COWELL The New York Times
LONDON, June 25 After the killing of six British soldiers in disputed circumstances in southern Iraq Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged today to maintain Britain's military presence and offered to send reinforcements if commanders on the ground asked for them.
BAGHDAD (AFP) - The US army has detained more than 900 former loyalists of the Saddam Hussein regime who have been "subverting" US efforts to rebuild Iraq, a senior US military official said Saturday.
"In the last week, we have detained more than 900 former regime loyalists, former Fedayeen and other criminals that are out there subverting our efforts," said the official who did not wish to be named.
The official, however, said "not all the 900 are still being held". He did not specify how many of them were still being detained.
On June 17, the US military had announced that 371 people in the Baghdad area and northern Iraq were detained as part of Operation Desert Scorpion aimed at rooting out armed resistance.
UK Government Renews Demand for BBC Apology: "A war of words between the Britishgovernment and the BBC over Iraq gained momentum on Saturdayafter the prime minister's press chief appeared on a rivaltelevision channel to renew his demand for an apology. (Reuters)"
In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq
Sleepless Days and Nights: ""Bremer is based now in Saddam's former palace with a staff of about six hundred. These six hundred people have so far cost $300 million in salaries and expenses. This is nearly twice the amount paid to-date to 24 million Iraqis in salaries and pensions." Michael Birmingham writes of the bitter reality that has taken shape in Iraq. Michael is currently in Baghdad."
In Electronic Iraq
In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq
U.S. Army IDs 2 Soldiers Missing in Iraq: "The Army identified the two missing soldiers in Iraq on Friday as members of an artillery unit based in Fort Sill, Okla. (AP)"
In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq
Mess assessment: "The U.S. is sending a five-person team to Baghdad to assess the state of post-war Iraq. The move comes amidst concerns for the stability of the country, as yet another American soldier was shot dead last night and after US soldiers shot and killed an 11-year-old boy they mistook for an armed attacker."
In Alternet: War On Iraq
U.S. evaluates success of 'Desert Scorpion' in CNN - War in Iraq
US Soldier Shot in Iraq, Analysts Warn of Revolt: "A U.S. soldier was shot in the head andcritically wounded while shopping in a Baghdad store on Friday,the latest target in a surge of attacks that analysts say couldexplode into open revolt. (Reuters)"
In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq