We need to stop playing around. If these people can shoot us up then they can shoot up the opposition. Those people dragging bodies through the street were local town people and thier children. I think that we should MOAB any position that is attacked quickly remove our troops by chopper and level the place. Then we can watch as they bring us the opposition "forces" to be delt with. Remember there is no easy solution and this is war. it is easy to speculate when you don't have to worry about rocket attacks when you sleep.
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"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
5 Marines killed in battle near Syrian border
U.S. closes two major highways near Baghdad
Nicolas Asfouri / AFP - Getty Images
A Marine from the 5th Marine Regiment hammers on a door as comrades cover him on Sunday during a hunt for weapons in an industrial area of Fallujah, Iraq.
MSNBC News Services
Updated: 2:13 p.m. ET April 18, 2004BAGHDAD, Iraq - Five U.S. Marines died in an ambush on the Iraq-Syrian border, triggering a battle with hundreds of guerrillas, the military announced Sunday. The deaths, which followed an equal number of combat deaths reported the previous day, pushed the number of Americans killed in combat this month to 99.
Reports of the battle -- in an area that had seen little fighting previously -- came as Spain's prime minister ordered Spanish troops withdrawn from Iraq as soon as possible. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had run for office on a promise to withdraw the forces, but the timing of the announcement was unexpected.
At least 25 Iraqis were killed in the fighting that followed Saturday's ambush in Husaybah, 240 miles west of Baghdad, the military said. The city's police chief was among the dead, a hospital official said.
Across Iraq, Saturday was one of the bloodiest days for U.S. troops since the latest uprising began April 4. Five U.S. troops were killed in guerrilla attacks elsewhere in the country and a sixth died in a tank rollover.
Highways closed around Baghdad
Meanwhile, U.S. forces struggled to maintain control of Iraq's highways. The military announced new closures around Baghdad that severed long stretches of roads into the capital from the north, south and west -- a reflection of the damage from a two-week guerrilla onslaught on U.S. supply lines.
Insurgent attacks and kidnappers' roadblocks have forced the military to curtail supply convoys and are part of the reason commanders have boosted ground forces by more than 20,000 U.S. troops. The military has already been tied down since April 1 on fronts in southern and central Iraq in the worst violence since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Officials have said the violence threatens to hamstring U.S. reconstruction effort and drive up prices of civilian goods, dealing a blow to a delicate economic recovery in Iraq. More than 1,500 foreign engineers and contractors have fled Iraq for fear of being abducted or killed, Iraqi Housing Minister Bayan Baqer said Sunday.
The U.S. military also announced Sunday that that five American soldiers had died in three separate attacks a day earlier:
One American soldier was killed in Baghdad, the U.S. military said. The U.S. soldier was killed Saturday morning when a roadside bomb exploded near a military convoy, the military said. The soldier was from Task Force Baghdad, which is made up mostly of troops from the 1st Cavalry Division.
Three soldiers traveling in a 1st Armored Division convoy were killed during a small arms ambush near Ad Diwaniyah around 7 p.m.
A soldier assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force was killed as a result of enemy action in the Al Anbar Province while conducting “security and stability operations.”
Identities of the dead were withheld pending notification of next of kin.
The military also announced the deaths of two Iraqi civilians on Friday. Two U.S. civilian contractors, one soldier and four other Iraqis were wounded when rockets fired by insurgents fell short of a military camp and hit a civilian area in western Iraq, the military said.
Fierce fighting near Syrian border
The fighting along the Syrian border, near the town of Husaybah, 240 miles west of Baghdad, began when insurgents ambushed Marines early Saturday and continued through the day and into Sunday.
A statement issued Sunday by the 1st Marine Division said the Marines battled a force of 120 to 150 guerrillas from around 8 a.m. until after dark. "Enemy casualties are estimated to be 25-30 dead and an unknown number of wounded,” it said.
During the fighting, guerrillas were seen setting up mortar positions, the statement said.
“Women and children surrounded those positions, but it is unknown whether or not they were in those positions on their own free will,” it added.
Before the Marine statement was issued, a doctor at the hospital in the nearby city of al-Qaim reported that 10 Iraqis were killed and 30 wounded — a mixture of insurgent fighters and civilian bystanders.
Hamid al-Alousi, interviewed on al-Arabiyah television, said that some of the civilians were shot by Marine snipers as they stepped outside to use outdoor toilets behind their houses.
Husaybah police director Imad al-Mahlawi was one of those killed by American snipers, according to a man who identified himself as al-Mahlawi’s cousin, Adel Ezzeddin, Al-Arabiya reported.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which has a correspondent embedded with the Marines, reported that U.S. intelligence indicated that many of the insurgents were Iraqi mujahedeen fighters from the Fallujah and Ramadi areas, some 150 miles to the east.
Marines have been battling Sunni insurgents in a siege of Fallujah, 35 miles west of the capital, and guerrilla activity has surged in nearby Ramadi, where 12 Marines were killed in an ambush on April 6.
Move to protect convoys
The military announced Sunday it closed off the main highway from Baghdad to the Jordanian border, the scene of heavy fighting at the western entrance to Baghdad as well as near Fallujah and Ramadi further down the road.
For days, gunmen along the route have been attacking convoys and kidnapping foreigners — including an American soldier and civilian.
The military also shut down a stretch of the main highway north to Turkey, starting at the entrance to Baghdad extending to the town of Balad 42 miles north. Also closed was a 90-mile section of the main southern highway connecting Baghdad with Basra and Kuwait.
A military release said the closure was aimed at repairing the roads, but it warned civilians caught using the roads could be shot as enemy combatants.
Commanders suggested the routes remained vulnerable to attacks by insurgents who have been targeting U.S. military supply lines.
“We’ve got to fix those roads, we’ve also got to protect those roads,” Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt told reporters in Baghdad. Kimmitt said civilians would be redirected around the closed sections.
Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Baghdad Thursday that the need to defend supply lines for U.S. forces was “part of the calculations” U.S. commanders used when they called for troop reinforcements.
In other developments Sunday:
U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said she would not speculate on whether the United States might consider a prisoner swap with militants who have kidnapped Americans, but added, “I think you can be certain that negotiations with terrorists are not on this president’s agenda.” She spoke on “Fox News Sunday.”
Two British soldiers were injured Saturday when their convoy came under fire in the southern town of Amarah, but their injuries were not life-threatening, the British defense ministry said Sunday.
Attackers fired several mortar rounds overnight at Spanish bases in Diwaniya and Najaf, and at a Polish base in Karbala, but no damage or casualties were reported.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
Updated: 10:03 PM EDT
Iraqi Cleric Warns U.S. Against Attacking Najaf
Five Iraqis Arrested in Basra Blasts; Marines May Renew Assault on Fallujah
By QASSID JABBAR, AP
(April 23) -- Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatened Friday to unleash suicide bombers if U.S. troops move against him in Iraq's holiest Shiite city, and his militiamen attacked a Bulgarian convoy, killing a soldier. Meanwhile, police in Basra arrested five Iraqis believed linked to al-Qaida and suspected in brutal suicide bombings Wednesday that killed 74 people.
The five men were captured with a total of nearly 25 tons of TNT, and police were looking for another car bomb they suspected was somewhere in the mainly Shiite city in the far south of Iraq, said Basra's police intelligence chief Khalaf al-Badran.
U.S. forces massed on the outskirts of Najaf have said they have no intention of moving in for the time being to capture al-Sadr - fully aware that an American entry into the holy city would spark a wave of outrage among Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority.
But al-Sadr's comments and the bloody clash in the nearby city of Karbala were a show of defiance amid off-and-on negotiations aimed at trying to resolve the standoff. The Karbala fighting brought the first coalition death in fighting with al-Sadr followers in more than a week.
''Some of the Mujahedeen (holy warrior) brothers have told me they want to carry out martyrdom attacks but I am postponing this,'' al-Sadr told thousands of worshippers during his Friday prayer sermon at the main mosque in Kufa, near Najaf.
''When we are forced to do so and when our city and holy sites are attacked, we will all be time bombs in the face of the enemy,'' he said.
Suicide bombings would be a new tactic for al-Sadr, whose followers launched a bloody revolt in early April, attacking coalition troops across the south. Al-Sadr, however, is known for blustery rhetoric and threats and is under pressure from moderate Shiite clerics to resolve the standoff.
In his sermon, al-Sadr condemned suicide bombings Wednesday in the southern city of Basra because they targeted civilians and Iraqi police. The death toll from those attacks rose to 74, including at least 16 children killedn when their school buses were incinerated in the blasts.
In central Iraq, a U.S. soldier was killed Friday by a roadside bomb near the town of Samarra, the military announced. His death brought to 101 the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq since the beginning of April. A total 709 servicemembers have died in Iraq since March 2003.
Also Friday, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, announced that the new Iraq army would begin recruiting former high-level officers from Saddam Hussein's disbanded military - and he eased a ban on former Baath Party members, allowing thousands of teachers and professors to return to work in schools.
While the standoff with al-Sadr is on hold, U.S. commanders repeated warnings that a renewed Marine assault on the central city of Fallujah could come soon unless guerrillas in the city abide by a call to surrender heavy weapons in their arsenals.
For the past two days, only a handful of weapons have been turned in - most of them ''junk,'' according to Marines, including rusted mortar shells and dud rockets.
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said even fewer weapons were handed over Friday than the day before, and they were ''generally of the same low quality.''
Kimmitt would not say if there was a deadline for weapons to be surrendered, but added, ''Our patience is not eternal. ... We're talking days.''
Handing over heavy weapons would be tantamount to surrendering for the city's Sunni guerrillas. They have gone to great lengths to hide their arsenals.
''Unless they're really intimidated and think they're going to lose a future fight - which the Sunni insurgents are not - or unless they think they're going to be part of a future political solution - which they don't - theyre going to resist,'' said Michael O'Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution in Washington.
In the Karbala battle, militiamen ambushed a Bulgarian patrol on a main street near the city's golden-domed Imam Abbas Shrine.
After the battle, a military truck was in flames, billowing smoke into the air. Al-Sadr supporters waved a soldier's helmet, chanting ,''Yes, yes, al-Sadr! Al-Mahdi's Army will be victorious.'' A pool of blood was on the ground nearby.
The soldier killed in the Karbala battle was the sixth Bulgarian killed in Iraq.
Bulgaria's Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov rejected any withdrawal of his country's 480 troops from Iraq. Five Bulgarian lawmakers quickly submitted a request in parliament for the troops' withdrawal by July 10, though the motion appeared sure to fail.
Spain, where opposition to the country's military deployment is high, is withdrawing its 1,300 troops from Iraq, as are Honduras and the Dominican Republic, which work alongside the Spaniards in Najaf.
Al-Sadr has been holed up in his office in Najaf. But for the past two weeks he has moved freely from Najaf to Kufa and back to deliver noon Friday prayers - a sign that U.S. troops may be holding off on capturing him even on the roads between the two cities, which are several kilometers (miles) apart.
Al-Sadr's al-Mahdi Army took control of several southern Iraqi cities during its uprising, but over the past week the militiamen have returned police stations in Karbala, Kufa and Najaf to Iraqi authorities. Gunmen continue to roam the streets and have occasionally fired on coalition troops.
Boats Explode Near Iraqi Oil Terminal
Two U.S. Servicemembers Killed in Likely Suicide Attacks
By BASSEM MROUE, AP
BAGHDAD, Iraq (April 24) - Suicide attackers detonated explosive-laden boats near oil facilities in the Persian Gulf on Saturday, killing two U.S. Navy sailors in a new tactic against Iraq's vital oil industry. Elsewhere, violence across Iraq killed at least 33 Iraqis and four American soldiers.
It was the first such maritime attack against oil facilities since U.S. troops invaded Iraqi more than a year ago. The blasts resembled attacks in 2000 and 2002 - blamed on al-Qaida - against the USS Cole and a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen that killed 17 American sailors and a tanker crewman.
In the attack, three dhows, or small boats, drew close to two major oil terminals in Gulf waters about 100 miles from Iraq's main port, Umm Qasr, and exploded when coalition craft tried to intercept them. A U.S. Navy craft was flipped by the blast, killing the American sailors and injuring five others, the U.S. military said.
Initial reports said there was no damage to the terminals, the military said, and Iraq's main southern oil outlet, Umm Qasr, remained open, a British spokesman said.
The Gulf bombings came on a day of multiple attacks in Iraq: The deadliest was a roadside bomb that hit a bus south of Baghdad, killing at least 13 Iraqis. A mortar barrage struck a crowded market in the capital's biggest Shiite neighborhood, Sadr City, killing at least seven.
The U.S. soldiers were killed around dawn, when two rockets were fired from a truck and slammed into the base in Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad, the military said. U.S. helicopter gunships then destroyed the truck. Seven soldiers were wounded, three of them critically, the military said.
Also, an Army reservist missing in Iraq since a convoy attack April 9 was confirmed dead. The remains of Sgt. Elmer Krause, 40, were found Friday, according to a statement Saturday from the Department of Defense. It gave no other details. Another soldier and a U.S. contract worker abducted in the same attack remain unaccounted for.
The latest deaths, along with the combat death of a Marine announced Saturday, brought to 109 the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq since the beginning of April. The military also announced the death of a soldier in a non-combat incident, bringing to 718 the number servicemembers who have died in the country.
Anywhere from 900 to 1,200 Iraqis have been killed in April - depending on various reports of the death toll from Fallujah.
British military spokesman Hisham H. Halawi said the port at Umm Qasr, the chief southern outlet for Iraqi oil, remained open after the boat attacks.
The first blast came when a dhow was sighted near the Khawr al-Amaya oil terminal, the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet said. When an interception team tried to board, the dhow exploded, flipping the U.S. Navy craft.
About 20 minutes later, two more dhows were spotted near the al-Basra oil terminal. They, too, exploded when security teams approached, but there were no casualties among the security teams, the 5th Fleet said.
Halawi said the second dhows were trying to pull close to two tankers at the al-Basra terminal, also known as ABOT.
Insurgents in Iraq have frequently attacked oil pipelines, repeatedly shutting down exports from northern oil fields through Turkey. Southern pipelines, running through relatively more peaceable Shiite regions, have seen fewer attacks.
Iraq is currently producing about 2 million barrels of oil a day, according to the Middle East Economic Survey.
The oil attacks came three days after near simultaneous suicide car bombings in the southern Iraqi city of Basra - 30 miles north of Umm Qasr - that killed 74 people.
The violence came as U.S. commanders repeated warnings that they may soon launch a new assault on the besieged city of Fallujah, saying guerrillas had not abided by a call to surrender heavy weapons.
L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq, traveled to the Marine base outside Fallujah for consultations Saturday, while Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt told reporters: "Should there not be a good faith effort demonstrated by the belligerents inside Fallujah, the coalition is prepared to act."
In Saturday's bloodiest incident, a bomb exploded on a main road as a bus passed near Haswa, 30 miles south of Baghdad. The back of the bus was shredded and seats crumpled. At least 13 people - including a four-year-old boy - were killed and 17 wounded, said Wasan Nasser, a doctor at Iskan Hospital in neighboring Iskandariyah.
In Sadr City, the capital's sprawling Shiite slum, angry residents vented anger at Iraq's U.S. occupiers after the mortar attacks, which followed an early morning clash in the neighborhood between U.S. troops and militiamen loyal to a radical Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr.
Some of the mortar shells in Saturday's barrage against Sadr City, which killed at least seven people, hit two miles from any U.S. position - suggesting they may have deliberately targeted civilians in the Shiite neighborhood.
Three shells pounded into the neighborhood's main souk, known as the Chicken Market, just as morning crowds were gathering to shop. Human flesh could be seen among scattered market stalls and burned-out cars. Craters were blasted out of the asphalt.
At least six Iraqis were killed and 38 wounded, said Yassin Abdel-Qader, a doctor in the area's Health Directorate. The Baghdad slum is home to more than 1 million people.
Hours later, a projectile struck a two-story house, smashing through its roof and down into the ground floor, tearing a woman to pieces as she took an afternoon nap and wounding her daughter. At least two more landed later in the afternoon, hitting a main street on the edge of Sadr City, breaking windows but causing no casualties.
Before the mortar fire, U.S. troops launched a pre-dawn raid into Sadr City, pursuing al-Sadr militiamen. They caught in a gunbattle in which two Iraqis were killed, according to U.S. Maj. Phil Smith.
During the fighting, a shell pierced the wall of a house, exploding in a bedroom and severely burning a 9-year-old girl and two teenage girls as they slept.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt suggested former members of Saddam Hussein's security services were to blame.
"It was clearly an attack on civilians. There was no U.S. military at that spot," said Lt. Col. James Hutton of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division, which responded to the attack and helped treat the wounded.
Still, angry Shiites blamed the Americans for the assault. After one of the afternoon strikes, residents chanted, "Long live al-Sadr. America and the Governing Council are infidels."
In other violence Saturday:
An Iraqi woman working as a U.S. military translator was shot and killed with her husband as they drove to a U.S. base, a hospital official said.
A roadside bomb destroyed a car carrying Iraqis near a U.S. base in the northern city of Tikrit, hometown of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and a center for anti-U.S. resistance. Four Iraqis - two police and two civilians - were killed and 16 wounded, the U.S. military said.
Polish troops clashed overnight with Shiite militiamen in the city of Karbala, killing five, a spokesman for the multinational peacekeeping force in south-central Iraq said Saturday.
Updated: 12:37 PM EDT
U.S. Troops Ready to Enter Najaf
By DENIS D. GRAY, AP
NAJAF, Iraq (April 25) - U.S. troops will likely enter parts of Najaf soon to clamp down on a radical Shiite cleric's rebel militia, but they will stay away from sensitive holy sites in the center of the city to avoid rousing religious outrage, a U.S. general said Sunday.
Shiite leaders have warned of a possible explosion of anger among the country's Shiite majority if U.S. troops enter Najaf. Until now, U.S. commanders have been saying troops would not go in.
With the new move, the military seeks to impose a degree of control in Najaf, while hoping a foray limited to the modern parts of the ancient city would not inflame Shiites. Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling did not say when troops would move in, or how many.
American officials were attempting a similar, limited step in the war-torn city of Fallujah, the other main front of fighting.
United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi urged the Bush administration Sunday to "tread carefully'' in besieged Fallujah and avoid alienating an already angry populace.
As for Najaf, one of the holiest cities of Islam's Shiite sect that also is under near siege by U.S. forces, Brahimi warned of a disaster if American soldiers enter the city to hunt down a radical cleric.
"This is a city with a lot of history. It is charged with a huge, huge quantity, if I might, if that's the word for it, of history,'' Brahimi said on ABC's "This Week.''
U.S. troops will begin patrols alongside Iraqi security forces in Fallujah, said Hachim al-Hassani, a top Iraqi negotiator. The move is an apparent attempt to restore control over the insurgent stronghold without a full-scale Marine assault.
But like a previous agreement aimed at reducing the violence in the city, the new step hinged greatly on the response of Sunni guerrillas, who were asked to turn in their heavy weapons.
"We hope the U.S. soldiers will not be attacked when they enter the city. If they are attacked, they will respond and this will lead to problems,'' al-Hassani told The Associated Press.
He said Fallujah residents have promised not to attack. But U.S. officials have questioned whether Fallujah civic leaders who have been negotiating with the Americans have enough influence with insurgents. Guerrillas have not abided by a previous call from the civil leaders to surrender their heavy weapons, U.S. commanders say.
In Baghdad on Sunday, a roadside bomb exploded by a U.S. patrol, killing a U.S. soldier.
When the troops returned to retrieve the stricken vehicle, they found several children on it, taking material, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt told reporters.
As the troops approached the vehicle, gunmen on neighboring rooftops opened fire, sparking a battle with the soldiers, he said.
Witnesses reported Iraqi casualties in the fight, but it was not immediately known if any of the children were among them.
Also Sunday, a rocket hit near a hospital in the northern city of Mosul, killing three people, doctors said. Elsewhere in the city, a mortar hit a residential area, killing one Iraqi.
In southern Iraq, U.S. military officials were trying to determine the launching point of an unprecedented suicide boat attack on two offshore oil terminals. The attackers, using explosive-packed boats, killed three U.S. service members and forced the shutdown of the two terminals.
The third victim of the attack, a U.S. Coast Guardsman, died of his injuries on Sunday.
Asked if the attackers came from inside Iraq or neighboring Iran or Kuwait, Navy Cmdr. James Graybeal, of the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said, "That's what were trying to determine.''
Insurgents often attack oil pipelines in Iraq and have repeatedly shut down exports from northern oil fields to Turkey.
Saturday's bombings were the first such maritime attack on the industry and resembled al-Qaida-linked strikes off the coast of Yemen against the USS Cole in 2000 and a French oil tanker in 2002 that killed 17 American sailors and a tanker crewman.
President Bush held a conference call Saturday with his top commander in the Middle East, Gen. John Abizaid. U.S. commanders have been threatening a full-scale offensive to take Fallujah and uproot insurgents unless guerrillas hand over their heavy weapons.
But an assault would revive fighting that killed hundreds of Iraqis and at least 109 U.S. troops in April - the deadliest month in Iraq for the Americans.
Al-Hassani told the AP that joint U.S.-Iraqi patrols would begin Tuesday in Fallujah, when orders will be issued forbidding residents from carrying weapons in the streets.
He said 75 families who fled Fallujah during the fighting will be allowed to return. Nearly a third of the city's 200,000 residents have fled since the siege began April 5.
A new move into parts of Najaf would also carry heavy risks.
"We probably will go into the central part of the city. Will we interfere in the religious institutions? Absolutely not,'' said Hertling, a deputy commander of the 1st Armored Division.
He did not say when the move would occur, but it appeared unlikely for several days and was aimed at tightening the clampdown on radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his militia.
"It's not going to be large-scale fighting, the likes of other places, but it's going to be critical,'' he said. ``We're going to drive this guy into the dirt.''
"Either he tells his militia to put down their arms, form a political party and fight with ideas not guns - or he's going to find a lot of them killed,'' he said.
Meanwhile, an Army reservist missing since a convoy attack April 9 was confirmed dead. The remains of Sgt. Elmer Krause, 40, were found Friday, according to the Pentagon. Another soldier and a U.S. contract worker abducted in the same attack remain unaccounted for.
The latest deaths brought to 111 the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq since the beginning of April. At least 720 have died since the March 2003 invasion.
04/25/04 12:31 EDT
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Originally posted by rob10 That you are back from the terrorists' convention!! Thanks a hell of a lot for once again giving aid to our enenmies motorbutt!!
I didn't even know about the convention. Me being, as you state, a terrorist, you would think that I would have gotten an engraved invitation for the convention. Gee, rob, you seem to know an awful lot about terrorist activities. Why is that? Oh, I know, you must be one of them.
rob, you should take heed of your signature line 'cause you have really lost it!
Bush and Co. What a miserable failure of an administration!
I say go with the MOAB & bring our boyz home, for once and for all. Based on the events that have followed since the English left that part of the world (over 50 years ago), it's the only language understood over there!
>>>the 'real' solution to this middle-east problem (bigger than any gun) is to starve-em out of their theological death-grip.
That is, STOP buying 5.7L, 450Hp trucks and SUVs if you don't really need them for hauling around stuff for work...like your average HVAC guy! This will bring a significant reduction in the global oil demand (even though very little comes from the middle-east) driving those sheep-humpers that run those countries into complete disorder.