[Marxism] Mehdi army grows
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 26 09:16:21 MDT 2004
Mehdi Army Grows
by Dahr Jamail
The NewStandard May 26, 2004
Baghdad, May 25 -- While US troops continue to damage mosques in heavy
fighting against resistance forces they say are holed up in holy sites
of Kufa and Kerbala, men in the Sadr City area of Baghdad rushed
yesterday to join the Mehdi Army, a militia force loyal to rebel cleric
The recruitment surge followed bloody overnight fighting here that left
many Iraqis dead. Not surprisingly, accounts of the overnight battle, as
with most recent engagements, differ greatly depending on whom one asks.
Residents of this vast, impoverished area of over one million saw US
troops battle members of the Mehdi Army early yesterday morning.
According to Agence FrancePresse, hospitals counted 18 civilians killed
in the fighting, but Captain Brian O'Malley of the 1st Brigade Combat
Team, operating in the area, said US forces killed 26 Iraqis, all of
them militiamen loyal to Muqtada Al-Sadr.
The heavily resisted assault on targets in Sadr City by US forces came
less than a day after the US 1st Cavalry Division completed a weapons
purchasing program in the district, through which the Army bought
assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades, mortars and artillery shells,
among other weapons, "at or above market prices." The Army boasted. that
thousands of weapons were turned over by Sadr City residents, but the
real effect of the program was unclear at the end of last yesterday's
fighting, which was possibly the fiercest this neighborhood has seen
since tensions between US forces and Muqtada Al-Sadr escalated in late
As men congregated around the newly rebuilt office of Muqtada Al-Sadr in
order to join his militia, Sheikh Hassan Al-Adari, a spokesman for
Al-Sadr, claimed that many of the people killed last night were
civilians and said such a slaughter will only serve to draw angry Iraqis
to the resistance.
"It's normal to see people coming here from all over Baghdad to join us
in defending against the occupiers," he said, "especially when the
Americans are killing civilians and attacking our holy places."
Al-Adari also said that followers of Al-Sadr, along with the vast
majority of Iraqis, are enraged at what he and others here call "the
wedding massacre." He was referring to the incident in the tiny village
of Makr Al-Dib last Wednesday, where US gunship crews killed more than
40 Iraqis in overnight airstrikes. Numerous Iraqi eyewitnesses, as well
as home videos obtained and other footage shot by the Associated Press
Television Network, suggest the victims were civilians who had attended
a late night wedding celebration.
The US military insists the target was a terrorist safe house and has
images it says contradicts the locals' version of events.
Eman Ahmed, director of the Baghdad office of International Occupation
Watch, who visited the site of the bloodbath, located near the Syrian
border, offers an account that supports statements by local residents.
"I saw it with my own eyes," she recounted during an interview at her
home in central Baghdad. "It is only a sheep ranch and there were no
fighters there, nor any evidence of weapons."
Ahmed described a horrendous scene of bullet-riddled musical instruments
from the 13 band members killed in the assault, blood and pieces of
flesh drying in the sand, and mourning neighbors and family members of
slain wedding celebrants.
A list of victims from last week's attack showed that 12 women and seven
children under the age of 18 lay among the dead, including a 4 year-old
girl named Fatima, as well as Ra'ad, a one month-old baby boy. The list
was provided by Dr. Hambdi Al-Rawi, director of the hospital in Al-Qaim.
"Iraqis everywhere are saddened by what happened there," said Ahmed.
"But they are even more enraged at the lying of the American military
and their complete disrespect towards the Iraqi people."
Her outrage is shared by participants of a funeral wake in Sadr City
yesterday for Amir Yassin, a member of the Mehdi Army killed while
fighting US forces Monday morning. "We are fighting to protect our homes
here," said a Mehdi fighter who asked to remain nameless but grew
excited as he spoke.
"Even though the Americans only come here at night now, they are still
invading our city and killing our civilians. We are only guarding our
homes and our people."
Yassin is married and has six children, but said he will be honored to
become a martyr if he is killed fighting against foreign troops
occupying his country. "God will save my children if I die because the
Mehdi is the army of the people," he stated. "This is an intifada of the
people," the man continued, using Arabic that roughly translates to
"shrugging off." He added, "Our parents encourage us to get revenge for
A man identified as commander of two brigades of the Shi'ite-run Mehdi
Army in Sadr City, who also asked to remain anonymous, said Sunni
Muslims have joined the Shi'ite-led resistance force. "We have 700
Sunnis fighting with us here," he said, "because we are fighting so that
our holy places aren't destroyed like they are in Najaf, Kut and
Kerbala." He angrily added, "The Americans invaded us, and now they have
made this a holy war."
A spokesperson at the Coalition Press Information Center who refused to
provide a name also declined to relay any information concerning the
nature of the US military operation in Sadr City.
The Marxism list: www.marxmail.org
More information about the Marxism