[Marxism] A turn against the Shi'ites?
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 8 07:43:07 MDT 2007
NY Times, August 8, 2007
U.S. Says Bomb Suppled by Iran Kills Troops in Iraq
By MICHAEL R. GORDON
BAGHDAD, Aug. 7 — Attacks on American-led forces using a lethal type of
roadside bomb said to be supplied by Iran reached a new high in July,
according to the American military.
The devices, known as explosively formed penetrators, were used to carry
out 99 attacks last month and accounted for a third of the combat deaths
suffered by the American-led forces, according to American military
“July was an all-time high,” Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the No. 2
commander in Iraq, said in an interview, referring to strikes with such
Such bombs, which fire a semi-molten copper slug that can penetrate the
armor on a Humvee and are among the deadliest weapons used against
American forces, are used almost exclusively by Shiite militants.
American intelligence officials have presented evidence that the weapons
come from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran, although Tehran
has repeatedly denied providing lethal assistance to Iraqi groups.
In recent weeks, the American military has focused on mounting
operations in sanctuaries used by Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a Sunni group
that is predominately made up of Iraqis but has foreign leadership. But,
as the information provided by General Odierno shows, Shiite militias
remain a major long-term worry.
In focusing on Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the American goal is to reduce
the number of car bombings and spectacular suicide attacks that have
aggravated sectarian tensions, encouraged Shiite retaliation and
undermined efforts at political reconciliation.
While the group is seen by the American military as the most serious
near-term threat, there are other signs that Shiite militias remain
active. According to General Odierno, the day-to-day commander of
American troops in Iraq, Shiite militants carried out 73 percent of the
attacks that killed or wounded American troops in Baghdad in July.
Though explosively formed penetrators account for a small fraction of
roadside bomb attacks in Iraq, they cause a disproportionately large
number of casualties.
Of the 69 members of the American-led forces killed in action in July,
the lowest toll in months, 23 died as a result of attacks with the
devices, according to data supplied by General Odierno’s command. Of the
614 allied troops who were wounded that month, 89 were hit in penetrator
Penetrator attacks have been a worry for years. In 2005, the United
States sent a private diplomatic protest to Tehran complaining that its
Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah had been training
Iraqi Shiite insurgents in Iran and providing them with bomb-making
American intelligence says that its report of Iranian involvement is
based on a technical analysis of exploded and captured devices,
interrogations of Shiite militants, the interdiction of trucks near
Iran’s border with Iraq and parallels between the use of the weapons in
Iran and in southern Lebanon by Hezbollah.
Some critics of Bush administration policy, saying there is no proof
that the top echelons of Iran’s government are involved, accuse the
White House of exaggerating the role of Iran and Syria to divert
attention from its own mistakes.
According to American military data, penetrator attacks accounted for 18
percent of combat deaths of Americans and allied troops in Iraq in the
last quarter of 2006. The number of such attacks declined in January,
and some American officials thought at that time that this might be a
response to their efforts to publicly highlight the allegations of an
But in recent months such attacks have risen steadily.
The July figure is roughly double the number for January. The total for
July is also 50 percent higher than in April, when there were 65
penetrator attacks, according to American military officials.
Many of the penetrators faced by American forces are difficult to
counter. Because they fire from the side of the road, the militants do
not need to dig a hole to plant them, making them well suited for urban
use. Because they are set off by a passive infrared sensor, they cannot
be thwarted by electronic jamming.
General Odierno said Iran was increasing its support to Shiite militants
in Iraq to step up the military pressure on the United States at a time
when the Congress is debating whether to withdraw American troops.
“I think it is because the Iranians are surging support to the special
groups,” he said, referring to the American name for Iranian-backed
cells here. “Over the last three to four months, it has picked up in
terms of equipment, training and dollars.”
“I think they want to influence the decision potentially coming up in
September,” he added.
General Odierno said Iranians had also provided Shiite groups with
107-millimeter rockets and the launchers for firing them, as well as
American forces, he said, recently thwarted an attack at a military base
used by forces from the Third Infantry Division. Fifty launchers
equipped with rockets were discovered within range of the facility and
struck by allied aircraft. Serial numbers taken from the rocket
launchers, he said, indicated that they were made in Iran.
Iranian and American diplomats held talks in Baghdad on Monday on
security in Iraq. Ryan C. Crocker, the American envoy in Iraq who led
the discussions for the United States, said there had been “an
escalation, not a de-escalation” of Iran’s support for militias in Iraq
since an earlier May meeting.
The Iranians, Mr. Crocker added, maintained their position that they had
“absolutely nothing to do with” the attacks.
NY Times, U.S.: Raids Kills 32 in Baghdad
By KIM GAMEL
The Associated Press
Wednesday, August 8, 2007; 8:32 AM
BAGHDAD -- U.S.-led forces swooped into the Shiite militia stronghold of
Sadr City on Wednesday, killing 32 suspected militants and detaining 12
others in fighting and an airstrike targeting alleged smuggling networks
Iraqi police and witnesses said nine civilians were killed in the
attack, which occurred hours before Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
arrived in Tehran for his second visit in less than a year.
Iraq, which like Iran is majority Shiite, has managed a difficult
balancing act between Tehran and Washington since the U.S.-led invasion
in 2003, trying to maintain good relations with its powerful neighbor
while not angering the Americans.
Iraqi authorities, meanwhile, clamped a three-day driving ban on the
capital and erected new checkpoints as thousands of Shiite pilgrims
began their annual trek toward a mosque in northern Baghdad to mark the
anniversary of the death of one of Shiite Islam's key saints.
The military said the raid targeted fighters from breakaway factions of
radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army who smuggle arms from
Iran and facilitate the travel of Iraqi militants to Iran for training.
"The individuals detained and the terrorists killed during the raid are
believed to be members of a cell of a special groups terrorist network
known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed
penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants
from Iraq into Iran for terrorist training," the military said.
The statement said the main suspect in the raid was a liaison between
Iraqi fighters and Iran's elite Quds Force, which is accused of arming
and training the militants. Tehran has denied allegations that it is
supporting the violence in Iraq.
The military account of the raid said U.S. and Iraqi ground forces came
under sporadic small-arms fire as they targeted a group of buildings in
Sadr City, the sprawling Shiite district in eastern Baghdad. The raiders
killed two armed men believed to be lookouts, then detained 12 rogue
militia fighters, the military said.
Attack helicopters and warplanes then struck after spotting a vehicle
and a large group of armed men on foot who were trying to attack the
ground forces. An estimated 30 militants were killed in the air attack,
according to the statement.
The statement was issued after Iraqi police and witnesses in Sadr City
said a bombardment by U.S. helicopters and armored vehicles killed nine
civilians, including two women, and wounded six others. The police
officer and witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they
feared reprisals, also said 12 people were detained.
Men and young boys wept over wooden coffins covered with blankets before
they were placed atop vehicles, while women shrouded in black blamed the
Americans for attacking civilians.
It was one of the largest in a series of strikes against rogue Shiite
militias, which U.S. commanders have said are responsible for an
increasing number of attacks against American forces.
Al-Sadr agreed to pull his Mahdi Army fighters off the streets as a
U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown began Feb. 14 in Baghdad and surrounding
regions, but disaffected members of the Mahdi Army have broken away from
al-Sadr control. Dissident members of the militia said they went to Iran
for training and armaments and returned to Iraq to join the fight
against U.S. and Iraqi troops.
Iraqi forces intensified security in the capital ahead of a major Shiite
On Thursday, more than 1 million Shiite faithful _ flogging themselves
with iron chains and slicing their foreheads with swords _ are expected
to march toward the shrine of Imam al-Kadhim in Baghdad's Shiite
Kazimiyah neighborhood. The ritual of grief banned under Saddam Hussein,
and some Iraqi officials say up to 4 million may show up.
First-aid tents stocked with coolers of bottled water or offering food,
dates, yogurt and tea lined the streets as authorities scrambled to
prevent a catastrophe from marring the ceremonies honoring Imam Moussa
ibn Jaafar al-Kadhim, one of 12 principal Shiite saints who died in the
Sunni insurgents often target such religious gatherings. In 2005, the
march was hit by tragedy when thousands of Shiite pilgrims, panicked by
rumors of a suicide bomber, broke into a stampede on a bridge. About
1,000 people died.
The top U.S. ground commander in the area, Task Force Justice leader Lt.
Col. Steve Miska, said hundreds of additional Iraqi security forces had
been deployed in Kazimiyah, but that American troops would stay away
from the shrine out of religious sensitivity.
"There's paranoia surrounding this shrine. If anything happened here,
it'd make the Golden Dome look like a precursor," Miska said, referring
to the al-Qaida bombing of Samarra's Askariya shrine, which destroyed
the mosque's golden dome and set off a wave of sectarian bloodletting.
Baghdad residents awoke to find themselves facing a vehicle ban earlier
Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, the Iraqi military spokesman, announced a
curfew banning all cars, trucks, motorcycles and carts from moving on
city streets that had been slated to begin at 10 p.m. Wednesday would
begin 5 a.m. instead. It was to last until 5 a.m. Saturday.
Pilgrims wearing traditional white frocks and women shrouded in black
and waving green Shiite flags walked from all points of the capital
toward the golden-domed mosque where al-Kadhim is believed to be buried
in the northern neighborhood of Kazimiyah. Many men wore wet towels on
their heads for relief from the heat.
Iraqi military vehicles played religious songs on loudspeakers. Security
forces frisked men and searched women's bags while offering them water.
Talib Madhloom, a retired 53-year-old teacher who was making his way
east to the shrine, said it was important to honor al-Kadhim despite the
heat and security concerns.
"We get bravery, courage and patience from the martyrdom of Imam Moussa
al-Kadim," he said. "He was poisoned to death while he was unjustifiably
imprisoned for 14 years and he was named for his self control over his
An 11-year-old girl walking in central Baghdad held the hands of her two
younger brothers as they walked to an Iraqi Red Crescent tent seeking
water. "We came early in the morning from Rashid area. We are so tired,"
Um Mohammed, 50, crossed into Baghdad from the volatile Diyala province
to the north.
"All Diyala people came on foot after conducting dawn prayers this
morning. The road was packed with walking people from Diyala," she said.
"I came with my daughters and daughters-in-law. I could not walk as fast
as they did, so I told them to go ahead of me. My knees could not hold
me anymore, so I had to sit dawn every now and then."
By morning, some 1,500 pilgrims had already passed through one of
several checkpoints into the area, according to an Iraqi police
lieutenant who identified himself only as Fadil because of security
Associated Press writers Sinan Salaheddin, Lauren Frayer and Bushra Juhi
in Baghdad contributed to this report.
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