[Marxism] Fierce Fighting Sweeps Iraqi Cities, Shiite Areas

David Quarter davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Wed Apr 14 20:11:19 MDT 2004

[From:           	Rick Rozoff]


April 14, 2004

Fierce fighting sweeps Iraqi cities, Shiite areas    

FALLUJAH — US-led forces battled Sunni Muslim fighters
and a spreading Shiite uprising on Wednesday, as Iraqi
anger was inflamed by a blast in the grounds of a
mosque that witnesses said killed 25 people. 

In the last three days 35 American and allied soldiers
and at least 200 Iraqis have been killed in the
heaviest fighting since the fall of Saddam Hussein
nearly a year ago. 

The spiralling two-front war, with new flash points
flaring across the country as backers of radical
Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr take up arms, is calling
into question US plans to transfer sovereignty to
Iraqis on June 30. 

US President George W. Bush — campaigning for
reelection in November with opinion polls showing
plunging support over Iraq — held phone talks with
close ally British Prime Minister Tony Blair, but
officials dismissed any suggestion of a crisis. 

However, some countries with troops in Iraq signalled
the situation was growing serious. Ukrainian troops
pulled out of the eastern city of Kut after clashes
and regrouped at a base camp. Japan said its troops
would suspend reconstruction work in Samawa, in the
south, because of security concerns. 

Battles raged between US Marines and guerrillas in the
Sunni towns of Fallujah and Ramadi, west of Baghdad,
while US-led forces fought Shiite militants in the
capital, Kut and the central Iraq cities of Karbala
and Najaf. 

New US 'casualties' 

A US military spokesman said there were five Marine
"casualties" in Fallujah on Wednesday, but it was not
clear if any had been killed. 

Witnesses in the town said US Marines attacked a
mosque compound, killing at least 25 people. The US
military said two 227kg bombs were dropped and rockets
were fired at insurgents hiding behind the mosque's
outer wall, but did not know if there were any

"When you start using a religious location for
military purposes, it loses its protected status. The
Marines called in additional support, dropped two...
precision-guided bombs and took out the outer wall of
the mosque without seeming to harm... the actual
mosque structure itself," US Brigadier General Mark
Kimmitt told CNN. 

In nearby Ramadi, mosques broadcast calls for a holy
war as blasts echoed across the town and black smoke
billowed into the sky. Residents crouched in houses as
masked insurgents and Marines fought in small
alleyways. Women and children cried. 

Twelve Marines were killed on Tuesday in a seven-hour
battle in Ramadi — one of the costliest single losses
for US forces since the war that toppled Saddam began
last March. 

The US military launched a major operation this week
to secure Ramadi and Fallujah, where four US private
security guards were killed last week and their bodies
set ablaze and mutilated by a jubilant crowd of

Clashes in Baghdad 

In Baghdad on Wednesday, a US soldier was killed in a
rocket-propelled grenade, bringing to 443 the number
of US troops killed in action in Iraq since last
year's invasion. 

Since Sunday, 33 US troops, a Ukrainian soldier and a
Salvadoran soldier have been killed in clashes. 

In a mainly Sunni Baghdad district, clashes with US
troops began after nightfall. Residents said gunfire
and explosions sounded through Adhamiya for the second
time in three days. 

North of Baghdad, a US helicopter landed after being
hit by gunfire. The US army said there were no

An aide to Sadr told a news conference some US
soldiers had been captured in the fighting. There was
no independent confirmation of his statement. "Some
tribes have captured some occupation forces on the
streets," Qays Khazali told a news conference in
Najaf, a Shiite holy city. 

The US military said its forces would destroy Sadr's
Mehdi Army militia and that the cleric would be

Bush critics talk of another Vietnam 

The upsurge in violence has prompted critics of Bush
to suggest US forces face a Vietnam-style quagmire. 

Bulgaria summoned ambassadors of the United States,
Britain, Spain and Poland to the foreign ministry on
Wednesday asking for back-up for 450 Bulgarian
soldiers stationed in Karbala. 

The base has come under attack several times by Shiite
militiamen, and a Bulgarian civilian truck driver was
killed in an attack on a convoy in southern Iraq on

Kazakhstan said it would pull its troops out of Iraq
when the tour of its present contingent ends in May.
It said the Central Asian state's troops, about
30-strong, had been ordered to stay in their camp
until tensions abated around Kut. 

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