[Marxism] Head of US Joint Chiefs denies deal with Iraqi general over Fallujah

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun May 2 20:55:09 MDT 2004


At least 9 U.S. troops killed in Iraq attacks
41 wounded on Sunday; Myers says Iraqi general may be replaced

Mohammed Khodor / Reuters
U.S. Army soldiers control crowds at a checkpoint at the entrance of the
western Iraqi city of Fallujah on Sunday.  
MSNBC News Services
Updated: 8:00 p.m. ET May  02, 2004BAGHDAD, Iraq - At least nine U.S.
service members were killed in Iraq on Sunday, the military said,
signaling the possibility that U.S. casualties in Iraq may continue at
the same grisly pace as in April, until now the bloodiest month since
the conflict began 13 months ago.

News of the attacks comes after the top U.S. military commander said
that reports that Gen. Jasim Mohamed Saleh, a former general in Saddam
Hussein's elite Republican Guard, would take charge in the volatile
Iraqi city of Fallujah, have been "very, very inaccurate."
 
Six U.S. service members were killed Sunday and another 30 were wounded
in a mortar attack near the western city of Ramadi, about 60 miles west
of Baghdad, in Anbar province. That province includes such flashpoint
cities as Fallujah in the Sunni Triangle, long a hotbed of Iraqi
resistance.

A military spokeswoman gave no further details and did not say whether
the victims were Marines or Army soldiers, but most Americans stationed
there are Marines. 

Another U.S. soldier was killed Sunday and 10 more were wounded in a
bomb and small arms attack on a coalition base near the northern Iraqi
city of Kirkuk.

An attack in northwest Baghdad killed two other soldiers on Sunday and
wounded two Iraqi security officers and another American, the military
said.

Corrected count
Overnight, Shiite militiamen attacked a U.S. convoy with small arms fire
and rocket-propelled grenades near the southern city of Amarah, 180
miles south of Baghdad. Two soldiers were killed on Saturday, the
military said. Through Saturday night and into Sunday morning, Iraqis
set fire to the long line of abandoned vehicles, jumping on the hoods
and beating them with sticks. 

Earlier reports from the military stated Sunday's death toll was as high
as 11, a result of Saturday's casualties near Amarah tabluated for
Sunday. 

The latest fatalities raised the U.S. death toll to 151 since a wave of
violence began on April 1. At least 753 U.S. troops have died in Iraq
since the war began in March 2003. Up to 1,200 Iraqis were also killed
in April.

U.S.: Ex-Saddam general to be replaced
Meanwhile, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
said on Sunday that Saleh, a former general in the Republican Guard, is
unlikely to take charge in Fallujah and is still being vetted to lead a
possible Iraqi peacekeeping force. 

"There's another general they're looking at," Gen. Richard B. Myers told
ABC's This Week. "My guess is, it will not be General Saleh. ... He will
not be their leader ... He may have a role to play, but that vetting has
yet to take place," said Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff.  
Myers' appearance on three different Sunday morning political talk shows
seemed calculated to counter reporting out of Iraq suggesting the U.S.
military had suffered a virtual defeat in Fallujah and had turned to
Saddam's former military chiefs to salvage the situation. 

"No, it's not a reversal," Myers said on ABC of his remarks that failed
to confirm Saleh as military chief in Fallujah. "I think the - again, as
I said, the reporting on this has been very, very bad and way ahead of
the facts."

Myers, who said Marines have not withdrawn from Fallujah, did not
respond to a question on Fox News Sunday on whether Saleh, a former
general who once served in Saddam's elite Republican Guard, had been
involved with the brutal suppression of Iraq's Kurdish minority, but he
reiterated that Saleh was not in command of the forces inside Fallujah.

"The reporting to date has been ... very, very inaccurate," Myers told
Fox News. "We've gotten a lot of help from tribal sheiks and other
folks."

Meanwhile, Saleh set up the possibility of fresh confrontations with
U.S. forces when he denied the presence of foreign fighters in Fallujah.


"There are no foreign fighters in Fallujah, and the local tribal leaders
have told me the same," Saleh told Reuters in an interview. 

U.S. Marines turned to Saleh when he offered to help restore order to
Fallujah, after a month-long siege. But his U.S. backers say foreign
Islamic guerrillas are stoking the insurgency by up to 2,000 fighters in
the city, combatants once among the most loyal to Saddam.

Najaf attack
Also Sunday, suspected Shiite militiamen fired mortar bombs and grenades
at U.S. forces in the holy town of Najaf in southern Iraq overnight,
witnesses said. 

There were no reports of casualties in the Najaf attack, which also
targeted the city's U.S.-led administration office.

Tension was running high in and around Najaf, where militiamen of rebel
cleric Muqtada al-Sadr control most of the area.

Al-Sadr is wanted by U.S. forces for the murder of a rival Shiite cleric
a year ago. His followers rose up against U.S.-led occupation forces in
several towns and cities last month after one of his aides was arrested
for an alleged role in the same murder.

Reuters: Aide to al-Sadr held in Hilla
Two Iraqis were killed and an aide to al-Sadr was arrested in a raid by
troops of U.S.-led occupation forces in the Iraqi city of Hilla,
residents of the city and Sadr aides said on Sunday, Reuters reported.

Officials of the Polish-led contingent of multinational troops deployed
in the area said they had no information on the incident, as did a
spokeswoman for the U.S. military headquarters in Baghdad.

Hilla residents said the soldiers stormed a meeting of religious
students and tribal representatives in the city, about 60 miles south of
Baghdad, on Saturday, and opened fire.

Television footage of the site of the raid early on Sunday showed pools
of blood and human remains, as well as bullet holes pockmarking interior
walls of the building where the meeting was held.

An aide to Sadr - whose followers rose up last month against U.S. troops
in Baghdad and allied forces in southern Iraq after the arrest of one of
his lieutenants - said the raid was part of a U.S. campaign against the
cleric, who has denounced the occupation of Iraq.

"It is in a pattern of humiliation of the men of religion," Sadr's aide
Sheikh Qays al-Khazali told Reuters Television in the Shi'ite shrine
city of Najaf. "The occupation forces continue to violate human rights
and the rights of the Iraqi people."

U.S. forces have vowed to capture or kill 30-year-old al-Sadr, who hails
from one of the most respected families in Najaf, the theological center
of many Shiites worldwide. The uprising has largely died down but his
militia, the Mehdi Army, still controls Najaf, nearby Kufa and Karbala
and maintains a presence in many other towns including Baghdad.

Little hope for peaceful solution
Representatives of Najaf's tribes and the police chief held talks on
Saturday with al-Sadr's aides in an attempt to find a peaceful end to
the standoff.

But an al-Sadr aide held out little hope for the success of the
mediation. An official with the U.S.-led administration denied reports
that negotiations were on the basis of a five-point plan.

"The coalition is not negotiating with anyone on the basis of the
five-point plan," Phil Kosnett, the Coalition Provisional Authority
representative in Najaf, told Reuters on Sunday.

"The coalition bottom line has not changed. Sadr has to face justice and
the Mehdi Army has to go away."

He said there were no direct contacts between the U.S. and al-Sadr.
"There are people we talk to and al-Sadr's people talk to."

Al-Khazali said the bid by the tribal representatives and police chief
to find a peaceful resolution was doomed.

"All political attempts to resolve the issue peacefully have failed. ...
It is because of the American side and not us. We prefer negotiations
and want to avoid bloodshed," he said.

Al-Khazali said the mediators were told by al-Sadr's aides: "You will
fail as others failed but we bless your efforts."






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