Tikrit, the stronghold of Saddam's al-Tikriti clan, has been a center of pro-regime sentiment even as the former government collapsed. US officers say members of Saddam's Baath Party are trying to reorganize to stage attacks on American troops, and one of the men detained Friday was described as a party official.
During the raid, troops found several weapons and about $3,000 hidden in
various houses, and one Iraqi was killed when he tried to wrest a rifle from
an American soldier. The raid, the second in Tikrit in as many days, began
shortly after midnight when six Bradley Fighting Vehicles sealed off a
residential district. Soldiers broke down gates and doors, forced their way
inside and emerged with about 20 men, blindfolded and hands tied behind their
Many Afghan officials, suspicious of Pakistan for its previous nurturing and
support of the Taliban regime, have accused it of allowing sanctuary for
fugitive extremists in its remote tribal border regions. Afghan and United
States forces hunting the extremists have come under repeated attack along
Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, leading to suspicions that anti-US and
anti-Kabul groups have been regrouping on the Pakistani side.
The Military Industrialization Ministry headed by Hwaish was "the primary
agency responsible for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs during the
1980s," according to Globalsecurity.org, a Washington-based think tank for
space and military issues. It was presumed to still have that responsibility
until the Saddam government fell on 09 April. Huweish appears as the Ten of
Hearts in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to
help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 19
on the revised list of the 55. Friday's capture was the 16th fugitive of the
most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
While one of only two vice presidents and a member of Saddam's RCC, Marouf was not considered part of the former Iraqi leader's inner circle and rarely appeared in public or made statements. He made trips to Morocco and Italy last fall to rally support against US attacks and to lobby for the United Nations oil-for-food program with Iraq. Marouf appears as the Nine of Diamonds in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 24 on the revised list of the 55. Friday's capture was the 17th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
Eighteen of the 55 wanted members of Saddam's inner circle are in custody. One other was reported killed.
In a major drive to improve the hazardous conditions created by unexploded
ordnance in Central Baghdad, US troops blew up land mines and unexploded
shells, causing a series of explosions that rocked the Iraqi capital. The
soldiers detonated a number of land mines inside a former presidential complex
on the western bank of Tigris river. More explosions were heard from other
parts of the city which were also believed to be controlled detonations of
Bremer has worked for Kissinger Associates, a consulting firm headed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that he joined in 1989 following a 23-year career in the diplomatic service. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan appointed Bremer the State Department's ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism, making him responsible for US policies to combat terrorism. He was top advisor to the president and secretary of state on terrorism for the next three years.
Bremer's selection comes amid tensions between the Defense Department and the State Department over the direction of US foreign policy and the handling of the postwar effort in Iraq after a US led invasion ousted the government of President Saddam Hussein Bremer will lead US efforts to get Iraq back on its feet and creating a democratic government, and will out-rank Garner, director of the Defense Department's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. and Zalmay Khalilzad, the US official guiding Iraq's political evolution.
Bremer is chairman of the Crisis Consulting Practice of Marsh Inc., an operating company of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. The Crisis Consulting Practice provides services to companies to assist them in dealing with crises including natural disasters, workplace violence and terrorism.
On Saturday, 03 May (Day-45), the US Army announced that it was sending its most experienced peacekeeping unit, the 1st Armored Division, to Iraq. Elements of the Division will start arriving in Iraq from its base in Wiesbaden, Germany to take up duties as a "stabilizing force. The 16,500 member division has assisted in many international peacekeeping operations since 1991, when it first deployed to the Middle East to help expel the invading Iraqi army from Kuwait.
It also was the lead unit of the 60,000 strong NATO force that entered Bosnia in 1996 after warring Serbs, Croats and Muslims signed a peace agreement in Dayton, OH. In 1999, the 1st Armored led the US contingent deployed to Kosovo to safeguard the UN Security Council resolution that brought peace to Serbia's southern province. The troops' experience in the Balkans may have prepared them for some aspects of postwar Iraq, where ethnic and sectarian tension and sporadic armed resistance are keeping the situation volatile.
Bush administration officials have set out a plan for peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts in Iraq that envisions an international military force to stabilize the country. The details include:
While President Bush has declared major fighting over in Iraq, the repercussions of the war for the rest of the Mideast are just starting to be felt, and it's an open question about whether for better or worse.
Radical regimes in Syria and Iran are suddenly toning down the anti US rhetoric and urging dialogue. Authoritarian leaders in Egypt and Jordan are talking, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, about democratization, while militants in the streets of Cairo and Amman predict a wave of new recruits to fight the American occupiers and their supporters.
How the replacement of Saddam Hussein with a presumably pro US government in
Baghdad will affect regional politics is one of the biggest uncertainties.
Awed by Washington's display of firepower in Iraq, no one looks likely to
claim Saddam's mantle as leader of defiance to the West. Even Syria, which
likes to refer to itself as the "heart of Arabism," welcomed US Secretary of
State Colin Powell this weekend for tough talk about its own weapons program,
allegations that Damascus aided Saddam's regime and links to terrorism.
Other members of the team consists of Philip Carroll and Fadhel Othman in the position of chairman and vice-chairman. Mr. Carroll is a former president and CEO of Shell Oil and former CEO of engineering and construction company Fluor. Mr. Othman , serving formerly as the chairman of Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) and in positions in the Iraqi oil ministry, has lived in Turkey since retiring.
The Middle East Economic Survey reports in its Monday edition that the
advisory board will oversee policy planning for Iraq's oil industry, while the
management team would run day-to-day operations.
The nephew had "some of the experiences, connections, knowledge and wherewithal to continue some of KSM's terrorist plans. Aziz had funneled nearly $120,000 to ringleader Mohammed Atta and other 11 September hijackers to finance their flight lessons and living expenses in the United States. Aziz was believed to have provided the hijackers with about a quarter of their financial support and could expose details of secret financial channels used by al-Qaeda,
Mohammed's nephew was on a lower rung in al-Qaeda than Waleed Muhammad Bin
Attash, suspected of involvement in the USS Cole bombing in Yemen and the 11
September 2001, attacks, who was rounded up in the same raid in Karachi on
The verdict: In Baghdad, even some of the police don't feel safe yet. Hundreds of officers milled about stations after the US led coalition issued a radio appeal for all officers in the four main police forces to return to work. Although a smattering of police officers had returned to their jobs on their own initiative in the days after the Americans took Baghdad, Sunday was the first official day of work.
But while they surveyed looted offices and mangled patrol cars, few officers
were seen on the beat. In a city where the law of the gun now prevails in most
places, many of the mostly unarmed policemen said they didn't feel secure.
Most Iraqis, and many high-level US military officials, see law and order as
the most urgent task of the still-to-be-formed new government. Until the
streets are safe, stores can't open, factories can't produce and children
can't attend school. But getting police to restore order among citizens who
have long considered them enforcers of a repressive regime is a monumental
Invisible from the main highway, the refinery's entrance is reached by an access road running through a Special Republican Guard camp. The entrance is pocked by shrapnel from American bombs from the 1991 Gulf War, one of which sits unexploded and rusting outside, but inside, the thick, reinforced concrete ceilings of the complex show no damage.
Although Baiji, 120 miles north of Baghdad, has a population of 15,000, many of Iraq's most important facilities were located in or near the city. Its central location between Mosul, Kirkuk and Baghdad made it geographically significant. The proximity to Saddam's hometown of Tikrit provided a loyal work force.
The area also has an above ground refinery and a rocket fuel production facility. On the outskirts, a 12-square-mile camp, now abandoned, holds several million tons of ammunition. The refinery was the latest of Saddam's underground complexes that US led coalition forces have discovered as they move across Iraq. The underground oil refinery appeared as though it had been abandoned for some time. A thick layer of dust covered everything.
On Monday, 05 May (Day-47), Jay Garner, the retired US General heading ORHA and Iraq's top civilian administrator, gave details of the expected new interim government for the country, while a team of British diplomats resumed business in Baghdad for the first time in 12 years. Meanwhile in the main northern Iraqi city of Mosul delegates from the various ethnic groups were meeting to elect a municipal council under US military supervision.
Garner indicated that as many as seven, eight, or nine Iraqi leaders working together to provide leadership and representing different factions which opposed ousted president Saddam Hussein are to run an interim government to help rebuild the country in the coming months. Leaders named were:
The group will likely be expanded to include a Christian and perhaps another
The move comes as the United States works to bring representatives of various
groups together in Baghdad to form a national government that is
representative of Iraq's ethnicities and various interests. The United States
says it hopes to have an interim national government in place sometime next
month. Al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite television network, characterized the
action in Mosul as an election and said the council had been sworn in.
US intelligence officials indicated that Ammash, the only woman on the US wanted list, is believed to have played a key role in rebuilding Iraq's biological weapons capability and has been a leader of Iraq's biological warfare program. She had appeared in a videotape of Saddam meeting top advisers aired shortly after the start of the US-led war on March 20.
The US military also announced the arrest of Adil Salfeg Al-Azarui, a former Iraqi intelligence chief. Al-Azarui, a Baath Party official, also was once the mayor of Tikrit, Saddam's hometown. He was not on the 55 most-wanted list.
On Tuesday, 06 May (Day-48), results of preliminary analysis on a tractor trailer seized by US forces last month in northern Iraq indicate that it may be part of a mobile lab for making chemical and biological weapons. The review of this piece of equipment reveals it could possibly be part of the mobile chem-bio system facility. If confirmed, the find would be the first hard evidence of an alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program that was the primary justification of the US-led invasion of Iraq.
The disclosure came amid growing questions about the failure of US forces to turn up any weapons of mass destruction nearly a month after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. The truck and its equipment fit the description of the mobile labs that Secretary of State Colin Powell charged Iraq had in a 05 February presentation to the UN Security Council arguing for tough action to disarm Iraq. It had a variety of equipment that are being examined. Investigators have not rendered a definitive conclusion because they were still conducting "ambient testing" for traces of chemical agents.
Treasury Department officials, in Baghdad, indicated that approximately $1 billion was taken from the Iraqi Central Bank by Saddam Hussein and his family just prior to the start of combat operations. The New York Times reported that Saddam Hussein ordered the money taken from the Central Bank and sent his son Qusai in the middle of the night. The amount of money, $900 million in US $100 bills and $100 million in euros, was so large it had to be taken from the bank in three tractor trailers.
The Treasury is working to hunt down the assets that were stolen by the regime
of Saddam Hussein and is actively following up on all of the leads. As
reported by bank officials, Qusai, Saddam's younger son, and Abid al-Haimd
Mahmood, Saddam's personal assistant, organized the removal of the cash. The
Iraqi bank officials indicated that the money amounted to a quarter of the
central bank's currency reserves. Intelligence reports indicated that a convoy
of tractor trailers crossed the border into Syria, but that the contents of
the trucks were unknown.
Ghazi Hammud al-Ubaydi appears as the Two of Hearts in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 51 on the revised list of the 55. Wednesday's capture was the 19th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
About 2,000 more experts are being sent to Iraq to help look for banned weapons as well as regime leaders, terrorists and more. The team is more than triple the size of the force now searching for weapons and larger than was previously described. The Defense Department also confirmed it is investigating what officials said may be the most promising discovery so far, a trailer truck they say could turn out to be the first mobile biological lab recovered since the start of the war to disarm the government of Saddam Hussein.
Major General Keith Dayton of Defense for Intelligence (DIA) will head the new group being sent to Iraq, called the Iraq Survey Group. Consisting of some 1,300 military and civilian experts in computers, intelligence, weapons, demolition and other matters, the group also will have former UN weapons inspectors and 800 support personnel. They are joining 600 military and civilian experts from the armed forces, FBI, CIA, Defense Threat Reduction Agency and elsewhere who are already hunting for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.
Only half of the new group will devote itself to weapons. The others will be
looking for and analyzing information on regime leaders, terrorists, war
crimes, the former Iraqi intelligence service, atrocities and prisoners of
It was indicated that what the US military has in its possession is the kind of mobile laboratory that Secretary of State Colin Powell described in an unsuccessful attempt to get UN Security Council approval for the war.
Experts have done initial tests on a trailer taken into custody April 19 at a Kurdish checkpoint in northern Iraq but said more substantial testing is required. The surfaces of it was washed with a caustic material and it likely would have to be dismantled before testing can be done on hard-to-reach surfaces. It is painted a military color scheme, was found on a transporter normally used for tanks and as an Iraqi defector has described Iraq's mobile labs contains a formenter and a system to capture exhaust gases.
While some of the equipment on the trailer could have been used for purposes other than biological weapons agent production, US and UK technical experts have concluded that the unit does not appear to perform any function beyond what the defector said it was for, which is the production of biological agents.
On Thursday, 08 May (Day-50), five longtime Iraqi opponents of Saddam Hussein agreed to broaden the membership of their informal council, the potential core of a new government, by adding a Shiite Muslim group al-Dawa, which is based in the Iranian capital Tehran, and Naseer al-Chaderchi, the son of an old-guard democrat. The group of anti-Saddam leaders, many of whom have returned from long periods abroad during Saddam's rule, indicated that it wants a role for local Iraqis as the new administration is built.
In a summary of the meeting between the informal council and US officials it was indicated that the group discussed the formation of a provisional government and a provisional National Assembly "giving major weight to the Iraqi people who stayed behind." There was also agreement that the group will cooperate with American forces to improve security in lawless parts of the country. The informal council members are:
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld indicated, after protests by some Iraqis over former Baathists picked to head interim ministries, that anyone installed by the United States in the new interim administration would be purged if found to have been a senior member of Saddam's ousted Baath Party. At the same time, the anti-Saddam leaders have offered to help the United States in weeding out Baathists from a future government.
Two American soldiers were killed Thursday in separate attacks in Baghdad, one a bold daylight shooting at close range and the other a sniper attack. In the most brazen attack, an Iraqi walked up to a soldier assigned to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment from Ft. Polk, LA and opened fire with a pistol at close range. In the second attack, a soldier assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division soldier was killed when a sniper shot him in the head in east Baghdad.
General Tommy Franks who commented on the incidents indicated that there are expectations that there will be rough behavior in Iraq for the foreseeable future and the Army would continue to do their jobs.
On Friday, 09 May (Day-51), soldiers of Fire Support Element of the 4th Battalion, 5th ADA, assigned to Operation NOBLE EAGLE, returned home to Ft. Hood, TX. to their family and friend. The troopers had been deployed to Washington, DC to protect the airways surrounding the nations capital. While the troopers had served their mission to Operation NOBLE EAGLE stateside, it was just as important as though it had been in Iraq, half way around the world.On Friday, US Ambassador John Negroponte introduced an eight page resolution on behalf of the co-sponsors, the United States, Britain and Spain that asked the UN Security Council on Friday to give its stamp of approval to their occupation of Iraq and sought permission to use revenue from the world's second-largest oil reserves to rebuild the war-battered country. The initial response was positive from some council members who had opposed the US led war.
The plan envisions the United States and Britain running Iraq as "occupying powers" for at least a year and probably much longer, although Britain's Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock indicated that: the plan was drafted to occupying forces would leave Iraq as soon as it is possible to ensure stability and normal arrangements for a new country. The centerpiece of the plan is the lifting of oil and trade sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the phasing out of the UN oil-for-food humanitarian program.
Key points of the draft resolution of the United States and Britain that was submitted for approval were:
But France, Russia and others raised questions about the limited UN role, the
legitimacy of a new Iraqi government formed by the United States and Britain,
and the future of UN weapons inspections, which were not mentioned in the
The Black Hawks landed near the Tigris River, and the child was put into the first helicopter, which took off without problems, but the second helicopter snagged a wire across the river as it took off, flipping the helicopter over and into the water. One of the crew was able to swim to shore and was picked up by the first helicopter, which returned after seeing the accident. The other three crew members in the Black Hawk could not be saved.
Both the child and the surviving crew member were taken to a US military hospital for treatment. There was no immediate word on their conditions. The names of the helicopter crew who were killed in the action are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
An armed Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen Khalq that operated for years from northeast of Baghdad in its efforts to undermine Iran's religious regime, negotiated its terms of surrender Friday after the US military ordered it to lay down weapons or face destruction.
Under the US orders, the Mujahedeen Khalq must disarm, though they can keep their personal arms temporarily for self-defense. They will be barred from manning checkpoints on the roads around Baqubah and must go to containment areas. The Mujahedeen Khalq, or People's Warriors, operated in prewar Iraq with Saddam Hussein's blessing. They have several camps near Baqubah, 45 miles from Baghdad.
The United States had signed a truce on 15 April with the Mujahedeen Khalq, allowing the group to keep its weapons to defend itself against Iranian-backed attacks. At the time, the US State Department called the agreement "a prelude to the group's surrender."
On Saturday, 10 May (Day-52), US officials in Baghdad doled out around 65,000 dollars in emergency payments for Iraqi civil servants who have not received their April salaries because of the war. Workers are being given 20 dollars each as the United States tries to entice employees back to their jobs and help stimulate the post-war economy after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The program is being applied to civil servants across the public sector, and cash payments were made Saturday to employees of the justice and planning ministries.
American authorities have promised rewards to Iraqis for information leading to discovery of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs, the US run Information Radio. Besides the unspecified reward, potential informants were offered anonymity and guarantees of safety in exchange for useful information "regarding any site that manufactured or held weapons of mass destruction."
The lengthy spot on the Arabic-language radio was part of a growing US
government campaign to find Iraqi sources potentially knowledgeable about
prohibited arms programs. American officials have indicated they would
increasingly depend on fresh information from hoped-for Iraqi informants to
trace any weapons-making programs.
Before they go home, leaving the land where they risked their lives, US soldiers are returning to the battlefields where they fought just weeks ago to recount and record their impressions, their memories and their feelings. Smolos's vivid tale of the ambush, given as he walked the camera team through the place where it happened, was just the kind of account that captured a series of events for military historians and to record lessons learned by troops in the field.
The combat camera team carried two video cameras to film from two different
angles and capture the scene while the officers and men involved in the
battles described them. Some soldiers learned things about the battle that
they didn't realize until they returned to the scene.
The order of General Franks came a month after American troops invaded Baghdad and drove out Saddam's regime, which used intrigue and terror to make sure the minority Sunni Muslim-dominated party extended its reach and control into all corners of Iraqi society. The statement told Iraqi citizens to collect and turn in any materials they had relating to the party and its operations. It called them "an important part of Iraqi government documents."
Unseating the Baath, which advocated Arab unity but became a personal tool of Saddam and his lieutenants, was considered a top priority of American military planners in the run-up to the Iraq war, which began March 20 and largely ended by mid-April. Banning was the next logical step, one that has followed American military victories in the past. Allied occupiers banned the Nazi Party in Germany after World War II, and the Fascist Party also was banned in Italy.
The general's order Sunday was in some ways academic, given that the Baath regime is no more and the US military and its civilian administrative counterpart occupy the country. But some upper-level government and party leaders, including Saddam, remain unaccounted for. The United States says it has made hunting them down a high priority.
Iraqi oil experts, reassessing damage to their industry from postwar looting, have scaled back projections by one-third and expect to produce only 1 million barrels a day in June, the acting oil minister said Sunday. In one sign of the energy shortfall in this oil-rich nation, Baghdad expects within two weeks to begin importing gasoline from neighboring Kuwait to help motorists who now line up for hours to buy scant supplies at city gas stations.
As if to underscore the depth of the energy crisis, the news conference at which Ghadban and Iraq's acting electricity chief spoke had to be moved to a sunlit hallway when city power failed and lights went out in an Oil Ministry conference room. Kareem Hasan, interim head of the national Electricity Commission, said the capital was receiving only 40 percent of its electricity needs, but "hopefully" full power will be restored within two months, when repairs are completed to transmission lines extensively damaged by US bombing and vandals.
Ghadban attributed the more pessimistic outlook to damage to equipment and to
limited supplies of industrial water, needed in huge quantities for oil field
operations. Power shortages have reduced water-pumping capacity in many
places. Iraq's proven crude oil reserves, at 112 billion barrels, are second
in size worldwide only to Saudi Arabia's. Oil had accounted for 95 percent of
Iraqi revenues in recent years.
The Sunday Times said documents uncovered by opponents of Saddam Hussein after
he was ousted by a US led invasion force last month showed Iraq's intelligence
service had three agents working inside Qatar's al-Jazeera television network.
According to the documents, one alleged agent passed on two letters written by
Osama bin Laden, blamed for the 2001 attacks on the United States, to his
Iraqi handlers. Two cameramen were also said to be Iraqi agents.
A vast plume of grey and black smoke poured into the sky and could be seen
from across the city. US troops surrounded the perimeter as Iraqi firemen
appeared arrived at the scene. The building was damaged in the war to oust
Saddam Hussein and heavily looted after his fall.
Ibrahim Ahmad Abd al Sattar Muhammad al-Tikriti, the Iraqi Armed Forces Chief of Staff since 1999, appears as the Jack of Spades in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 13 on the revised list of the 55. Monday's capture was the 20th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
Coalition forces have also taken custody of the Iraqi scientist Dr. Rihab Rashid Taha, known as "Dr. Germ", for her work in making biological weapons. American officials were hoping that her capture might provide information about Saddam's regime and its unconventional weapons programs, though former Iraqi leaders previously taken into custody have largely continued to deny the country had such weapons.
The scientist, Dr. Rihab Rashid Taha, had been negotiating her surrender for days and turned herself in over the weekend. UN weapons inspectors nicknamed Taha "Dr. Germ" because she ran the Iraqi biological weapons facility where scientists worked with anthrax, botulinum toxin and aflatoxin. Taha, a microbiologist, holds a doctorate from the University of East Anglia in Britain.
Taha is not on the list of the 55, but among 200 Iraqis that Defense Secretary
Donald H. Rumsfeld has said are sought but who have not all been named
publicly. American forces have been trying to capture her and last month
raided her Baghdad home, carrying away boxes of documents but not finding her
or her husband.
He stressed that an independent Iraq should be based "firstly on Islam, which achieves independence for us, and secondly, on free elections which will lead to the formation of a government." Al-Hakim was touring the Iraqi Shiite heartland after returning to his homeland Saturday from Iran, where he spent his exile leading the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. His return to the political scene is widely expected to reinforce Shiite demands for a major role in Iraq's future government after years of repression.
Al-Hakim's group is the closest Iraqi Shiite political grouping to Iran, which has raised concerns in the Bush administration. While al-Hakim has rejected US influence over Iraq, his group has not cut off working with the Americans. His group participated in a US organized gathering of Iraqi factions in Baghdad last month to plan a future government, and while al-Hakim said he would not personally attend the next planned meeting he suggested he would send representatives.
Earlier Monday, Hakim told about 6,000 supporters in Diwaniya, a provincial
capital in southern Iraq, that the poorer southern regions in Iraq where most
Shiites live should expect faster economic development under a future Iraqi
government. He ruled out the possibility of an armed revolt against the
coalition forces as long as Iraqis are allowed to demonstrate peacefully for
freedom and independence.
In the action, more than 80 AK-47 assault rifles, three mortars, three rocket propelled grenades and three cases of explosives Sunday, were turned in because of the presence of the 4th Infantry Division in the area.
Appearing with his son and other members of his family at the division's civil affairs office, which has been open in downtown Tikrit for about a week, Kareem also turned in a half-dozen vehicles that had been given to leaders of Saddam's Baath Party in his area. Two days ago, he brought in 23 AK-47s that were voluntarily turned in to him, but said the rest came only after he gave his people the choice of turning in their weapons or having them forcibly taken from them.
Kareem is one of about 15 tribal leaders who have been in talks with American
forces over the future of the region. He indicated that most of his peers are
happy Saddam is gone.
Bremer, a former diplomat with a background in countering terrorism, was accompanied by visiting US General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,and by Garner, all three had previously held talks at a US base in Qatar on Sunday.
In an interview, Bremer indicated that the US Coalition Forces came to
overthrow a despotic regime and with the prime objective accomplished, the job
is to turn and help the Iraqi people regain control of their own destiny. In
addition to reconstructing a nation battered by three wars in 23 years and
weakened over the past decade by crippling UN sanctions, the US Coalition must
also oversee the country's transition to an interim government.
The bombing in Riyadh, which killed at least 35 people, including 9 US citizens, and injured 193 according to Saudi officials, coincided with a visit by US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who vowed to hunt down the al-Qaeda militants, who were responsible.
Meanwhile, neighboring Iran sounded alarm over US control of Iraqi oil, and its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei slammed the door on any chances of renewing ties with the United States which were broken off in 1980.
It was a far cry from Monday's relative calm when Bremer heartily greeted the
challenges facing him upon his arrival in Baghdad. Bremer, a career diplomat
and anti-terrorism expert with no previous Middle East experience, is expected
to orchestrate a speedier approach to rebuilding Iraq.
Also known as Gharib Muhammad Fazel al-Mashaikh, he appears as the Three of Hearts in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 47 on the revised list of the 55. Tuesday's capture was the 21st fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
On Wednesday, 14 May (Day-56), Donald H. Rumsfeld revealed that US tactics in the war with Iraq, including use of a new kind of missile that kills people without destroying buildings, demonstrate why the military must evolve into a lighter, faster force. American troops in Iraq made first use of a new kind of helicopter-launched Hellfire missile, the AGM-114N Metal Augmented Charge Hellfire that uses a thermobaric warhead, which creates a blast wave that kills people while leaving a building, bunker or cave intact.
Marine Corps AH-1 Cobra helicopters used the new missile in Iraq that "can take out the first floor of a building without damaging the floors above, and is capable of reaching around corners, striking enemy forces that hide in caves or bunkers and hardened multiroom complexes." The Pentagon spent $14.8 million developing the new warhead after Marine Corps officials asked for a weapon that would be more effective against enemies in confined spaces such as bunkers or the interior rooms of a large building. Arming an AH-1 Cobra with a thermobaric warhead on a Hellfire costs $35,000 above the $57,000 cost for each basic missile.
The city council of Mosul, billed as postwar Iraq's first elected body moved Wednesday to purge Saddam Hussein's loyalists from top positions, sacking the head of the local university and agreeing to review ties between other senior officials and the overthrown government. Also Wednesday, the police chief in this northern city asked district commanders to sign a declaration renouncing their ties with Saddam's Baath Party, US officials said. Some 20 signed the agreement.
The council's move underscored the desire of many Iraqis to rid themselves of the remnants of Saddam's rule, but also the difficulties of purging a party that controlled almost every sector of society. Membership was required for most top officials and in many cases, for entry to top schools. The new mayor, Ghanim al-Boso, for example, was a former general and a Baath Party member until 1993, when his brother and cousin were killed by the regime.
The council was chosen by a group of local notables last week in voting billed
as an election, though most citizens did not cast ballots. Its meeting
Wednesday, attended by top US military commanders, came amid allegations that
some council members were former members of the Baath Mosul is Iraq's
third-largest city and is largely Arab but ethnically mixed. The city was home
to many army officers and was regarded as an area of support for Saddam
US officials indicated that minimal resistance was encountered during the five-hour sweep. Two Iraqi Army generals and one general from Saddam's security forces who had disguised himself as a shepherd were also caught along with several members of Iraqi secret service and military. About 230 of those detained were released later in the day.
Seventeen bricks of plastic explosive were seized from one house and one man was apprehended in a sniper's perch toting an AK-47 assault rifle. In one house, a large stack of brand-new Iraqi currency was found.
Prior to the sweep, dubbed Operation PLANET "X", a surveillance drone had been
flying overhead for two days providing up-to-date photographs and during the
activity it provided real-time video of the area. As the sweep continued, six
boats patrolled the nearby Tigris river during the maneuver, and Apache
helicopters hovered overhead.
Mahdi appears as the Two of Diamonds in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 42 on the revised list of the 55. Thursday's arrest was the 22nd fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
In an unrelated incident on the Tigris River north of Tikrit, US forces identified a boat being loaded early Thursday with cases of unidentified materials and fired a flare in warning. The Americans said they came under fire from boat and fired back, and believed that everyone on the boat was killed.
Elsewhere, soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division shot and wounded a looter in Mosul after being fired upon. The shooting came a day after military officials, who had been criticized about the continued lawlessness in Iraq, denied issuing a shoot-to-kill policy against looters.
The British commander of the 23rd Pioneer Regiment and former military governor of Umm Qasr, formally handed over control of the first Iraqi town to a civilian authority since a US led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein's government. The people of Umm Qasr are now in charge of their own destiny, for the first time in 35 years or longer.The current members of the council which will run this dusty town of 45,000 people close to the Kuwait border in southern Iraq are volunteers, including local professionals and clerics. Elections will be held in a week to appoint a new council.
Around 200 British troops are in Umm Qasr but most will leave within days. Approximately thirty will remain in the town to help maintain security and liaise with the Iraqi council. Town councils have been set up in several places in Iraq, but Umm Qasr is the first town where a council has taken over overall charge from US or British troops. It is also significant because the port is southern and central Iraq's main entrance for food, aid and trade and an exit point for oil.
Treasury Undersecretary John Taylor indicated that US authorities have growing confidence that the nearly $1 billion that was ordered removed from Iraq's central bank by Saddam Hussein has been located in various hiding spots around Baghdad. Authorities are beginning the process of verifying that the money, estimated to be $850 million in US bills and $100 million in euros, was authentic and not counterfeit.
Other Treasury officials have indicated that of the 236 boxes were loaded onto three tractor-trailers, 191 boxes have been located in various palaces around Baghdad. Each of the boxes found still contained the certificates, describing its contents, that employees of Iraq's central bank had included in each box before it was sealed.
On Friday, 16 May (Day-58), an official of the US Office of ORHA indicated that between 15,000 and 30,000 Baath Party officials will be banned entirely from any future offices of the Iraqi government. The move aims to "put a stake" in the heart of Saddam Hussein's former ruling party and will help Iraq move on from the legacy of Saddam's regime.
The reconstruction team's purging efforts, which will within days, are next step in the United States' vow to eliminate Baathism from postwar Iraq. Reconstruction officials in Iraq are trying to get the country's ministries and civil service working again, and are struggling to make sure they purge Saddam sympathizers without gutting the entire bureaucracy.
As many as 1.5 million of Iraq's 24 million people belonged to the party under Saddam because Iraqi civil servants could obtain jobs only after making affiliations with the Baath Party. However only about 25,000 to 50,000 were full fledged members, the elite targeted by US officials.
Friday's order, signed by US civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer, intends to
halt Baathists from the party's top four echelons from any public position,
whether in universities, hospitals or minor government posts. An even stricter
vetting process awaits officials appointed to Iraq's ministries dealing with
security, such as the ministries of defense and interior.
The police and plainclothes security who used to patrol the stands, under the ousted regime, to ensure people chanted only the approved slogans were nowhere to be seen, although US officials indicated that they were maintaining an effective but discreet security presence.
After Az-Zawra, the Manchester United of Iraqi football and provider of many of the players in the national squad, saw several key decisions go against them as they went down 2-1 in the first half, sections of the crowd took out their anger on that butt of fan fury the world over - the referee. The official had to endure a torrent of abuse as he walked down the tunnel under the main stand for the interval, prompting Az-Zawra coach Ahmed Ravi to take to the loudspeakers to plead with the exuberant young fans to calm down.
A series of missed second-half opportunities for Az-Zawra, which left them 2-1 losers, saw some fans railing against their own players. One former star of the Iraqi game who fled Uday's reign of terror, striker Raad Hammadi, returned as guest of honor for Friday's game.
Under the ousted strongman, Iraq's most popular spectator sport was dominated
by Saddam's henchmen. Az-Zawra's chairman was his personal bodyguard Rokan
Abdul Ghaffar, with his notorious elder son Uday at their head. Uday turned
Iraq's sport and youth ministry into his own personal fiefdom, and became a
figure of terror for Iraqi players, as he dealt out beatings, and worse, to
US Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed confidence on a visit to Berlin that the Security Council would reach a deal within the next few days or weeks on the resolution, which demands the immediate lifting of sanctions against Baghdad. Powell won backing for a swift end to the 12-year sanctions regime from Germany, a temporary UN Security Council member which fiercely opposed the invasion of Iraq.
However the resolution was still facing a rocky ride through the 15-member Security Council over the sections that effectively give the United States and Britain control over Baghdad's oil revenues and relegate the United Nations to a secondary role in postwar Iraq. Washington modified the text to the resolution slightly, in a bid to mollify concerns from Moscow about the future of Iraq's massive debt repayment obligations, but still left the most controversial areas of minimal UN participation unchanged.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Fedotov indicated that in the view of both China and Russia, the US-proposed draft resolution "requires serious changes. Moscow's position on the Security Council resolution is backed by France, another veto-wielding Security Council member which ferociously opposed the US led war that toppled Saddam Hussein's regime on 09 April.
In Washington, the White house indicated President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin had played up their hopes of working together to rebuild Iraq during a telephone conversation. The two leaders, wide apart in the run-up to the war to oust Saddam Hussein, "underscored their commitment to building a strong continuing US-Russia partnership".
On Friday, US troops arrested a senior Baath party official, Nabil Nijim al-Tikriti, who had worked as a diplomat for the ousted government of Saddam Hussein. Tikriti was known as a senior member of the Baath party who had served as Iraq's ambassador to Egypt.
Tikriti disappeared when the war began and his house in a Baghdad neighborhood
was deserted until he returned on Friday. He was not on the list of the 55
most-wanted Iraqis issued by Washington after US led forces toppled Saddam
Kamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan al-Tikriti, who is also Saddam's cousin, appears
as the Queen of Clubs in the set of playing cards issued by the US military
authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime
and is No. 10 on the revised list of the 55. Saturday's surrender was the 23rd
fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
This year's expected bumper crop is aggravating a bitter dispute over who owns it - Kurdish landowners expelled by Saddam Hussein, or the well connected Arab farmers who replaced them. Kurds estimate several hundred thousand of their brethren were expelled as part of Saddam's drive to break a Kurdish revolt. Arabs were shipped in to take their places.
Saddam's campaign focused on areas like Kirkuk, a key oil-producing city in the north, and villages like Makhmur, 50 miles to the southwest in the heart of Iraq's breadbasket. The dispute over the barley fields is one of the most explosive in northern Iraq, a zone of tension between Kurds and Arabs since the earliest days of Saddam's regime.
With Saddam driven from power, Kurds are beginning to return home. Now, the
Arabs are fleeing. The US Army has brokered a profit-sharing agreement between
the two sides, but even they admit it is difficult to enforce and, in some
In a separate news briefing, Bremer Indicated that Washington had no plans to suspend the transition to an Iraqi interim authority planned for the next few weeks as reported yesterday in the American Press. The visit capped off Bremer's first week as Iraq's top US overseer, during which he sought to boost security, ban Saddam's Baath party chiefs from the public sector, and hinted that the US led coalition would extend its grip on power in the country.
Bremer also received a briefing from Major General David H. Petraeus, Commander of the US Army's 101st Airborne Division. The two took a helicopter tour of the area with John Sawers, Britain's top civilian representative in Iraq, visiting one of Saddam Hussein's palaces and the local headquarters of the 101st Airborne. In Mosul, Bremer sought to press his campaign to stem post-war lawlessness in Iraq by touring a police station, a courthouse, a market place and meet with schoolboys on their way home from school before returning to Baghdad.
Elsewhere as the United States consolidates control, is trying to make sure it supervises any armed groups in postwar Iraq. Organizations that have asserted military authority have been targeted. The Mujahedeen Khalq, the Iraq-based Iranian opposition group, which opposes Iran's clerical regime, agreed to disarm a week ago as part of an accord struck after US forces ordered it to surrender or face attack. US forces have already destroyed most of the group's ammunition and small arms. The more than 2,000 tanks and other military vehicles owned by them have been turned over to the US Army's 4th Infantry Division.
In Baghdad, US forces have begun a security crackdown, in an effort to restore
order that broke down after the Saddam regime crumbled on 19 April. Troops
arrested 129 people during more than 400 patrols in Baghdad over 24 hours for
violations from looting to shooting at US forces. The efforts of the military
to put Iraqi police back on the streets were working. A survey of the 43
police stations in Baghdad by the Coalition Joint Task Force found 86 percent
of the 8,200-strong prewar police force was back on the job.
Others are scrambling to fill the current power vacuum, plying a confused
citizenry with wild promises and recruitment pitches. As weapons from looted
armories fuel a thriving black market, the risk of armed conflict among these
groups or between them and US led coalition forces is an uncomfortable
prospect. Porous borders, especially the 906 mile frontier with Iran, make
infiltration and smuggling easy.
Everyday activities become a reminder that the "post war" duty in Iraq is a
hazardous assignment as the forces step up presence patrols in an attempt to
bring order and civil obedience to the country of Iraq. A soldier from the 4th
Infantry Division died early Sunday "as a result of a non-hostile gunshot". A
US marine died and another was injured when their large transport vehicle
rolled over on a road southeast of the town of Al-Samawah. One soldier was
killed and three injured as they detonated unexploded ammunition in Baghdad,
while two other soldiers were injured when assailants fired a rocket-propelled
grenade at their transport truck near the town of Habbaniyah.
Up to 10,000 people gathered in front of a Sunni Muslim mosque in Baghdad's northern district of Azimiyah, then marched across a bridge on the Tigris River to the nearby Kadhamiya quarter, home to one of the holiest Shiite shrines in Iraq. It appeared to be the largest protest against the US occupation since the war ended. One of the organizers indicated that the procession was organized mainly by religious groups from Baghdad's al-Thawra suburb, formerly known as Saddam City, home to an estimated 2 million Shiites.
Shiites make up the majority of Iraq's 24 million people but were long excluded from political power by Saddam Hussein's Sunni Muslim regime. For decades, Shiites were banned from publicly practicing some of their rituals, and many of their top clerics and activists were murdered, jailed or pushed into exile under Saddam's 24-year rule beginning on 16 July 1979. Since the ouster of Saddam by the coalition troops last month, there has been a number of smaller gatherings, some of them hundreds strong, demanding that occupying forces withdrawal. Today's march was the biggest in terms of numbers and had a distinctly political message.
The crowd chanted "No Shiites and no Sunnis, just Islamic unity", sang
religious songs, and carried banners reading "No to the foreign
administration", and "We want honest Iraqis, not their thieves". The noisy
but peaceful protest appeared to be well-organized. Organizers sprayed
participants with water to cool them off and formed human chains around the
crowd to ensure that the marchers stayed in line and no violence occurred.
President Bush wants answers to where Saddam's cash went, especially the suspected billions earned from a long-running illicit oil smuggling operation. The money was siphoned away from a UN supervised program selling oil to buy food and medicine for the people of Iraq, which has the world's second-biggest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia but has been hit by UN imposed sanctions since its 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait.
The UN Security Council, if not besieged by internal politics, could decide this week whether to end sanctions under a US proposal for the United States and Britain to have powers to spend oil revenues for reconstruction and support Iraqi domestic needs.
A Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight, transport helicopter on a resupply mission, from Hillah, crashed shortly after takeoff into the Shat Al Hillah Canal southeast of Karbala in central Iraq. At least four people were aboard, and there were no indications of survivors. Two other marines, on the bank, dove into the canal and one of then drowned in attempt to rescue the crew of the downed helicopter. There was no indication whether or not it was downed by hostile action.
The site was secured and dive teams were enroute to assist in the recovery
operations and crash investigations. The Sea Knight is a workhorse helicopter
used by the Navy and Marine Corps to move cargo or troops. It normally
operates with a crew of four and has been in service for more than three
al-Kubeiysi appears as the Two of Clubs in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 50 on the revised list of the 55. Tuesday's capture was the 24th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
The US Justice Department indicated that it had sent a team of thirteen judicial officials and twelve law enforcement professionals including, prosecutors and other officials to Iraq who will help the country rebuild its judicial and law enforcement system and assist in the reconstruction.
The team's primary goals will be to make initial assessments and offer
recommendations which will make freedom permanent by assisting them in
establishing an equitable criminal justice system, based on the rule of law
and standards of basic human rights.
Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge, indicated that the US intelligence community believes that al-Qaida has entered a new operational period worldwide, and this may include attacks in the United States. He also warned of attacks similar to those in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where gunmen fought with guards before suicide bombers detonated truck bombs at several lightly defended residential complexes.
State and local authorities began reacting after today's announcement. Police
in California began working 12-hour shifts. National Guard troops in New York
were called up to protect subways and bridges. In Washington, the Capitol
police SWAT team prepared to conduct random patrols. Ridge encouraged
governors and mayors to deploy extra police and take other precautions,
particularly at large public gatherings during the upcoming Memorial Day
Shooting incidents have been common in the Kirkuk, but the tensions exploded last Saturday when Arabs and Kurds confronted each other near a marketplace and 11 people were killed, including seven Kurds. US and Kurdish officials had only sketchy details of the fighting, and accounts from witnesses varied significantly. Both seemed to agree that many of the attackers may have been Arabs from Hawijeh, a town of some 20,000 some 30 miles outside of Kirkuk.
Many Saddam loyalists fled to the nearby town of Hawijeh after the Kurds moved
back into Kirkuk. Officials from Saddam's Baath Party and members of his
Saddam Fedayeen militia are believed to be active in the city On Sunday, a
400-man task force, of the 4th ID, backed by tanks and attack helicopters
headed out to Hawijeh, but was ambushed a few miles outside of the city by
assailants with assault rifles and heavy machine guns. The shooting lasted
about a half hour. One soldier manning a machine gun atop a jeep was shot in
the side and injured, though not seriously.
Perhaps as much as 20 percent of the known radioactive materials stored at Iraq's largest nuclear facility may be unaccounted for, and US nuclear experts have found radioactive patches on the ground where looters dumped out barrels believed to contain hazardous materials. However, a senior US commander in Baghdad indicated that the great majority of the dangerous waste at the Al-Tuwaitha nuclear complex was still secure and containers were not leaking radiation.
Earlier this month, the agency had reported to the Unites States that it was concerned that material suitable for use in so-called "dirty" bombs that spread atomic radiation may have been stolen from nuclear sites in Iraq and that any missions to the Al-Tuwaitha area would not constitute renewed UN weapons inspections but any actions would fall under the terms of the 1970 nuclear non-proliferation treaty which allow the body to routinely inspect that site.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld indicated that Washington had "no
problem" with IAEA inspectors returning to Iraq, contradicting indications
the day before from the State Department that this was not an immediate
The US forces immediately blocked the road leading to Baghdad and a US armored detachment and vehicles left for Fallujah. A pickup truck challenged one of the Bradley Vehicles being used as a roadblock and smashed into it. In the firefight that followed, the two Iraqi occupants of the truck were killed by US soldiers.
Tension remains been high in Fallujah, the conservative Sunni Muslim town which has a large number of residents still loyal to the cause of Saddam Hussein and it had been the scene of previous clashes between US soldiers and local residents after the fall of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
In Baghdad, Lieutenant General Jay Garner (ORHA) indicated that, starting next Saturday, the 1.4 million Iraqi government employees will begin to collect their first salaries in two months. All workers will be paid in Iraqi dinars, except for those in autonomous Kurdish areas, who will be paid in US dollars. In addition to the back pay, all employees will also get an emergency payment equal to $30 along with the $20 they received earlier this month.
Government employees will get paid their May and June salaries by the end of June. The money will came from Iraqi assets frozen abroad after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Members of Iraq's disbanded armed forces and intelligence services will not be paid. Nor will employees who haven't worked since the capture of Baghdad by US forces on 09 April.
A release issued by a representative of the US Treasury Department indicated
that salaries in the new Iraq will be determined by rank and merit - not by
party status. The new salary scales are based on qualifications, merit and
years of service. Most government employees will be collecting higher salaries
than they did under Saddam's rule.
Al-Numan appears as the King of Diamonds in the set of playing cards issued by
the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of
Saddam's former regime and is No. 8 on the revised list of the 55. Wednesday's
capture was the 25th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US
However, they will be resolved, allowing the stalled oil exports to resume quickly, if a US drafted resolution pending in the UN Security Council that would give the United States and Britain wide-ranging powers to run Iraq and control its oil industry until a permanent government was set up, a process that could take years.
Although the upgrading of security and infrastructure issues will remain a top priority in order to achieve maximum oil production, the only thing that the United States and Britain need is the lifting of the 13 year old post Gulf War sanctions imposed by the UN in 1991 which will allow the legal sale of Iraqi oil. Profits from the oil sales would be used to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq which had deteriorated during the 28 year reign of Saddam Hussein.
Back home at West Ft. Hood, TX, on Wednesday, hundreds of family members waited late into the night at Robert Gray Army Airfield to welcome home the troopers of Task Force 227 who returned to Ft. Hood, TX after fighting in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. As the families waited, children were running around the airfield ramp waving flags and smiling in anticipation of their parents' return. "Welcome home" signs and balloons filled the hangar with a patriotic flavor.Although the first plane carrying Task Force 227 landed at 2050 hours and the battalion's hangar was filled with family members, they would have to wait until a few hours later for the soldiers from the second aircraft to land before they could be reunited with their loved ones.
At 2300 hours, the last aircraft of the Task Force arrived to the tumultuous cheers of their loved ones. The almost 300 soldiers were from three 1st Cavalry Division units: the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, and the 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment. As the public announcer said the last unit was two minutes away, family members crouched at the edge of the hangar doors, then from out of the darkness the formation of soldiers clad in desert BDUs marched into a riotous welcome from their families.
Stopping short of the red carpet laid on the tarmac, the task force was greeted by Colonel Jim McConville, 4th Brigade Commander.1st Cavalry Division, and Chief Warrant Officer-2 David Williams,After an exchange of salutes, Williams then rejoined his unit.
In a short welcome speech by Brigadier General Thomas Bostick, Assistant
Commander, 1st Cavalry Division, said "This is a great day for our Army and
our nation as the first team soldiers deploy to combat and then returned
safely. As we celebrate and rejoice today, let us not forget those who made
the ultimate sacrifice and those who continue to serve". After the general's
comments, the soldiers were dismissed and were turned loose into the waiting
arms of their families.
US Ambassador John Negroponte indicated that after more than a decade of being frozen out of the world economy by sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime, "it is time for the Iraqi people to benefit from their natural resources", a reference to the country's vast oil wealth. The near unanimous vote was a turnaround from the bitter acrimony that split the council before the US led invasion of Iraq.
With passage of the resolution, the following steps are expected:
After two months of negotiations over the resolution, the final result left the underlying goal of the United States and its allies intact: Washington and London, as occupying powers, remain firmly in control of Iraq "until an internationally recognized, representative government is established".
Following up on a tough new policy on the Baath Party unveiled last week, the US led administration in Iraq ordered the estimated 200,000 members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to turn themselves in as part of a sweeping crackdown on the remnants of his regime. Coalition radio announced the order from US General Tommy Franks, in Arabic, for all "full members" of the party to hand themselves over immediately.
US overseer Paul Bremer had banned the top four ranks of the party, around 35,000 people in all, from holding government jobs but the order from Franks also extends to the fifth rank, adding more than 150,000 others. Iraqi political groups working with the United States in planning a post-Saddam government had been pressing US officials to get tough on the Baath Party amid widespread public fear they could claw their way back to power.
The Central Intelligence Agency has launched a review of pre-war intelligence reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to see how they compare with the post-war reality. The review, requested in October by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is not designed as a "witch hunt," but rather as a way of improving the quality of intelligence gathering as the Army does in "a lessons learned" documents.
The review will not focus on all Iraq-related intelligence but on a few
sensitive issues, including whether the United States overstated the threat of
Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. A team of retired CIA officers
named by CIA Director George Tenet will scour reports from the US intelligence
community, including those by CIA analysts and by other agencies such as the
Pentagon. Rumsfeld's idea of the review was based on his belief that the
intelligence community would benefit from comparing its pre-war information
with the reality on the ground after the war.
The occupants told the soldiers that they had been paid a total of 350,000 dinars (350 US dollars) to pick up the truck in Baghdad and drive it to an unnamed individual in Al Qaim, The occupants, who were not identified, said they had been told the bars were bronze, but authorities believe the bars are made of gold and are having them tested.
Al Qaim, a town on the Euphrates across the border from Syria, has been a key transit point for fleeing members of the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein. Once across the border in Syria, hard-to-trace gold could quickly disappear into the international market. The cash generated by the sales could then buy protection for former regime members or finance those left behind in Iraq.
Following the removal of UN sanctions, L Paul Bremer, the US civil administrator of Iraq, announced in a statement that all of the military and the security organizations of Iraq that supported Saddam Hussein's regime have been officially dissolved, and a new defense force will be set up to replace them. "The Coalition Provisional Authority plans to create, in the near future, a New Iraqi Corps. This is the first step in forming a national self-defense capability for a free Iraq. Under civilian control, that corps will be professional, nonpolitical, militarily effective, and representative of all Iraqis."
The move was the latest in a series of steps designed to eliminate vestiges of Saddam's regime from postwar Iraq. Like the others, it was essentially administrative; the Iraqi armed forces were vanquished by the US military during the war. Under the new orders, the Ministry of Defense, the Republican Guard and "other specified security institutions which constituted and supported the most repressive activities of Saddam Hussein's regime," also have been disbanded.
It also abolished the Information Ministry, which tightly controlled the media of Iraq and the work of foreign journalists. For more than a decade, that wing of the regime forced all foreign news organizations to operate from the government-run press center inside the ministry building. Minders accompanied reporters to all interviews except those conducted inside foreign embassies and UN offices, and journalists who wrote stories perceived to be unsympathetic to Saddam's regime were frequently reprimanded and sometimes expelled or banned.
Bremer's announcement follows the 16 May degree of the administration that was issued by commanding US General Tommy Franks that abolishing Saddam's Baath Party. The decision to disband the Iraqi armed forces and several security bodies that formed the backbone of iron rule by Saddam Hussein will affect more than 400,000 soldiers and public employees.
The statement did not elaborate on when the new defense force would be set up. But in the past, US officials have indicated it would include members of the army, navy and air force who were not compromised by their association to the banned Baath Party and who were not involved in criminal acts. Military personnel who did not fall under the anti-Baath order will receive severance pay of one month's salary.
In a parallel move, L Paul Bremer, the US civil administrator of Iraq, dismissed hundreds of thousands of state employees as part of what he called a drive to rid the nation of links to Saddam Hussein's era. But many Iraqis criticized the move, saying under Saddam people hoping to get a job or advance in the government had to show loyalty to his Baath Party. Critics said the mass sackings could drive Saddam loyalists underground from where they could plot a return to power.
In a sign Iraq was returning to the world fold, international companies
jostled for contracts in oil and other industries, now free to trade after
Thursday's UN Security Council vote to scrap sanctions imposed during Saddam's
era. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan named UN human rights chief Sergio Vieira
de Mello as his special representative for Iraq, clearing the way for the
world body to begin fleshing out its role in Iraqi reconstruction.
The unleashing vast oil resources on the market, will force the oil cartel OPEC to find a new strategy to keep its grip on power. For OPEC that poses a double-barreled dilemma: how to adjust in the short term the cartel's output and in the longer view, how to manage a market in which Iraq could inject rising quantities of crude. Authorities already have indicated there are eight to nine million barrels of Iraqi oil stocked in Ceyhan, the Turkish terminal on the Mediterranean.
Thamir Ghadhbane, Iraq's most senior oil ministry official, was quoted Friday by the Financial Times as saying that current level of production was 600,000 barrels per day (BPD). Ghadhbane, who is the executive director of the ministry, indicated that it would take two weeks to tender for bids and arrange for oil tankers to dock in Iraq. Once these technical questions are resolved, it is expected that Iraq would need several months to become capable of exceeding its pre-war output level of roughly 2.5 million barrels per day (BPD). And it is not clear that the US wants Iraq to reintegrate into the OPEC output quota system through which the cartel manages oil prices.
On Saturday, 24 May (Day-66), L. Paul Bremer, top civilian administrator, of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance officially issued a "national order" for the disarmament of Iraqi as part of a high-profile effort to get weapons off the streets and return public security to cities under American occupation. Anyone found with unauthorized weapons after 14 June will be detained and face criminal charges.
Quoting the "national order" - "No one in Iraq, unless authorized, may possess, conceal, hide or bury these weapons, No one can trade, sell, barter, give or exchange automatic or heavy weapons with or to any person who is not an authorized representative of coalition forces". During a 14-day amnesty period that begins 01 June, Iraqis will be permitted to turn in unauthorized weapons at "weapons-control points" throughout the country.
Under Bremer's order, Iraqis must place unloaded, disassembled weapon into a
clear plastic bag provided by coalition forces and walk slowly to the
collection point located at police stations and other designated locations and
will be jointly staffed by Iraqi and coalition forces. Weapons may only be
turned in during the day, and guns turned in will either be destroyed or used
by the new Iraqi army and police. Small arms, including small automatic rifles
semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and pistols, are allowed in homes and
businesses. Public use is prohibited.
The US led reconstruction team headed by Paul Bremer struggled to manage Iraq's turbulent local politics even as its rebuilding efforts started to bear fruit with the payment of wages to state employees, the collection of garbage and the return of electricity in Baghdad.
In the southern port of Basra, British forces announced they would replace an Iraqi city council hailed as a model of post-war cooperation with a committee of technocrats chaired by a British military commander. The decision sparked an angry reaction from the 30-member council, which is headed by a local tribal chief and has labored to re-establish civic order in the southern metropolis.
In the northern city of Kirkuk, some 300 delegates gathered to elect a 30 member city council that will be in charge of schools and health care in the city and its outlying areas, which host a volatile mix of Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens and Assyrian Christians. But before the voting started, five Arab delegates were detained by US soldiers and taken from the municipality building in plastic handcuffs. US military intelligence officials questioned them for suspected ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. After the voting, the process hit a snag when Arab delegates complained that Kurds made up most of the council's "independent" representatives selected by the US forces in the area.
In another headache for the US forces, the pro-Iranian Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim, a leading Shiite cleric who returned from exile earlier this month, lashed out at the US presence in Iraq as he visited the holy city of Karbala for the first time since leaving the country 23 years ago.
However, brought in two weeks ago to breath life into a floundering
reconstruction process, Bremer has moved aggressively to let people know who
is in charge.
The unidentified US officials quoted by the Washington Times said a dozen passports had been uncovered in recent weeks, and acknowledged that the find did not necessarily mean that France had furnished passports to Iraqis as part or their pre-war negotiations with Iraq. France had been a staunch opponent of the US led preemptive strike and invasion of Iraq, which has heightened tensions between the two NATO allies in the last two months.
In response, the French embassy said in a statement that US authorities had
not contacted France about missing, stolen or forged passports and that French
authorities have not delivered any French passports to any Iraqi official and
the previous allegations published in an American newspaper on this issue have
proven to be baseless.
The switch comes at a time of lowered expectations and increased frustration among the searchers. President Bush has said he began the war to disarm Saddam. But there has been no sign of either the ousted leader or the weapons he long denied having. In the war's early days, American officers indicated that they expected to find such huge stockpiles of unconventional weapons that their main concern was whether they had enough people or specialized equipment to destroy the materials.
Mobile Exploitation Team Charlie (MET-C) has stumbled on some documents that
may help investigators piece together cases against the ousted leadership. But
only a few of the 30 sites visited have produced results. The teams had been
working under the 75th Exploitation Task Force. But their work will soon fall
under the Iraq Survey Group, a new Pentagon effort that will deploy in Iraq in
coming weeks and take charge of investigations into everything from potential
weapons to Saddam's alleged terrorist connections.
Two underground pipelines carried the crude to Faw, then out to sea to Iraq's only functioning marine terminal of Mina al-Bakr. When exports resume, Iraq should be able to ship more than 1.2 million barrels a day from Mina al-Bakr, an offshore platform with berths for four large oil tankers lying 31 miles from Faw.
The two pipelines that eventually will carry the first crude to Mina al-Bakr run south along the Faw Peninsula, scene of the climactic battle of the Iran-Iraq War. Tank treads, pillboxes, and gun emplacements still litter the flatlands where almost 200,000 men on both sides were killed. The pipelines emerge above ground at a gathering point near a beach at the town of Faw, southern Iraq's largest city. Iraqi troops laid mines in the sand to try to protect this vulnerable installation, however now five British soldiers with heavy machine guns guard the site.
Mina al-Bakr was built in 1975 and suffered damage during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. The US division of Halliburton, KBR, helped rebuild it soon afterward. The Iraqis repaired subsequent damage inflicted during the first Gulf War, but analysts say the facility requires further work to reach its full export capacity of 1.6 million barrels a day.
British troops, appreciating Faw's strategic importance, captured the town, together with its oil storage tanks and the Mina al-Bakr terminal, during the first days of the US led invasion. The terminal is intact, and final repairs of a war-damaged section of its most important pipeline are currently underway. On Saturday the acting oil minister of Iraq, Thamer al-Ghadhban, indicated that export shipments of crude oil would begin again within three weeks. Oil revenues are essential to help pay for the country's postwar reconstruction, but the war has halted shipments. In the last years before the war, it exported most of the 3 million barrels per day (BPD) it produced.
Iraq has several long-term export options. Besides using Mina al-Bakr, one of the two main export outlets of Iraq, and Ceyhan a pipeline to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, Turkey. It could also attempt to refurbish an old pipeline to the Syrian port of Banyas. Iraq evaded sanctions by using this pipeline even during the recent war. It also could seek to reopen a pipeline, closed in 1986, that passes through Saudi Arabia to the Red Sea. A second Gulf export terminal, Khor al-Amaya, was destroyed during the first Gulf War and has only been partially repaired. However, the ocean is often calmer at Khor al-Amaya, making it easier for tankers to load oil there. South Oil wants to refurbish and enlarge the facility to ease demands on Mina al-Bakr.
Meanwhile, in Doha, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting States (OPEC) prepared to act to keep oil prices from collapsing as 13 years of UN sanctions are lifted on Iraq. OPEC President Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah indicated that the organization can be expected to slash their production rates at a 11 June ministerial meeting to avoid a price collapse once Iraq's oil hits the world market again, possibly as early as June.
He further noted that they would also treat the reentry of Iraq to the oil
market very carefully and offsetting cuts in production will be a topic that
will be discussed very carefully because of the uncertainty of the timing of
Iraq's return to the market and their present inventories, which are building,
made it difficult to set a competitive figure of production that will hold oil
prices at their present levels for OPEC.
The Central Command issued a statement that gunmen fired assault rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades at a convoy of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment convoy near the town of Haditha, 110 miles northwest of Baghdad. The eight-vehicle convoy was conducting a resupply mission from Al Asad Air Base to Al Qaim (on the Syrian border) when it was attacked at about 0615 hours (local). Attack helicopters and ground forces were immediately brought in to secure the area and seek out the attackers. No Iraqi prisoners or casualties were reported.
The wounded trooper was evacuated by helicopter. The names of both troopers were being withheld pending next-of-kin notification. US forces in Iraq have been attacked several times over the past weeks. However the attacks have been sporadic and largely ineffective, suggesting that no coordinated anti-American guerrilla campaign was under way.
A second roadside attack on a US Army Humvee of the 3rd Infantry Division, on the main airport road leading to the occupation headquarters in the center of Baghdad, wounded four soldiers. An unknown attacker threw a bag packed with an explosive device in front of a convoy of US troops on the highway. The three soldiers in the convoy's lead vehicle were injured by the explosion, along with a fourth who went to help rescue them and was wounded by ammunition that exploded from the first vehicle.
The explosive device hurled at the convoy was a "satchel charged munition". The second vehicle engaged the individual who was shot and wounded, but he was able to ran away across the highway and escaped.The first Humvee, completely destroyed from the secondary explosion, turned into ash. Iraqi fire engines arrived soon on the site of the attack and helped in controlling brush fires along the side the road. The soldier wounded from the blast suffered only minor injuries.
The new US top police officer for Iraq, Bernard Kerik, former New York City police commissioner ruled out any military quick fix for Baghdad's post-war crime wave and said the only answer was to gradually restore confidence in the Iraqi police. In his first press conference since taking up the post of senior adviser to the interior ministry last week, he indicated that to add a whole bunch of (US) military personnel is not the solution. "The only answer is to identify where the crime is and concentrate police resources there to apprehend the criminals".
That required respect for the Iraqi police, which could only be won back by weeding out officers guilty of past brutality, and massive retraining to eliminate abuses which were the norm in the 24 years of Saddam Hussein's rule. Policing over the years in Baghdad has been oppressive and that has to change.
Kerik, best known for his role in the "zero tolerance" clampdown of 1990s New
York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said the most important thing was to get
officers out on the street and regaining the trust of ordinary people. He
indicated that there could be no room in the police for those responsible for
past abuses, although, in the short term "some" might "slip through the
al-Mashadani appears as the Three of Clubs in the set of playing cards issued
by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of
Saddam's former regime and is No. 46 on the revised list of the 55. Monday's
arrest was the 26th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US
al-Faisal appears as the Three of Spades in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 55 on the revised list of the 55. Monday's arrest was the 27th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
Waging war is expensive, but so is keeping the peace as noted by some coalition countries taking a hard look at plans to deploy troops for mop-up duty in Iraq. To be sure, concern about cash isn't the only worry for governments pledging postwar assistance. Many are preoccupied with a fresh wave of public opposition to any involvement, or with calls for the peace keeping operation to get explicit UN authorization, which isn't contemplated.
But with expense an inescapable reality, a number of nations that the Bush administration had hoped would contribute to peace keeping are counting the costs and coming up short:
Private analysts say the United States could spend more than $100 billion just dealing with the aftermath of the war, depending on the scope of rebuilding efforts and how long American troops stick around.
Meanwhile on Monday, Mark Gwozdecky spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicated that nuclear inspectors will return to Iraq by the end of the week and only stay about 10 days to inspect and verify nuclear material stored at the Tuwaitha complex southeast of the capital remains in a secure environment.
The United States informed the IAEA that the Occupying Powers are responsible for the health and safety of the Iraqi people, including nuclear health and safety issues. The mission will be limited to the inspection and verification as to whether Iraq (and its Occupying Powers) is fulfilling its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and is not related to any nuclear weapons inspections.
In Washington, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force General
Richard Myers, said he believes it's "just a matter of time" before US
military forces find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. "We knew going in
that a regime that had spent over a decade trying to deny and deceive the
United Nations and others about its weapons of mass destruction program, that
this would be very tough".
The soldiers were at a traffic-control point just after midnight with two vehicles that had pulled into the checkpoint together. They were searching the first vehicle and had just found weapons inside when the occupants of the second vehicle opened fire and threw a grenade. The soldiers responded with fire from Bradley fighting vehicles, machine guns and small arms. Six other Iraqis were captured after the Fallujah attack and are being interrogated.
US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, indicated that Iraq faced a rough transition to democracy, and warned that any effort to remake the country in Iran's image would be "aggressively put down". He stressed that the United States had no intention of imposing an "American template" on the Iraqi people, but pledged that US troops would remain in Iraq as long as they were needed.
Rumsfield further indicated that the transition to democracy will take time. It will not be a smooth road and "trial and error" would be an inevitable part of the process. While welcoming regional offers of cooperation, he indicated that "interference" in Iraq by its neighbors or their proxies "will not be permitted" and particularly warned Iran against seeking to mould the future path of Iraq's social and political development.
The remarks came amid US charges that Tehran is seeking to influence events
in Iraq, that it is harboring senior al-Qaeda leaders and that it is
developing nuclear weapons. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer indicated that
Iran had responded "insufficiently" to US demands that it crack down on
al-Qaeda and forsake nuclear arms.
The soldiers said the men had illegal weapons, but it was not clear what had prompted them to disarm a Palestinian diplomat in a city awash with arms seven weeks after Saddam's overthrow. As a military truck took him away, Abdul Rahman denied he had been carrying a gun. He indicated that the soldiers had targeting and searched the embassy. Later, a Palestinian source in Baghdad indicated that nine other Palestinians, including the three guards at the mission, had also been detained.
The detaining of Najah Rahman by US soldiers is sure to anger Arab opinion, as
the United States seeks backing for a "road map" to peace between Israel and
the Palestinians. Following the arrest, the soldiers troops sealed the area,
put barbed wire around the building and locked the main gate.
He also delivered a warning to neighbors Iran and Syria that they should not meddle in Iraq's future or support militants who could upset hopes of progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace moves. He indicated that it's particularly important that Iran and Syria cease to support any terrorist groups. Britain has taken a more measured approach than Washington to Damascus and Syria, favoring dialogue with both.
On Thursday, 29 May (Day-71), British Prime Minister Tony Blair, arrived in the southern city of Basra, Iraq in a Royal Air Force Hercules C-130 transport plane from Kuwait, and became the first foreign leader to visit postwar Iraq. Meeting with his nation's troops in a former palace of Saddam Hu ssein, he indicated that they had helped create "a defining moment" in history by their professional performance in the invasion and their methods of keeping the peace have been "remarkable".
He indicated that the invasion of Iraq had reconfigured the region and created an environment where real progress is possible, from the Israeli-Palestinian problem to relations with Syria and Iran. Although numerous British troops have pulled out of Iraq since the end of combat six weeks ago, about 20,000 soldiers still remain based in the south of the country.
On Thursday morning, a US Marine battalion of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force raided a training area in southern Iraq, shooting two people who resisted and capturing 13 others, including a senior member of the former ruling Baathist party. Sweeping in at first light, they rolled up on five different objectives and found a number of automatic weapons and a number of rocket propelled grenades which was the preferred weapon of the Fedayeen certainly.
The Marines took at least 13 detainees including one who was a fairly high level Baath party member, and unfortunately they had to shoot two people who chose to resist the roll up. The raid was an example of the swift action US forces need to take to prevent an armed opposition from taking root in addition to building local police forces and guarding key infrastructure.
The predominantly Shiite south has been relatively quiet and local support there for US forces remains strong, however there are specific individuals, representing special interest groups, who are very aware of the fact that even a small scale attack will make large scale news which creates an overreaction in some cases, and will continue to do so because they don't want us to be here.
In the Iraqi town of Samarra, at about 2300 hours (local), Wednesday, US
troops fired a tank-mounted machine gun at a vehicle traveling at about 40
miles per hour when it tried to drive through a well-established and well-lit
checkpoint guarded by coalition soldiers and three tanks. Soldiers fired
numerous warning shots but the vehicle continued onward, forcing soldiers on
the ground to jump out of the way. The soldiers then fired at it with a
tank-mounted machine gun, killing two and injuring two other civilians the
vehicle as they tried to drive through the military checkpoint.
Yesterday, the UN committee monitoring sanctions against Iraq had announced that flight restrictions in place since 1990 had been removed following the Security Council's decision last week to lift sanctions. Several of its jetliners, maintenance facilities and offices at Baghdad International Airport, formerly known as Saddam International Airport, are said to have been damaged or destroyed in the fighting. Other aircraft remain parked at airports in Syria and Jordan.
A US soldier was killed on Thursday when his convoy came under fire from a
rocket-propelled grenade on a supply route through Iraq, bringing to nine the
number of US soldiers killed in the country this week. There was no
information provided at this time as to the location of the attack but said
the incident was being investigated. No further details were provided.
It was further clarified that neither the envoys nor the property held any diplomatic status. There are diplomats, previously accredited to the Saddam regime and are residing in former mission residences, who are still there. They are not regarded as diplomatic missions. They are accredited by a regime that is no longer existent and, therefore, their accreditation has lapsed. The individuals and their premises don't have diplomatic status with the United States.
On a separate subject, Lieutenant General David McKiernan indicated that he may soon send more troops to areas where US forces have been attacked. US forces have been targeted with everything from land mines to rocket-propelled grenades as they try to enforce a post-invasion peace. They also have come under pressure, both in Iraq and overseas, to make the country's lawless cities safe again.
The Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which had been scheduled to return to the United States in June, would stay in Iraq until commanders decide they are no longer needed. Some 140,000 US troops now occupy the country. McKiernan indicated that If some of the combat power of the 3rd Infantry Division was needed elsewhere in Iraq, he will certainly not hesitate to do that.
He also indicated that one area where more troops may be sent is Fallujah, a one-time stronghold for Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party 30 miles west of Baghdad. Two US soldiers were killed and nine wounded there Sunday night during a confrontation at a US checkpoint.
The 1st Armored Division has assumed the responsibility for the Baghdad area. However, the officers and senior enlisted men of the Division insist their men and equipment isn't battle ready, and indicate that soldiers' lives may be needlessly put at risk in combat situations. McKiernan indicated that he was working with the V Corps commander on different options. (The V Corps is an umbrella operation that coordinates American forces in Iraq.)
On Thursday, the US military acknowledged of mistakenly releasing Mohammed Jawad An-Neifus, a former Iraqi official accused of being involved in the murder of thousands of Iraqi Shiites, from the Bucca Internment facility at Umm Qasr on 18 May after he underwent a military court screening in which his true identity apparently was not detected. They have offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to his recapture.
In a statement posted on the CentCom WebSite - "When he appeared for his initial screening, there was nothing unusual about the story he told that alerted the JAG officer to his true identity. Therefore, he was cleared for release".
An-Neifus is suspected of being involved in the murder of thousands of Iraqi
Shiites when former President Saddam Hussein cracked down on a Shiite
rebellion in southern Iraq at the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The
remains of the Shiites were later found at a mass grave site in the southern
city of Mahawil. An-Neifus was initially detained by US Marines near the city
of Al Hillah on 26 April and was turned over to Army Military Police on 29
Even during Saddam's most savage repression, they had maintained an underground presence in Baghdad and other cities, mobilizing the masses and fighting the dictator. They now intend to employ their core of committed activists and extensive network of party cells to reestablish influence in their traditional constituencies, politically or economically disadvantaged social groups such as workers, peasants and educated professionals.
And unlike some other emerging parties that have hailed the US role in liberating Iraq, the communists are unabashed in their opposition to foreign occupation, saying the Iraqi people owe nothing to the United States. The suspicion is mutual. An official of the US led administration indicated that there had been no contact with the party since consultations to forge a new, broad-based interim authority began.
On Friday, the United States announced a major expansion of efforts to find chemical and biological arms in Iraq, by forming a new team of 1,400 US British and Australian experts. The new organization, designated as "The Iraq Survey Team" and headed by Army Major General Keith Dayton, will take up the hunt to find the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) which were cited as one of the main justification for the invasion of Iraq in March that toppled President Saddam Hussein.
The new unit will replace the US military's 75th Exploitation Task Force, which has been assigned the task of searching for weapons for two months with no success despite visiting 220 of 900 suspected sites. A two-week transition period will begin no later than 07 June. The Iraq Survey Group represents a significant expansion of effort in the hunt for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
While the new group will be staffed by up to 1400 people from the United States, Britain and Australia, it will increase the number of searchers in Iraq to about 300 from the current 200. Others will be involved in tasks ranging from analyzing documents to interrogating people who may have knowledge of such weapons. With offices in Baghdad, Qatar and Washington, the group will undertake other tasks including collecting information on terrorism, war crimes and prisoner of war issues.
Britain, France and Germany asked the United Nations to speed the return home of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi asylum-seekers in Europe. British Home Secretary David Blunkett warned that if voluntary measures did not work then "compulsion" could be used.
An estimated four million Iraqis fled their homeland during the nearly 25-year brutal regime of President Saddam Hussein. Most have resettled abroad, mainly in neighboring countries, but up to 900,000 are in limbo, with either temporary refugee status or a pending asylum application.
Many of the 900,000 Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers live in Iran, Jordan or
Syria, but some 225,000 are in Europe. The UN agency has estimated that
500,000 Iraqis could choose to return home with its help Ruud Lubbers, UN High
Commissioner for Refugees, pledged to report back by the end of June after
assessing security and other conditions for voluntary repatriation to post-war
The Badr Brigade, which, at one time, boasted as many as 15,000 militiamen, were fighting the regime" of Saddam Hussein. Now that the regime has fallen, the Badr forces have surrendered their heavy arms of tanks and artillery in compliance to the British US led coalition led disarmament program. However, elements of which have filtered back to Iraq from neighboring Iran from where they had carried out raids on the ousted Baath regime, still may have light arms.
The US British coalition has announced that all Iraqis would need a license to carry a gun after 15 June when heavy weapons are outlawed for political groups, apart from Kurds. Seen as a conservative who owes his movement's survival to Iran, Hakim objects to the presence of US and British forces in Iraq, but has taken the pragmatic decision to participate in the US sponsored reconstruction process.
In Baghdad, American military police raided the new Iraqi police academy and detained 15 senior officers suspected of belonging to an underground sleeper cell of the Baath Party. Fourteen people were arrested for taking part in an illegal activity and one for resisting arrest. Those held included Major General Akram Abdul Razak, the dean of the academy, five brigadier generals, three colonels and a lieutenant colonel.
The raid on the meeting, initiated on an anonymous tip-off, was greeted with celebration by some 100 to 150 ordinary policemen gathered outside the academy as the party members were taken out in handcuffs. Intimidation of others of the police force by Baath conspirators lead to the failure to uncover the underground sleeper cell sooner despite the tough crackdown on the Baath party the coalition launched earlier this month.
Three US soldiers, from a unit attached to the 101st Airborne Division, were killed and six more injured in a traffic accident in northern Iraq. They were in a "light-medium tactical vehicle" traveling on the road between the cities of Mosul and Tikrit when the accident occurred.
Two of the soldiers died at the scene, and one died while undergoing treatment at the 21st Combat Support Hospital. The public information release gave no further details, adding that the names of the troops involved would be released after their families are notified.
On Sunday, 01 June (Day-74) at 130 hours (local), a US Army base came under
attack with mortar rounds fired onto the base of the 270th Armored Battalion,
part of the 1st Armored Division, located in the western outskirts of Baghdad.
One soldier was slightly injured by shrapnel. This incident represented the
first mortar attack in Baghdad since the end of the war. Observers indicated
that there must have been some good, professional reconnaissance to identify a
The violence, the latest of several attacks on US forces in recent days, underlined the urgency of efforts to restore security more than seven weeks after Saddam Hussein's fall. US and British diplomats are striving to set up an Iraqi interim administration within the next six weeks in consultation with a broad range of influential Iraqis.
With lawlessness still rampant, few Iraqis have responded to the start of the US weapons amnesty. US forces have told Iraqis they have two weeks to hand in heavy weapons without penalty, though they may still keep assault rifles at home and carry licensed handguns.
On Sunday, the US led coalition in Iraq reported that its planes were coming under regular fire when trying to land at airports across the country, especially in Baghdad and It asked for anyone with information about the shooting to come forward. Many coalition planes carrying humanitarian aid to Iraqi cities, particularly Baghdad, Mosul and Tikrit, are regularly shot at as they approach airports.
Those behind this deliberate fire are members of the former regime who want to
undermine the rebuilding campaign. These criminal acts are a great danger,
above all in the capital. That is why Baghdad international airport will
remain closed to commercial flights as long as the shooting on the planes
The national distribution of the monthly rations, a food basket that includes flour, rice, sugar, lentils, milk powder, tea, salt and cooking fat, will begin Monday and continue until later this year. It then may be replaced by a program for the "most vulnerable" or by other mechanisms to ensure food security.
The World Food Program (WFP), based in Rome, Italy, is in charge of purchasing, shipping and transporting the food to Iraq's Trade Ministry, which oversees the five-month, $1.85 billion program. A total of 2.5 million metric tons of food will be distributed under the program, of which 440,000 metric tons already are in the country.
The food ration system operated sporadically during the past two months, but
its nationwide resumption moves Baghdad a significant step closer to normalcy
after the weeks of chaos and lawlessness that followed the capture of the city
by US forces on 09 April. Already, the partial restoration of water and
electricity, the return to work by hundreds of thousands of people and the
recent improvement in security have given Baghdad much of a business-as-usual
The badges were first awarded during World War II for infantrymen who have come under direct enemy fire and medics who served with them. The group awarded Sunday came from "A" Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, both based at Ft. Stewart, GA.
They fought several battles en route to the Iraqi capital and captured two presidential palaces and other strategic buildings on the first day of the battle for Baghdad. The infantrymen and medics were often involved in close combat with Iraqi forces.
In Baghdad, in a meeting between US administrators, now formally know as the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), and the seven Iraqi political leaders who had been expected to form the core of the new Iraqi government it was agreed to modify the number Iraqi core members. The unofficial plan announced by Ryan Crocker, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, at the closing of the meeting recommends that the of the number of Iraqis participating in the formation of a new government will be increased by more than three times to between 25 and 30 in order to "accelerate and broaden" the process of organization.
The US official who announced the planned changes indicated that the new plan would not dilute the efforts of the original core members. Nevertheless, he did say, "the next meeting we'll have in this process will be with a broader group, more representative of the population of Iraq. It is very important that the council emerge as the face of the Iraqi people". Details on the plans, which could create a framework for the creation of a new Iraqi government by midsummer, were deliberately left vague. The official insisted that nearly all significant decisions would be made by Iraqis, or "at least with significant Iraqi input".
On Monday, 02 June (Day-75), the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), expanding on the results of Sunday's meeting with the Iraqi political leaders, indicated that the council of the 25 to 30 Iraqis that would advise US officials on day-to-day government issues would be chosen "through a process of consultation" with Iraqis. The official, who spoke to a group of reporters in Baghdad, indicated that the shift in plans from a conference to an appointed council was driven by "an enormous and complicated agenda" for the reconstruction of Iraq.
Iraqi political groups, anxious for a greater say in running their country, had expected a national conference to create a US supervised transitional authority. Representatives of the groups refused to comment publicly on the presentation, saying they planned to meet on later to formulate a joint response.
As the US led coalition speeds up efforts to involve Iraqis in running the affairs of their country, an interim administration is to be installed in Iraq within six weeks, headed by a political council that will appoint ministers in waiting. The occupation authority will appoint the council following what it said would be wide-ranging consultations with Iraqis, after a decision to scrap a promised national political conference that had already been twice delayed.
The 25 to 30 strong council body would advise the occupational authority on the whole range of policy issues, economic as well as political, and name "key advisors" to Iraq's ministries who will work in close coordination with the coalition's own overseers. The Iraqis named to the ministries will be given progressively greater responsibilities "up to the point where the different advisors would become the interim ministers".
The political council will also debate, ratify and put to a referendum a new constitution to be drawn up by a separate convention, which is expected to be launched in one to two months. However the official stressed that the interim administration would not be a sovereign government and that "ultimate authority" would remain with the CPA until it handed over power to a democratically elected government.
Agreeing with the United States, Chief UN inspector Hans Blix, in a 45 page document to the Security Council, reported that Iraq had not supplied key data on anthrax, the deadly nerve gas chemical VX, other arms materials and had also failed to declare what appeared to be mobile biological arms labs, but they did not back up sweeping US claims of arms caches. Analyzing information before the inspectors were withdrawn in March and laboratory tests since then, the Blix report indicated that Iraq's data "does not resolve the question regarding the total quantity of anthrax produced and destroyed by Iraq".
Blix further indicated that photos of the mobile laboratories that Washington says could make biological weapons were unlike any vehicle Iraq has admitted owning in its reports to the inspectors. None of the types of mobile laboratories as found in Iraq and described in the media in April-May 2003 matched any of those descriptions of mobile facilities provided by Iraq to the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).
Blix, however, appealed to the council to keep his commission's inspection
work alive, saying that it had many more leads to follow. He also indicated
in the report that it would be inadvisable to undertake any drastic overall
reduction in the present cadre of staff that is fully acquainted with the
database and vast archives of UNSCOM and UNMOVIC and has broad knowledge of
programs, sites and relevant persons in Iraq, and about the logistics of
inspection operations. Blix, who is leaving his post at the end of June, said
inspectors were ready to resume work within two weeks if needed, including 30
staff members in New York.
The Pentagon has ordered health screenings for every US service member deployed for the Iraq operations, from Army infantrymen and Marines who fought on the ground to Air Force fighter pilots and Navy crews serving aboard aircraft carriers. Within 30 days of their homecoming, everyone will fill out a health questionnaire, review it with a health provider and give a blood sample that will be kept in case the person develops symptoms later.
A US soldier from the 4th Infantry Division died on Monday evening after being wounded in an attack with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades on a checkpoint near the town of Balad, 55 miles north of Baghdad, about half the way to Tikrit, the traditional tribal stronghold of ousted president Saddam Hussein.
Residents indicated that two other soldiers had also been wounded in the attack, and that hostility toward the Americans was mounting. The attack began around midnight Sunday with rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) being fired on their position. The soldiers returned fire and started to shoot at a nearby house. Bullet casings were strewn on the ground and bloodstains could be seen on the road.
This incident is another in a series of hit-and-run attacks conducted on US troops across the central region of the country since the end of ground combat almost two months ago.
In the troubled area west of Baghdad, military commanders are calling on America's battle-hardened 3rd Infantry Division, which led the assault on Baghdad, to put down attacks by apparent loyalists of Saddam Hussein's fallen regime. The 3rd Infantry will move into the area around Fallujah, a deeply conservative city where the Americans are facing increasing hostility from Iraqis.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division has orders to relieve the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which has kept a small number of troops in Fallujah and nearby Habaniyah since US forces took control of the area in mid-April. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment is stretched across a swath of western Iraq, patrolling six major cities, three border crossings, a dam and highways.
The incoming 2nd Brigade is larger than the regiment and will concentrate on
the two cities, allowing the regiment to focus on other areas. The 2nd
Brigade, with more than 1,500 combat soldiers, 88 Abrams tanks, 44 Bradley
Fighting Vehicles and dozens of other vehicles, will saturate the area with
checkpoints. The Brigade's primary mission will be to remove supporters of
Saddam's Baath Party and other militias opposed to US occupation. The second
part of the mission will be to help restore any damaged infrastructure. The
operation is expected to begin within the next 10 days.
The prison's debut, a makeover of the Mutakal prison building used by Saddam's regime, is to be accompanied this week by the opening of courts presided over by a slate of appointed judges. Though the prison is more livable than Saddam's squalid dungeons and torture chambers, inmates will sleep on plywood mattresses cushioned only by a blanket and eat food that is nutritious but far from scrumptious.
In coming days, the first new inmates will be the 70 people British forces
picked up after the war for a variety of crimes, such as murder, major theft
or looting. Whether some were among the thousands of criminals that Saddam
Hussein freed as part of a general amnesty won't be known until new Iraqi
authorities investigate their cases further.
The two-day operation DRAGON FURY, involving some 500 troops of the 82nd Airborne, was the latest in a series of actions concentrating on the east and southeast of the country. There was no combat engagements during the sweep of rugged mountains and valleys where Taliban and al-Qaeda guerrillas have continued to evade US forces since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, however two 107mm rockets were fired at US positions in the area after dark, but landed far off and caused no damage. Most such operations near the Afghan-Pakistan border have resulted only in a few low-level arrests and the seizure of caches of old weapons.
US soldiers took four men into custody during "Dragon Fury". Several others
escaped as Apache helicopters closed in on their farm compound. The detainees
were hooded and handcuffed before being taken away for questioning by military
police. Afghan officials are convinced that an increase in attacks on troops
and aid workers in Afghanistan this year was masterminded in Pakistan, and
have urged Islamabad to do more to catch Taliban and al-Qaeda members hiding
on its territory.
In a shift in political plans, officials from the US led Coalition Provisional Authority had indicated on Sunday that they planned to create an advisory group of 25 to 30 prominent Iraqi political figures to assist the occupational administrators, who would make executive decisions. The suspension of previous government elections, that could leave Iraq under occupation rule indefinitely, has angered political leaders in Iraq.
The so-called Leadership Council, a group of Iraqi political leaders considered the possible core of a new government, had decided Monday to press ahead and convene a meeting of the national assembly, In yesterday's leadership meeting, it was reemphasized that the conference will go on. The Leadership Council is unified around the national conference which is an Iraqi-led effort that is only to be supervised by the occupational administration.
The Leadership Council unites seven major Iraqi opposition groups, including two Kurdish parties and the Shiite Muslim Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. It has previously cooperated closely with Bremer and his predecessor, retired Lieutenant General Jay Garner, in efforts to set up a broad-based meeting of all Iraqi political, ethnic and religious factions.
Qanbar, a spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress, speaking to reporters in Baghdad, attributed the change to an apparent political shift in Washington, but declined to elaborate. He indicated that they believe the postponement is a regression from previous promises and deals made with the Iraqi opposition regarding the establishment of an interim Iraqi authority. He added, "We have continuously in the past emphasized there should be no breach and no break in Iraqi sovereignty".
Senior Vice President Cliff Mumm of Bechtel, who is managing the contract given the prime contract to rebuild Iraq, announced that the firm will concentrate on subcontracts to Iraqi businesses, not the thousands of foreign ones clamoring for a share. He added that foreign firms would be tapped only for equipment not available in Iraq or for top-end design or engineering services. "The whole idea is to spend this money to get the economy up and operating. That means we should spend it in Iraq".
Bechtel, based in San Francisco, awarded its first subcontract to an Iraqi company last week, to Al-Bunnia Trading Company, a 93-year-old Baghdad firm. Some Iraqi companies are in joint ventures with Turkish and east European partners that could win work in a country likely to generate deals worth billions of dollars as it recovers from three wars in 23 years and nearly 13 years of UN sanctions. Bechtel is planning a workshop for Iraqi contractors this month to explain what they need to do to win deals funded by the US government, and has asked the Iraqi Federation of Contractors to supply a list of candidate firms.
The biggest of several subcontracts already awarded had gone to the US Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company. to clear Iraq's only deep-water port at Umm Qasr. So far, the US government has authorized Bechtel to spend no more than $147 million, though the private contract of Bechtel could reach $680 million before it expires at the end of 2004.
Latif Yahia, a former body double for Uday, indicated that Saddam Hussein's elder son Uday was in hiding in Baghdad 11 days ago and had considered giving himself up to US forces. Yahia, who is in Ireland awaiting a visa to rejoin his family in England, told Reuters he did not know where Uday was now. He indicated that he had obtained his information in a satellite telephone call with a mutual friend in Baghdad 10 days ago who said that Uday and two bodyguards had stayed at his house in Baghdad for the two prior nights.
Uday was partially paralyzed after a failed attempt to kill him in 1996. Iraqi doctors who had treated Saddam's family said recently that Uday ended up with a slight limp. Yahia, who had acted as a body double for Uday for more than four years before fleeing Iraq in 1991, indicated that Uday wants to surrender but keeps changing his mind. He sits in his wheelchair crying, he can't go outside because he knows he'll be killed. He doesn't want to surrender because he's not sure what will happen to him.
Uday has been accused of brutal human rights abuses including torture and
rape. Nothing has been heard of him or other family members since US led
forces overthrew the former Iraqi regime in April. Uday is number three on
the US "most wanted" list. He was commander of Iraq's feared paramilitary
unit known as the Saddam Fedayeen, and was also chairman of the Iraqi Olympic
More than 1,500 combat troops from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division moved into the two central Iraqi cities of Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad and Habaniyah, five miles farther west. Two battalion-sized task forces took up positions at a railroad station outside the city of Fallujah, where there are strong ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and another task force took over two military airfields in Habaniyah, where ultraconservative Sunni Muslims have significant influence known for their anti-American sentiment.
The primary mission objective of the Brigade will be to identify and disable Baath Party supporters and other militias opposed to the US British Coalition occupation. Troop commanders indicated that the soldiers will saturate the area with checkpoints and conduct cordon and search operations for anti-American forces. A secondary objective of the mission will be to assist in restoring any damaged infrastructure. To this end, the troops would begin community projects or help rehabilitate schools, hospitals and other infrastructure if the community cooperates. Full scale operations are expected to begin within the next ten days.
In Fallujah and the neighboring cities of Ramadi and Habaniyah, the streets
were quiet Wednesday as soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd
Infantry Division went on patrol. Residents went about their business, passing
American forces without incident.
For the six weeks that followed the end of fighting, the two-floor home in the upscale Mansour district, in which at least 14 civilians are believed to have died, was left mostly undisturbed by any official examination. Up till this day, searchers combing through the rubble in al-Mansour had not yet come across any evidence that could prove that Saddam had been killed.
On Wednesday afternoon, Lieutenant General David McKiernan, commander of US ground troops in Iraq, indicated that, at some point, the Army must account for Saddam Hussein and his sons, Qusai and Odai. As he spoke, a bulldozer, a backhoe, two loaders and a dozen heavy trucks were hard at work at the site, which was covered by a thick layer of dust from the pulverized bricks. Dozens of US troops, three Bradley fighting vehicles and concertina wire protected the engineers clearing the debris.
Officers indicated that they expected to be done with the excavation by 11
June. Crews were expected to remain for another week to 10 days to make
repairs to nearby homes damaged in the airstrikes and to clean the site and
The soldiers who came under fire were part of a company from the 101st Airborne Division, based in Ft. Campbell, KY, that is temporarily attached to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. They finished a dismounted patrol and they were preparing to leave, getting on their vehicles, when they were engaged in an RPG attack.
Scores of US Army military police sealed off the area and launched a house-to-house searches for the unidentified assailants. Residents indicated that the attack on an American checkpoint in front of a police station began with small arms fire, the there was an explosion that left "blood everywhere. We saw the American troops shooting and running. They crossed the street, broke down a shop door and took cover inside".
The wounded soldiers were evacuated to a nearby military field hospital. Their identities weren't immediately released. The assault came a day after more than 1,500 soldiers from the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which helped fight the war and take Baghdad, moved into Fallujah and surrounding areas in central Iraq. Their mission is to quell increasing attacks on US occupying forces in the region.
As another US soldier was killed in western Iraq, the US led administration announced it will outlaw incitement to violence and is ready to enforce the ban even in mosques. The policy notice, which is to "go out fairly shortly", will prohibit incitement to "armed insurrection", including attacks on coalition troops, as well "racial and religious violence". The ban is "targeted largely" at the burgeoning free press which has grown up here since the ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime on 09 April.
The spokesman stressed that the administration had no intention of stifling the public demonstrations made possible by Saddam's overthrow and said calls for peaceful protests against coalition troops would remain lawful.
But the spokesman indicated that the coalition would consider taking action
even in mosques if preachers abused the sermons given each Friday at the main
weekly Muslim prayers. This applies to the territory of Iraq. but inasmuch as
religious sites are respected, if there are groups who are using and abusing
religious establishments such as mosques to incite religious or ethnic
violence, the coalition would consider taking action.
Iraqi authorities claimed the force, supposedly intended to liberate Jerusalem, consisted of seven million members, mostly civilians who received some basic military training. The real numbers were believed to have been much smaller, and it played almost no role during the last war.
Al-Rawi was a former Republican Guard commander who was awarded 27 medals and prized "Qadassiyah Sword" for exploits during 1980-88 war with Iran. He was severely wounded in the head in 1988 leading his troops in a counterattack against Iranian forces near the end of the war. His Republican Guard forces repeatedly used chemical weapons against the Iranians, seriously demoralizing their army. Al-Rawi eventually recaptured all Iraqi territory occupied by the Iranians, including the southern Faw peninsula and the Majnoon oil fields.
Al-Rawi appears as the Seven of Clubs in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 30 on the revised list of the 55. Thursday's arrest was the 28th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
With the retirement of chief UN inspector Hans Blix on 30 June, he wants the Security Council to utilize a decade of arms research and allow UN experts to finish the job. Blix gave an oral version of his final report on the assessment of all activities in Iraq in the three months that they were there to the council, whose members, including ally Britain, have made clear to the United States they do not consider the inspection commission's work finished in Iraq.
There is little doubt that council members, who will meet in a private session after hearing Blix's report in an open meeting, will want to discuss the future of his UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, known as UNMOVIC. The UN ambassador from Russia and this month's council president, Sergei Lavrov, attempting to make a political statement, indicated "It's not just about whether you have them back or have them out. It's about substance, and the substance is we all must know whether there are still some remnants of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq".
The United States, which has found no illegal weapons after examining more than 200 suspected sites over the past 11 weeks, had faulted Blix for failing to produce tough reports on the government of former President Saddam Hussein before his mission was truncated on the eve of the war in March.
The Baghdad's US run radio station urged Iraqis on Thursday to come forward with information on weapons of mass destruction, whose existence remains in doubt eight weeks after Saddam Hussein's fall. The public announcement indicated that everybody who had taken part in developing, storing, moving and acquiring weapons of mass destruction should provide coalition forces with information.
The radio message added "Nobody will face any danger for revealing the secrets
of these weapons. On the contrary, one who does so will live in safety, Any
informant who wanted to remain anonymous can approach contact points set up by
the US British authorities, without providing identification".
Sergeant Eric Viburs, of the Army's 346th Psychological Operations Company, based in Columbus, Ohio responded "You talk to that soldier's boss, and immediately something will be done. I guarantee it". The tension eased, Marlboros and Kufa Colas were passed around, and soon Viburs was practically family. The Americans aren't only interested in the sheik's friendship, but they want to enlist him as a spokesman in the poor Shiite Muslim neighborhood where he is a leader.
Across Iraq, dozens of three-person "psyops" teams are pursuing similar missions: befriending community leaders and using them to boost Iraqis' opinions of the United States and distribute its messages. The Army's Psychological Operations force in Iraq is the largest in US history, with 11 companies and almost 1,000 psyops personnel in the country or in support roles in the United States.
Their mission is to persuade Iraqis to do the Pentagon's bidding: report
unexploded munitions, vacate a building, support US troops, give up. It's a
mission as old as war itself. During the war, psyops detachments helped
engineer the surrender and desertion of thousands of Iraqi soldiers. They
dropped leaflets describing the proper way to hand over weapons and carried a
mobile radio station that transmitted messages to the Iraqi's that the US
invasion force was on its way.
The new arrangement will end a US troop presence on the DMZ that dates to the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, when a 151-mile buffer zone was established along the approximate line of ground contact between the opposing forces at the time a July 27, 1953, truce was signed. In a two-phase movement, US troops at bases scattered near the DMZ will be moved to "hub bases" at least 75 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone. Even after the consolidation, however, US troops will rotate to training ranges close to the DMZ.
Officials gave no timetable for the withdrawal, reflecting persistent South Korean worries that any reductions would put it at greater risk of a North Korean attack. Most troops at the 8th US Army headquarters in Seoul, 37 miles south of the border, also will move south. The moves in Korea are part of a broader Pentagon strategy to realign US forces around the globe, to include likely reductions in Germany and the establishment of new bases in eastern Europe. Last month the United States began to pull its troops out of Saudi Arabia after a 12-year stay.
On Friday, 06 June (Day-79), the 68th Chemical Company returned to Ft. Hood,
TX., greeted by a one round volley by six 75-millimeter howitzers, After more
than four months away from home near the front lines of Iraq, more than 500
friends, family members and fellow soldiers, made the welcome home ceremony of
the 150 solders who make up the "Dragon Masters". When the unit arrived, they
marched into the Abrams field house, flanked by a battalion formation of the
21st Field Artillery Regiment. Following brief welcoming comments from Major
General Joseph F.W. Peterson, the Company was released to their waiting family
It was the desire of the United States tried to keep the UN (IAEA) out of postwar Iraq. But reluctantly agreed to allow the agency's return under pressure from the arms-control community, which was concerned the safety of the Tuwaitha nuclear plant and US capability to secure the area and account for its contents. The IAEA plans to begin work on Saturday at one part of the sprawling Tuwaitha compound, about 20 km (12 miles) southeast of Baghdad.
For more than a decade, the IAEA monitored nearly two tons of uranium and radioactive materials tagged at the defunct facility. But the United States cut UN inspectors out of the weapons hunt when it went to war without UN backing. For this inspection trip, the Pentagon has limited the number of IAEA staff to seven and indicated that the assessment would have to be completed within two weeks.
The Pentagon has also stressed that the IAEA visit would be a one-time event to enforce the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and not a weapons inspection that might set a precedent for future UN searches for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In addition the IAEA is barred from the main Tuwaitha complex and from the other six other nuclear sites in Iraq.
The latest in a series of hit-and-run attacks by gunmen on US forces occurred when unidentified assailants fired rocket-propelled grenades and small arms at a US patrol near an air base in the town of Khaldiya, 45 miles west of Baghdad. The attackers fired on an M1A1 Abrams tank and a military police Humvee. The tank wasn't damaged, but the Humvee had numerous bullet holes in it, according to field reports. Soldiers returned fire, but there were no reports of casualties on either side.
One soldier was killed and two injured in a vehicle accident about 35 kilometers (20 miles) north of Baghdad on Friday. At the time of the accident, the soldiers were part of a security escort to Coalition Provisional Authority personnel. The wounded soldiers were evacuated to the 28th Combat-Support Hospital for treatment.
Late on Friday night, in the second incident of today, unidentified gunmen opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons on US soldiers near a mosque in Fallujah, 45 miles west of Baghdad. Troops returned fire, killing one of the attackers and another fled the scene. No casualties were experienced by the US troops.
In another incident, on Saturday morning, 07 June (Day-80), one US soldier was killed and four others wounded in a hit-and-run guerrilla attack of rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire in an area some 180 kilometers (110 miles) north of Baghdad, near Saddam Hussein's former stronghold of Tikrit The injured soldiers were evacuated by helicopter and ambulance to military medical facilities in the area.
It was the latest in a series of attacks on US forces in Sunni Muslim areas in
central Iraq that the military blames on Baathist remnants of Saddam's ousted
government. No additional details regarding the attacks were provided.
The treasures, originally discovered between 1988 and 1990 in ancient royal tombs below an Assyrian palace dating from the ninth century BC, had been feared lost. But US investigators learned they had been placed in a central bank vault in the early 1990s, possibly to protect them during the 1991 Gulf War. Acting Central Bank Governor Faleh Salman indicated that they were never lost, "We knew all along they were there. It just took a bit of time to get at them because of the flooding".
US customs agents who helped with the recovery of the treasure said that when they first entered the vaults they found bodies of looters killed in shootouts with rival gangs. But the seals on the crates of treasure were intact. The Nimrud treasure seemed to be in good condition. A team of experts from the British Museum would arrive soon to assess conservation needs.
The customs agents said it was not known how the vaults came to be flooded, but they suspect Iraqis deliberately let water in to stop looters, or members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle, making off with the money and valuables inside. A special team of US investigators working at the museum to check the extent of the looting has concluded that around 50 items were still lost or stolen, compared with initial estimates of up to 170,000. Most of the missing items were used for research, rather than exhibition.
Earlier this week, 179 boxes that contained the vast majority of the museum's exhibition collection were discovered safe in a secret vault. The discovery of these boxes containing nearly 8,000 of the most important items from the museum's collection means that the work of the investigation team is drawing to a close.
As the two occupying powers of the US and Britain intensified talks on Iraq's political future, Hamed Bayati of the Shiite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), an iranian backed Shiite Muslim group indicated that they would not join the proposed interim political council unless it was a constitutionally elected council, not picked by the US administrator, Paul Bremer.
Bremer, who had discussed his ideas with 22 representatives of seven political parties and other groups on Friday, indicated that there was broad agreement that in current circumstances an election could not be held and he would press ahead with plans to set up the council next month. None of the other six groups, composed mainly of former exiled foes of Saddam, has openly rejected Bremer's plan, but some say a national conference should be convened to choose an interim council, as proposed earlier.
Later a force of around 35 US soldiers staged a raid on the SCIRI offices in Baghdad entering the building in Mansur district and took away documents and a safe.
In the northern edge of the troubled city of Fallujah, a Sunni Muslim stronghold about 30 miles west of Baghdad, a gunmen attacked a US patrol with automatic weapons and a rocket propelled grenade in an ambush late Saturday. Soldiers returned fire and killed one of the assailants, while the other fled. None of the US soldiers was injured.
Pockets of resistance remain in the region between Fallujah and Ramadi and
they appear to be coordinated at the local level. More than 1,500 troops from
the 3rd Infantry Division were added to the area between Fallujah and the
nearby town of Ramadi to prevent unrest and quell the attacks.
On the trip to the Tuwaitha nuclear plant, the small group of seven IAEA were not allowed to use neutral UN vehicles for transportation. Instead, they were taken to Tuwaitha in a bus driven by a US soldier traveling in a 10-car military convoy. Representatives of the UN nuclear agency got a firsthand look Saturday at the postwar damage to Iraq' main nuclear facility, peering through broken windows and roaming the grounds to assess the extent of looting and disarray.
It is the first time UN monitors have been inside Iraq since they were pulled out nearly three months ago in the buildup to the war. For three hours under a blazing afternoon sun the UN group began their mission of determining how much damage was done to the plant during the war and what may be missing. Accompanied by American weapons hunters, they toured the grounds and looked into rooms where tons of uranium and radioactive sources had been safely stored for more than a decade.
Tuwaitha, Iraq's largest nuclear facility and now defunct, was left unguarded for two weeks after Iraqi troops fled the area on the eve of the war. US troops didn't secure the area until 07 April. In the meantime, looters from the surrounding villages stripped it of uranium storage barrels that they later used to hold drinking water.
In preparation for the IAEA return to the Tuwaitha nuclear plant, the US military had retrieved 100 barrels in a "buy back" program, allowing the villagers to sell back the barrels for $3 each and even while the IAEA was inside the sprawling complex Saturday, Iraqi workers wearing white suits and breathing masks dropped off more of the blue barrels.
On Sunday, 08 June (Day-81), the seven member UN IAEA team of nuclear experts returned to the vast Tuwaitha site to survey one of the looted storage facility under the watchful eyes of the US military escort, which has placed tight limits on their activities in Iraq. Wearing white protective suits, worked at a storage center known as Site "C", a three-building complex in the vast Tuwaitha compound.
They were accompanied by a Reuters cameraman. The US soldiers confiscated the cameraman's video, indicating that no media coverage was permitted in or around the nuclear research compound.
The latest casualty was an American soldier killed late Sunday at a checkpoint near the Syrian border, in the town of Al-Qaim. An undetermined number of attackers pulled up to the roadblock and requested medical help for a person in the car. Two people armed with pistols got out and shot the soldier. Troops returned fire, killing one person and capturing a second. At least one other assailant fled in the vehicle, sparking a manhunt by US forces in the western town overnight.
The US death brought to 29 the number of American servicemen who have died in fighting or accidents in Iraq since the end of the main invasion thrust of Iraq that ended hostilities on 01 May. A total of 137 US military personnel were killed in Iraq between the start of the US led invasion on 20 March and 01 May. Of these 114 died in combat or "friendly fire" incidents and 23 in accidents.
On Monday, 09 June (Day-82), acting oil ministry chief Thamir Ghadhban indicated that oil shipments will begin in the third week of June but does not expect production to return to pre-war production levels for at least a year. The Iraqi bureaucrat indicated that his staff and their advisors from the US led coalition were reviewing all the existing contracts signed under the old regime, which favored Chinese, French and Russian firms. He promised that all foreign oil firms would be treated fairly as Iraq values its position as a major supplier.
By the end of this month it is anticipated that Iraq will be producing about
1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and about two-thirds of that
will be made available for export. Output has already reached 500,000 bpd in
the northern oil fields and 200,000 bpd in the south, but output will not
reach the pre war levels of 2.5 Million bpd for over a year because of missing
equipment critical to the infrastructure and the wartime collapse of the power
One weapons team from the US military's 75th Exploitation Task Force, specializing in nuclear materials, has been tasked to accompany the UN experts until they leave on 25 June.
US military Site Survey Teams assigned to track down Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have run out of places to look and are getting time off or being assigned to other duties, even as pressure mounts on President Bush to explain why no banned arms have been found. After nearly three months of fruitless searches, weapons hunters say they are now waiting for a new team of Pentagon intelligence experts to take over the effort, relying more on leads from interviews with Iraqi prisoners and documents.
The new Survey Group assembled by the Pentagon to reinvigorate the hunt for Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction includes dozens of former UN arms inspectors complimented by a large intelligence component. The Survey Group will replace the 75th Exploitation Task Force and take charge as early as next Saturday of the search for Iraqi chemical and biological weapons and evidence of a nuclear arms development program.
While the United States opposed a UN role in the hunt for weapons of mass
destruction, up to 50 former UN weapons inspectors who have unique historical
expertise working in the effort in Iraq over the past 12 years have been
recruited to join the Iraq Survey Group.
Al-Shareef Ali, a 47-year-old banker based in London, is the son of Badiaa, a first cousin of Ghazi I. He heads the Constitutional Monarchy Movement (CMM), which demands a popular referendum to determine whether Iraq should remain a republic or restore the monarchy toppled in the 1958 coup led by General Abdul Karim Kassem.
Sharif Ali is descended from the same Hashemite royal family that now rules Jordan. It's Iraqi counterpart, under Faisal I, was installed by Britain after World War I. The family ruled Iraq until it was deposed in a military coup in 1958. Sharif Ali isn't the only remnant of the royal family. Two of his cousins, members of the Jordanian royal family, have been mentioned as possible contenders to the throne. Another pretender to the Iraqi throne, Raad bin Zaid, Ghazi's first cousin, lives in Jordan.
The Hashemite dynasty traces its roots back to Islam's Prophet Muhammad. King Faisal I, whose equestrian statue still graces a square in Baghdad, led the Arab revolt against the Ottomans in 1917 along with T.E. Lawrence, the British officer known as Lawrence of Arabia. At the time, the Hashemites were the Sharifs of Mecca, rulers of Islam's holiest city, from where they were driven out by the Saudis after World War I.
A Qatari plane carrying food and medicine arrived, on Tuesday, in the southern city of Basra on what was said to be the first commercial flight to postwar Iraq. It was followed by an advance party of 35 Italian troops who flew into Basra. The troops, the first to arrive of a 1,700-strong Italian peacekeeping contingent due by the end of June, unloaded 10 military vehicles from an Italian military plane.
A British military spokesman indicated that an advance party of 1,100 marines
from the Netherlands was due to arrive in the British-controlled zone of Basra
in southern Iraq on Thursday. More than 10 countries have also pledged troops
for a separate 7,500-strong Polish-led force that will be deployed in
Bremer indicated that his administration had come under enormous pressure from Iraqis to remedy the shortage of 250 dinar notes, as the 10,000 dinar bill, the only other one in circulation, trades at a sharply reduced rate against the dollar. While moneychangers are prepared to buy the 250 dinar notes at he usual market rate, which currently stands at some 1,400 dinars to the dollar, the 10,000 dinar bills are marked down by roughly 25 percent.
He also said that his administration was willing and eager to remedy the
problem to give the economy a lift, and was printing the extra 250 dinar
notes to offer at face value against the larger bills so that confidence could
al-Dulaymi appears as the Ten of Clubs in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 18 on the revised list of the 55. Tuesday's arrest was the 29th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
The second man captured was a top official in the chemical weapons corps of the Iraqi military. Brigadier General Husayn al-Awadi, was a regional Baath Party leader in the Ninawa region of northern Iraq. al-Awadi is No. 53 on the revised list of the 55. Tuesday's arrest was the 30th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
American officials hope that captured Iraqi officials like al-Awadi can give them information providing positive evidence to the statement of President Bush that Iraq had stocks of chemical and biological weapons before the war. No such weapons have been found so far.
The attacks against US soldiers continue at a brisk rate. Looters traveling in seven vehicles fired on a US patrol in Beiji, north of Baghdad. The patrol returned fire, and captured one vehicle, while the other six vehicles attempted to escape. The fleeing vehicles were located by an AH-64 Apache helicopter and a flash checkpoint was established which captured the remaining vehicles, detaining nine individuals and seizing anti-tank mines in their possession.
In a second incident, US soldiers were also fired on while traveling in a two-vehicle convoy at a traffic circle in the northern city of Mosul. One soldier was slightly wounded, and two men with AK-47 assault rifles were later arrested.
In response to the hostile attacks against US soldiers, a series of raids was staged around the towns of Balad and Baquba to crack down on guerrilla fighters north of Baghdad, detaining 384 people and suffering four casualties from Iraqi resistance. Of the 384 detained, thirty of the Iraqis detained in the raids have been confirmed as supporters of Saddam Hussein. Twelve of those detained had tried to escape by boat down the Tigris river but were captured by US military engineers in a patrol boat.
A large quantity of arms and ammunition was seized in the operation. Of the
four wounded US soldiers, three were evacuated to Germany for medical
treatment and one later resumed active duty.
The attack began when a van with four people inside stopped in an alley about 250 yards from the soldiers. Two people got out of the van, and each fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the Americans. One grenade fell short of the soldiers and another struck a US vehicle. Troops searched the area for the attackers, but they did not indicate whether any suspects were found.
The weapons collection point was part of a US program to try to rid Iraq of the thousands of heavy weapons in Iraqi hands. American officials have banned Iraqis from having anything but light weapons, ordering citizens to turn them in to US forces or Iraqi police by Saturday or face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
On Wednesday, 11 June (Day-84), the Republican majority in the US Congress refused to establish a special commission to investigate allegations that intelligence reports on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction may have been manipulated to justify the war. The Republicans justified their position by saying the probe, which has been demanded by opposition Democrats, would be used to politicize the problem and use ahead of the 2004 presidential elections.
With more than eight weeks since the ouster of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the US military is still to find suspected Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, which have been used by the administration of President George W. Bush as one of the primary rationales for war. Republican Senator Pat Roberts, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, indicated, at a press conference, that he would not allow the committee "to be politicized or to be used as an unwitting tool for any political strategies.
Roberts also indicated that criticism of the work of US intelligence services
would create "divisiveness" with the intelligence committee and the US
Department of Defense and before any official inquiry could be launched, the
various committees in charge of supervising intelligence gathering activities
would investigate and interview potential witnesses.
Ten to 15 Iraqis were killed in Thursday's action, part of a sweep through the so-called "Sunni triangle" north and west of Baghdad in central Iraq and marked at its top by Tikrit, Saddam's hometown. Militants in recent weeks have stepped up ambushes and sniping at coalition forces in the triangle, a heartland of support for Saddam's now-banned Baath Party. Lt. General David McKiernan, the US ground forces commander in Iraq indicated that with receipt of actionable intelligence, the Army strikes hard and with lethal force, "Iraq will be a combat zone for some time".
Coalition forces have not give a total of Iraqi casualties in the operation, but said about 400 Iraqis have been arrested and many were being interrogated. No Americans have been killed but four US soldiers suffered gunshot wounds in the action on Thursday. As part of the effort, the American civilian administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, has banned gatherings, pronouncements or publications that incite disorder or violence against the US led occupation forces, or the return of the Baath Party.
The US Agency for International Development selected the 10 firms for a streamlined bidding process in an effort to accelerate the restructuring the economy and have asked them to submit bids for a plan to reshape the Iraqi economy into a free-market system with a major privatization program. The 10 firms in the competition are: Bearing Point; Booz, Allen and Hamilton; Nathan Associates; IBM Global Services; Development Alternatives, Inc.; Carana Corporation; ABT Associates; Chemonics; Deloitte and Touche; and Financial Markets International.
The companies were invited to bid under the terms of a 163-page document describing the project "Economic Recovery, Reform and Sustained Growth in Iraq". that is directed at the economic rehabilitation and reformation of Iraq to stimulate the country's international trade and employment. The winning bidder "will provide macro economic reform advice, with a focus on tax, fiscal, exchange rate, monetary policy, and banking reform. The bids were requested earlier this month and that the number of firms selected was limited to 10 to "compress the timetable" in an effort to get the project going in six to eight weeks.
The US Central Intelligence Agency has named former UN weapons inspector David Kay special adviser for strategy on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. The nomination comes as questions swirl over whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, the primary justification for the US led war on Iraq. Kay, will be based in Iraq and "will be in charge of refining the overall approach for the search for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction". He will receive "direct support" from the Defense Department's Iraq Survey Group.
CIA Director George Tenet indicated that David Kay's experience and background make him an ideal person for this new role. "His understanding of the history of the Iraqi programs and knowledge of past Iraqi efforts to hide WMD will be of inestimable help in determining the current status of Saddam Hussein's illicit weapons".
The background of Kay includes working for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the former United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), Kay served as chief nuclear weapons inspector on three inspection missions in Iraq between 1991 and 1992. He has also served as a senior fellow at the Potomac Institute think tank in Arlington, VA.
US troops pressed at least three massive operations around Iraq to take the battle to the enemy drew new tactics with twin blasts hitting the main oil export pipeline to Turkey. The twin fires on the main oil pipeline to Turkey struck near the refinery town of Baiji, less than an hour's drive from Kirkuk. Residents in the village of Makhoul, 15 kilometers (nine miles) north of Baiji, indicated that the pipeline had been attacked using explosives around 2045 hours (local), the same day Iraq awarded its first post-war oil contracts in preparation for the re-launch of exports.
The first oil lifting contracts awarded Thursday will not be affected as they were for Kirkuk crude already in storage at the other end of the pipeline in the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. Despite strong denials by a coalition military spokesman in Baghdad, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul confirmed that the blasts were the result of hostile action. but US and another Turkish official said may have been an accident. Nevertheless, the blasts are a blow to US efforts to resume large-scale oil exports as quickly as possible. They risk forcing the coalition to deploy large numbers of personnel to protect the supply line.
Later investigations indicated that the explosions and fire were caused by a
gas leak. The main oil pipeline from Iraq to Turkey is expected to be back in
working condition within 48 hours.
Staged by the 3rd and 4th Infantry Divisions, the fighting follows the US strategy of luring opposition holdouts into the open, where their assault rifles and rocket launchers are no match for American forces equipped with computerized weaponry and heavy armor. The Iraqi ambush started by a large force of insurgents who detonated a land mine and fired rockets on a two-tank patrol of the 4th Infantry Division about 30 miles northwest of Baghdad.
The tanks returned fire, killing four assailants. The patrol called in reinforcements, including Apache helicopters, and gave chase to the fleeing attackers, killing 23. There were no American casualties. The pursuit lasted through the night and into daylight. Some attackers fled through sunflower fields and ducked into sand-brick houses.
Now headquartered in Tikrit, the tip of the so-called Sunni Triangle that marks the heartland of anti-American resistance, the 4th Infantry Division is one of the US military's toughest and most technologically advanced. Its combat vehicles are equipped with computers and tactical Internet, enabling troops to know each other's positions and avoid friendly fire.
The government on Friday gave initial permission to three airlines, World Airways, Northwest Airlines and Kalitta Air, to begin scheduled flights between the United States and Iraq. The airlines will still need approvals from several government agencies. The Transportation Security Administration, for example, must make sure that security is adequate at Iraqi airports. Baghdad International Airport has yet to be opened for any scheduled airline service.
Transportation officials granted the right to fly between any point in the
United States and any point in Iraq to two of the airlines: Northwest, the
fourth biggest US airline, and Kalitta Air, an Ypsilanti, MI based freight
carrier. World Airways will be able to carry people or cargo between
Washington's Dulles International Airport and Baghdad via Geneva, Switzerland.
World, a Peachtree City, GA. airline, carries pilgrims to the Islamic Holy
Also on Saturday, the US Army and Coalition Forces launched Operation DESERT
SCORPION in northern Iraq.against forces loyal to ousted president Saddam
Hussein in northern Iraq. The strike will target anyone who is striking
against US soldiers. Some of them are Baath Party members and some of them are
against any peace efforts. There have been a number of people detained people,
but no numbers are currently being disclosed. The operation, focused "mostly
in north and north west" Iraq, by the 4th ID and supporting units, came on the
heels of Operation PENINSULA STRIKE, a massive six-day US military assault in
north-central Iraq to clamp down on pro-Saddam fighters, which was brought to
a close last Thursday.
The pilot and three-star general was appointed commander-in-chief of the Iraqi Air Force during the mid-1990s. He also commanded air bases during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, including in the northern city of Kirkuk. Details on the location or manner of capture were not released.
Hamid al-Tikriti appears as the Ten of Spades in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 17 on the revised list of the 55. Saturday's arrest was the 31st fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
On Sunday, 15 June (Day-88), the close of a two-week nationwide amnesty for surrendering banned arms, only a fraction of the thousands of heavy weapons, anti-tank rockets and anti-aircraft missiles had been turned in. With the deadline passed for Iraqis to hand in heavy weapons, US forces fanned out across Iraq to seize arms and put down potential foes.
Three hours after the deadline, 1,300 troops of the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division conducted the first raids, cordoning off Fallujah, a town of 200,000 about 35 miles west of Baghdad. Hundreds of troops supported by helicopters and tanks swooped on Fallujah and several other Iraqi towns in the dead of night. They handcuffed and forced men to lie face down on floors and rousted women from their beds while searching for illegal arms, in a swift and coordinated action that residents of the raided homes complained was heavy handed.
Acting on intelligence tips, they swept through 16 buildings at four locations. Troops found bombs, bomb-making materials and illegal communications equipment. After a three-hour operation in Fallujah, eight suspected leaders of the anti-American resistance were taken into custody. The operation was designed to limit inconvenience to residents. After daybreak, convoys of trucks bearing food, medicines, school supplies and toys rolled into town, items requested by local leaders in meetings with brigade commanders.
Nevertheless, Iraqis complained of insensitive behavior by US troops during the raids, asserting that some arrested people had no involvement in attacks on American troops. Residents and local leaders claim the attackers are troublemakers who don't come from the area. Pentagon officials have indicated that foreign volunteers also are still active in Iraq, including Syrians, Saudis and Yemenis.
As the new US mission was launched to hunt for Saddam Hussein loyalists blamed for recent attacks, guerrillas ambushed a US convoy in the hostile region north of Baghdad Sunday, wounding several soldiers, A crippled US truck smoldered on the highway south of the restive town of Balad after the ambush, its tires and canopy ablaze. The convoy had been traveling from Baghdad to Balad, about 90 kilometers (60 miles) to the north. It was attacked about 20 kilometers south of Balad. Apache helicopters buzzed overhead, searching for the attackers. Tanks and armored vehicles surrounded the truck. Troops trained their guns at the fields around the road. Several casualties had been evacuated.
The United States is increasing its radio appeals for Iraqis involved in weapons of mass destruction programs to surrender for trial, offering leniency for those who cooperate. On Sunday, an AM radio station in Baghdad operated by US Army's Psychological Operations personnel broadcast an appeal to Iraq's former weapons scientists to surrender. The announcer broadcast in Arabic "It's time to leave your hideouts. If you come voluntarily and give information about weapons of mass destruction and their launch vehicles, the United States will do its best to give you a just trial in accordance with the law".
The Army Psyop broadcasts is aimed at helping the effort to find more
candidates to interview. The station, which is called Information Radio and is
operated from a portable radio transmitter, has broadcast similar appeals
In the small town of Khaldiyah, 45 miles west of Baghdad, more than 100 military police and infantrymen in 30 Humvees and four Bradley fighting vehicles arrived for a targeted search of six homes and, acting on information about where suspected anti-American insurgents were hiding and illegal weapons were stockpiled, took away nine men. Helicopters hovered a few hundred yards overhead, providing a greater range of observation.
In the outskirts of the Ramadi area, about 18 miles farther west, the families were still asleep when the armored column rumbled into their village at 0515 hours (local), with loudspeakers blaring an Arabic-language warning "These are coalition forces. Please stay in your homes and open your doors. Thank you for your cooperation". Troops bound men and women in the two houses with plastic handcuffs and moved them into a nearby field while they searched the homes. There were no immediate reports of any injuries during the raids.
At 2330 hours (local), a sniper killed a member of the 37th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division who was in the rear seat of a Humvee on patrol in Baghdad. Military officials indicated that it was likely the bullet penetrated the soldier's flak vest, possibly by entering at an angle that missed an armored ceramic plate. Medics administered first aid and brought to the soldier to the brigade's medical station where the soldier was pronounced dead.
As the soldier was killed, dozens of members of the same brigade were involved
in a raid on a cafe and religious school in the same neighborhood, a Sunni
Muslim stronghold where US troops have been repeatedly ambushed. The school
and cafe raid captured 31 Iraqi men while seeking a pair of resistance
ringleaders who were not found.
Soldiers indicated that they had seized several weapons during house-to-house
searches. A two-week amnesty for Iraqis to hand in heavy weapons ended on
Sunday. Anyone caught with illegal firearms now faces a fine and up to a year
In the 1990s, Mahmud was put in charge of several security missions, including responsibility over places Iraq has been accused of hiding weapons programs. He started his career as a non-commissioned officer in Saddam's bodyguard unit, eventually being promoted to lieutenant general. It is believed that Mahmud may have information on the fate of Saddam and his sons, and he is thought to have details of Iraq's alleged weapons programs. US officials have said they want to try Mahmud for war crimes or crimes against humanity for activities associated with his senior position in the Iraqi regime.
Mahmud appears as the Ace of Diamonds in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 04 on the revised list of the 55. Monday's capture was the 32nd fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
US authorities announced creation of a new criminal court Tuesday and a panel to purge judges loyal to Saddam Hussein. The reforms are designed to upgrade a judicial system that catered to Saddam's desires rather than the rule of law. The two new authorities, the Judicial Review Committee and the Central Criminal Court, are important steps in giving the Iraqi people a justice system they can trust and respect.
The task of The Review Committee is to clean up Iraq's judiciary and establish
standards of operation. If the Committee finds any judge or prosecutor who
violates these standards, the committee will dismiss him or her from office.
The committee will consist of three Iraqis and three members of the occupying
coalition and will finish its initial work in three or four months. The
criminal court will help the judiciary crack down on criminals undermining
Iraq's security and reconstruction. They will be brought to justice without
Another military spokesman said the incident began when the demonstrators threw stones at a convoy of military police vehicles moving toward the arched gateway of the Republican Palace, now the headquarters of the US led administration. A soldier fired his weapon in response to the stoning.
Iraqis who took part in the protest said the violence began when the crowd pressed against a vehicle moving slowly outside the gate and banged on it. A soldier fired into the air, apparently setting off a panic in the crowd.
In a second incident, approximately an hour later, one US soldiers was killed and one was wounded as they guarded a propane gas filling station in Baghdad. The gunmen walked up to a squad of troops guarding the gas station and opened fire at close range before fleeing in a waiting car as other soldiers tried to give aid to the wounded soldier. An Iraqi policeman confirmed the one soldier dead, adding that the attackers had fled as US military vehicles and a helicopter arrived to removed the body.
The latest, and perhaps one of the more significant, raids of US troops was on two farmhouses, one north of and the other west of Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, north of Baghdad on Wednesday, capturing as many as 50 of former President Saddam's Special Republican Guard and security forces. Army Major General Ray Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, indicated to reporters, in a teleconference from Tikrit, that his troops seized $8.5 million dollars, 300 to 400 million dinars, uncounted English pounds, Euros, Iraqi dinars and jewels valued at up to $1 million, apparently designated in part to pay bounties to kill American soldiers. The raids were the latest in a series aimed at trying to halt deadly ambushes on US troops in Iraq.
Persistent attacks on Americans in Iraq are being carried out by regional bands that include Saddam Hussein loyalists and disgruntled ex-soldiers but have not formed into a national network. The US military characterized the resistance is the "last dying breath" of enemy forces.
The violence, most recently the killing of another US soldier on Wednesday, has underscored the volatility of a US led occupation that's been forced to concentrate on security over reconstruction and has raised concerns of a guerrilla war. Iraqi security officials working with the Americans indicated that regional leaders are directing the attacks by people still loyal to Saddam, former soldiers, Sunni Muslim radicals and non-Iraqi "holy warriors".
With US forces carrying out a large sweep to put down resistance, Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld indicated, to reporters at the Pentagon, that
American troops are "rooting out pockets of dead-enders." Groups of 10 to 20
people were behind the attacks on soldiers, not "large military
His area of responsibility covers all US forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf as well as for a smaller military presence in the Horn of Africa and other areas of potential hostilities such as Iran and Pakistan.
On Thursday, 19 June (Day-92), a mortar shell slammed into a Civil Military Operations Center, a coalition-run humanitarian aid office, in Samarra, 75 north of Baghdad, killing an Iraqi bystander and wounding 12 others, the latest of several attacks targeting Iraqis working with US forces. Soldiers heard three explosions and local police found the injured and killed, but the soldiers were unable to find the attackers.
The office coordinates between the military and civilian, nongovernment agencies in humanitarian assistance. Iraqi cities have been on edge since Sunday, when coalition forces began house-to-house searches in Baghdad for banned weapons and suspected activists trying to undermine the US led occupation.
In the second incident of the day, attackers launched a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) at a US military ambulance, transporting a wounded US soldier to a medical facility when it was hit at about noon Thursday, killing one American soldier and wounding two others. The incident occurred on a highway in al-Iskandariyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. The wounded soldier being transported was not the one killed. The casualties were members of an Army medical brigade and their identities were being withheld pending notification of relatives.
The wounded were taken to an Army support hospital in southwest Baghdad. It was not immediately clear if the ambulance was traveling as part of a convoy or if fire was returned.
In a third incident, at around 2300 hours (local), a double attack was launched by unknown assailants against US troops manning the power station of Fallujah, west of Baghdad and a government office. Two rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) targeted the electricity plant where an explosion was heard and a fire was started which caused a major power cut in the region. Several US soldiers were wounded. Before evacuating the power station, the US soldiers fired back at the assailants who reportedly managed to flee the area unharmed.
A third RPG hit a government building in the town, burning a US armored carrier and an Iraqi civilian truck. Firefighters attempted to extinguish fires at both locations. The latest attack also came amid flaring anger in the capital over the slow return of basic services, with former soldiers warning they are ready to take up arms against the city's US occupiers if the dispute with the US administration is not settled by Monday.
The director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Pierre Kraehenbuehl indicated to journalists that, through the cooperation by coalition forces, the International Red Cross has had access and visited some 6,125 prisoners of war and civilians held by coalition forces in Iraq.
A breakdown of the major categories of those being detained includes more than 3,700 Iraqi prisoners of war captured during the US led invasion of Iraq. The amount for civilian internees is 2,425, among those are different senior members of the Baath Party, including former members of Saddam Hussein's regime who have been arrested.
On Friday, 20 June (Day-93), attackers, in a Volkswagen car, hit two US military vehicles with grenades, setting them ablaze, in the restive Iraqi town of Fallujah overnight. One man said a woman was in hospital as a result of the shooting. Other residents indicated that there had been no casualties. US military spokesmen said they no additional information on any attack in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, where several attacks have been mounted on US troops. Witnesses saw a building on fire and a resident showed reporters a car with its roof smashed and a hole in the plaster surface of a house wall.
US military officials who accompanied the IAEA team indicated that experts from the UN atomic agency have secured and accounted for the natural and low-enriched uranium that was looted from Iraq's largest nuclear research facility at Tuwaitha, 12 miles south of Baghdad. Although at least 20 percent of the containers which stored the uranium were taken from the site, it appears that looters had dumped the uranium before taking the barrels.
The United Nations Security Council resolution on post-war Iraq demands that member countries "freeze without delay" any assets they find belonging to Saddam Hussein, his family, regime and cronies. The money is to be deposited in a development fund controlled by the United States and Britain for the Iraqi people. The US Treasury Department says the United States has taken the following action since the invasion of Iraq was launched 19 March:
Hit-and-run strikes on US troops have been concentrated in Sunni Muslim towns such as Ramadi west and north of Baghdad. One unit of troops dragged half a dozen men from their homes as women wailed. They seized weapons and a computer disk. Officers indicated that they had targeted five men from the Fedayeen paramilitary force, which put up some of the fiercest resistance to US troops during their invasion.
US soldiers of the Army's 1st Armored Division, acting on a tip, seized code
equipment and piles of top secret Iraqi intelligence documents in a raid
Saturday on a community center. The find, including references to a nuclear
program, is being sent to senior intelligence analysts to look for information
on Iraq's banned weapons programs. The Iraqi intelligence haul came on the
sixth day of a nationwide sweep to seize weapons and insurgents. The raid was
part of Operation DESERT SCORPION, launched on 15 June to crack down on
militants and befriend civilians by helping with aid and reconstruction
projects. So far, the military has conducted 90 raids and netted 540 suspects.
No figure was given on how many had been released.
On Sunday, 22 June (Day-95), Iraq re-entered the world oil market with its first shipment of crude since the war, but sabotage and looting along its largest pipeline delayed the flow of freshly pumped oil, the key to the reconstruction of an economy devastated by sanctions and war. The shipment of oil marked a key first step. Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, and all proceeds from sales are to go into a US controlled fund for use rebuilding battered infrastructure and an economy devastated by more than 12 years of UN economic sanctions.
In neighboring Turkey, Iraqi, US and Turkish officials gathered at the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan for a ceremony launching the shipment. Mohammed Al-Jibouri, the head of Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization or SOMO, said a prayer and then clicked on the mouse of a computer at the terminal. Workers began loading one million barrels of Iraqi crude bought by Turkey onto the Turkish tanker Ottoman Dignity. The cargo was then to be taken to a Turkish refinery on the Aegean coast. Another million barrels, bought by Spanish refiner Cepsa SA, was to be loaded onto a Spanish tanker, Sandra Tapias.
The US chief administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, acknowledged to industrialists and political leaders at the World Economic Forum in Jordan that security is a prerequisite for putting Iraq on the road to recovery. Bremer indicated that security was his "first priority," blaming continuing political violence and acts of sabotage on "a very small minority still trying to fight us" that is loyal to deposed President Saddam Hussein.
He also suggested that Iraqi oil revenues could be distributed directly to the country's citizens, as Alaska does with its residents, or placed in a national trust fund to pay for pensions or other social programs. "Every individual Iraqi would come to understand that his or her stake in the country's economic success was there to see".
Sunday, a US soldier was killed and another was wounded in a grenade attack on a military convoy south of Baghdad. A report indicated that the two soldiers had been evacuated by road after the attack in Khan Azad, 20 km (12 miles) south of the capital. One was dead on arrival at hospital.
It was the latest in the large number of attacks on US forces in which 19 soldiers have been killed since President Bush declared major combat in Iraq over on 01 May.
US troops are quicker to pull weapons now. They keep cars at a distance. They frisk pedestrians. They break into homes to seize weapons and men. They are working harder to protect themselves, taking lessons from the guerrilla-style attacks that have increasingly been targeting troops in Baghdad. Nine Americans have died in hostile actions this month alone, including a US soldier killed today a grenade attack south of the Iraqi capital. For Iraqis living under these security measures, the US occupation has become an increasingly hostile, and the spiraling assaults a just retribution.
In Ramadi, a patrol of two tanks and four Humvees, of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, came under small arms fire on Sunday, and the patrol saw a young girl running away with an AK-47 assault rifle. The bullets landed harmlessly in the dirt around the vehicles.
The troops followed the girl home and found the rifle wrapped in a red dress propped in a corner. Three men in the household were taken for interrogation, but the troops allowed the girl to remain at home when they learned her age. They also seized $1,500 in cash and $1,000 in Iraqi dinars.None of the troops saw who fired the weapon, although they found no other suspects in the area other than the young girl.
On Monday, 23 June (Day-96), insurgents fired rocket propelled grenades at US
Army patrols in the two western Iraqi towns of Khaldiyah and Habaniyah, the
latest in an escalating series of attacks that involved yesterday's attack by
a 12-year-old girl with an assault rifle. No one was injured in the grenade
attacks in, according to the overnight intelligence report distributed to Army
Military officials said they had no information about reports that an airstrike on a three-vehicle convoy fleeing Iraq near the Syrian border last Wednesday killed top officials in the government of former president Saddam Hussein, perhaps including Saddam or his sons. Defense officials have indicated that DNA tests were being conducted on the victims, and the Pentagon was closely following the results of the strike by a Special Operations forces AC-130 gunship.
But they added that so far there was no evidence that either Saddam or one of his sons, Uday and Qusay, was hit. They are the top three on the US list of most-wanted officials in Iraq, and coalition officials say the lack of evidence about their fate is fueling resistance to the occupation within Iraq.
Iraqi soldiers, first routed and then sacked by the United States, finally won a battle when the coalition agreed to pay back salaries under threat of violence. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) indicated, in a policy representing a U-turn. that the first payments to former soldiers will begin on 14 July. The monthly payment would range from 50 to 250 dollars, a huge salary by Iraqi military standards. for between 200,000 and 250,000 former professional soldiers who would be eligible. Another 300,000 conscripts would receive one-time payments.
Following the announcement of compensation payments to former military personnel, L. Paul Bremer, the chief US administrator announced that the Iraqi army, that was defeated in April and dissolved by a 23 May, is to be re-formed and operational within a year. It initially will have one brigade of 12,000 men. Even when it grows to a planned three brigades of 40,000 men in three years, the army still will be just 10 percent of the size of the force under Saddam Hussein.
Even so, the rebuilding of the army should help satisfy some soldiers left unemployed and destitute when Iraq's military was disbanded. Demonstrations by ex-servicemen have dogged the Coalition Provisional Authority for weeks.
The new army will be responsible for protecting borders, providing security for key installations and helping clear mines, tasks that could restore pride for Iraqi soldiers while freeing the American military to concentrate on any internal resistance to the occupation. In his closing comments Bremer said "I am pleased to announce this first step in creating an armed force that will be professional, nonpolitical, militarily effective and truly representative of the country".
On Monday, The Daily Mirror reported that Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf (Baghdad Bob), Iraq's information minister at the end of Saddam Hussein's regime, was caught in his car at a US military roadblock and captured near the Baghdad International Airport. His captors allowed him to go back to a relative's house where he had been hiding with his wife and three children "to collect a toothbrush, razor and book".
An explosion in the early morning of Tuesday, 24 June (Day-97) at 0130 hours (local), just 50 meters from the village of Barwanah damaged an oil pipeline 250 kilometers (155 miles) northwest of Baghdad which supplied a refinery and a power plant in the capital. The 30-inch (75-centimeter) pipeline near Barwanah links the northern city of Kirkuk with the Hadithah pumping station to the west.
A huge black plume of smoke was visible from 15 kilometers (nine miles) and firefighters on the scene were unable to intervene in a bid to douse the fire because of the intense heat. Crude oil has seeped into irrigation ditches, palm groves and neighboring citrus orchards.
A US tank with three soldiers on board had pulled up at the scene, after spotting the smoke while on patrol. One villager warned that "this explosion is a message to the Americans. They are occupying our land. We will also kill every collaborator until the last one has gone". Although the US authorities have yet to account fully for the explosions, one of which on the northern main oil export pipeline from Kirkuk to Turkey has delayed oil shipments.
Also in the morning hours of Tuesday, US forces came under attack in the flashpoint town of Fallujah, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Baghdad left one Iraqi man dead, killed by a US patrol after the attack. US military sources were unable to confirm witness reports that two Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs) were fired at US troops guarding a power distribution station in the town.
In nearby Ramadi, around 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Baghdad, two separate incidents were reported. In the first, a driver refused to stop at a US roadblock and US troops opened fire killing one person and wounding another. Hours later, as two cars approached a US checkpoint, occupants of one of the two cars fired at US soldiers, who returned fire killing one. Two others, in the second car, were also killed.There were no reports of any US casualties in any of the incidents.
On Tuesday in the town of Majar al-Kabir, on the Tigris River about 180 miles southeast of Baghdad and just south of the city of Amarah in southern Iraq, a "large number" of Iraqi gunmen opened fire on members of the British 1st Parachute Regiment patrol with Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs), heavy machine guns and rifles, The British returned fire, and one soldier was wounded in the fire fight. A rapid reaction force, including Scimitar light tanks and a Chinook CH-47 helicopter, came to help the ground troops and also came under fire. Seven people on board the helicopter were wounded, three of them seriously.
In a second incident, in the same town of Majar al-Kabir, about six hours later six British military police soldiers, on a mission to train Iraqi police were killed and an additional eight soldiers and seventeen Iraqi were wounded. It is reported that the shooting occurred in three different locations: a market square, where British troops opened fire using rubber bullets to control a group of demonstrators; a building behind the market place where two soldiers were killed; and then at a police station where four of the British soldiers had taken refuge.
The violent demonstration, that sparked the killings, was the second in two
days, apparently as a result of searches by British soldiers for heavy weapons
in homes. The casualties were a shock to British troops occupying the largely
Shiite south, which until now had been essentially free of the daily
hit-and-run attacks plaguing American soldiers in central and western Iraq.
British troops have felt so secure they have been patrolling the country's
second-largest city, Basra, without flak jackets or helmets. The ambushes of
today marked the deadliest day of attacks on coalition forces since the fall
of Saddam Hussein's regime.
British military officials seeking the surrender of the gunmen who killed the
six military policemen met with the seven administrative council members of
the nearby town of Amarah and local tribal leaders to ease tensions. Residents
indicated that their concerns were over aggressive home searches in which
troops pointed guns at women and children and burst into homes with sniffer
dogs. Muslims believe the animals are impure.
US authorities believe Obeidi's statements are credible, and they are regarded as evidence that Iraq had an effort to hide parts of its original programs from UN inspectors. Still, the authorities acknowledged the find was not the "smoking gun" that US authorities are seeking to prove the Bush administration's claims that Iraq had an active program to develop a nuclear weapon.
Before the 1991 Gulf War, Obeidi headed Iraq's program to make gas centrifuges that would enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. Most or all of that program was dismantled after UN inspections in the early 1990s. Details of Obeidi's activities during the past decade were not immediately available, although he was interviewed often by inspectors from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency in 2002.
The Pentagon announced the awarded a 48-million-dollar contract to train the nucleus of a new Iraqi army to the Vinnell Corporation, a US firm which also trains members of the Saudi National Guard. Work on the contract announced Wednesday is scheduled to begin on 01 July. The new Iraqi Army is expected to reach 12,000 troops within a year and grow to 40,000 within two years. The Fairfax, VA based company, a subsidiary of the US aerospace firm Northrop Grumman, indicated on its website that it was hiring former US Army and Marine officers to train light infantry battalions and combat service support units for the new Iraqi army.
On Thursday, 26 June (Day-99), assailants launched a wave of ambushes against US forces in Iraq, blowing up a vehicle with a roadside bomb and destroying a civilian SUV traveling with US troops. In the Amiriyah neighborhood of western Baghdad, a US military patrol vehicle on the road leading to Baghdad International Airport, was ambushed and at least one American soldier was killed. Early investigations indicated that the morning attack apparently involved an explosive device operated by remote control.
Later in the day, in the same Amiriyah neighborhood and on the road leading to Baghdad International Airport, a vehicle carrying electrical workers was hit by an improvised explosive device in a Rocket-Propelled Grenade and was blown up in a Baghdad suburb on Thursday, There were three Iraqis inside the vehicle. One was killed and another injured in the explosion. Although the electrical workers' car was unmarked, the large sports utility vehicles belonging to the US led administration are easily recognizable.
One American special forces soldier was killed and eight others wounded on Thursday by hostile fire in southwestern Baghdad. The US Central Command, in its announcement, did not describe the circumstances under which the American troops came under fire.
The US military announced that an American soldier, attached to the 1st US Marine Expeditionary Force, was killed and nine others wounded in an ambush attack in the town of Kufahin near Najaf, 100 miles southwest of Baghdad. The soldiers were on patrol with Iraqi police investigating a car theft. They also announced that three suspects were detained in the disappearance of two American soldiers who were guarding the perimeter of a remote rocket demolition site near the town of Balad, north of Baghdad, on Wednesday when they failed to answer a radio call. US forces have maintained a constant ground and aerial reconnaissance in search of the two.
In the early morning hours of Friday, 27 June (Day-100), a US Army truck, traveling northwest of Baghdad, struck an explosive device on a dirt road. The wounded soldiers were evacuated by helicopter. Investigations are ongoing.
The hunt for Saddam Hussein is taking on new urgency with the rise in attacks on coalition forces, and officials say the uncertainty of his fate has been a rallying point for anti US sentiment. The Coalition has assembled a secret team of Special Forces, called Task Force 20, to hunt down Saddam and his sons, Odai and Qusai, and other members of his inner circle. Finding Saddam would be a blow to those attacking Americans and saboteurs blowing up gas and oil pipelines.
The 4th Infantry Division is charged with the responsibility of providing
security and manpower for Task Force 20 operations. The personnel will be
blended into standard operations to man checkpoints, cordon off areas and
supply additional ground forces for raids.
He also said "The United States carries a big part of the responsibility for the slow manner in which they are fulfilling their commitments and the promises they made to the Iraqi people. If the coalition is incapable of meeting the legitimate demands of the Iraqi people, the RDA has the necessary capacities to form a shadow government to run the country and provide security and stability".
The disquieting drumbeat of guerrilla-style attacks and sabotage deepened in Iraq with the latest violence occurring just after 2300 hours (local), when attackers lobbed a grenade at a US convoy of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division that was making its way through the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Thawra of northeast Baghdad. One American soldier was killed and four were wounded.
On Saturday, 28 June (Day-101), military officials indicated that the two American soldiers missing for days from their checkpoint post north of Baghdad have been found dead after US forces went scouring a rural Sunni Muslim belt north of Baghdad mainly loyal to ousted President Saddam Hussein. The Army identified the two missing soldiers in Iraq as Sergeant. 1st Class Gladimir Philippe, 37, of Linden, NJ, and Private First Class. Kevin Ott, 27, of Columbus, OH, members of the 18th Field Artillery Regiment. an artillery unit based in Ft. Sill, OK.
The two soldiers and their Humvee disappeared Wednesday night near Balad, a
town north of Baghdad where American troops have searched for supporters of
ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Their bodies were found 20 miles northwest
of the capital while their light armored Humvee was recovered Friday at
another location and their personal effects were discovered in a nearby house
search, giving no further details. Soldiers on the ground and using Apache
attack helicopters had scoured the area, and US interrogators have been
questioning at least six men arrested in the soldiers' disappearance.
On Sunday, 29 June (Day-102) at 0200 hours (local), US forces launched Operation DESERT SIDEWINDER, named after a rattlesnake, to crush insurgents and capture senior figures from the ousted regime in a show of force designed to stem a wave of deadly attacks on US troops. The operation is taking place in 20 towns scattered in a huge swath of central Iraq stretching from the Iranian border to the areas north of Baghdad with the simultaneously raiding as many sites as possible, and is expected to last several days.
The raids by the 4th Infantry Division and Task Force IRONHORSE soldiers came swiftly and pinpointed as they arrested a man in Khalis, 45 miles north of Baghdad. He was suspected of recruiting young Iraqi men to launch attacks on Americans. In Dojima, an upscale town where Sunni Muslim residents recently cleaned the still-standing portrait of Saddam, police raided homes of alleged Saddam loyalists they suspected of hiding caches of arms, including Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs) - the weapon of choice in many recent ambushes.
On early Sunday morning, an attack on a US military convoy traveling on the road leading to Baghdad International Airport wounded two American military police soldiers and killed an Iraqi civilian in the latest in of ambushes. The attack, involved an improvised explosive device that was either thrown at the convoy, or placed in the road as the convoy rolled down a highway in southwest Baghdad that heads to the airport. Two vehicles were damaged.
The injured were evacuated to a military hospital. No arrests were made. The identity of the Iraqi civilian was not known, nor was it clear if the victim was a passer-by or had been traveling with the soldiers at the time of the attack.
In other violence near Khaldiyah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, insurgents ambushed a US patrol west of Baghdad using rocket propelled grenades. One of the grenades struck a Bradley fighting vehicle, but caused no significant damage or injuries. US troops returned fire with 25 mm cannon, but apparently failed to inflict any casualties on the attackers, who ran away.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, unidentified assailants in a pickup truck attacked and gunned down Abdullah Mahmoud al-Khattab, the leader of the former dictator's Saddam's Bani al-Nasiri tribe, a few weeks after he publicly disavowed Saddam. He was killed and his son, Odai, was wounded while he was riding in a car in his hometown of Tikrit. Several Tikrit residents said the killers could have been Saddam loyalists angered at the tribal leader's public disavowal of the ousted dictator.
The killing highlighted the shifting alliances that have characterized Iraq as the country emerges from 35 years of brutal, one-man rule. Even those eager to distance themselves from Saddam often pay dearly for their past links to him. Governor Hussein al-Jubouri indicated that Al-Khattab had many enemies and he had confiscated a lot of properties and killed many people.
Also on Sunday, L. Paul Bremer, the US civilian administrator of Iraq indicated that American forces must either kill or capture Saddam so he can no longer be a rallying point for anti-coalition attacks that have killed more than 60 American troops since the war ended. He repeated the theme that no centralized Iraqi resistance to American rule remains. But on the ground, US Military personnel face "an organized effort".
A military statement issued Monday, 30 June (Day-103), indicated that at least 319 Iraqis have been detained in several operations, including Sidewinder, across Iraq since Sunday. As part of the sweep, troops detained a colonel from Saddam's Baath Party along with five other individuals, without providing details.
Also Monday, insurgents fired a rocket propelled grenade at a military vehicle in the restive town of Fallujah, injuring an "embedded" sound engineer with NBC News. NBC News producer Carol Grisanti identified the injured employee as Australian Jeremy Little, a television sound man. She indicated that his injuries were serious but not life threatening. Three Iraqis were killed when their pickup truck slammed into a military vehicle that was helping evacuate the wounded sound engineer to a military combat hospital. Grisanti indicated that Little underwent surgery on Monday and may have to have another operation on Tuesday.
American troops moved in force Monday to arrest Abu Haydar Abdul Munim, the US appointed mayor of the holy Shiite town of Najaf that is located 110 miles southwest of Baghdad. He was removed on kidnapping and corruption charges along with 62 of his top aides who were detained. In addition to kidnapping, Munim stands accused of holding hostages, pressuring government employees to commit financial crimes, and attacking a bank official.
The arrest of the mayor of Najaf, Abu Haydar Abdul Munim, came less than three months after he was installed by American troops following their capture of the town in April. The former Iraqi army colonel was unpopular from the start with the local population because of his military background. In recent weeks, residents of Najaf, have held demonstrations against Munim, accusing him of links to the Baath Party of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.
Coalition forces made the arrest at the request of an Iraqi investigative judge in Najaf. The allegations had been under investigation for some time before concluding that there was sufficient serious evidence to warrant arrest. Munim was replaced by Haydar Mahdi Mattar al Mayali, a former deputy in the mayor's office. Munim's ouster was expected to be met with satisfaction in the town.
A massive explosion on Monday, about 2300 hours (local), in a small cinder block building in the courtyard of the al-Hassan mosque in the town of Fallujah killed ten Iraqis, believed to be theology students, and injured four others. Witnesses reported that the explosion, a ball of fire ripped through the mosque, destroying the room of the imam, the prayer-leader Sheikh Laith Khalil, in the mosque compound as well as damaging the mosque itself and gouging a hole in its dome, was caused by a missile or bomb strike. US ordnance disposal personnel who had scanned the wreckage, saw no sign of a missile strike, indicated that it was likely caused when explosives hidden at the site went off.
Later, on Tuesday morning of 01 July (Day-104) at 0350 hours (local), the main US military base in Fallujah west of Baghdad came under Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) attack following overnight blasts in the town that left five Iraqis dead.
In a second attack that occurred at 0845 hours (local), on a southern highway
near al-Yusifiyah, about 20 kilometers (13 miles) from Baghdad, another
rocket-propelled grenade slammed into an armored carrier and a Humvee.
Witnesses indicated that the attack caused four casualties but there was no
immediate confirmation from the military.
The US Army Engineering Corps indicated that it expects to solicit bids next week for two potentially massive Iraqi oil contracts. One contract will be issued for the fields in the north of Iraq and another for the south, with "requests for proposals" to be sent out 07 July with bids due 14 August. The 24-month contracts could be worth anything between 500,000 dollars and 500 million dollars.
The contracts cover extinguishing oil well fires, environmental assessments
and cleanups, engineering design and construction, pipeline and refinery
maintenance, procurement and importation of fuel, distribution of fuel
products in Iraq, technical assistance "and more". Payments would be based on
the cost of the work done, with award fees.
To quell the burgeoning resistance, US led forces have launched a series of lightning raids across Iraq. One such operation northeast of Baghdad, dubbed Operation SIDEWINDER, entered its fourth day and has netted "20 high-value targeted individuals" consisting of former leaders of Saddam's Baath Party, former leaders of Saddam's Fedayeen militia and a former Iraqi military intelligence officer.
Senator Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas along with eight other US senators on a three-day tour of Iraq had just traveled to the northern city of Kirkuk to be briefed by US military officers about the recent spate of anti-American attacks and the hunt for Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction. Following the presentation, he indicated that "We are taking the fight to the enemy".
As the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force troops were carrying out mine-clearing
operations in Kerbala, south of Baghdad, on Wednesday, a US Marine was killed
and three others along with an Iraqi fire department technician accompanying
the Marines were injured in an accident. All casualties were taken to a nearby
Attacks on US troops in Iraq persisted Thursday, with nine Americans wounded
in an explosion and two ambushes in Baghdad. Another Iraqi was killed in an
explosion during an anti US demonstration outside the capital.
In Ramadi, 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Baghdad, a two-vehicle convoy was targeted by two people on a motorbike who fired a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) at a US military vehicle, wounding six soldiers. The seriousness of their injuries was not known.
In another incident in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, during a demonstration protesting the US Army's alleged detention of the city's top Shiite cleric, an explosion occurred outside the governor's office killed one person and injured at least five. People screamed and ran in different directions. US soldiers patrolling from atop a nearby building fired shots into the air. Witnesses indicated that a plastic bag filled with explosives blew up in the middle of a crowd of several hundred demonstrators, who were protesting the US Army's raid, arrest and detention of Ali Abdul Kareem al Madani, the city's top Shiite cleric, his son and eight other people.
Late Thursday, blasts from four mortar rounds rocked a huge US base near Balad, injuring 18 soldiers. Two soldiers were seriously injured, with one underwent surgery in a hospital located on the base and another evacuated for treatment. Others suffered cuts and small punctures from flying shrapnel, and nine soldiers quickly went back to duty.
The wounded soldiers were assigned to Task Force Iron Horse, a 33,000-member unit that has been staging raids in the Sunni Muslim areas. The task force includes soldiers from the Army's 3rd and 4th infantry divisions, as well as the 101st Airborne Division and 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Also on Thursday evening, a sniper shot and killed a US soldier of the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division who was manning the gunner's hatch of a Bradley fighting vehicle outside the national museum. The soldier was taken to a military hospital, but died of his wounds. Hours before the attack, the national museum displayed several artifacts that were looted after the fall of Baghdad and later recovered. The museum also showed several items from the Treasures of Nimrud, which were found hidden in a bank vault weeks ago.
On Friday, 04 July (Day-107), US troops killed 11 Iraqis who had ambushed a
convoy on a highway north of Baghdad Friday, hours after mortar rounds slammed
into a US base in the same area, injuring 18 American soldiers. It was
reported that 11 men attacked the convoy with rocket-propelled grenades and
small arms fire near Balad, 55 miles north of the capital. Soldiers of the
Army's 4th Infantry Division fired back, killing all the men. None of the
American soldiers was injured.
Meanwhile, US soldiers were treated to a grand 4th of July celebration by grateful Kurds at a spectacular lakeside resort near Dokan, a town in the semiautonomous Kurdish north of the country. Kurds also celebrate the 4th of July as the anniversary of the establishment in 1992 of a Kurdish government, thanks in part to a US British enforced no-fly zone that kept Saddam Hussein's forces out of the north.
British forces of the 40th Regiment, Royal Artillery carried out a night raid in the town of Khor Az Zubayr, in the south of Basra province and arrested three suspected drug dealers and seized cash, forgery equipment and suspected drugs in a raid on a house in southern Iraq. The British troops seized 33 million Iraqi dinars, equivalent to $11,000, suspected hashish and two bags of pills, described as "significant quantities" of suspected drugs. The three men, all brothers, were turned over to Iraqi police.
On Saturday, 05 July (Day-108), in Ramadi, as the graduating police were marching from a boys school where they were enrolled in five days of training to a nearby government building, a massive blast, that came from a TNT filled bag of rice that was detonated by remote control, tore into them. The bomb blast turned a parade of US trained police cadets into a deadly zone. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment reported seven people killed and 40 more wounded. None of the casualties were Americans. US officials blamed insurgents targeting Iraqis who work with Americans.
Ramadi, one of several Sunni-majority towns along the Euphrates River west of Baghdad, was a stronghold of support for Saddam, and has been the site of frequent attacks that have killed Americans as well as Iraqis. As mosque loudspeakers in the western city of Ramadi wailed for blood donations for the wounded, angry Iraqis indicated that the victims had been told that collaborating with the Americans would come to no good. The attackers appear to be growing bolder. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which has lost around 10 of its soldiers in postwar ambushes, is headquartered in a former presidential palace in Ramadi that sports Arabic graffiti on its entry wall: "Saddam's return is better than Bush's freedom".
In northern Iraq, US soldiers stormed the offices of Turkish special forces after cutting the telephone lines. Eleven soldiers and six employees were taken and detained in the nearby city of Kirkuksh. One of those detained was a Turkish colonel, whom US or British forces had expelled from Iraq twice previously for "suspicious activities". A Turkish newspaper reported the men were detained after rumors that they were plotting to kill a senior Iraqi official in Kirkuk, 175 miles north of Baghdad. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the detentions an "ugly incident" and demanded the release of the soldiers. The United States was responding, releasing some of the soldiers by evening, but not all.
Secretary of State Colin Powell called Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to advise him that a total of 24 detainees, including the Turkish soldiers, were taken to Baghdad. It was reported that Powell also confirmed that some of the detainees had been released, without giving any numbers. The State Department confirmed that Powell called Gul but provided no details. Aside from the Turkish soldiers, US troops also detained security guards and staff working at the office.
On Sunday, 06 July (Day-109), the military announced the end of a seven-day sweep dubbed Sidewinder, reporting they had detained 282 people and confiscated hundreds of weapons and ammunition, including 217 rocket-propelled grenades and three heavy machine guns. Over $10,000 was also seized. Thirty Iraqis were killed in Sidewinder operations. There were no coalition deaths, but 28 soldiers were wounded.
At midday Sunday, an American soldier was shot in the head, at close range, as
he waited in line to buy a soft drink at Baghdad University. He was
immediately evacuated to a military hospital, where he was evaluated as being
in critical condition.
In other attacks, insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a small US army compound in the town of Abu Sada al Sagra, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, lightly injuring one soldier. It was the third such attack on the 4th Infantry Division in as many weeks in the town.
A 31-member provisional council in southeastern Iraq has elected Shiite judge Wail Abdul Latif to serve as governor of the city of Basra. Abdul Latif, 53, indicated that his top priority was to improve the security situation in the city, which groups have warned has been spiralling out of control since the occupation began three months ago. The new governor has served as a judge since 1982 and is currently deputy head of the Basra court. He was imprisoned for a year by the secret police forces of deposed president Saddam Hussein. Abdul Latif pledged to help bring an end to the string of kidnappings and other violent crime but said it was vital that British forces take the lead by improving security.A former chief of police, Mezher Khairallah, was elected deputy interim governor.
Random attacks on patrol convoys continued through the holiday weekend. Two more American soldiers were killed in separate attacks on their convoys in the Iraqi capital. On late Sunday, a soldier of the 1st Armored Division died in a firefight after two armed assailants opened fire on a convoy. The soldiers responded with fire, killing one of the attackers and wounding the other who was taken into custody.
On Monday, 07 July (Day-110), the city council of Baghdad held its inaugural meeting with top US civil administrator hailing the event as perhaps the most important stride taken since Saddam Hussein's regime fell on 09 April. With the formation of the Baghdad city council, all major cities in Iraq now have a representative council body. The 37 city council members were selected from a group of district councilors, who were themselves selected from the boards of a number of neighborhood councils.
With the formation of the 37-member Baghdad city council, all major cities in Iraq now have a representative council body. The formation of an Iraqi national government, however, is still at least one year off, with Iraqis making no secret of their frustration at the slow progress towards direct elections.
For the present time, Bremer has dismissed the idea of holding immediate direct elections in most of the country, citing a panoply of objections, which he says prove direct voting to be premature. He hailed the councils' courage, at a time when Iraqis cooperating with the US led coalition have been singled out in deadly attacks.
The formation of the council had little impact on the attitude of many Iraqi citizens, as insurgents threw a homemade bomb at a US vehicle. In an attack on a convoy, killing a soldier of the 1st Armored Division, the American Division home based in Germany, which is charged with occupying Baghdad.
L. Paul Bremer, the US civilian administrator of Iraq, in a national address, indicated that Saddam Hussein is out of power, and soon his face will be gone from the pockets of millions of Iraqis. Bills bearing Saddam's likeness will be exchanged beginning 15 October, and that the old notes will be out of circulation by early 2004. He also announced approval of an Iraqi $6.4 billion budget for the remainder of 2003, and establishment of an independent Central Bank.
The new bills will be based on a design used in Iraq before Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and do not feature Saddam's face. Bremer indicated that Iraqis will have until 15 January, 2004, to exchange the bills before they are phased out. The bills will be exchanged at a one-to-one parity. The pre-1991 bills are still the currency of choice in most of the Kurdish-controlled north, and are also available elsewhere.
A severe shortage of Iraqi dinars, compounded by the rejection by many Iraqis of the 10,000-dinar note issued just before the war, led US administrators in June to order the printing of millions of new 250-dinar notes, even though they bore Saddam's likeness. The coalition continues to print millions of the old bills every day.
The new bills will be available in six denominations ranging from 50 dinars (about 4 cents) to 25,000 dinars ($18), making it easier for Iraqis to do business. Currently, Iraqis must carry around huge wads of 250-dinar notes, each worth less than a quarter.
Late Monday evening, Insurgents fired mortar rounds at a US supply base near Balad, 55 miles north of Baghdad, and American forces arrested at least 12 Iraqi suspects in a counterattack.On Tuesday, 08 July (Day-111), three US soldiers were wounded in two separate blasts in central Iraq with no sign of let-up in a guerrilla campaign against US occupation forces in the Sunni Muslim heartland. At around 0930 hours (local), two US soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division were slightly wounded when an explosive device blew up beneath their Humvee as their convoy moved on Highway Eight between Baghdad and the International airport on the outskirts of Baghdad.
In a separate incident at 1230 hours (local), a convoy delivering water and other essential goods into the town of Khan Dhari, 30 km (20 miles) west of Baghdad, was hit with an anti-tank mine that exploded under a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. A Humvee and a military truck vehicle had apparently driven over the area of the mine without triggering it. When the Bradley drove over it, the mine exploded, wounding the driver.
The US appointed governor, Ali Kammouna, 31, of the holy Shiite Muslim city of Karbala resigned after allegations of financial improprieties of "misspending government funds" that arose inside the city council. The exact nature of the accusations was not immediately released. Kammouna was the second governor in the predominantly Shiite south to lose his job in the past two weeks. The governor of Najaf, another Shiite holy city, was arrested and removed from his post after he was charged with corruption and kidnapping.
The US military has taken into custody Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, an
Iraqi intelligence official, who is reported to have met the ringleader of the
11 September hijackers just months before the 2001 attacks. Some Czech
officials have indicated that al-Ani met Mohammed Atta, suspected leader of
the hijackers in the 11 September, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and
the Pentagon, in Prague in April 2001. The CIA and FBI were unable to confirm
that the meeting took place.
Al-Ahmad appears as the Seven of Spades in the set of playing cards issued by the US military
authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 29 on the
revised list of the 55. Tuesday's arrest was the 33rd fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in
Hadi was among Saddam's most trusted aides, who were elevated by the Iraqi leader in March to command the country's four military regions in an attempt to delegate command and strengthen the defense of the country against the American invasion that came later that month. Hadi was placed in charge of the area that included the Shiite Muslim holy cities of Karbala and Najaf. The Saddam regime was made up primarily of Sunni Muslims, although that sect is a minority in the country.
He appears as the Nine of Hearts in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 23 on the revised list of the 55. Tuesday's capture was the 34th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
One by one the old men of Saddam Hussein's old guard have been nabbed in dead-of-night raids, hiding in bedrooms, or scampering on rooftops. US troops have whittled a list of 55 top fugitives down to just 21, but some big names, including the biggest, are still out there. The most notable holdout is Saddam himself, the Ace of Spades in a deck of 55 cards the US military put out on 11 April, two days after the fall of Baghdad. Saddam's sons, the flamboyant Odai and the powerbroker Qusai, are also on the lam. The military has put a $25 million bounty on Saddam's head, and offered $15 million each for information leading to the arrest of the sons.
On Wednesday, 09 July (Day-112), US forces came under renewed attack in the town of central Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, with insurgents firing two Rocket-Propelled Grenades at soldiers. One of the two grenades exploded in the air and the second landed on the street outside a building occupied by US soldiers.
The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite station reported a second skirmish in Fallujah, when a US patrol came under fire. The station also reported a 10-minute gunbattle earlier in the day between US forces and unidentified gunmen farther west in the town of Ramadi. There was no information on casualties in either attack, and the US military in Baghdad indicated that it had no information on the reported incidents.
A 60-year-old Iraqi-born publisher, Khaled Abdel-Latif Dumeisi, was arrested at his Chicago, IL home and charged with providing information to Saddam Hussein's intelligence agency about the deposed Iraqi leader's foes. Khaled Abdel-Latif Dumeisi, who has been in the United States for about 10 years, was described in an affidavit as an "unregistered agent" for the former Iraqi government who reported on Iraqi exile leaders and provided press identification cards for Iraqi intelligence officers.
In one case, the affidavit alleged Dumeisi was trained by the Iraqi
intelligence agency, known as the Mukhabbarat, to use a pen with a hidden
camera and microphone, which he later used to record an interview with an
unnamed member of the Iraqi opposition. Dumeisi was charged with acting as a
foreign agent, which carries a maximum 10-year prison term, and conspiracy,
which carries a potential five-year term. He could also be fined $250,000 on
each count if convicted.
Insurgents launched fresh assaults on US soldiers in Iraq, killing at least
two servicemen and wounding a third in shootings and Rocket-Propelled Grenade
attacks. A soldier was fatally shot Wednesday evening near the city of
Mahmudiyah, 15 miles south of Baghdad. In a separate incident, another soldier
was killed and one wounded in a rocket-propelled grenade attack near Tikrit,
120 miles north of Baghdad.
The protesters handed a petition to the mayor and US commander in the town, indicating that they would resign in 48 hours if American troops did not leave. Fallujah has continued to be a hotbed of anti-American sentiment. US officials are facing organized resistance from mixed groups of Islamic militants, Saddam Hussein loyalists, armed gangs and Iraqis seeking revenge for the deaths of relatives.
The US Army has solicited bids for two Iraqi oil contracts worth up to a billion dollars, replacing an emergency call contract deal awarded to Halliburton last March. The US Army Corps of Engineers said it would issue one contract for the fields in the north of Iraq and another for the southern fields, each worth from 500,000 dollars to a maximum 500 million dollars.
The contracts run for 24 months, with three one-year options extending to a
maximum of 60 months. They cover extinguishing oil well fires, environmental
assessments and cleanups, engineering design and construction, pipeline and
refinery maintenance, procurement and importation of fuel, distribution of
fuel products in Iraq, and technical assistance. To be eligible, foreign firms
must either qualify for the business under existing US trade legislation, or
they must be from countries in the US led coalition that ousted Saddam
The coalition production goal is estimated at 12 million barrels per day (BPD)
by the end of the year and to more than double the figure to 3 million BPD by
sometime next spring or early summer. Oil is crucial to the plans of the
coalition forces to rebuild the country as Bremer is counting on the country's
oil sales to generate 3.4 billion dollars in the state treasuries this year,
which would pay for half of his six-billion dollar state budget announced
The Polish-led force will comprise three brigades, commanded respectively by Poland, Spain and Ukraine, and will be in charge of security in of a region between Basra to the capital Baghdad. The total 9,200-strong multinational contingent will be stationed in the south central section between Baghdad and Basra and is set to become operational in early September.
Trillo indicated that the Spanish brigade was being sent on a "peacekeeping mission, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1483", adding that the force would be deployed in a relatively trouble-free part of the country. Members of the Socialist opposition slammed the decision, citing a high risk of the troops becoming embroiled in clashes with the Iraqi population.
On Friday, Religious leaders of both Shiite and Sunni Muslims indicated that Iraqis were becoming increasingly angry at the presence of US led troops in their country and one warned holy war could be declared in six months.
In the Shiite holy city of Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad, a religious leader of Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Hakim announced that Shiites could turn against US led forces if they were not given political compensation after decades of persecution under Saddam. The black-turbaned ayatollah, sitting on cushions on the floor of his Najaf residence, indicated that more and more Iraqis were angry over the foreign presence in Iraq. Shiite Muslims, who account for 65 percent of Iraq's 26 million population, largely welcomed the US invasion after years of persecution under Saddam.
A more hard-line message came from a leader of minority Sunni Muslims, Sheikh Abdullah Janab, a leader of one of Fallujah's 46 mosques, in the town of Fallujah west of Baghdad, urged people there to give US forces six months to finish their mission in the town. He told worshipers at Friday prayers. "When this period is finished, the patience of Muslims will run out and jihad (holy struggle) will be declared".
Washington hopes the violence of guerrilla attacks and post-war anarchy will decline if Iraqis begin to recognize that the occupying powers are transferring authority to local leaders. One key step will be the establishment of a national governing council, expected to be finalized by next week as US led coalition forces unveil an Iraqi governing council in a bright spot for their troubled nation-building effort. The coalition was in talks Friday with representatives from the United Nations and Iraqi political parties to settle the make-up and agenda of the council, which will act as Iraq's executive body pending elections that are not planned for at least one year. However, the coalition will wield the power of veto over the body.
Friday's consultations were focused on selecting members of the 25-person council, due to include 13 Shiites, five Kurds, one Turkmen, one Christian and five Arab Sunnis, designed to reflect Iraq's rich ethnic background. Eight of those on the council would be Iraqis formerly in exile, while three or four women would be on the body along with five or six representatives from Islamist Sunni or Shiite groups.
On Saturday, 12 July (Day-115), US troops began handing Iraqi police responsibility for patrolling and keeping order in the city of Fallujah, where American forces have come under increasing attack from Saddam Hussein loyalists. The transfer of power came as the US led coalition was in the "final stages" of setting up a governing council, which would be the first national Iraqi political body since Saddam's fall. The transfer would make Fallujah, a historical center of anti-American resistance, one of the few postwar Iraqi cities where Iraqis are in charge of their own security.
The US appointed mayor and Iraqi police in Fallujah requested the handover, indicating that it would help reduce anti-American ambushes and shootings in the city and prevent police from getting caught in the crossfire. In the transfer process, Iraqi police will "patrol the streets themselves instead of jointly with military police". As a backup security force, the 3rd Infantry Division will remain in the city and will keep a rapid reaction team on call to help as needed.
Soldiers left the mayor's office and the main police station, where they had
been posted since seizing the city in April, however the military police will
keep "liaison offices" at the two locations. The Americans have been training
Iraqi police in towns and cities around the country with an eye to eventually
handing them security responsibilities. Iraqis patrol parts of the capital,
Baghdad, without US soldiers without accompanying them.
Officials indicated that it has intelligence warnings of planned attacks and uprisings in Hawijah, Baji, Kirkuk, Samarra and Balad.to coincide with anniversaries including a 14 July, 1958, coup against the British-backed monarchy; Saddam assuming the presidency on 16 July, 1979; and a revolution staged by his Baath Party on 17 July, 1968.
The military coalition indicated that the best defense was to launch a pre-holiday move against potential insurgents. Other US offensive sweeps will be timed to disrupt potential attacks by Baathists and former Fedayeen elements as upcoming holidays that mark major events in the history of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.
American forces killed four suspected pro-Saddam insurgents and arrested more than 50 people as they launched a fourth major offensive in central Iraq, an operation meant to blunt expected attacks on US soldiers.
Officials announced that two homes used to produce anti US propaganda were
raided and that American forces came under Rocket-Propelled Grenade and rifle
fire in a sweep through seven locations in Diala Province, northeast of
Baghdad. During the raids US forces captured three wanted men, a former
Fedayeen general, a former Iraqi air force general and the second in charge of
the Baath party in Diala Province.
The group, however, is dominated by lesser known Iraqis, many of whom remained in their country during Saddam's 23-year dictatorship. A Turkoman woman and an Assyrian Christian are on the list, as well as a human rights activist and a member of Iraq's Communist Party. Two women were among the panelists. The panel was selected after more than two months of consultations that culminated in intense negotiations this week. Its quick establishment was a critical to the success of the American mission in Iraq.
People have clamored for say in the running of their country, and several US delays and back tracking fueled a common perception that the Americans were here to colonize, rather than liberate, the country. The first decisions of the council were to cancel all holidays related to Saddam Hussein and his outlawed Baath Party and to declare 09 April, the day of his downfall, a national holiday.
The council will have real political muscle, with the power to name ministers and approve the 2004 budget, but final control of Iraq still rests with US administrator L. Paul Bremer. Security was tight at the Baghdad convention center, near where the council meeting was taking place. Fighter jets flew over the city early Sunday, and helicopters circled the area. Bomb-sniffing dogs were on hand at the convention center, and scores of heavily armed US soldiers kept watch.
One of the council's first goals will be to convince the Iraqi people that it represents them, despite the fact they never had a chance to vote on its members. Coalition leaders say an election in Iraq is not yet practical. By mid to late September, the 200-250 strong Constitutional Convention is expected to take office and begin deliberations. The convention is expected to take nine months to a year to produce a draft constitution, after which Iraqis will hold a referendum to vote on the document. Free elections to pick a government are expected to follow.
A group claiming to be linked to the al Qaeda network indicated, in an audio tape aired on an Dubai-based Al Arabiya television station on Sunday, that they and not the followers of Saddam Hussein were behind attacks on US forces in Iraq. The unidentified voice on the tape, which Arabiya aired along with a photograph of an unidentified white-bearded man wearing a turban, stated "I swear by God no one from his (Saddam Hussein) followers carried out any jihad operations like he claims...the (attacks) are a result of our brothers in jihad". The voice also indicated that the "Armed Islamic Movement for al-Qaeda, the Fallujah Branch," a previously unheard of name, was behind the attacks and that its members were dispersed all over Iraq.
The voice prayed to God, "to grant success to our brothers who are dispersed
in Iraq's governorates and in the countries of the world, particularly,
Sheikh Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar". The recording ended by stating the
date - 10 July, 2003.
On Monday, the Army indicated that the deployment of thousands of 3rd Infantry Division soldiers in Iraq has been extended due to increased attacks against coalition forces, dashing any hopes that the troops would be home by September The 3rd Infantry Division deployed 16,500 troops to Iraq and was a leading force in the assault on Baghdad and some of its troops have been in the region since September.
The commander of the division had previously indicated that the division's 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams of roughly 9,000 soldiers could return home to Ft. Stewart within the next six weeks. However homecomings for those soldiers, as well as the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, have now been postponed indefinitely. The units have been ordered to stay "due to the uncertainty of the situation in Iraq and the recent increase in attacks on the coalition forces".
This is the second time 3rd Infantry soldiers have seen the Army push back a
tentative return date. After President Bush declared the heavy fighting was
over on 01 May, many families were told to prepare for homecomings in
Qanbar also indicated that the Council also would start soon with reviewing bylaws for a government before considering naming ministers and deciding to form a commission to look into ways to "uproot" Saddam's once all-powerful Baath Party from Iraqi society. The US led administration of Iraq had banned Saddam's ruling party and launched a de-Baathification process, sacking all senior party members from government jobs.
The Council has some executive powers, like nominating ministers, changing laws, helping in naming a committee to draft a new constitution and prepare for free elections. But the final say remains in the hands of US administration Paul Bremer.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced in a report sent to the UN Security Council on Tuesday that it had accounted for most of the looted nuclear material at Iraq's main nuclear facility, but at least 22 pounds of low-grade uranium may have been dispersed. The quantity and type of uranium compounds dispersed were not sensitive from a proliferation point of view.
The IAEA representatives requested that the US occupation authority make every effort to locate and recover the dispersed material, return it to Location "C" and to place it under agency safeguards. This low-grade natural uranium would be of little use in a so-called dirty bomb, which is the dispersion of radioactive material over a wide area with a conventional explosive like dynamite.
On Wednesday, 16 July (Day-119), a US soldier and an eight-year-old Iraqi child were killed in and around the capital, as pro-Saddam Hussein insurgents unleashed a string of violent attacks on the eve of a recently banned Baath Party holiday. The soldier was killed in a Rocket-Propelled Grenade attack on a supply convoy west of Baghdad near the Abu Ghraib prison. The grenade blasted into the soldier's truck, hurling him out, as the 20-vehicle convoy passed along a main highway. Soldiers at first believed a bomb was remotely detonated as the convoy passed.
A half hour after the blast, the truck was still burning on the road near Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad, site of Saddam's most notorious prison. The convoy, made up of reservists from a supply unit based in Puerto Rico, had been heading to a US base near the Jordanian border. After the attack, troops began house-to-house searches in nearby villages.
At around 1300 hours (local) in the upscale al-Mansur district of central
Baghdad, two US soldiers and five Iraqis were wounded when attackers threw a
grenade at an American armored vehicle guarding a bank. The injured soldiers
along with four adult Iraqi bystanders who were also injured was taken to a
On Thursday, 17 July (Day-120), the commander of US forces in Iraq, General John Abizaid, indicated that loyalists of Saddam Hussein and terror groups are fighting an increasingly organized "guerrilla-type campaign" against US troops, Highlighting the danger, American forces found a cache of 54 crates of C4 explosives, as well as 250,000 blasting caps about 30 miles southwest of Baghdad after being tipped by Iraqis.
Abizaid's use of the term "guerrilla warfare" was a striking departure for a top military leader. As recently as last week, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials refused to use the term, saying attacks on US forces were too sporadic and disorganized to qualify as a guerrilla campaign. Abizaid credited attackers with improved organization, tactics and financing as he suggested American soldiers may face deployments of a length seldom seen since the Vietnam War.
However, he also pledged that soldiers in the Army's longest-serving unit in Iraq, the 3rd Infantry Division, would be on their way home by the end of September. Other US troops will be given a firm homecoming date.
A statement issued by the US Central Command indicated that troops from the 4th Infantry Division are holding 543 Iraqis captured during Operation SODA MOUNTAIN, the latest sweep for anti-American fighters. Those arrested include 48 identified as Saddam Hussein loyalist leaders.
A US intelligence official indicated that a new audio recording purportedly of Saddam is probably authentic and likely was recorded recently, a finding that was further evidence Saddam survived the war. In the message broadcast on Thursday, the 35th anniversary of the coup that brought Saddam's Baath Party to power, the speaker urged Iraqis to continue a "holy war" against the US forces.
In Chicago, IL a federal Magistrate, Judge Edward A. Bobrick, denied bail to Khaled Abdel-Latif Dumeisi, 61, who was arrested on 09 July and accused of spying on Iraqi opposition groups for Saddam Hussein and charged with violating a US law that requires agents of foreign governments to register. In his ruling, Judge Edward A. Bobrick indicated that Dumsisi had "hitched his star to the murderer and torturer of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis" and accused him of spying for "the maniacal, perverted, homicidal mass murderer and torturer of women and children".
Dumeisi also is charged with lying to an immigration official and a federal grand jury. In denying bail, Bobrick found that Dumeisi was not only a flight risk but if released could still present a danger to Iraqi opposition figures and witnesses in the case. Bobrick's strong words drew a protest from defense attorney James Fennerty who; afterward indicated that he will again ask for bail when the case is brought before US District Judge Suzanne B. Conlon, who will preside over the case if it goes to trial.
On Friday, 18 July (Day-121) , Major General. Buford C. Blount III, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, announced that anti American violence in the city of Fallujah, where US soldiers faced dozens of attacks in May and June, has come to a virtual halt, the commander of US forces there. The drop in attacks has enabled him to reduce troops in Fallujah by 50 percent. As an example of the cutbacks the number at 24-hour guard posts in the city has dropped from 300 to 150. He also has withdrawn half the soldiers in the city's police headquarters.
The 3rd Infantry soldiers had deployed into Fallujah in early June, after
units from the 82nd Airborne, followed by the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment,
faced a series of attacks. The number of attacks on his soldiers there has
fallen from 20-25 a week about two months ago to zero this week. The key to
providing security there, he said, was working more closely with local
Opposition also came on the political front. A prominent Shiite Muslim cleric called on Iraqis to oppose their new US appointed government and vowed to establish a rival council "of the righteous". The Americans, meanwhile, celebrated victory by blowing up a towering statue of Saddam Hussein in the deposed dictator's hometown and seizing its head as a war trophy.
On Saturday, 19 July (Day-122), the Iraq American-backed administration failed in its first week to choose a president, abandoning that mission in favor of a weak, three-man rotating leadership. Ali Abdul-Amir, spokesman for council-member Iyad Allawi of the Iraqi National Accord issued a short statement. "There is a general agreement that the presidency should be on a rotational basis because each political group in the council should shoulder an equal role and equal responsibility".
The three likely members of the rotating presidency will be a leading Shiite politician, a highly respected Shiite cleric and former Foreign Minister Adnan Pachachi. Te 80-year-old Pachachi, a Sunni Muslim, served in the government that Saddam's Baath Party ousted in a 1968 coup. He will be joined in the leadership troika by 78-year-old Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum, a cleric who returned from London after the 1991 Gulf War. He served as the council president during its first week in session. The leadership group will be rounded out by Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, who is in his early 50s, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and also a Shiite cleric. He opposes the US presence in the country but has close ties to US backed Kurds and Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.
Meanwhile, thousands of Shiites marched on the US military and political headquarters in a former presidential palace in Baghdad. They were protesting because they said the US military briefly surrounded the house of a Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, in the holy city of Najaf after he issued an anti-American sermon during Friday prayers and called the governing council an assembly of "nonbelievers" and indicated that he would form a rival political body.
On Sunday, 20 July (Day-123), two soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division were killed and a third wounded in an ambush by gunmen firing rocket-propelled grenades in, Tal Afar, a town west of Mosul. In northern Iraq and an Iraqi UN driver died after a United Nations (convoy came under fire for the first time. The attack on the aid workers highlighted the lawlessness in Iraq since US led forces toppled Saddam Hussein April. A foreign employee of the UN affiliated International Organization for Migration (IOM) was slightly injured and the driver killed when their vehicle veered into a bus after being raked by gunfire from a passing car south of the capital.
The killing of four of its soldiers within 48 hours added to domestic pressure on the United States to persuade reluctant allies who opposed its invasion to share the burden in Iraq.
US Marines fixed bayonets on Sunday to disperse an angry crowd of 10,000 Iraqi Shiites in the holy city of Najaf after tempers flared over rumors of US harassment of a radical cleric. Protesters presented the US forces with a list of demands. Under a fierce sun, aides to Sadr struggled to restrain his supporters and the show of force by the Marines halted the march on the US administration office in the dusty and impoverished city, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad. In heated negotiations, nose-to-nose with one of Sadr's aides, the US commander in Najaf, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Conlin, denied reports his men had surrounded Sadr's house on Saturday and warned his men would respond if threatened. Marchers dispersed after two hours but some of the Shiite cleric's supporters warned of an "uprising" in the city if the Americans failed to pull out within three days.
General John Abizaid, the commander of US Central Command, the top commander of American and international troops in Iraq indicated that he is establishing an Iraqi "civil defense force," or armed militia, of about 6,800 men to help American forces combat the violence and sabotage that he and others believe is being spearheaded by remnants of Saddam Hussen's regime. Eight battalions of armed Iraqi militiamen, each with about 850 men will be trained by conventional US forces, a job usually handled by American special operations forces, and are expected to be ready to begin operating within 45 days.
On Monday, 21 July (Day-124), President Bush, speaking at his Texas ranch with the leader of one supportive country, Premier Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, indicated that he is working to persuade more nations to help in Iraq, where Saddam Hussein loyalists are killing coalition forces in a war that persists alongside rebuilding efforts. Bush said, "The more people involved in Iraq, the better off we will be". At the same time, he accused the governments of Syria and Iran of harboring terrorists and indicated that terrorism was the greatest obstacle to peace in the region.
Berlusconi's visit to the ranch on Sunday and Monday gave Bush a chance to show that not all Europe is cool to his policies, and that trans-Atlantic relations remain strong even though France and Germany didn't back the war effort. For Berlusconi, the current president of the 15-nation European Union, the stay was a reward from Bush for joining with Britain and Spain in support of the war.
On Air Force One during the flight back to Washington, Bush spokesman, Scott McClellan indicated that the mention of Syria and Iran by Bush were a way to keep reminding those countries of the need to take strong action against terrorists and said "Iran and Syria are continuing to do things that are unhelpful and it is important to continue to make it clear that their actions are unacceptable, I view it as kind of an ongoing reminder that the actions they are taking are not helpful and they're not acceptable".
On Tuesday, 22 July (Day-125), a US soldier was killed and another wounded in an ambush along a dangerous road north of Baghdad in the "Sunni Triangle". The attackers used rocket-propelled grenades and small arms in the assault staged along the road between Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, and Ramadi, 60 miles west of the capital. Both towns lie within the "Sunni Triangle," so named because it is home to much of the remaining support for ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim who used his Baathist Party to oppress the country's Shiite Muslim majority.
Far to the north in Mosul, 280 miles north of Baghdad, a big battle broke out when coalition forces associated with the 101st Airborne Division, Special Forces and an Air Force A-10 Warthog tankbuster aircraft, on standby, conducted an operation against suspected regime members and surrounded a house belonging to a cousin of Saddam Hussein who is a key tribal leader in the region. The soldiers had gone to the house looking for several suspects, including Qusay and Uday, No. 2 and No. 3 on the US Central Command's most-wanted list, were hiding in a residence near the northern edge of the city of Mosul.
A six-hour operation began when the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division combat team approached the house and received small-arms fire. The division subsequently employed multiple weapon systems to subdue the suspects who had barricaded themselves inside the house and continued to resist detention fiercely. Observers of the battle indicated that the arrival of helicopter gunships turned the tide. The gunships fired missiles at the villa, and the shooting from inside stopped.
Four persons were killed during that operation and were removed from the
building and it was later confirmed that Uday and Qusay Hussein were among the
Qusay appeared as the Ace of Clubs in the set of playing cards issued by the
US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's
former regime and was No. 2 on the revised list of the 55. Tuesday's action
led to the 35th fugitive of the most wanted list to be killed in resisting US
Uday appeared as the Ace of Hearts in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and was No. 3 on the revised list of the 55. Tuesday's action led to the 36th fugitive of the most wanted list to be killed in resisting US custody.
The deaths of the sons could have a major impact on the Iraqi resistance, which has been mounting about a dozen attacks a day against US occupation troops. The guerrillas are thought to be former military officers and Baath Party leaders loyal to Saddam and his family, especially the sons, who played primary roles in the military and feared security services.
Delegates from Iraq's new Governing Council attended a UN Security Council session Tuesday, welcomed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan as a first step toward restoring Iraqi control over the US administered nation. Four months after diplomacy fell apart inside the Security Council over war in Iraq, Annan, his special envoy to Iraq, and the Iraqi delegates addressed the council and discussed the highs and lows of postwar life in Iraq.
The Iraqi delegates were Ahmed Chalabi, once favored by the Pentagon to be Iraq's next president, Adnan Pachachi, a former Iraqi foreign minister, and Aqila Hashimi of the Iraqi foreign ministry. Before the meeting, Chalabi said the purpose of his visit was to brief the Security Council on the state of Iraq, not to seek any official UN credential.
The Army has approved a plan for rotating fresh troops into Iraq and bringing home those who have served for nearly a year. The plan calls for maintaining troops at their current level of about 145,000 by rotating in one-for-one replacements. The plan calls for new troops to serve one-year tours.
The subject of replacement troops has been a sensitive issue because some soldiers with the 3rd Infantry Division have been in the region since last fall. Some soldiers, and their families, have complained bitterly about delays in their homecoming. They indicated that they were led to believe they would return home once major fighting in Baghdad was over. But since President Bush declared major combat ended on 01 May, they have remained to stabilize Iraq, partly because of increased attacks of insurgents.
Officials have indicated that under the plan just finished by the Army, two brigades of the 3rd Infantry Division will come home and will be replaced by some Army reserves, elements of the 82nd Airborne Division and a new Stryker Brigade, a highly mobile force built around an agile wheeled vehicle instead of a bulky battle tank. Forces from the 1st Infantry Division would replace those from the 101st Airborne Division. Officials have said previously that elements of the 1st Cavalry Division might be also be deployed.
Hopes that the killing of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, by US
soldiers would calm a bloody insurgency were dimmed and the euphoria was muted
by the new attacks as on Tuesday night, a convoy was attacked in Ramadi, 60
miles west of the capital, killing one soldier and wounding two more.
On Wednesday, the bodies of Uday and Qusa, long feared by most Iraqis for their roles in the military and intelligence arms of Saddam's brutal dictatorship, were taken to the Baghdad International Airport base of American forces for a more detailed examination and to be flown out of the country. Officials would not provide an indication as to why the bodies were being taken out of Iraq or to the destination.
The military reported in a separate incident, a US soldier was killed and six
wounded in a land mine or bomb explosion attack on a convoy near Mosul, the
same northern town were Uday and Qusay died.
Barzan appeared as the Queen of Hearts in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and was No. 11 on the revised list of the 55. Tuesday's action led to the 36th fugitive of the most wanted list to be captured and placed in US custody.
The Pentagon announced a plan on Wednesday to replace weary military personnel in Iraq with fresh American and international troops in the coming months, with most US soldiers facing yearlong deployments. The long-awaited troop-rotation plan for the postwar stabilization force in Iraq features the first-ever deployment of a new Army brigade built around the high-tech "Stryker" armored vehicle, and also calls for activating thousands more Army National Guard soldiers.
The Army's 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) will be sent home in September and replaced by elements of the 82nd Airborne Division. The 3rd Infantry Division spearheaded the invasion of Iraq, was the first unit to enter Baghdad and now shoulders a heavy burden in the postwar effort.
The Stryker Brigade, which has undergone field trials but has not seen action, is due to deploy to Iraq in October, replacing the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. The brigade, based at Ft. Lewis, WA, is built around new class of light armored vehicles. The "Stryker" is a speedy, wheeled armored vehicle that combines firepower and agility, with reduced support requirements, according to the Army.
The Pentagon will send to Iraq two Army National Guard brigades. A brigade numbers about 5,000 troops. Nearly 200,000 US reservists already are on active duty. The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force will leave Iraq by September or October and be replaced by a division of international troops headed by Poland,
The Army's 4th Infantry Division will be withdrawn next March and April and be replaced for a year by the US 1st Infantry Division based in Germany. A National Guard brigade will join the 1st Infantry Division for six months. Between February and April, the 1st Cavalry Division and another National Guard brigade will replace the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Light Cavalry Regiment.
The 101st Airborne Division will be replaced by another international division next February. The 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade will leave Iraq in January and April of next year, respectively, and will not be replaced.
On Thursday, 24 July (Day-127) at 0230 hours (local), three American soldiers, members of the 101st Airborne Division, were killed when their convoy was hit by gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades. Their convoy was enroute to Qayyarah, 186 miles north of the capital, Baghdad, when they were at attacked. No other soldiers were reported wounded and it is not known if any assailants were killed or wounded. The killings were further signs that the insurgency against American troops is not losing strength as anticipated after the killing of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay.
The US military released grisly photographs that showed the bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons in an effort to convince Iraqis the feared brothers were dead and staunch a wave of deadly guerrilla attacks. Iraqi television immediately broadcast the pictures of the blood-spattered, bearded faces of Uday and Qusay. Uday's head was shaved and a wound had obliterated part of his nose and upper lip. Qusay's eyes were closed and his mouth hung open.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld indicated that he was glad he decided to release the photographs in order to help convince frightened Iraqis that Saddam's rule was over, a consideration that far outweighed any sensitivities over showing the corpses. A spokesman for the US led civil authority in Iraq indicated that journalists would be allowed to film the bodies on Friday to dispel any doubts the photographs were authentic.
Major General Ray Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, disclosed that US troops, acting on a tip from an Iraqi informant, raided a house south of Tikrit on Thursday night and detained 13 people, five to ten of them are believed to be members of Saddam Hussein's personal security detail. The town of Tikrit is Saddam's hometown and a source of continuing support for his deposed regime. It is not known if the newly captured members of his security detail had been protecting him recently.
Major General Ray Odierno also indicated that the coalition is tightening the noose on Saddam and is continuing to gain more and more information about where he might be. He reported an increase in tips from informants since the United States released pictures of the corpses of Uday and Qusay Hussein, the once-powerful sons of the deposed Iraqi leader.
Another tip received by the 4th Infantry Division on Thursday led to the discovery of a large cache of firearms and explosives buried underground near a house southeast of Samarra. US troops dug up a container that contained 45,000 sticks of dynamite, 11 improvised bombs, 34 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 50 RPG rounds, more than three dozen machine guns and submachine guns, and bomb detonation cord. Arms from this cache may have been used to stage some of the attacks on US troops around Samarra.
On Friday, 25 July (Day-128), lawmakers voted to send Japanese forces to Iraq to help with reconstruction, despite delaying tactics by the opposition that deteriorated into a wild shoving match. Opposition parties criticized the legislation, saying such peacekeeping missions could violate Japan's pacifist constitution and put troops in the line of enemy fire.
The passage of the bill was a victory for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who campaigned hard to send peacekeeping troops overseas as he seeks to raise Japan's profile on the world stage. However during the legislative session, it was fraught with troubles, including the submission of several censure motions, a no-confidence motion against Koizumi's government, and a scuffle between lawmakers from opposing sides during a committee meeting.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi aimed to distance his administration from the "checkbook diplomacy" for which Japan, the world's second-richest nation, was criticized during the 1991 Gulf War. Small Japanese military contingents have previously participated in several UN peacekeeping operations since 1992, most recently in East Timor. Japanese military planners are reportedly considering up to 1,000 combat engineers and other troops for transport and construction duties in Iraq.
A Shiite Muslim cleric, Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr, whose radical movement was left out of the Governing Council set up by the United States to run Iraq vowed Friday to rally his young followers and form a religious army to drive American troops from Najaf, the country's holiest Shiite city. He told 50,000 worshipers gathered at the main mosque in this Shiite city that tens of thousands had volunteered and many wanted to take up arms. Al-Sadr, however, insisted he would remain peaceful and forego arming his followers.
He did indicate that among the new army's tasks would be to stop what he called the social decay and immorality brought to Iraq by the coalition troops and to counter "alien ideologies". Al-Sadr has drawn backing among some young Shiites, primarily from the popularity of his late father, Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, a senior Shiite cleric killed along with two of his sons in 1999 by Saddam's regime.His calls for stricter adherence to Islamic Sharia laws also found resonance among young deprived Shiites in the poorer areas of Iraqi cities.
On Saturday, 26 July (Day-129), explosions and gunfire rang out in Baghdad, underlining that Iraq remains a dangerous place despite US hopes that the killing of Saddam Hussein's two feared sons will help end armed resistance. US troops indicated that a US patrol may have come under attack and they returned fire. The blasts and gunfire lasted for several minutes.
A grenade attack in Baqouba, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad, on Saturday, killed three US soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division and wounded four as they guarded a children's hospital northeast of Baghdad, scuttling hopes a widespread guerrilla insurgency might lose strength after the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons. The soldiers were guarding the hospital because some of their wounded comrades were being treated there. Three of the injured soldiers were treated and returned to their unit, the fourth evacuated to a military hospital.
On Sunday, 27 July (Day-130) at 0235 hours (local), a Rocket-Propelled Grenade attack on a US night patrol south of Baghdad killed one American soldier and wounded another. The soldiers were attacked in an area where an Iraqi driver for the United Nations and a Sri Lankan technician working for the International Committee of the Red Cross were killed in separate ambushes earlier this month.
Continuing their hunt for Saddam Hussein, American forces focused their efforts around his Tigris River hometown and reported a near-miss Sunday in a raid to capture his new chief of security, and perhaps the ousted dictator himself. Troops of the 4th Infantry Division, acting on tips from informants, hit three farms in the Tikrit region in a pre-dawn attack but learned their specific target, te security chief, had left the area the day before.
The raid was prompted by the capture of a group of men in Tikrit believed to include as many as 10 Saddam bodyguards on Thursday. Soldiers had learned from them that Saddam's new security chief, and possibly the dictator himself, were staying at one of the farms. Hundreds of soldiers, backed by Bradley fighting vehicles, surrounded the farms as Apache attack helicopters hovered above. No shots were fired as about 25 men emerged from the houses peacefully. They were detained briefly and released later Sunday.
Later Sunday, US forces raided the home of Prince Rabiah Muhammed al-Habib in an upscale west Baghdad neighborhood and killed an undetermined number of people.One hospital reported at least five Iraqis killed. The prince, one of Iraq's most influential tribal leaders, was not there when the raid occurred but later indicated to Associated Press reporters that he believed the Americans were searching for Saddam.
A tribal elder from Saddam Hussein's clan, Mahmoud an-Nada, indicated that he had tried to claim the bodies of Saddam's slain sons Uday and Qusay for a proper Islamic burial, but a US official told him the ousted president should come instead.
Later, Nada indicated that had been told that he could make a request through the International Committee of the Red Cross to retrieve the bodies, which he wants to bury in a tribal cemetery. A member of the US backed Iraqi Governing Council said the group had recommended handing the bodies over to relatives and expected the US led authority in Iraq would do that.
On Monday, 28 July (Day-131), on the road, north of Baghdad, from Baqouba to Tikrit, insurgents floated a bomb down the river on a palm log and detonated it under a bridge the military had been repairing. It was believed to have been the first such attack by insurgents on a bridge. The structures are vital to a country with two major rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. The military closed a pontoon crossing down river that had been open for civilian traffic during the repairs.
The bridge was a major link over the Diala River, a Tigris tributary, carrying traffic between the cities of Baquoba and Tikrit, both hotbeds of resistance in the so-called "Sunni Triangle". The region, stretching north and west from Baghdad is a major center of support for Saddam.
Later Monday, the US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, reported a vehicle
accident near the southern city of Nasiriyah in which the second soldier died
and one was injured. The military provided no other details on either
As US troops and police stamp out the criminal gangs terrorising Iraqis in the post-Saddam Hussein era, an improvement in security around the neighborhood, where carjackers had stopped in the last month ambushing cars in a nearby highway underpass.
Earlier Monday, police announced they had rescued eight women and children from the clutches of kidnappers in a raid on their lair in Baghdad's Karada commercial district. Four women and four children were freed and returned to their families in good health. The kidnappers were arrested and a number of them detained.
Over the past six weeks a small but intense war has been conducted in the mud-hut villages and lush palm groves along the Tigris River valley, fought with far different methods than those used in the campaign that toppled president Saddam Hussein. As Iraqi fighters launched guerrilla strikes, the US Army adopted a more nimble approach against unseen adversaries and found new ways to gather intelligence about them.
Thousands of suspected Iraqi fighters were detained over the six-week period, many temporarily, in hundreds of US military raids, most of them conducted in the dead of night. In the expansive region north of Baghdad patrolled by the 4th Infantry Division, more than 300 Iraqi fighters were killed in combat operations.In the same period, US forces in all of Iraq have suffered 39 combat deaths.
Despite their losses, Army officers and soldiers are making solid gains in this region, where most of the fighting has taken place and where about half the 150,000 US troops in the country are posted. At the beginning of June, before the US offensives began, the reward for killing an American soldier was about $300. Street youths are now being offered as much as $5,000 and are being told that if they refuse, their families will be killed, a development described as a sign of reluctance among once-eager youths to take part in the strikes.
At the same time, the frequency of attacks has declined in the area northwest of Baghdad dominated by Iraq's Sunni minority, long a base of support for Hussein. In this triangle-shaped region, delineated by Baghdad, Tikrit to the north and the towns of Fallujah and Ramadi to the west, attacks on US forces have dropped by half since mid-June.
US soldiers discovered 40 anti-tank mines, dozens of mortar rounds and hundreds of pounds of gunpowder on Monday buried in Saddam Hussein's hometown, enough for a month of attacks on US troops. US soldiers dug up the freshly buried weapons outside an abandoned building that once belonged to Saddam's Fedayeen militia in Tikrit, Saddam's hometown and power base in which he still enjoys widespread support.
The 22nd Infantry Regiment's 1st Battalion, led simultaneous pre-dawn raids on several homes in the heart of Saddam's hometown, 120 miles north of Baghdad. Soldiers blasted open doors with shotguns, leading away dazed occupants in blindfolds and throwing photographs and documents into the street.
Among those captured was Adnan Abdullah Abid al-Musslit, a stocky man commanders said was one of Saddam's most trusted bodyguards. Al-Musslit, who is Saddam's cousin, was believed to have detailed knowledge of Saddam's hiding spots. Al-Musslit had retired from his job, but Saddam called him back into service before the war started.
The soldiers had to overpower al-Musslit, who several soldiers said was quite drunk, wrestling him to the ground and dragging him down the stairs. Al-Musslit tried to make it out of his bedroom to grab a submachine gun, but the soldiers were too quick. Outside, soldiers tied a tan cloth over al-Musslit's eyes and stripped him to his underwear, searching for weapons. Blood seeped through the blindfold of Al-musslit and an Army medic examined him to determine the extent of his injuries.
Eleven other suspects were taken away from the Tikrit raids, including Daher
Ziana, responsible for security at Saddam's Tikrit palaces, and Rafa Idham
Ibrahim al-Hassan, another Saddam cousin and bodyguard who led the Saddam
Fedayeen militia in Tikrit. Outside, on Ziana's yard, six women wailed as
soldiers searched through photographs and documents. A large portrait of
Saddam lay alongside a picture of Ziana in uniform. One album featured a
photograph of women posing with Kalashnikov rifles.
The order in which the nine will serve was to be decided Wednesday, although it was not immediately clear if a vote will be taken by those nine members or the entire 25. In alphabetical order, the nine members of the presidential committee, all of them men, are:
The KDP spokesman Zebari said the order of the presidency would be alphabetical. In the Arabic alphabetic using first names, that would ensure Shiites, who comprise the majority of Iraq's 25 million people, lead the council for the first three months.
The council, tasked with skippering Iraq until democratic elections no earlier than 2004, had to navigate with extreme care as members worked to avoid aggravating the country's ethnic and religious fault lines.
More than 240 Iraqi refugees of several thousand Iraqi refugees languishing for years in a Saudi Arabian desert camp of Rafha began their journey home, in a convoy of buses and trucks, at 2000 hours (local), as the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations, warned that security problems in Iraq may hamper the repatriation.
Rafha camp, 10 kilometers (six miles) from the Iraqi border, was built 12 years ago and once sheltered 33,000 refugees, many of whom had fled Iraq at the end of the 1991 Gulf War and following a Shiite-led uprising in the south that was brutally suppressed by president Saddam Hussein' army.
The convoy of five buses, accompanied by five trucks carrying their belongings with their destination the southern Iraqi city of Basra, their hometown, is expected to enter Iraq early Wednesday morning after transiting through Kuwait overnight. Over the next few months, UNHCR expects to see small numbers of desperate to end their years in exile. Larger scale returns of the remaining 5,200 Iraqi people will begin heading northwards across the desert border into Iraq bound for Najaf, Nasariyah and other communities later in 2004, when the situation inside Iraq should have further stabilized.
In the latest in a string of attacks, a US tank was hit by a Rocket-Propelled Grenade on the western outskirts of Fallujah, 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Baghdad, The ambush just west of the Tigris river appeared to cause little damage, but it was not clear if there were any casualties.
Meanwhile in Baquba, 60 kilometers (40 miles) northeast of Baghdad, US troops were pulled from guard duties outside the town's hospitals after a rash of attacks, most notably a grenade blast on Saturday that killed three soldiers posted at the children's hospital. The US military indicated to the director of the general hospital that it was no longer safe for soldiers to be on guard duty and they were being replaced by Iraqi police.
On Wednesday, 30 July (Day-133), the Iraq's US backed Governing Council defended its choice of an apparently unwieldy rotating presidency for the fledgling self-rule body. It had taken more than two weeks of laborious discussion before the Governing Council decided Tuesday to rotate the presidency among nine of its 25 members, drawn from various religious, ethnic and political factions.
V. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a senior official in the Shi'ite Muslim Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), indicated that there were no disputes over this issue anr it was a reasonable and logical decision.
The Americans are hunting Saddam Hussein using tattered documents, dusty tanks, satellites and flying robots. The 4th Infantry Division, dubbed the "digital division" because of the technology it uses, is combining the skills of traditional soldiering with high-tech gadgets in its hunt for the fugitive Iraqi dictator. The cavernous hall of one of Saddam's palaces is illuminated by computer screens as soldiers work, listening to the latest television news updates on the hunt for the ousted dictator.
Overhead, satellites record movement along the Iraqi terrain, spy-planes scour hiding spots with thermal scans and unmanned drones feed live video to division headquarters.The division is also introducing some new high-tech innovations. The radar in Apache attack helicopters, originally designed to target moving tanks, is being used to track vehicles and detect unusual traffic patterns.
Lieutenant Colonel Ted Martin, Operations Officer for the 4th Division,
indicated that the systems, the people and the specialized training they have
here aren't designed to hunt for a single human being, but all skill levels
and equipment is being applied to tracking down this key leader. When the Army
receives a report of a suspicious meeting or activity, it calls in the Air
Force, deploy unmanned drone aircraft and reconnaissance helicopters. If the
lead looks promising, infantry troops backed by Bradley fighting vehicles can
be dispatched to the area for a more detailed follow-up investigation.
Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the coalition ground forces commander, indicated that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network is "probably" operating in Iraq, along with other Islamist extremist groups like Ansar al-Islam. As long as Americans are here, people will come to attack them, just like they're trying to attack American interests around the world.
He also indicated that the guerrilla tactics being used against coalition forces in Iraq resembled those taught and employed by al-Qaeda fighters and the ousted Sunni Muslim fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Those tactics included rocket-propelled grenades and explosives detonated by remote control. Sanchez's reference to bin Laden's network parallels with the White House's contention of a connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda as one of the conditions leading to war and dovetailed with remarks Wednesday in Afghanistan by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers.
Saboteurs exploded part of a key oil pipeline, running from Kirkuk to Baiji, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Baghdad which was still ablaze following a big blast. The pipeline carried gas from Kirkuk in northern Iraq to a power station at Tadji, north of Baghdad, which supplies the capital with electricity.
The resulting damage is certain to delay US plans to fully resuscitate Iraq's
massive energy sector and restore full services to the capital. Only a day
earlier, US officials hailed the expected reopening early this month of the
country's main oil pipeline from the petroleum center of Kirkuk to the Turkish
Mediterranean terminal of Ceyhan, wrecked in a post-war sabotage attack.
In a separate attack, at 0833 hours (local), four Iraqi men were killed and three US troops were lightly wounded in a Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) assault on a US convoy. as they patrolled Fallujah's outskirts on reconnaissance, amid a rise in violence in the flashpoint region. US forces arrested nine people in the clash, seven of whom were carrying grenades while two were found with suspect documents bearing photographs of ousted president Saddam Hussein.
A senior cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Abbas al-Issawi, in the town of Fallujah which for many has become a symbol of resistance to the US led occupation of the country said "The battle against the occupation and the wicked is an obligation of Islam", revealing that a radicalized current of Sunni Islam is emerging in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, as the community which ruled for decades watches the long-oppressed Shiites asserting their will by virtue of sheer numbers.
The fundamentalists, sometimes called Wahhabis or Salafis, battling the Americans alongside a legion of Saddam loyalists, have taken up arms "because of the occupation" but the insurgency has not reached great heights because jihad (holy war) has not yet been proclaimed against the Americans. Most fight the Americans in the name of Saddam Hussein, but some have picked up arms as an assertion of their Sunni identity, in anger over the US designs to radically alter their world with plans for Western-style democracy.
Dozens of US Army's 4th Infantry Division forces raided two houses, at 1600 hours (local), in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, capturing two men napping in the afternoon heat. The soldiers did not identify the captives but indicated that they were important Saddam associates and their arrests came in a continuing search for the fugitive former Iraqi dictator and could bring them a step closer to catching up with him.
Jordan has granted sanctuary to the two eldest daughters of Saddam Hussein, Raghad Saddam Hussein and Rana Saddam Hussein, but has been banning entry to the ousted leader's cronies to avoid Iraq's complex politics and assist US led efforts to restore law and order in the still unstable country. They were accepted into Jordan unexpectedly, apparently directly from Iraq, upon King Abdullah II's orders. The government said both women, who had been living in humble circumstances in neighboring Iraq and whose father had their husbands killed in 1996, were allowed in on "humanitarian grounds" after they had "run out of all options".
In a night-time raid on a house in the southwestern part of Tikrit, soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, backed by helicopters, met no obvious resistance as they arrested a man that was protecting senior supporters of Saddam Hussein and organizing guerrilla attacks on Americans around the fugitive Iraqi leader's home town.
As the soldiers took the middle-aged, unidentified man into custody, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment indicated to a group of reporters on the scene that the individual targeted tonight is believed to be involved in organizing attacks on US forces, in moving arms for these attacks, and also providing security for members of the regime.
Government officials of Jordan, insisting on anonymity, offered justifications for granting of refuge to both women. One said Saddam's daughters had little to do with Iraqi politics and another said they were not being sought for crimes linked to their father's ousted regime. Both stressed that Jordan wanted to stay out of Iraqi politics and that the gesture was only "benevolent".
The eldest daughter of Saddam Hussein, whose husband was killed on the orders of her father, the ousted Iraqi president, accused close aides to her father of betraying him and helping US forces capture Baghdad. Raghd, 36, in a Al Arabiya television interview in Jordan where she, her sister Rana, 34, and their nine children were given asylum indicated that it was a big shock. It was clear, the people who he had absolutely trusted betrayed him.
The US Army has dispatched a team of medical experts to Iraq to investigate a group of serious pneumonia cases among US troops, with two dead and more than 100 ill. There have been more than 100 cases among US troops in the Iraq region since the beginning of March, including 15 serious enough to warrant medical evacuation to get the patients ventilators to assist their breathing. Of these 15, two Army soldiers died, 10 troops recovered and three remain hospitalized. Most of these 15 cases have involved Army soldiers, but at least one US Marine was ill.
The six-person team heading to Iraq will include two physicians, an infectious disease specialist and an epidemiologist, as well as two microbiologists, a laboratory technician and a preventive medicine technician. The teams being sent to Iraq and Germany are hunting for a possible common thread. The troops who have come down with pneumonia were geographically dispersed and came from different military units. The cases also occurred periodically over five months rather than all at once.
There has been no infectious agent such as a bacterium or virus been
discovered to be common to all the cases. There is no evidence to indicate
that there are chemical or biological weapons or environmental toxins involved
as well as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS which has been ruled
Uday and Qusay were buried in the family cemetery, in the village where the deposed dictator was born, in a quiet and uneventful ceremony. There were no outbursts of violence reported in the city. The US military had concerns that the gathering for the burial could get out of hand, with a huge backlash against the big US troop presence in and around the city.
Mustafa Hussein, the 14-year-old son of Qusay who was also killed in the
fierce gunbattle with US troops, was buried alongside with Uday and Qusay. The
Iraqi Red Crescent Society president, Jamal al-Karboli, indicated that his
organization had been approached by relatives asking it to act as an
intermediary in recovering the bodies of Uday and Qusay from the US Military
and assisting in transporting them to Tikrit.
Although President Bush declared on 01 May that major combat was over, military commanders in Iraq have indicated repeatedly that they still are in a war zone, one in which the tool they prize most, timely information about the enemy, is the very one that the Stryker Combat Tram soldiers are equipped to provide.
Coincidentally, it was the Army's experience in the Persian Gulf in 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait and seemed poised to grab the oil fields of eastern Saudi Arabia, that led to the development of the Stryker model. At that time the Army's only answer to Iraq's threat to those Saudi oil fields was to send the 82nd Airborne Division. The unit was quick to respond but was too lightly armed to sustain an effective defense had the Iraqi army crossed the Saudi border and raced for the oil fields. It was that gap between light and heavy forces that must be closed.
The Stryker is the Army's first new combat vehicle in two decades, although it actually is intended as a stepping stone to the ultimate goal: a high-tech family of fighting systems known as the Future Combat System, which still is on the drawing board and is expected to include unmanned ground and aerial vehicles.
The Stryker is a 19-ton, eight-wheeled armored vehicle built in the United States and Canada. It comes in two variants: an infantry carrier and a mobile gun system. The infantry carrier, in turn, has eight configurations, including a reconnaissance vehicle, a mortar carrier and a vehicle for the brigade commander.
One Stryker can be flown aboard an Air Force C-130 cargo plane, which is
designed to land on short, substandard airfields in remote areas. Thus the
Stryker Brigade is capable of reaching areas, including the deserts of western
Iraq, that units built around tanks could not reach quickly by air.
On Sunday, 03 August (Day-137), US soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, based in the restive towns of Fallujah and Ramadi west of the capital in the "Sunni triangle," mounted a series of raids on homes and farmhouses in the hostile Sunni heartland around Baghdad, detaining dozens of suspected Saddam Hussein loyalists and saying the net was closing on the deposed dictator himself. Twenty former regime loyalists, including a targeted leader, were captured.
The 4th Infantry Division, which polices a tense region north of Baghdad including Saddam's home town of Tikrit, also staged several raids, capturing 26 detainees including two suspected "mid-level former regime loyalists". They also seized 162 hand grenades, nine rocket-propelled grenades, 10 AK-47 assault rifles, four blocks of dynamite and a heavy machinegun.
On Monday, 04 August (Day-138), US forces hunting Saddam Hussein around his
home town of Tikrit said on Monday they had seized two more suspected allies
of the deposed Iraqi dictator and a third apparently gave himself up after
eluding a raid.
The Iraqi army recruits were taken to Kirkuk and on to a US base under heavy guard for fear Iraqi resistance fighters would attack the convoy of red and white buses. The recruits sent north Monday make up about half the first batch due to begin training under US instructors this month. More than 12,000 Iraqi soldiers are scheduled to be ready for service by year's end and 40,000 by the end of 2004.
Those eligible to join the army must be between 18 and 40 and must not have held the rank of colonel or above in Saddam's military. During the two-month training period, they will be paid $60 monthly. Recruits who complete training must serve at least 26 months. Their salaries will be determined according to rank, with top pay of $120 a month.
In midnight operations underlining the newfound strength of Iraq's long-oppressed religious majority, Shiite leaders are whitewashing the names of many of Baghdad's bridges, streets and neighborhoods, replacing the hallmarks of the old regime with scrawled titles rich in symbolism for Shiites. There is no Yasser Arafat Street in Baghdad anymore, and a main thoroughfare along the Tigris River once named for an 8th century poet has a new name as well.
Saddam had named the street for Yasser Arafat when Israel put the Palestinian leader under virtual house arrest in 2000. Signs bearing Arafat's name disappeared overnight in late June, and new ones with the imam's name went up. Many of Iraq's Shiite Muslims resent Arafat for backing Saddam in the 1991 Gulf War and for accepting Iraqi aid since then, even while Iraq suffered under UN sanctions imposed after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. There also was resentment over special treatment Saddam granted Palestinian refugees in Iraq, and the Iraqi dictator contributed to funds that paid compensation to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.
Among other Baghdad sites renamed:
After the fall of the ousted regime, people felt it would be unsuitable to leave the names, as they are symbols of the humiliation and injustice endured by the Iraqi people.
On Tuesday, 05 August (Day-139), US authorities indicated that they had detained around 150 people and seized scores of fuel trucks and a dozen oil barges in the past two weeks to try to stem rampant smuggling of oil out of Iraq. A spokesman for the US British administration in Iraq said. "There has been widespread theft and smuggling of oil and oil derivatives out of the southern part of the country since even before the war, and we will put a stop to it".
Naval patrols from Bahrain, home of the US Fifth Fleet, are trying to hunt down the smugglers in waters off the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr. In some cases, smuggling ships have raced from Iraqi shores into Iranian waters to try to evade capture, before moving into international waters.
Arab foreign ministers ruled out a US request to send troops to stabilize Iraq at a meeting and discussed ways to end its occupation. Bahraini Foreign minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Mubarak al-Khalifa, who chaired the meeting at the 22-member Arab League headquarters, announced the set up of a seven-member committee to follow up the Iraqi issue, made up of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Syria, Qatar, Jordan and Tunisia.
An Arab official explained that the US request of sending troops was "discussed informally and struck off the agenda because there was no hope of reaching a consensus" at the meeting of ministers from 11 states and the Palestinian Authority. He further indicated that many members considered sending troops to help the Americans would be tantamount to helping the occupation, however the Arab League was open to a dialogue with members of the US-sponsored Iraqi Governing Council but did not recognize this body as a legitimate government.
Egyptian state-run newspaper Al-Ahram on Tuesday ran an editorial along those lines. "Arab nations refuse on principle to play policeman to protect the Americans or quash Iraqi resistance. From the American point of view, it would be ideal to have Arab troops in Iraq. It imply Arab recognition of the occupation to the extent of helping secure its continuation".
A rocket-propelled grenade slammed into a police station in the restive town of Fallujah, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad on Tuesday wounded at least two US soldiers, the latest victims of a guerrilla war that has killed 53 American troops in the last three months. The two US soldiers were taken away in an ambulance as a crowd gathered, chanting their support for deposed president Saddam Hussein.
On Tuesday Iraqi police mounted a raid and seized a brother of Adnan Abdullah Abid al-Musslit, a close personal bodyguard of Saddam's family who was himself arrested around Tikrit a week ago. They were still hunting other brothers. Also, soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division detained 18 suspected former regime loyalists in seven overnight raids across north central Iraq.
On Wednesday, 06 August (Day-140), at 1140 hours (local), a bomb exploded by a Khalij al-Arabi petrol station two kilometers (1.5 miles) south of Basra on the road to Zubair, just seconds after three British trucks passed. It was a small explosion and there were no injuries to the soldiers and the convoy continued on.
There was slight damage to one of the three vehicles in the convoy. The blast wounded four Iraqis and damaged one minibus and one truck. Following the blast, five British military vehicles arrived at the scene and sealed it off. Residents suspected two veiled women, who were seen sitting at the site for 30 minutes some three hours before the blast.
As Poland readies for its largest peacekeeping mission ever, soldiers indicated that they are looking forward to showcasing their military prowess while offering Iraqis a helping hand. For the soldiers, the mission, the largest military operation of Poland, since World War II, will allow them to show how much the Polish military has modernized since it was little more than an oversized, Soviet satellite force 13 years ago.
The Polish-led force of 9,000 will include soldiers from 22 nations and be
responsible for enforcing security in south-central Iraq. A command staff of
about 250 already is in Iraq, and 2,000 Polish troops left Tuesday for the
Middle East. Officially they start their tour of duty on 01 September.
Shortly after the blast, young Iraqi men entered the embassy, chanting anti-Jordanian slogans and destroying photographs of Jordanian King Abdullah II and his late father, King Hussein. American soldiers and Iraqi police dispersed them. The attack on the embassy was a new kind of violence in Iraq, where guerrillas have been targeting American troops with bombs, grenades and Kalashnikovs.
US troops in Humvees, armored vehicles and a tank flooded the embassy area and cordoned it off as Iraqi police and American investigators searched for clues. Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, brought to Iraq to rebuild its police force, set up a command center to collect information from neighbors or passers-by.
The smoke was barely settled from the embassy blast when a bomb went off under a Humvee across town on the busy shopping avenue, Outer Karadah Street. More than 20 Humvees and eight Bradley fighting vehicles raced in as four days of relative quiet in the capital was ending dramatically. Three helicopters circled above, including a medical evacuation craft that unsuccessfully tried to land to take away two wounded US soldiers. Paper and garbage whirled in the tempest stirred by the rotor blades.
The street, a bustling 2 1/2 mile row of shops selling everything from satellite dishes to air conditioners to television sets, erupted in gunfire. First from Iraqi attackers firing Kalashnikovs, then the response from the newly arrived American armor blasting .50 caliber rounds into a two-story building. The ground shook with each shot. There was a yawning crater where the Humvee had been blown apart. US soldiers often shop in the area in search of bargains. One Iraqi said they nearly always park a Humvee in the same place.
On Friday, 08 August (Day-142) at 0730 hours (local), soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, stationed to monitor a location where suspected former regime loyalists were trafficking illegal arms, observed four men illegally trafficking weapons. The team engaged the four men. Two were wounded and two were killed. Soldiers who checked the area afterwards found AK-47 rifles, loaded magazines and small arms ammunition and material that can make up improvised explosive devices, such as wires and switches.
A US military base came under fire, around 2015 hours (local), from guerrilla insurgents on the outskirts of Fallujah, a bastion of anti-US sentiment 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Baghdad. Four blasts were heard and smoke was seen rising from the grounds. The compound, on the outskirts of town, comes under regular late-night mortar attack, as do other bases in the western province of Al-Anbar, which, for many, has come to symbolize Iraqi resistance to the US presence in Iraq.
On Saturday, 09 August (Day-143) at 0300 hours (local), the US army captured and arrested a suspected leader of Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen militia, Lieutenant Quais Mahdi al-Obeidi, at his home in the village of Hadayid, eight kilometers (five miles) near the northeastern town of Baquba. Baquba falls within a Sunni Muslim triangle north and west of the capital, considered a haven for Saddam's supporters.
Obeidi was suspected of involvement in a mortar attack Thursday on the US base in Baquba, 60 kilometers (36 miles) northeast of Baghdad. Also, In a blow to the insurgency campaign around Fallujah, US troops arrested a former Saddam-era security chief, General Shaban Mohammed Asmir.
In another sweep, US troops arrested the former local commander of the Baath Party militia, Major Shaaban al-Janabi, on Saturday in the restive Iraqi town of Fallujah, 32 miles west of Baghdad. US forces backed by helicopters and armored vehicles raided his house and took him away. Al-Janabi had been in charge of militia supply warehouses during the US led war on Iraq.
US forces have stepped up raids in Sunni Muslim towns north and west of Baghdad in an attempt to root out guerrillas attacking them daily. Saddam Hussein drew particular support from the traditionally dominant Sunni minority.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation was called in Friday to probe the
deadly bombing of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad as the Iraqi ministry of
the interior and coalition forces faced skepticism over plans to let the
32,000-strong Iraqi police take the lead in the investigation of Thursday's
Jordan embassy bombing, which killed at least 13 people.
The US army began to hand over, for the first time, the protection of public buildings in Baghdad to members of a new Iraqi security force, the Iraqi Failities Protection Services (FPS), which is to take over guarding key sites such as municipal buildings, hospitals, telephone exchanges and electricity plants. The operation will extend to the most sensitive sites from 01 October. The US army has already recruited and trained around 150 Iraqis for the new force, which will eventually comprise a total of 11,000 personnel.
On Sunday, 10 August (Day-144), Basra residents overwhelmed by the heat and angry about fuel shortages and electricity cuts bombarded British soldiers with rocks in a second day of protests. A demonstrator and a security guard were killed.
The dead guard worked for Global Security, a private company hired to provide security and other services for coalition bases throughout the country. The guard, of Nepalese origin, was bringing mail from Kuwait to United Nations staff in Basra. He was shot by an unknown assailant as a two-car convoy neared an intersection in the center of the city.
Basra had been one of the quietest cities in the country. On Sunday, a protester was shot dead after an angry crowd tried to block four four-wheel drive vehicles crossing the main bridge leading to the airport and the British military headquarters.
Protesters blocked roads with rows of burning tires. They threw rocks at the cars when shots rang out that apparently killed the protester. British troops patrolling the area gave away their own fuel to calm the demonstrators. It was unclear who was in the cars or who fired the shots.The shooting followed clashes by about 1,000 residents Saturday. British soldiers suffered minor injuries when attacked by crowds throwing rocks and bricks.British soldiers were supervising distribution at gas stations to make sure people were not charged exorbitant black-market prices.
In Baghdad coalition forces were taking steps to alleviate the power and fuel crisis in Basra. The coalition also brought in two new gas turbine generators to try to patch up the antiquated electricity system. The US military reported that two soldiers and a journalist were wounded in a rocket-propelled grenade attack at the Baghdad University complex. It said one soldier had quickly returned to duty. Elsewhere, four US soldiers and a journalist were wounded in guerrilla attacks and a III Corps Support Command soldier died of heat stroke while traveling in a convoy near the southern city of Diwaniyah.
The killing of the US military policeman occurred Sunday night at an Iraqi
police station near Baqouba, 40 miles northeast of the capital. A suspicious
package was dropped off at the Baqouba police headquarters and an MP with the
task force went out to investigate it. The MP was seriously wounded in the
blast and evacuated to a military hospital, but died of his wounds. Two other
MPs were wounded, but were in stable condition.
A series of huge explosions rocked a US military base in Ramadi, 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Baghdad, late Monday as mysterious assailants fired on the compound several hours following the pre-dawn raid of some 2,000 US troops on two local sleepy villages suspected of pro-Saddam Hussein guerrillas activity. The town is considered a stronghold of sympathizers of Saddam Hussein's regime, who hailed from the same Sunni Muslim community, now embattled in the post-war Iraq era as the country's Shiite majority asserts its will.
The area sweeps, dubbed Operation IVY LIGHTNING, was the fifth in a series of operations targeting regime loyalists, looking for weapon caches and basically trying to disrupt any subversive elements planning attacks on coalition forces.
US troops arrested seven suspected Saddam Hussein loyalists in a raid, Objective TACO BELL, launched after 2200 hours (local), north of the capital. The focus of the raid involved 17 homes in the village of Mukayshifah, 20 kilometers (12 miles) southwest of Tikrit, where opponents of the US led occupation in Iraq were believed to be gathering. The soldiers detained seven people in a raid targeting a financier of attacks on coalition forces. Compared with sweeps last month, the results were meager.
No large money or weapons caches were found in the raids North of Baghdad, meanwhile, three American soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division were wounded in a grenade attack after guerrillas ambushed their patrol in Shumayt, just north of Tikrit. All three and were in stable condition.
On Tuesday, 12 August (Day-146), US soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment captured one of Saddam Hussein's former bodyguards and an Iraqi General of the Republican Guard who was also a senior Baath Party official. The Army had been watching the family for weeks, because of intelligence pointing to their involvement in recent attacks on soldiers in Tikrit. They staged the sweep Tuesday when they thought they could catch the maximum number of people.About 250 soldiers surrounded and searched 20 homes. Soldiers carried away a safe, photographs and computers that may be of intelligence value.
A total of 14 suspects were detained in a series of raids lasting three hours in the deposed dictator's hometown. All the suspects were from a single family that had been a pillar of support for Saddam's regime. They were trying to support the remnants of the former regime by organizing attacks, through funding and by trying to hide former regime members.
A US military investigation has concluded that the crew of a US tank acted properly when it fired on a Baghdad hotel filled with foreign journalists 08 April, killing two television cameramen, a Ukrainian cameraman for Reuters television, 35-year-old Taras Protsyuk, and a Spaniard working for the Spanish television network Telecinco, 37-year-old Jose Couso. Three other Reuters television journalists were wounded in the incident, which came amid heavy fighting in downtown Baghdad.
The investigation found that the tank fired at the Palestine Hotel because of reports a spotter was coordinating Iraqi fire from there. US forces had received transmissions on a captured Iraqi radio of someone in the area directing Iraqi fire, a second official said. The tank targeted the Palestine Hotel after seeing someone with binoculars on an upper floor acting "in a manner consistent with that of a spotter".
The Central Command's report appears to confirm exactly what was initially reported in April.that the rules of engagement were not violated. The details of the investigation were not immediately made public, but a summary of its findings was sent to the governments of Spain and Ukraine.
Former members of Iraq's once-dreaded secret police warned that they would take up arms against the US led coalition running the country if they were not paid their salaries. A 50 strong group of ex-members of the "mukhabarat" (secret police in Arabic) gathered outside the office of the coalition Civil Affairs office in Baquba hoping to get cash from the forces that ousted Saddam Hussein and put them out of work.
On Wednesday, 13 August (Day-147) at 0700 hours (local), one 4th Infantry
Division (4ID) soldier was killed and one wounded when their M-113 armored
personnel carrier hit a roadside (improvised) explosive device (IED). The two
casualties, whose convoy was en route to a training area near the town of
Dawar, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) south of Saddam's hometown of Tikrit,
were evacuated by military medical helicopter and taken to a field hospital,
where one of them died.
The oil flow to Turkey was expected to be between 300,000 and 400,000 barrels
a day, about half of pre-war volumes. The pipeline has a maximum capacity of
over 1 million barrels per day.Iraq's US occupiers are counting on oil exports
to largely fund reconstruction of the country and have been working since
Saddam Hussein' fall in April to restore the flow of oil. But rebuilding has
been delayed in part by looting and sabotage blamed on insurgents leading a
guerrilla campaign against the Americans.
The cards, on the street a few dozen meters (yards) from the scene, were
thrown out of a car by the fleeing attackers.The American troops said they had
killed one man after he got out of the car and fired at them with a pistol in
the attack. The man was taken to Al-Kindi hospital. Al-Qaeda has not claimed
any attacks in Baghdad but a previously unknown group claiming to be a branch
of the terror network claimed a 13 July attack on US troops in the town of
Fallujah in a recording broadcast on Al-Arabiya TV.
A Turkish newspaper, the Milliyet Daily, indicated that Turkey could eventually send about 4,000 troops but the number of soldiers under its command could reach 12,000 with the possible participation of troops from Pakistan and Central Asian Muslim nations. The Turkish soldiers were likely to serve in the Sunni-populated region spanning Baghdad, Fallujah and Tikrit, where US troops have faced the most serious resistance, under the command of a Turkish general.
The idea faces opposition from public opinion as well as members of both the opposition and the ruling Justice and Development Party in parliament, but proponents insist that aiding the United States will give Turkey a say in the shaping of postwar Iraq.
The United States is no longer seeking a major UN role in the occupation of Iraq and will instead try to enlist individual countries to help the US led occupation forces. The administration indicated that it is not willing to go to the (UN) Security Council and saying, "We really need to make Iraq an international operation".
Another sign of turmoil in the US-UN relationship is a UN Security Council resolution expected to pass Thursday in which the concept that council members "endorse" the Governing Council of Iraq has been changed to say, it "welcomes" the new administration. The resolution would also establish a UN "assistance mission" in Baghdad to support UN activities there..
US Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld is strongly opposed to any dilution of
military authority over Iraq by involving the United Nations. US military
officials fear that a UN role, even an indirect one, would hamper US decisions
in overseeing Iraqi security and pursuing anti-American guerrillas or
terrorists. As a final objective the United States hopes to get the support of
44 countries in the occupation of Iraq.
Hickey declined to elaborate on what information US forces had, but indicated that close analysis of intelligence combined with logic indicated Saddam was near Tikrit. "This was his political base of support, the people who chose to protect him in the dying days of the regime are from around here. He has to fall back on his close rings of support and they are in this area, We have specific information and we have our eye on the mark. Reason, logic and that specific information tell me that we are getting closer and closer".
Power cuts have halved oil exports from southern Iraq and copper theft from electricity lines threatens to shut down exports from the region completely. The massive theft of power lines in the south is the latest setback to US plans to rebuild the war-torn country. The collapse in exports from the south comes as oil begins flowing again through the country's northern export pipeline to Turkey that had been plagued by a series of pipeline explosions and looting that derailed reconstruction efforts in June and July.
The Security Council approved a resolution Thursday welcoming the Iraqi Governing Council and created a mission to oversee UN efforts to help rebuild the country and establish a democratic government. The vote was 14-0 with Syria abstaining because of its opposition to any endorsement of the 25-member Iraqi council, which was appointed by the United States.
Nearly five months after the deeply divided Security Council refused to authorize the US led war on Iraq, the occupation of the country by the United States and Britain remains a sensitive issue, especially for Arab nations. The Arab League declared on 04 August that its members, which includes Syria, would not recognize the Governing Council and would wait instead until Iraq is led by an elected government. However approval of the US drafted resolution showed a broad acceptance of the Governing Council as a transitional body.
The resolution welcomes the Iraqi council "as an important step towards the formation by the people of Iraq of an internationally recognized government" with sovereignty in Iraq. The resolution also establishes the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq to provide structure for the UN's operations in the country. The resolution approved Thursday makes no mention of a greater UN mandate in Iraq, and US Ambassador Negroponte cautioned that it "doesn't have any kind of broader implications".
On Friday, 15 August (Day-149), the US Army began training an Iraqi militia force to take on civil defense duties and pave the way for US forces to leave Iraq. Fifty young men hand-picked by tribal leaders started three weeks of intensive training at one of Saddam Hussein's main palaces in the northern town of Tikrit, which is now headquarters for the 4th Infantry Division. Similar training programs are expected to begin in other cities across Iraq shortly.
The militia will start off working with US soldiers in joint patrols, but
eventually will be responsible for defending key infrastructure and government
buildings. The founding members of the new militia will be paid $125 a month,
more than twice the salary of former Iraqi soldiers, and are expected to
commit to joining the civil defense force for a minimum of a year.
Saidi's remarks referenced riots over fuel and power shortages that broke out
last Saturday and Sunday amid anger over lack of progress on reconstruction in
the thick of a sweltering summer.A British Army spokesmen indicated that they
believed two Iraqis were killed during the riots, but described them as part
of a group who opened fire on British troops, while a Nepalese Gurkha security
guard working with the US led coalition was shot dead by a gunman in a section
of the city untouched by the unrest.
The village was sealed off after the attack and US troops conducted
house-to-house searches, US troops found further IEDs in the village after
acting on information given to them by locals.
Firefighters were trying to extinguish a blaze on Iraq's key Baiji oil
pipeline to Turkey which broke out early Friday. The cause is under
investigation and engineers were seeking to bypass the burning section to get
the oil flowing again. Baiji is about 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of
Baghdad and is a vital hub in the network of oil pipelines that criss-cross
Most of the looters were interested only in the casings, not the ammunition itself. Even so, it's a dangerous undertaking. At least 30 people have been killed in explosions in the depots. The new program by the Army and the Mines Advisory Group will put $6,000 a month into the local economy. In addition to providing much-needed employment and clearing the dangerous fields, it will relieve 70 soldiers to focus on guarding other trouble spots.
The Army has identified 432 locations in the two fields with ammunition. They
include mud-roofed bunkers, cement-block buildings and simple stacks of
crates. Lone rocket-propelled grenades lie among scrub and spent shells sit
within deep cracks in the barren earth. Propellant, which works like
gunpowder, is scattered everywhere, baking in the sun, some in long stick
shapes, others like little pellets of gray powder.
Iraqi officials blamed the first blaze on saboteurs.Iraqi fire fighters at the scene of the second blaze watched helplessly as smoke billowed a quarter-mile in the air. They held off on calling it sabotage, but said it was certainly suspicious.
Saboteurs blew a hole in a giant Baghdad water main, forcing engineers to cut off water to the capital and complicating efforts to bring stability to war-torn Iraq. Sunday's explosion in northern Baghdad blew a hole in a 5 foot diameter water main, flooding streets. People waded through chest-high water in some areas. Witnesses indicated that two men on a motorbike left a bag of explosives and detonated it minutes later.
US troops shot dead an award-winning Reuters cameraman while he was filming on Sunday near a US run prison on the outskirts of Baghdad. Eyewitnesses indicated that soldiers on an American tank shot at Mazen Dana, 43, as he filmed outside Abu Ghraib prison in western Baghdad which had earlier come under a mortar attack.
Dana's last pictures show a US tank driving toward him outside the prison walls. Several shots ring out from the tank, and Dana's camera falls to the ground. The US military acknowledged on Sunday that its troops had "engaged" a Reuters cameraman, saying they had thought his camera was a rocket propelled grenade launcher.
In a raid on a village north of Tikrit, soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment. 4th Infantry Division shut down a major bomb factory near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit and arrested two people in connection with bombing activities. They seized C-4 plastic explosives, plastic caps, detonation switches and fragmentation shrapnel used in bombs. Also seized in the raid was a 60mm mortar, seven rounds of ammunition, three grenades and four AK-47 rifles. No shots were fired, there was no resistance from those detained and there were no US casualties.
US troops shot and killed two Iraqis in separate incidents in the northern
region. One, who the military said was caught looting in southwest Tikrit,
was shot after ignoring warning shots. The second died of his wounds after his
car was disabled by US military personnel as he tried to run through a
roadblock in Han Bani Sa'd, just north of the capital Baghdad.
MaHassan al-Majidjid was a ruthless member of Saddam's clan who played a leading role in the violent suppression of Iraq's Kurdish and Shi'ite Muslim rebels and the seven-month occupation of Kuwait. Human rights groups say Majid's scorched earth policy led to the murder or disappearance of some 100,000 Kurds and the forced removal of many more.
Hassan al-MajidMajid appeared as the King of Spades in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and was No. 5 on the revised list of the 55. Sunday's capture led to the 38th fugitive of the most wanted list to be captured and placed in US custody.
On Monday, 18 August (Day-152), perhaps as many as a dozen Iraqis were killed when an ammunition dump they were looting blew up.The twelve were reported killed in the explosion at a storage dump of confiscated ammunition on the outskirts of Tikrit. All lived in a district inhabited by former members of the Iraqi army who were unemployed. The fatalities were mostly young jobless men who hailed from four families living in a neighborhood of the village inhabited by up to 300 families of former servicemen. The men had broken into the dump to loot copper from artillery and other shells, which they would then resell.
The accident took place in two explosions Sunday evening, but US troops kept
the Iraqi police and firefighters away from the scene until the fires and
chain-reaction blasts had subsided by Monday morning.
He has been a member of the Baath party since it seized power in 1968, and has held various senior positions. In 1970, he headed the revolutionary court that killed 44 officers who conspired to overthrow the regime. That crackdown was brutal and characterized by numerous executions, torture, arbitrary detention and subsequent disappearances.
Ramadan appeared as the Ten of Diamonds in the set of playing cards issued by
the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of
Saddam's former regime and was No. 20 on the revised list of the 55. Monday's
capture led to the 39th fugitive of the most wanted list to be captured and
placed in US custody.
A truck, packed with twice the amount of explosives as the embassy blast, detonated at the concrete wall outside the three-story Canal Hotel and the explosion destroyed a significant part of the Canal Hotel in northeast Baghdad. US Black Hawk helicopters could be seen flying toward the scene of the explosion. Two casualties were taken away by helicopter and two others by truck. Sirens wailed and a column of thick black smoke billowed hundreds of feet into the sky.
US soldiers and UN workers late Tuesday were still digging through the rubble for survivors of the deadliest attack since US forces entered the capital 09 April. No group immediately claimed responsibility for what US authorities indicated bore the signs of a suicide attack.
On Wednesday, 20 August (Day-154), FBI agents led the search for clues in the rubble of a bombed UN compound in Baghdad, while UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the attack that killed his top envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, would not drive the world body out of the country. UN workers were told to stay at home today.
After an all-night effort to find survivors, the rescue operation appeared to have turned into a grim search for the bodies of the many people unaccounted for at the heavily damaged UN headquarters. US soldiers maintained a large presence in the area and American Army trucks were coming and going from the compound. Heavy machinery was pulling up the smashed pieces of the building, strewn around by the blast.
FBI agents searching the site for clues have determined that the bomb was made up of about 1,000 pounds of old ordnance, including mortar rounds, artillery shells, hand grenades and a 500-pound bomb. The explosives were piled, without "any great degree of sophistication or expertise", onto the back of a Soviet-made military flatbed truck known as a "Kamaz", not a cement truck as earlier reported. The vehicle was driven to just outside the concrete wall recently built around the hotel and detonated. Some munitions failed to explode, and investigators and rescue workers had to dig through the site carefully to avoid setting them off.
Early on Thursday, 21 August (Day-155), US soldiers from the 588th Engineers Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, operating on a tip that Saddam Hussein was hiding in a farmhouse near Abbarah not far from Baqouba, took five men into detention but did not find the former Iraqi leader.
It was reported that the house that was raided was owned by an alleged Saddam loyalist, Khalid al-Dosh. It was not immediately known if he was among those detained. The tip proved false or late, but the five detainees captured in the raid were being questioned. One of the soldiers was shot in the arm as the battalion left the village, but was not in serious condition.
Also on Thursday, US forces captured a suspected senior member of Saddam's Fedayeen militia, Rashid Mohammed, who was carrying a shopping list for explosives materials, near Baqouba, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad. Soldiers stopped his car on a highway north of Baqouba and detained him along with two others It is believed that he was trying to organize a 600-strong militia in the area. He also had in his possession what appeared to be list of Iraqis to be killed
On Friday, 22 August (Day-156), US investigators indicated that they suspect the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad was an inside job and are questioning Iraqi employees and guards, many of whom were linked to Saddam Hussein's security service. Bernard Kerik, the former New York police commissioner who is working to re-establish an Iraqi police force, indicated that the placement of the truck bomb and the timing of Tuesday's attack had raised suspicions.
The truck was as close as it could have been to the office of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top United Nations envoy and one of 23 people killed in the blast. The bomb went off as a high-level official meeting was in progress in the office. Kerik also indicated that some of the Iraqi personnel at the UN compound initially refused to cooperate with the bombing investigation and were being interrogated.
He said the United Nations was responsible for its own security guards and he was not sure if the organization had a procedure to screen people who had worked for the former regime. Most of the UN security guards at the compound had been placed there by Saddam's security service before the war and reported on UN staff movements at the Canal Hotel, headquarters for UN inspectors looking for weapons of mass destruction.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in response to Secretary of State Colin Powell statement that the United States would not cede any military power as France and other nations have demanded, warned that the US campaign to persuade more countries to send troops to Iraq will fail unless the United States agrees to a UN authorized force that shares decision-making with coalition forces.
In addition, he made clear that Washington, without US agreement on a broader international role in Iraq, the United States faces an uphill struggle to win support for a new UN resolution in a Security Council still bitterly divided over Washington's decision to launch a war without UN approval. But following this week's deadly bombing of the UN compound in Baghdad, which killed over 23 people and injured at least 100, Annan indicated that there was an urgent need to strengthen UN security in Iraq and around the world "that none of us can ignore".
The Secretary-General indicated that he discussed prospects for a multinational force that would be responsible, among other things, for UN security with Powell on Thursday, and with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Friday. Talks with both ministers also focused on internationalizing the US British occupation in Iraq, including in the economic, political, and security areas.
Annan reiterated the United Nations could not send a peacekeeping force to Iraq "but it is not excluded that the council may decide to transform the operation into a UN mandated multinational force operating on the ground with other governments coming in." He stressed that UN approval for such a force "would also imply not just burden-sharing but also sharing decision and responsibility with the others.
On Saturday, 23 August (Day-157), Saddam's hometown of Tikrit opened its first postwar Internet cafe, where residents could browse any site without fear of being monitored or blocked. The visitors, on opening day, were surrounded by US soldiers and commanders who crammed the one-room Internet cafe they had helped set up with $24,000 from the 4th Infantry Division's budget.
The risks of cooperating with American troops in a region that is a hotbed of Saddam loyalists and resistance to US occupation are high. Last week, in the main street where the owner's cafe sits, just around the corner from the 4th Infantry's sprawling headquarters, Iraqi guerrillas killed a US interpreter and wounded two soldiers in an ambush. The blast and shooting shattered the windows and destroyed some of the computers on the first floor of the glass-and-marble building. The opening had to be delayed for a few days.
The owner, Hashim Hassan, indicated that he wasn't afraid working with the Americans would make him a target. But his co-worker, Naeb Hassan, said Tikrit, 120 miles north of Baghdad, remains a dangerous and unsafe place where "some people love Saddam. These are bad people, Saddam Fedayeen, they don't want US troops here".
But for Tikrit's young men, no women were sitting by the computers, browsing the Net for $1 an hour is an opportunity to learn, see and explore things unavailable until now. The cafe has had up to 30 visitors a day since it started operating five days ago.
US Major Troy Rader, 4th Infantry Division, indicated that the satellite connection and equipment was bought in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai and the work took four months to complete, including the repairs from last week's ambush and a relocation of the office. "This is the first private, non-government-run Internet cafe in town," he said, adding similar projects were planned for Baiji, Samarra and ad-Dawr, all towns in the region patrolled by the 4th Infantry.
On Sunday, 24 August (Day-158), US authorities in Iraq have quietly begun recruiting members of Saddam Hussein's dreaded intelligence services to help track down perpetrators of attacks on US forces and other targets in the country. The new tactic reflects growing awareness that US military forces alone cannot prevent increasingly sophisticated attacks such as the suicide bombing at UN headquarters that killed at least 23 last week.
US military commanders in Iraq have also decided to ease off on large-scale sweeps of Iraqi neighborhood aimed at flushing out members of the Iraqi resistance. Those sweeps have caused resentment and could increase support for the resistance movement.
One of Iraq's top Shiite Muslim clerics,Ayatollah Mohammed Saeed al-Hakim, was wounded and three security guards were killed in a bomb attack on Sunday in the holy city of Najaf, about 90 miles south of Baghdad. Ayatollah Mohammed Saeed al-Hakim suffered light neck wounds in the bombing at his office near the Imam Ali mosque, tomb of Ali, a caliph and cousin of the Prophet Mohammed, and the most sacred Shiite site in Islam. Ten other people were wounded.
The bombing occurred in a city where power struggles could influence the political future of majority Shiite Iraq as US led forces battle to stamp out guerrilla-style attacks blamed on Loyalists of Saddam Hussein and foreign terrorists. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), one of the country's main Shiite groups but criticized by some Shiites for cooperating with the US led administration in Baghdad, said it was the target of the attack.
Tension between rival Shiite groups in Najaf has risen since the US led war that ousted Saddam on 09 April. On 10 April, Shi'ite cleric Abdul Majid al-Khoei was hacked to death at the Najaf mosque by a mob which also killed several others. Senior clerics blamed the killings on a group linked to Moqtada al Sadr, a rival Shiite leader who has condemned the US occupation and refused to join the council. Sadr's group denied the charge.
An American soldier stands at the side of an Iraqi highway, puts his AK-47 on fully automatic and pulls the trigger. Within seconds the assault rifle has blasted out 30 rounds. Puffs of dust dance in the air as the bullets smack into the dirt. Test fire complete. US troops in Iraq may not have found weapons of mass destruction, but they're certainly getting their hands on the country's stock of Kalashnikovs, and they say, they need them.
The soldiers based around Baqouba are from an armor battalion, which means they have tanks, Humvees and armored personnel carriers. But they are short on rifles. A four-man tank crew is issued two M4 assault rifles and four 9mm pistols, relying mostly on the tank's firepower for protection. But now they are engaged in guerrilla warfare, patrolling narrow roads and goat trails where tanks are less effective. Troops often find themselves dismounting to patrol in smaller vehicles, making rifles essential.
In Humvees, on tanks - but never openly on base - US soldiers are carrying the Cold War-era weapon, first developed in the Soviet Union but now mass produced around the world. The AK is favored by many of the world's fighters, from child soldiers in Africa to rebel movements around the world, because it is light, durable and known to jam less frequently. Now US troops who have picked up AKs on raids or confiscated them at checkpoints are putting the rifles to use, and they like what they see.
Some indicate that standard US military M16 and M4 rifles jam too easily in Iraq's dusty environment. Many say the AK has better "knockdown" power and can kill with fewer shots. Some troops say the AK is easier to maintain and a better close-quarters weapon. Also, it has "some psychological affect on the enemy when you fire back on them with their own weapons". Most US soldiers agree the M16 and the M4, a newer, shorter version of the M16 that has been used by American troops since the 1960s, is better for long distance, precision shooting.
On Monday, 25 August (Day-159), the 1st Battalion 22nd Regiment, 4th Infantry Division forces captured seven men, two of them Saddam Hussein loyalists and five believed responsible for attacks on American troops, during raids in the deposed leader's hometown. Also, US troops reported finding a huge arms cache near Humarrabi, 60 miles south of Baghdad. The cache contained 300 artillery fuses and 70 bags of gunpowder stashed in five shipping containers, along with 400 cases of anti-aircraft ammunition and 200 rocket-propelled grenade rounds.
The captured men and some still being sought were suspected of organizing
regional cells of the Fedayeen Saddam, the militia loyal to Saddam and
believed spearheading the guerrilla war against US occupation forces.
The raid was launched to snare "anti-coalition subversive elements" wanted for a range of incidents, without specifying specific organizations. The raids covered towns in the troublesome region that includes Tikrit, some 175 kilometers (110 miles) north of the Iraqi capital. Television reports showed US troops raiding homes and searching the streets of Khalis, a small town 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Baghdad.
US Marines in the central Iraqi city of Karbala participated in a ceremony that the outgoing American military governor, Colonel Matthew Lopes of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, passed command over the holy Shiite Muslim city to his Bulgarian counterpart, Colonel Petko Marinov. In the two-hour ceremony watched by a dozen troops from each of the three brigades in the city, as well as a handful of local police, Lopes said the handover was very symbolic.
Some 250 Bulgarian troops will join a multinational task force of US and Polish troops in patrolling the city, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, which has largely avoided the unrest afflicting the capital and other towns since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
The Bulgarians will be under the command of the Polish army, which will take
control on 03 September of one of the four administrative regions into which
the US led occupying force has divided Iraq. The area under command of the
Polish-led multinational force, which will number more than 9,000, stretches
just south of Baghdad to the British-run zone around the southern port of
While many here blamed the attack on the Sunni Muslim followers of Saddam Hussein, there has been inter-Shiite violence recently in Iraq. Najaf is the headquarters of Iraq's most powerful Shiite rivals, including followers of Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Ishaq al-Fayyad, Aatollah Ali Hussein al-Sistani and Moqtada a-Sadr.
The blast gouged a 3 1/2-foot crater in the street in front of the mosque, tore apart nearby cars and reduced neighboring shops to a tangled mass of metal, wood and corpses. Dr. Ishan al-Khosai at Najaf Teaching Hospital said there were 80 dead at his facility. At Najaf Hospital, Dr. Faisal Ouda indicated that five dead from the blast. Doctors reported 142 wounded, many critically, and the toll was expected to rise.
Hours after the bombing, residents screamed in the streets in grief and anger. Some attacked reporters, while others continued searching through the debris for more victims. No coalition troops were in the area of the mosque out of respect for the holy site.
On Saturday, 30 August (Day-164), Iraqi police arrested four men, two Iraqis and two Saudis, in connection with the bombing of Iraq's holiest Shiite Muslim shrine, and all have links to al-Qaida. A police official, who led the initial investigation and interrogation of the captives, indicated that they confessed to the attack and told of other plots to kill political and religious leaders and to damage vital installations such as power plants, water supplies and oil pipelines. However he would not say if they revealed on whose behalf they carried out the blast
Police have now arrested 19 men, many of them foreigners and all with admitted links to al-Qaida, in the car bombing of the Imam Ali shrine in the holy city of Najaf. The two Iraqis and two Saudis arrested shortly after the Friday attack gave information leading to the arrest of the others. They include two Kuwaitis and six Palestinians with Jordanian passports. The remainder were Iraqis and Saudis. Initial information shows they (the foreigners) entered the country from Kuwait, Syria and Jordan.
All those arrested belong to the Wahhabi sect (of Sunni Islam), and they are all connected to al-Qaida. Wahhabism is the strict, fundamentalist branch of Sunni Islam from which al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden draws spiritual direction.
With US troops watching from a distance, dozens of Iraqi police stormed a farm near Tikrit on Saturday in what the Americans said was a promising sign that Iraqis are beginning to take responsibility for their own security. At the break of dawn, a column of Iraqi police vehicles, followed by US Humvees and armored vehicles, fanned out across a field next to a main highway. Iraqi policemen in green uniforms, training their AK-47 rifles, took positions around farmhouses to secure the area.
Minutes later, one of the storage houses was examined and the owner was questioned about any hidden weapons or ammunition. Acting surprised but calm, the Iraqi farmer led the police and the Americans to a spot in the field where he said the Iraqi army had buried the weapons before the US military seized the town in April. He denied that any Saddam Fedayeen guerrillas were active in his area. "Iraqi soldiers buried them here before they ran away".
The raid was a follow-up to one on Tuesday, when Iraqi police and US troops found brand new SA-7 shoulder-fired missiles, mortars, plastic explosives and TNT sticks buried in piles of straw at the farm next door. US troops loaded the boxes of ammunition into their vehicles and transported to an area where they would be destroyed.
On Sunday, 31 August (Day-165), Najaf Governor Haider Mehadi asked the FBI to join Iraqi police in the investigation of the Shiite Muslim shrine bombing. In response the American investigators would be traveling to Najaf shortly. The response to the call for the FBI to join the investigation represented a shift after US authorities had taken a hands-off approach, out of deference to the sacredness of the mosque, which houses the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad's son-in-law.
Iraqi officials indicated, today, that they were discussing the possibility of forming a large Iraqi paramilitary force to help improve security in the country. Iraqis involved in the talks said the force could consist of thousands of Iraqis already screened by the various political parties for prior affiliations with Saddam Hussein's government. Iraqi officials said such a militia could ultimately take control of Iraqi cities from American soldiers. Some Iraqi leaders said a force of several thousand men, most of them with military experience, could be ready in little more than a month.
American officials acknowledged that discussions were under way, but declined to talk about them in detail. They suggested that for the talks to succeed, they would have to address American concerns about unregulated, untrained bands of armed men operating under separate commands around the country. Security details "should be unified, and they should be recognized as Iraqi security forces, and not belonging to individual groups or parties.
Plans for an Iraqi militia have already been in the works, to guard such things as power plants and troop convoys. But the Iraqis said the force under discussion could be much more ambitious. One difference being discussed, the Iraqis said, is to deploy members to various parts of the country, instead of relying on local unregulated militias now at the disposal of political parties. Several questions remained unresolved, including who would command the forces, the American military or the interim government.
On Monday, 01 September (Day-166), Iraq's transitional Governing Council, in a step toward giving Iraqis more say in the running of their occupied country, announced the names of the 24 men and one woman who will act as cabinet ministers in an interim government until elections are held next year. The cabinet posts were spread carefully among the various Iraqi ethnic and religious groups in a way that matches the makeup of the Governing Council itself. The new cabinet is divided up among the country's various communities, with 13 ministries going to Muslim Shiites, five to Sunnis, five to Kurds, one to Turkmen and one to the Christians.
The current organization of the cabinet does not include defense or intelligence ministries nor will a prime minister be appointed, as that role will be filled out by the council's rotating chairmen. Members of Iraq's newly named Cabinet with ethnic and religious backgrounds are:
With the ceremony held at their headquarters near the ancient city of Babylon, the Polish-led force from 17 nations formally took up security duties over a 31,000-square mile belt of Iraq south of Baghdad. Their assigned zone includes the towns of Najaf, Karbala and Hilla and a region extending to the Iranian border. In an attempt to maintain stability after Friday's blast at the Imam Ali mosque, which killed a leading Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, the US military delayed the handover of Najaf for at least two weeks, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez indicated that the delay was appropriate and the US Marines were needed in the area for a while longer.
Shifting tactics and reaching out for help, the Bush administration offered on Wednesday to share with the United Nations the long-dominant US role in Iraq's postwar reconstruction. US Ambassador John Negroponte circulated a draft to other UN ambassadors in New York and Secretary of State Colin Powell described the effort as "essentially putting the Security Council in the game," and European governments reacted favorably to the revised US approach.
France, which led opposition to the war on Iraq, said a new UN resolution proposed by the United States should ensure that political power will be transferred quickly to an internationally recognized Iraqi government to help restore peace. A final draft of the resolution may be ready for submission to the Security Council next week. Under the resolution, American commanders would remain in charge of peacekeeping operations in Iraq.
On Thursday, 04 September (Day-169), the Public Affairs Office of the 1st Cavalry Division announced the deployment of an infantry company of the 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry and one company of the 312th Military Intelligence Battalion will be deployed in support of the Central Command Operations. The destination and timing of the unit deployments were not disclosed.
The fire fighting efforts of the National Interagency Fire Center in the state of Montana will be supported by more than 500 soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division who will deploy this weekend. The deploying force, designated Task Force Steel Dragon, consists of soldiers from several 1st Cavalry Division units: 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment; 8th Engineer Battalion; "D" Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment; "F" Troop, 9th Cavalry Regiment; "B" Company, 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment; and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade.
Task Force Steel Dragon soldiers will receive their initial basic firefighting training beginning Saturday morning at Fort Hood. The training emphasizes fire control techniques, and most importantly, safety. The task force will receive additional firefighting training upon arrival in Montana. The deployment of Task Force Steel Dragon is expected to last 30 days. The task force will travel to the Fish Creek fire, which is approximately 20 miles west of Missoula, MT.
On Friday, 05 September (Day-170), as the 15 Security Council members held their first informal talks on the US proposals aimed at getting more troops and money to Iraq. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan suggested that foreign ministers of the five permanent Security Council members meet soon to hammer out a compromise.
If the veto-wielding powers, Britain, France, Russia, China and the United States, would hold such a meeting, it would be next week and probably, in Europe. The US draft resolution calls for the United Nations, along with the United States, to play a key part in devising a new constitution and setting up elections. But most council members want a larger, more defined role for the UN.
Britain's defense ministry announced that an additional 1,200 troops, from the Second Light Infantry currently based in Cyprus, would be sent to Iraq this weekend to beef up its military contingent in the country. The decision could mark the start of an even greater reinforcement of Britain's military force in Iraq, which currently numbers 10,500 troops and is based mainly in the south of the country.
Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon has ordered a review of the troop levels required to support British operations in the country amid persistent attacks against US and British occupation forces. The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported Thursday that the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, was pressing for 5,000 extra British troops to be sent to Iraq to avert "strategic failure" of the coalition's efforts to keep peace.
On Saturday, 06 September (Day-171), US forces around Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit uncovered a cache of weapons and ammunition hidden in a row of bunkers residents dubbed the "RPG shopping center," The discovery included wire-guided surface-to-surface Sager missiles, 315 rocket-propelled grenades and 62 mortar shells.
The US military also indicated that troops captured a suspected Saddam loyalist alleged to have attacked a children's hospital in Baqouba, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad, with grenades.
On Sunday, 07 September (Day-172), four days before the anniversary of the 11 September attacks, President Bush, speaking from the Cabinet Room in a nationally broadcast speech, indicated that he will seek $87 billion to fight terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan and "engage the enemy where he lives." In an 18-minute address Bush said, "We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities. The terrorists have cited the examples of Beirut and Somalia, claiming that if you inflict harm on Americans we will run from a challenge". Bush referring to US withdrawals after the loss of American lives, said "In this they are mistaken".
On Monday, 08 September (Day-173), Iraq's interim foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari arrived in Cairo for the two-day Arab League meeting that begins on Tuesday. He intends to fully participate in talks with his Arab counterparts, citing the "legitimate right" of his US backed interim government.
For fear of endorsing the US occupation of Iraq, Arab states have been reluctant to formally recognize Iraq's interim Governing Council, appointed 13 July by the US led coalition that toppled Saddam Hussein in April. Zebari told an impromptu press conference at his Nile-side hotel "Our message is that we are the representatives of the de facto Iraqi authorities and we need to be represented in this ministerial meeting".
Arab foreign ministers were to meet here later Monday to decide whether to
allow Zebari to participate in the formal ministerial meeting the following
day. But a list of participants was already circulating with Zebari's name on
it, and diplomats here said Iraq's participation was certain, even if Arab
countries decide to wait for the formation of an internationally-recognized
government before giving Iraq back its permanent Arab League seat.
On another contentious issue, Rumsfeld said that when in Iraq he did not even
ask David Kaye, who is leading the search for weapons of mass destruction,
whether he had found evidence of the banned weapons that sparked the US
invasion. Noting that Kaye reports to CIA director George Tenet, Rumsfeld said
"It's an intelligence issue. I made a decision I don't need to stay engaged on
it every 15 minutes".
The United States wants the 15 member Security Council to authorize a multinational force so nations will contribute more troops and money. But France, Germany and Russia and others want a timetable for restoring Iraqi sovereignty and a larger role of the United Nations in achieving this.
Annan told a news conference, "The day that Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly. Knowing the positions of the various parties, if they sat and discussed frankly and openly, I think we will be able to find a solution". Annan indicated he would be willing to consider a UN "political facilitation process. The UN special representative has often led that process". he said. "If the member states, by coming together to deal with Iraq want to see that model, whether the model of Afghanistan, Kosovo or East Timor, - these are all in discussion on the table, and the United Nations has had a good experience in this areas".
On Tuesday, 09 September (Day-174), the Arab League foreign ministers issued a communique after six hours of debate saying the US appointed Iraqi Governing Council had been granted Iraq's seat on the pan-Arab body until a legitimate Iraqi government is formed and a new constitution drawn up, delivering a major boost to the Bush administration's post-war occupation. The decision ended weeks of debate within the 22-member League over whether to recognize Iraq's interim authority, with opponents fearing that acceptance of the interim Iraqi authority could be seen as a sign of support for the American invasion.
The landmark decision of Tuesday paves the way for Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi Kurdish leader appointed foreign minister when the Council's first Cabinet was named 01 September, to sit alongside Arab envoys when a two-day foreign ministerial conference begins later in the day.
The US Army announced that it would extend the current 12-month mobilization of Army Reserve by between three to six months. Generally, key lawmakers in the US Senate supported the decision, while critics condemned the move as the latest proof of shoddy US military planning.
Reserve and National Guard troops, who train one weekend a month and two weeks a year, were once mainly used to provide help in their home states after local emergencies like riots or floods. But with active-duty forces stretched thin by the war on terror and the occupation of Iraq, Guard and Reserve units now face a good chance of lengthy tours of duty overseas.
Army officials have defended the new policy, saying that the scarcity of active-duty forces and security concerns make it necessary to keep a large number of Guard and Reserve troops in Iraq for as long as possible. Critics, however, said the extended deployments are likely to have a negative impact on morale, retention and recruiting.
On Wednesday, 10 September (Day-175), a spokesman for the US led coalition indicated that the number of American troops deployed in Iraq is nearly 116,000. As recently as last week, the number of US soldiers in Iraq was believed to be between 125,000 and 130,000. The disclosure comes as the UN Security Council considers a US draft resolution calling for a multinational force to join the American-led coalition.
The United States wants to command the proposed peacekeeping force and continue to run Iraq's civilian administration, but says it wants help from other countries in stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq. There already are troops from nearly two dozen nations deployed in Iraq. A Polish-commanded 21-nation force took control last week of a 31,000-square-mile zone in central Iraq.
On Friday, 12 September (Day-177), a US drive to clear the streets of Iraq of armed militia appeared to pass its first major test with unauthorized gunmen absent from view in this volatile Shiite Muslim city after weekly prayers. The militia stood watch unarmed during the prayers and put away their badges after they were over, leaving the streets of Najaf and its suburb Kufah to just a few security guards, police and the occasional Polish troops.
The lack of militia contrasted sharply with the heavy unofficial security presence a week earlier for the first Friday prayers since the massive 29 August car bomb which killed 83 people, including a revered cleric. Firebrand anti-US cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose Mehdi Army militia has threatened to defy the Americans, made no direct challenge to the US weapons ban order but indicated that Iraqis must assure their own security.
On Saturday, 13 September (Day-178), the US commander of the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division in Mosul, who led the raid on the hide-out of Saddam Hussein's sons two months ago, Colonel Joe Anderson, indicated that the former Iraqi dictator would be given a chance to surrender if found, but added that he personally would rather see him dead.
Human rights groups and many Iraqis have said they want Saddam Hussein put on trial for crimes against humanity, including the killing of 4 million people during the Baath Party's 34 years in power. Saddam's forces used chemical weapons to kill 5,000 Kurdish people alone. But Anderson doesn't see any need for such a trial. He said "We don't need to parade him around. What good is (former Serbian leader Slobodan) Milosevic on trial. ... It's a circus. What in the end does it prove?"
But there are many Iraqis, mostly Sunni Muslims, who love Saddam and refuse to
believe that their former president carried out mass murders, arrests of
political dissidents, torture and ethnic cleansing. Saddam's devout
supporters, most of whom have only known life under his regime where press
freedom was nonexistent, argue that Western propaganda is behind all the
rumors about Saddam's crimes.
Their targets were five members of an extended family that had for years been
sought for a variety of crimes but managed to elude arrest. Tikrit police
indicated that after the US led invasion and collapse of the regime of Saddam
Hussein, similar gangs grew more active around this central Iraqi city. As
attack Apache helicopters hovered overhead, the joint police team found their
targets and two other wanted felons who had escaped from prison in the chaos
after Saddam was ousted. They discovered a number of automatic weapons, two
stolen cars and a box full of money.
The pre-dawn raid was carried out against three homes located next to a highway which has seen 20 attacks with Rocket Propelled Genades (RPG's) against the US military in the past two weeks. In the most recent attack Saturday, an Iraqi bystander was killed and two people were injured when a guerrilla in a taxi fired on a US convoy.
An Associated Press reporter traveling with the US troops saw five men taken prisoner. The military said those arrested included a man allegedly involved in helping finance attacks by Fedayeen guerrillas and four others closely associated with him. The troops, backed up by Bradley fighting vehicles, Humvees and troops in a 5-ton truck, wove through central Tikrit's back alleys without headlights, surrounding the homes before troops used metal rams to knock down their front doors.
The raid, at 0300 hours (local), also netted a number of assault rifles, pieces of a Rocket Propelled Grenade launcher and ammunition. As the raid took place, mortars were heard booming in the distance - a show of force by the American troops.
On Thursday, 18 September (Day-183) at 0200 hours (local), assailants in a pick-up truck fired on a unit of the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division near Awja, a village south of Tikrit, wounding two and killing three of the soldiers in an ambush. The unit responded with mortar and heavy machine gun fire. The pick-up truck involved in the drive-by shooting was followed back to a house where 11 people were arrested after a shoot-out. At the same time, a US army camp nearby came under attack and returned fire. The apparent coordination of the attacks marked a change in tactics for the anti-American fighters whose attacks in the past have appeared to be spontaneous or opportunistic.
Backed by attack helicopters, US troops encircled an area of farmland on the
east side of the river near Tikrit and battled guerrillas in a night-long
battle near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit and captured nearly 60
suspected Iraqi fighters and a truck full of machineguns, AK-47 rifles and
thousands of rounds of ammunition.
During the war General Hashem's ministry was never bombed, and the decision not to knock Iraqi broadcasting off the air allowed him to use television to give what some Iraqi exiles have called veiled signals that Iraqi troops should not oppose the invasion.
Ahmad appeared as the Eight of Hearts in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and was No. 27 on the revised list of the 55. Friday's capture led to the 40th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
On Saturday, 20 September (Day-185), Aquila al-Hashimi, a member of the Governing Council of Iraq, was shot and critically wounded in an assassination attempt outside her home in western Baghdad. The attack was carried out by men in two new SUVs, opening fire with Kalashnikov assault rifles after firing rocket-propelled grenades that missed her car.
Al-Hashimi, in critical condition with abdominal wounds, was taken to al-Yarmouk hospital and immediately was taken to surgery for a bullet wound in the left side of her abdomen. After surgery she was moved to an unspecified location in a convoy of American armored vehicles and military ambulances.
On Tuesday, 23 September (Day-188), at a ceremony in bright sunshine on the outskirts of Najaf, US Marine Brigadier General John Kelly transferred authority over the Iraqi holy city to a Spanish led force commanded by Brigadier General Alfredo Cardona. The new troops led by Spain, whose government backed the US led war on Iraq, will have to tread the same fine line in Najaf as the Marines in trying to provide security while keeping a low profile to avoid offending religious sensibilities.
The 1,000-strong force of Spanish, Honduran and Salvadoran troops forms part of a Polish-led division which took over responsibility for the rest of the Marines' sector of south-central Iraq at the beginning of this month. The Marines have helped to train a special local police force to protect the golden-domed shrine of the Imam Ali mosque. The Iraqi organization was in process of being set up but not yet operational when the bombers killed Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim and scores of his followers on 29 August right after Friday prayers.
On Friday, 26 September (Day-191), the Defense Department released a summary report that indicated there are more than 20,000 troops or security forces in Iraq from nations other than the United States, which has 130,000. Most of the non-US troops are organized under two peacekeeping contingents, the British in the south and the Military Forces of Poland in central Iraq. They are:
On Saturday, 27 September (Day-192), the Pentagon announced that it has mobilized two US Army National Guard brigades for deployment to Iraq and put a third on standby as US calls for international troop contributions go unheeded. The 30th Infantry Brigade from North Carolina and the 39th Infantry Brigade from Arkansas, 10,000 soldiers in total, will be mobilized on 01 and 12 October.
The announcement indicated that these units, alerted in July, that they can expect to be in the Iraqi theater for up to 12 months. The total length of mobilization is up to 18 months to allow time for equipping, training, mobilizing, leave and demobilizing activities. The Army also announced that the 81st Army National Guard Infantry Brigade from Washington state, another 5,000 soldiers, has been alerted in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On Monday, 29 September (Day-194), US troops backed, by tanks and helicopters, battled Iraqi resistance fighters near the Sunni Muslim town of Khaldiyah west of Baghdad. Residents indicated that the fighting began after Iraqi resistance fighters fired rocket-propelled grenades at an American convoy midmorning and continued in the afternoon, with M1A2 tanks firing 120-millimeter cannons as helicopters strafed farm houses with 50-millimeter machine gun fire.
Hours after the battle began, six US armored personnel carriers, two of them ambulances, arrived as reinforcements. Two F-15 aircraft were in the air, three ambulance helicopters arrived while two other helicopters provided cover. US forces began patrolling on foot. As the fight continued 8 Humvees carrying US troops also could be seen heading toward the battle. A US armored personnel carrier left the area carrying six blindfolded Iraqi prisoners.
To the north, soldiers of the US 4th Infantry Division launched two dozen raids in Tikrit and other areas, arresting 92 people and seizing weapons and ammunition. One of the raids included the largest joint operation between US military police and about 200 American-trained Iraqi police.
On Wednesday, 01 October (Day-196), the Iraq's Governing Council announced that it is preparing a statute that creates a special court that would establish a war-crimes tribunal to prosecute those accused of atrocities during Saddam Hussein's regime. In forming the tribunal, the council is adhering to the highest legal standards to make sure such a tribunal will be based on international standards of procedure, preserving the rights of defendants, and taking all the steps to ensure justice is done in a way that makes it above criticism.
Human rights groups estimate several hundred thousand people were killed
during Saddam's three decades in power. Multiple mass graves have been found
throughout the country since a US led coalition deposed the dictator in March.
The US administration has repeatedly stated that it wants past abuses to be
prosecuted under an Iraqi-led legal system instead of an international
tribunal. The United States currently has in custody dozens of high-ranking
officials from their list of most-wanted Iraqi figures, many of them being
held at the high security prison at the Baghdad International Airport.
The new resolution asks the United Nations and the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority to help the US appointed Iraqi Governing Council to adopt a constitution, hold elections and train civil servants. It endorses a step-by-step transfer of authority to an Iraqi interim administration, but sets no timetable for the handover of sovereignty.
Secretary of State Colin Powell responded by calling Annan and assuring him of a significant UN role in Iraq. Powell told Annan that the proposed resolution would go a long way toward helping Iraq and smoothing the way for UN involvement in the country's future.
On Monday, 06 October (Day-201), US troops reversed course Monday to quell rioting in Beiji, as key oil refining city, reinstating an elected police chief Hamid al-Qaisi who they had ousted just five months ago despite deep support among tribal leaders in the region. His reinstatement came after soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division inside the city's heavily fortified police headquarters withstood a 75 minute barrage of mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and light arms fire a day earlier. Witnesses said the firing was so intense that police reinforcements from Tikrit could not reach the police building.
Most of the Beiji police force had fled the city in the violence that began with a protest by pro-Saddam demonstrators on Saturday that apparently was hijacked by well-armed remnants of the ousted dictator's Fedayeen Saddam militia. Witnesses said the arrival in the area of two US helicopter gunships finally chased off the militia gunmen. Sporadic exchanges resumed after nightfall and continued until the early hours of Monday.
Beiji, home to the country's largest oil refinery, sits at the nexus of pipelines running from the northern Kirkuk oil fields. Those transit lines meet outside Beiji with the big export pipeline to Turkey, which has been out of commission for weeks because of sabotage bombings after reopening for the first time last month for just three days.
L. Paul Bremer, the US civilian leader in Iraq, has said the country is losing $7 million a day because of the lost exports. The United States had counted heavily on oil revenue to help rebuild the country.
Once back on the job, Hamid al-Qaisi moved swiftly to restore peace, meeting
with Beiji's tribal chiefs in the main mosque to discuss their demands. Beiji
remained tense Monday, with some American troops crouched behind machine guns
in firing positions along the main road. There were US snipers on the roof of
the burned-out mayor's office and police headquarters. Bradley fighting
vehicles and at least two tanks were at major intersections.
Commanders were doing what they could to give the troops a break and combat the homesickness that often accompanies holidays away from family. More than 100 kitchens in Iraq and at supply bases in Kuwait served up 145,000 pounds of turkey, 32,000 pounds of ham, and hundreds of thousands of servings of stuffing, cranberry sauce, eggnog, prime rib, roast beef, shrimp cocktail and pumpkin pie.
Addressing the troops, Bremer indicated that he had Thanksgiving greetings from the President, but that protocol mandated that the most senior official present should read the greetings. That was Bush's cue. The room erupted as Bush appeared from behind a curtain. Soldiers stood on chairs and tables, yelling, "Hoo-ah!" The president, wearing an Army warm-up jacket with the triangular insignia of the 1st Armored Division on the front, shook hands with the soldiers after his speech. He then got behind the counter to help serve Thanksgiving dinner.
Bush's visit was a complete surprise except to the most senior military
leadership here. Sanchez knew three days ago that a Thanksgiving visit from
the president was possible, and security was increased. But no one had
suspected that the increased security meant the President was coming. Security
alerts are common as the military hears of new threats.
A picture of Saddam, with a thick, graying beard and bushy, disheveled hair, was shown as doctor examined him, holding his mouth open with a tongue depressor, apparently to get a DNA sample. Saddam touched his beard during the examination. Later, a video showed a picture of Saddam after he was shaved, juxtaposed for comparison with an old photo of the Iraqi leader while in power.
His underground hiding place was little more than a specially prepared "spider hole" with just enough space to lie down. Bricks and dirt camouflaged the entrance. A Pentagon diagram showed the hiding place as a 6-foot-deep vertical tunnel, with a shorter tunnel branching out horizontally from one side. A pipe to the concrete surface at ground level provided air. The entrance to the hide-out was under the floor of a small, walled compound with a room in one corner and a lean-to attached to the room. The tunnel was roughly in the middle of the compound.
It is anticipated that the capture Saddam will help break the organized Iraq resistance that has killed more than 190 American soldiers since President Bush declared major combat over on 01 May and has set back efforts at reconstruction.
Saddam was one of the most-wanted fugitives in the world, along with Osama bin
Laden, the leader of the al-Qaida terrorist network who has not been caught
despite a manhunt since November 2001, when the Taliban regime was overthrown
Saddam appeared as the Ace of Spades in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and was No. 1 on the revised list of the 55. Saturday's capture led to the 41st fugitive of the most wanted list to be captured and placed in US custody.
Key dates in the life of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein who was captured near his home town of Tikrit Saturday.
Muhammad was a regional chairman of the Baath party for the Kerbala region, south of Baghdad, under Saddam Hussein. He was captured near the town of Ramadi, about 65 miles west of Baghdad and a focal point of the anti-American insurgency. He was an enabler for many of the resistance attacks on Iraqi people as well as US and coalition forces.
Sirhan al-Muhammad was No. 54 on set of 55 playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime. Wednesday's capture of the 42nd fugitive of the most wanted list took another significant step to reducing anti-coalition resistance.
As you journey through the history of the 1st Cavalry Division and its assigned elements, you may find it interesting enough to send a message to your friends and extend them an invitation for the opportunity to review the rich history of the Division. We have made it easy for you to do. All that is required is for you to click on the Push Button below, fill in their eMail addresses and send.
|The TITLE and URL of this WebSite are automatically read, formatted and entered into your standard eMail form.|
Note - The eMail Message is processed and transmitted On-Line to the
addressee(s) via your Internet Provider.|
Need a gift for an Alumni of the 1st Cavalry Division?
eMail Your WebSite Comments.
Return to "MyOwnPages"©.
Revised 06 Jan '13 SpellChecked