Monday, March 31, 2008

Children and Others Dying in Iraq Recently

Babies and children reported as killed by U.S. Troops. Hilla, Iraq.
photo found at Gorilla's Guides, March 27, 2008.

How Many Dead Babies Does It Take
To Make Us Quit Killing Them?

Want to know what's REALLY happening in Iraq?

Read Gorilla's Guide. Read Iraq Today.

Hold on to your stomach...and your heart.

Oh... one more note.

I am copying over almost five full days directly over from Gorilla's Guide. This isn't how one normally does these things. In case anyone isn't clear, I have enormous respect for Gorilla's Guide, and for copyright law. (Go read the Gorilla’s Guides For The Perplexed. Their reference articles on Islam, and their briefings on what the frack is going on will blow you away. That's in addition to their daily journalism, to which I am introducing you here.)

Copyright law depends on a balancing test. Among other factors, it requires a transformative effect or usage. If after having been stuck inside of the U.S. media machine (including progressive blogs) you are not transformed out the ass by reading THIS, almost five days of THIS, I urge you to keep reading it till you are. Seriously. (And yes, I know that's almost certainly not what was meant when the law was written. Besides, black-letter law doesn't say “transformative”; it's case-law which does. It was just too good a line to pass up. *smiles*) None the less I am serious in my intent, which is causing a transformation for each of us. And there, GNB Media is allowed to copy the material to facilitate teaching, especially considering the other parts of the traditional four-pronged balancing test.

Consider this a transformative introduction, a genuine education in the amazing breadth and range of non-U.S. sources of journalism. But today isn't only about getting outside of U.S. journalism. I intend to cause a shift in you, you, and you, the lurker over in the corner, such that all of you are left having deeply confronted what I've been confronting, what I keep demanding of myself that I confront over and over again, every couple of weeks...

We are killing children.

Look at that photo. LOOK.

Some nice young man -- the “troops” -- followed orders, and dropped a bomb right into the middle of a crowded housing project or neighborhood.

  • Brooklyn.
  • Manhattan.
  • Houston.
  • Detroit.
  • San Francisco.
  • Little Rock.
  • Tucson.
  • Los Angeles.
  • Chicago.
  • Kansas City.
  • St. Louis.
  • Seattle.
  • Miami.
  • Portland.
  • Atlanta.
  • San Diego.
  • Tulsa.
  • Boston.
  • Dallas.
  • Salt Lake City.
  • Denver.
  • Sacramento.
  • Reno.
  • New Orleans.
  • Nashville.
  • Palm Beach.
  • Or even Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Wait... I said too many places and the horror went away... poof, that fast.

Look at the photo again please.

This happens daily. Nice young men in uniform kill children, kill babies.

Here are the last five days in Iraq, partially represented from one website. All I'm posting up is one photograph. You're not watching the video, not having to listen to the families morn, listen or watch the little ones scream in pain, not seeing the few doctors remaining work frantically to try and keep the kids alive, failing.

As you read through this, please imagine this happening to your family, your children, your brothers and sisters, your mother and father, your aunts and uncles, your best friends, the people you work with if only they weren't all out of work because your office or factory is destroyed, plus it's too dangerous to get to work. Imagine please, it is your family dying, fighting to eat, struggling to stay alive as bombs, missiles and guns go off.

Here are five days in Iraq (one-website, one photo, no sound.)

Gorilla's Guide

March 27


By midday March 26th 2008 - hospitals in Baghdad reported civilians casualties from the American attacks on Sadr city as 20 dead 239 wounded. Mostly women and children. Such as the boy you see to the left. Many of the wounded are not expected to survive.

The Americans continue to prevent both doctors and ambulances from entering Sadr city.

They are also preventing ambulances from leaving the city.

Normally very reliable sources say the Americans have fired on ambulances and other vehicles trying to take wounded out of the city.

Two Soldiers from the American army still trying to subjugate Irak were killed in Baghdad.

Missile attacks on the green zone wounded 3 or 5 Americans depending on who you believe.

Mortar attacks in Nle and al-Resala killed 7 and wounded 23.

The green zone also is being shelled.

In Karrada 4 were killed and 5 wounded by mortar attacks. Another person was killed by shooting, 5 were wounded in that shooting attack.

UPDATE: Karrada is under curfew and there are very heavy forces to try to stop people attacking it and the homes of the SIIC leadership there.

UPdate: At least 2 further people were killed in ongoing American attacks on Sadr city this afternoon evening reports of wounded vary the minimum number is 8.

There are massive demonstations throughout Baghdad against the Americans and the puppet government in the green zone.

There has been major incidents of violence in the following districts - al-Amil, Fudhailiya, al-Hurriyah, Iskhan, Kamiliya, Mashtal, al-Rustumiyah Sadr, City, al Shula, al-Shurta, Ur, Washash. Many incidents in rest of Baghdad and outlyingh areas also.

UPDATE The Americans and the Badr brigade are trying to stop people getting into or out of Khazimiyah.

Sources: Radio reports & Team members.

Gunmen attacked the home of the commander of logistics for GZG forces and burnt it to the ground, the report says the family were rescued by GZG special forces.

The Guardian is reporting that a British SAS soldier was killed in Baghdad.

In a show of force Mahdi army fighters in the “New Baghdad” area completely cut off the main highway and main roads. Our member who live in area says that this was done as a warning of what they would do if attacked.

UPDATE There is fighting in al-Shula Mahdi army fighters stormed the GZG checkpoint controlling access to the district forcing the GZG “elite” troops and police to flee. The American outpost there is under attack.

UPDATE: GZG spokesmen in Baghdad say that 66 GZG troops and five gzg officers have been killed so far.

UPDATE: The American base in . al-Rustumiyah (SothEast Baghdad) is coming under repeated attack.

UPDATE Local sources confirm Aswat al Irak fighting throughout ALL northest Baghdad. UPDATE 2 Locals confirmed several GZG vehicles seized and set alight. Figfting described by them as “intensifying” contradicting Aswat al Iraks report that heavy American air presence calmed the situation down..

UPDATE Sources in al-Shula say that many police stations and checkpoints have been stormed an overrun we do not have reports of police survivors.

UPDATE GZG is trying to impose curfews they appear to have little success in this.

UPDATE GZG Baghdad spokesman saying 19 dead and 307 wounded.

Babil Governorate:

More than 60 people allegedly all armed were killed in the American aerial bombardment of Al-Askari and Nader in central Hilla but there is a problem:

The problem is that it is a lie. It a STUPID lie. It’s the sort of STUPID LIE that only an American military spokesman would tell.

Were you stupid enough to believe anything the Americans are saying about them knowingly killing women and children?

The attack was by Apache aircraft on al-Askari, Ahmed Nader and Muhaizem neighbourhoods.

Gunmen like the children in the screen grab with caption from the Sadrist site nahrainet [that you see at the top of this post -- Jesse.]

Al Askari, Ahmed Nader, and Muhaizem are all heavily populated areas.

It is physically impossible to heavily bombard a densely populated civilian area without killing a lot civilians.

The Americans killed a lot of civilians.

Civilians like the women and children you see to the left. The caption incidentally cites “dozens” of dead women and children.

Eyewitness accounts speak of seeing 25 bodies, including many women and children. They also talk of 35 people being evacauted as seriously wounded and that again many if not most of these were women and children. Two doctors in the local hospital who refused to be identified said to one of our local correspondents that many of these were expected to die.

According to local people the scale of destruction is enormous, they speak of families being wiped out, there are reports of 6 houses turned to rubble, many other houses rendered uninhabitable and of multiple secondary explosions from the fuel tanks in cars.

It is worth noting that an American base is nearby. It is also worth noting that the local police are members of the Badr brigade and that they have repeatedly been reported as committing serious atrocities in the three neighbourhoods which are very deprived even by present day Iraki standards and are overwhelmingly Sadrist.

UPDATE: The GZG governor is trying negotiate with Sadrist leadership in Hilla. Local sources the fighting is as heavy as ever.

And according to the the American spokesman the people killed were 60 gunmen.

March 27 -- evening

Ali Ibn Laith. Born December 14 1999 - Killed March 27 2008

Son of our much missed colleague Laith and his wife, last remaining brother to our greatly loved colleague Mohammed Ibn Laith and his sister.

O God! Pardon our living and our dead, the present and the absent, the young and the old, the males and the females.

There will be no further postings tonight.

[Note:A Child's Death in Iraq -- Jesse]

March 29

Witnesses to the battle for Basra describe scenes in the city

‘I told her she was mother to a martyr’

As fighting between the Shia Mahdi army and the Iraqi national army continued yesterday, witnesses described scenes in the city to Ghaith Abdul-Ahad.

“Yesterday we were in the street and saw a black car coming. They stopped and two men opened the boot. They dragged out an Iraqi soldier and threw him in the street and they drove away.”

“He was a young soldier dressed in a military uniform, he had a bullet hole in his head and there was blood on his face - even his boots were covered with blood.

“We found his ID card, his name was Ahmad Raad al-Helfy. We went through his mobile phone and found a number marked “mum”, we dialled and an old women answered. I told her that her son had died and that she was the mother of a martyr; she started screaming and wailing.”

Said Abu Saleh, 30

“The situation is very difficult in Basra, all the side streets are controlled by the Mahdi army. Even if the army has lots of tanks, the Mahdi fighters are controlling the streets. The fighters are driving in captured Iraqi Humvees and waving new guns.”

Resident of Hayyaniya, a stronghold of the Mahdi army

“Our fighters are being targeted not by the Iraqi government but by government militias working for Moqtada al-Sadr’s rivals in the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council. They are a executing a very well-drawn plan. They are trying to exterminate the Sadrists and cut and isolate the movement before the September local elections. The Sadrists are the only Shia resistance movement against the occupiers [Americans] and we have wide popularity.

“We are going through a battle of existence. We will fight to the end; we either survive this or we are finished.

“We have captured lots of their vehicles, machine guns and mortars. We have new rocket-propelled grenades we got from their supply trucks. Our fighters know how to use the side streets as their battle space.”

Sheikh Ali al-Sauidi, a senior commander in the Mahdi army speaking in a telephone interview

Source: Witnesses to the battle for Basra describe scenes in the city | World news | The Guardian

See also: We’re fighting for survival, says Mahdi army commander for a fuller account.

March 30

British and US forces drawn into battle for Basra - Middle East, World - The Independent

So far Mr Sadr has not formally ended his ceasefire, declared in August last year and renewed in February. Ever since he fought the US marines in two battles in Najaf in 2004, he has been averse to direct military confrontation with the Americans or his Shia rivals when backed by the US. But as Mr Maliki’s military offensive falters, his commanders are increasingly looking to the US and Britain for support. If US and British forces engage in direct military action on a wide scale with the Sadrist militia, then Mr Sadr could call for a general uprising, which would engulf all of Shia Iraq in war. The Mehdi Army already controls half of Baghdad.
Read in full: British and US forces drawn into battle for Basra - Middle East, World - The Independent

More March 30

Police refuse to support Iraqi PM’s attacks on Mehdi Army - The Independent

US and British forces are increasingly playing a supporting role in the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s stalled offensive against the Mehdi Army militia. American aircraft launched air strikes in Basra yesterday and fought militiamen on the streets in Baghdad while British advisers have also been assisting Iraqi troops in Basra.

Mr Maliki retreated from his demand that militiamen hand over their weapons by yesterday and extended the deadline to 8 April. This is a tacit admission that the Iraqi army and police have failed to oust the Mehdi Army from any of its strongholds in the capital and in southern Iraq. The Iraqi army has either met stubborn resistance from Mehdi Army fighters or soldiers and police have refused to fight or changed sides. “We did not expect the fight to be this intense,” said the officer from a 300-strong commando unit that has been pinned down in the Tamimiyah district in Basra, where the supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Mehdi Army, have strong support.

The officer said four of his men were killed and 15 wounded in the fighting. “Some of the men told me that they did not want to go back to the fight until they have better support and more protection,” he added. The Interior Ministry threatened that the men would be court-martialled for refusing to fight. Government troops arriving in Basra complain that they are being fired on by local police loyal to Mr Sadr. Members of one police unit had fist fights with their officers after they refused to join the battle.

Continue reading ‘Police refuse to support Iraqi PM’s attacks on Mehdi Army - The Independent’

Basrah "surge" update March 29 2008 - March 30 2008

Overview Basrah:

There is extremely intense fighting still going on in Basrah. After a relatively calm morning - 8 people killed and 7 were wounded in an airstrike by the Americans on al-Tak in al-Hussein, an area the GZG said on Friday they had control of - GZG troops assisted by Badr militia and British artillery made efforts to dislodge Mahdi army fighters from their positions. These appear to have failed according to local reports the Mahdi army seem to have withdrawn to prepared defensive positions. The GZG “defence” minister says they cleared Mahdi army fighters from Al-Ashar, Tanouma, Shatt Al-Arab, al-Zubair. The efforts by GZG forces to recapture the bridge at Qurnah also are reported to have failed. This means that the GZG attemts to reinforce are not working which perhaps explains his comment that they were surprised by the weaponry being used by Mahdi army fighters and therefore are bringing up heavier weaponry to try to dislodge the Mahdi army. He and other spokesmen are saying that GZG forces will fight on until they have “cleared Basrah of criminal elements”. Maliki has gone as far as to say that the JAM are “worse than al Qaeda”.

Residents in al Taminmiyah say that GZG forces are making announcements demanding they leave their homes and that afraid of being caught up in an assault many have complied. Other residents report that GZG troops attempted an incursion and are now trapped there are similar reports from Zubair and al-Ashar. There are widespread reports of defections by GZG police and army to the Mahdi army. Mahdi army has also allowed journalists to speak to captured GZG police and army soldiers.

A bombing raid on Sunday night by the Americans seriously wounded 7 people and cause the collapse of two houses. UPDATE: 10 killed 7 wouned

Overview Baghdad:


In his interview with al-Jazeera al-Sadr made the following key points:

  • He would never accept the American occupation of Irak.
  • Politics and religion are inseparable this does not mean that the Sadrists are a political party - they will never be that.
  • The role of the clergy is to observe and advise the government.
  • That all Irakis Sunni and Shia alike should resist the American attempts to occupy Irak.
  • That he had rejected and denounced sectarian killings repeatedly.
  • That sectarian (and ethnic) killing would always take place for as long as the Americans were in Irak.
  • That he personally had told Iranian supreme leader Khamenei that Iranian interference in Irak would not be tolerated.
  • That the struggle in Irak was both political and sectarian that it was political at government level and sectarian and street level.
  • That at the political level Sadrist representatives in the GZG “parliament” routinely voted with the “Sunni” parties.

UPDATE AL-Sadr has explicitly told his supporters not to give their weapons to GZG forces that they may only give their weapons to a government that expels the Americans.

UPDATE The GZG have sent a delegation to Najaf to negotiate with the Sadrists.

Hospitals in Sadr city said that by noon Friday, 39 people were killed and 389 others injured since the outbreak of fighting and airstrikes on Sadr City. By noon Saturday the casualty levels had gone up to 75 dead and 500 wounded. GZG Health ministry officials update that figure on Sunday morning to 125 dead and 892 wounded.

The spokesman for GZG Baghdad Operations Command finally got around to admitting that the “surge” spokesman has been kidnapped - he was responding to questions about the tape released of him pleading with Maliki to end the current operation.

Fighting broke out after midnight in Abu D’sheer.

The curfew has been tightened and extended indefinitely.

Other Governorates

Fighting continues in Karbala. (Local GZG security forces deny this saying that what is happening is a series of raids.) There is sporadic fighting. The Dawa party HQ in al Salam was attacked by fighters using RPGs. Fighting also continues in Diwaniyah.

Site News: Many of us are running low on fuel for our generators. This means very light or no posting from Monday. The subscribers edition will continue to be produced as normal.

March 31

The big news is the al-Sadr’s “Stand Down” —more accurately termed Maliki’s “climb down” follow this link or click the image below to see the original text of al-Sadr’s declaration. There will be plenty of statements and counter statements and a lot of misinformation especially in the Western media and the pro-government Iraki media. This is my “take” on the matter.

Text of the declaration:

Based upon our responsibilities under the law [shariah] and for the sparing of Iraki blood and for the protection of the reputability of the Iraqi people, and for their unity both in terms of people and in terms of territory, and in preparation for its independence and liberation from the armies of oppression; and in order to put out the fires of fitna which the occupier and his followers wish to keep burning between Iraki brothers, we call upon the beloved Iraki people to measure up to their responsibility and their cognisance of law in sparing bloodshed and preserving peace in Irak, and its stability and independence.

The following is resolved:

  1. Ending armed manifestations in Basra governorate and all the other governorates.
  2. Ending of attacks and illegal arbitrary detentions.
  3. Demand that the government apply the law on general amnesty, and release all prisoners who have not had charges confirmed against them, in particular prisoners belonging to the Sadrist current.
  4. We announce that we will repudiate those who carry weapons and target the government and service agencies and institutions, or the offices of political parties.
  5. Cooperation with government agencies to bring about security and to charge criminals, according to due process of law.
  6. We reassert that the Sadrist movement does not possess heavy weapons.
  7. Efforts [meaningful efforts are to be made] for the return to their residential areas of those who were forced out as a result of security incidents.
  8. We demand respect for human rights by the government in all of its security activities.
  9. Working [meaningful efforts are to be made] towards the realisation of development and service projects in all governorates.

The first thing that must be said is that these are exactly the same demands that al-Sadr has been making for months. He reiterated them again when the fighting started. Maliki has been forced to accept every single one of them. I wonder how he managed to delude himself that the spectacularly misnamed “Saulat al-Forsan” (Charge of the Knights) would succeed.

Basrah is the country’s economic lung and the Mahdi army, the Badr Brigade, and Virtue (Fadhila) party all have a heavily armed presence there. Politically it is arguable whether it is the Virtue party or the Sadrists who are likely to do best in the forthcoming elections both are likely to do very well indeed, the SIIC is unlikely to do well, they will be lucky if the retain and significant presence.

The Mahdi Army was well-prepared:

The Mahdi army took the lessons of recent events to heart. Since the fighting in Karbala followed by further recent operations to reduce if not eliminate, their presence the Mahdi army have been digging in and preparing a defense in depth in Basrah. They plainly also planned to interdict the arrival of reinforcements for GZG troops once the fighting which everyone could see was coming got underway. They succeeded in their goals:

  • They successfully prevented attempt after attempt after attempt to retake the Qurnah bridge.
  • Far from being dislodged from their strongholds they successfully carried out a very difficult military operation — a tactical retreat under heavy fire to ready prepared defensive positions.
  • They successfully counter-attacked repeatedly.

During several of those counter-attacks they captured and/or destroyed heavy weaponry from GZG forces they also on several occasions cut off and then destroyed attacking forces.

We can now confirm that in regard to al Taminmiyah the reports from residents in this earlier posting “Other residents report that GZG troops attempted an incursion and are now trapped there are similar reports from Zubair and al-Ashar“turns out to have been no more than the truth and that the same is true of Zubair and al-Ashar.

The GZG defense minister admitted that his forces were unprepared either for the ferocity with which the Mahdi army fought or for the sophistication of much of their weaponry. Nor were they prepared for the combination of a simple refusal to fight by many of the soldiers coupled with wholesale defections.

That was not all they were unprepared for. The South erupted. That is a dramatic way of saying that the Mahdi Army successfully opened a number of new fronts in the fighting, Nasiriya, Karbala, Hilla, Diwaniyah, and Kut all saw very fierce fighting. Apart from the benefit to its fighters in Basrah there was the added benefit of reducing the pressure on its fighters in Karbala. They successfully seized Kut - they remain in control of that city for the moment, and in Nasiriyah, Dawa’s heartland, they not only seized ground they laid siege to the governor in his palace and the large number of GZG troops who were protecting him. Every time those troops tried to effect a breakout they were easily beaten back. Desperate negotiations ensued before the final Mahdi army assault, and the governor remains alive, and under siege, - for now.

As to what happens next on these secondary fronts it is hard to tell. My guess, and it is no more than an educated guess, is that the Mahdi army will gradually cede partial control of Kut and the other cities once the local GZG authorities demonstrate good faith. The problem of course lies in those two words “good faith” - at no point have Dawa and SIIC ever done so and I find it difficult to believe GZG officials loyal to those parties will do so now. I hope to be proved wrong in this but I am not optimistic. The fact that operations by GZG forces are continuing in several places including in Basrah makes me even less optimistic.

Let us get back to what we know instead of guesswork. It is clear that the GZG was also unprepared for the ferocity of the fight back in Baghdad. The Mahdi army not only were not dislodged they succeeded in gaining territory and will not lightly give it up. A measure of how desperate the situation was the GZG in Baghdad can be found in the fact that they had to massively reinforce Karrada and prevent all access to Kazhimiya. They had to get the Americans to help them besiege Sadr city. They lost badly in al-Shula. Baghdad did not see the wholesale defections of Basrah but there were enough of them including among elite units - army and police, to make the GZG military leadership very doubtful of their men.

Another measure of GZG desperation is that they used peshmerga forces in Basrah (and in Baghdad). I find it hard to find the words to describe how thoroughly hated the Peshmerga regiments have made themselves in the central and southern governorates. They see themselves as entitled to exact every piece of revenge they possibly can at every possible opportunity and do so. This may be understandable but it is very bad tactics.

What happens next? I do not know. But on past performance we can expect a lot of chest thumping from the GZG and from the Americans. We can also expect a lot of “incidents” of varying severity from the GZG side - probing attacks in other words.

What of Maliki - the man whose arrogance and disastrous lack of judgement has drastically weakened the GZG. What will happen to him?

Who cares …

Saba Ali Ihsaan,

Fuck war.

Killing is wrong.