"The situation is confused"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat May 24 21:03:47 MDT 2003

Firefight in 'Bad Guy Central' Illustrates Danger in N. Iraq
By William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 25, 2003; Page A20

HAWIJA, Iraq -- U.S. military intelligence officers call this town "bad guy
central," a place still dangerous, filled with armed carjacking rings,
hard-core Baath Party officials and Iraqi army officers on the lam.

Hawija, 30 miles southwest of the northern city of Kirkuk, was one of the
last cities in Iraq to be occupied by U.S. troops, who rolled into town
last Sunday night and, on the outskirts, promptly ran into what U.S.
commanders described as "a military-style ambush," organized by well-armed
fighters employing combat tactics and at least one large-caliber machine gun.

The commander of the task force that came under sustained fire, Lt. Col.
Ken Riddle, said the shooting lasted more than an hour. Riddle and his
96-man team were pinned down by Iraqi fire, he said, and then struck back
with sustained volleys from tanks, mortars and AH-64 Apache helicopters.

One U.S. sergeant was wounded, and Riddle's troops estimated they killed
between 10 and 15 Iraqis. An Army public affairs officer said there were 16
"confirmed kills."

But there are no bodies to be found in the little community outside Hawija
where the fighting took place -- no fresh graves or widows in mourning.
Even the shell casings have disappeared. The farmers of Seeha, where the
fighting occurred, say no Iraqi was killed or wounded.

"Only a donkey," said Abdulla Shehab Neami, a village elder. "Oh," he
added, "and three cows and a tractor."

"The situation is confused," said Maj. Jeff Cantor, a civil affairs officer
who is working with political groups in the region.

full: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35970-2003May24.html

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