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Occupiers ready for bloodbath in Najaf. Internation action needed now

jamie | 16.08.2004 13:04

As journalists are expelled from areas in and around Najaf and the “official”death count of GI‘s rises to 943 ( the stage is being set for a major blood bath in one of the Muslim world’s most sacred cities. U.S. leaders are drawn, in desperation it seems, to the one source of power left available to them, military might. Even now they can not see the utter hopelessness of this path, the Iraqi nation now totally united against them. Below please find the most recent details on the war against the people of Iraq. . Please pass this news to all others. jamie

As journalists are expelled from areas in and around Najaf and the “official”death count of GI‘s rises to 943 ( the stage is being set for a major blood bath in one of the Muslim world’s most sacred cities. U.S. leaders are drawn, in desperation it seems, to the one source of power left available to them, military might. Even now they can not see the utter hopelessness of this path, the Iraqi nation now totally united against them. Below please find the most recent details on the war against the people of Iraq. . Please pass this news to all others. jamie


08/16/04 CENTCOM: THREE U.S. Troops Confirmed Killed In Najaf Fighting
Three U.S. soldiers attached to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit were killed as a result of enemy action in the An Najaf province Aug. 15.

08/16/04 CENTCOM: IED Death In North Baghdad Confirmed
One Task Force Baghdad Soldier was killed in an improvised explosive device attack in northern Baghdad around 1:30 a.m., Sunday.

08/16/04 AP: Delegates Tell Cleric to Pull Out of Najaf
Delegates at Iraq's National Conference called on radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to abandon his uprising against U.S. and Iraqi troops and pull his fighters out of a holy shrine in Najaf.

08/16/04 Novinite: 3 Iraqis Nabbed over Bulgarians Attack
Three Iraqis have been arrested on suspicions of mortaring the Bulgarian troops' base in the Iraqi city of Karbala late on Saturday night.

08/16/04 Sofia: Second BG Hostage’s Body To Undergo an Autopsy
The body of the second Bulgarian hostage in Iraq, Ivailo Kepov, would undergo an autopsy at the Forensic Medicine Institute. His mortal remains were transported to Bulgarian late on Saturday evening

08/16/04 Itar-Tass: Najaf declared war zone
The Iraqi city of Najaf housing shrines of Shiite Muslims has been declared the zone of military operations early on Monday morning.

08/16/04 Suntimes: Some troops returning to lost jobs, benefits
Increasing numbers of National Guard and Reserve troops who have returned from war in Iraq and Afghanistan are encountering new battles with their civilian employers at home.

08/16/04 AP: Two Soldiers Killed During Najaf Fighting
Two American soldiers were killed during fighting in Najaf...The two were killed Sunday when troops came under attack by militiamen loyal to firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr

08/16/04 BBC: French reporter missing in Iraq
A French-American journalist is reported to have been kidnapped along with his Iraqi translator in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya.

08/15/04 WaPo: Two soldiers killed in fighting in Najaf graveyard
Two soldiers were killed in fighting in the city's vast graveyard, bringing to eight the number of U.S. military deaths in the area since Aug. 5. U.S. commanders said they inflicted substantial casualties on the militiamen.

08/15/04 Telegraph: Police expel journalists from Najaf
The Iraqi authorities ordered foreign journalists to leave Najaf yesterday, threatening to arrest or even shoot reporters as US marines and Iraqi government forces resumed the fight against Shia militants

08/15/04 Thecourier: Iraq bomb blast soldier making good progress
Despite the massive head injury he received on Thursday, Sergeant Kevin Stacey has managed to talk for the first time since the incident and could be flown home as soon as next week.

08/15/04 AFP: Marines encircle Najaf shrine
A major US-led assault on Shi’ite fighters in Najaf appeared imminent yesterday, as journalists were kicked out and clashes flared in the Iraqi holy city, provoking an outcry at a national conference

08/15/04 DOD: DoD annouces fatality from August 13th
1st Lt. Neil Anthony Santoriello, 24, of Verona, Penn., died August 13 in Khalidiyah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his mounted reconnaissance patrol vehicle.

08/15/04 DoD: Marine Casualty Identified
Lance Cpl. Nicholas B. Morrison, 23, of Carlisle, Penn., died August 13 due to hostile action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

08/15/04 dpa: Thirteen killed during separate clashes south of Baghdad
At least thirteen people were reported killed Sunday in separate clashes between followers of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi security forces in and around the city of Hillah, south of Baghdad.

08/15/04 AFP: Large Group Walks Out Of Iraq Conference
A large group of people walked out of a national conference billed as an experiment in Iraqi democracy shortly after it opened, as fighting resumed in the holy city of Najaf.

08/15/04 UPI: Iraq police urge media to leaveaNajaf
An Arab news channel said Sunday Iraqi police have urged journalists and media representatives to leave the southern Iraqi city of Najaf

08/15/04 Reuters: Uprising Keeps Iraq Oil Exports Halved
Iraq's oil exports were still running at half their normal rate Sunday as instability due to an anti-U.S. uprising prevented the re-opening of a main pipeline feeding the country's terminals in the Gulf.

08/15/04 SPA: U.S. soldier was killed in northern Baghdad
A U.S. soldier was killed early when an improvised bomb exploded in northern Baghdad, the military announced


Offensive resumes in Najaf, prompting desertions of Iraqi troops
By: Hannah Allam, Tom Lasseter and Dogen on: 16.08.2004 [05:33 ] (137 reads)

U.S. Battles Shiites in Iraqi Holy City
By: ABDUL HUSSEIN AL-OBEIDI on: 16.08.2004 [06:35 ] (89 reads)

NAJAF, Iraq - U.S. tanks and troops rolled back into the center of Najaf and battled with Shiite militants Sunday, reigniting violence in the holy city just as delegates in Baghdad opened a conference meant to be a landmark in the country's movement toward democracy.

On Monday, a French-American journalist was kidnapped in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, Al-Jazeera television reported.

The journalist was reportedly a citizen of both France and the United States, but was not otherwise identified. No other details were immediately available.

Meanwhile, the collapse of the cease-fire in Najaf after the failure of negotiations cast a shadow over the National Conference in Baghdad, which gathered 1,000 religious, tribal and political leaders from across Iraq. Some of the delegates threatened to walk out unless the government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi put an end to the fighting.

In more of the violence plaguing the country, insurgents fired a mortar barrage hours after the conference opened — apparently targeting Baghdad's Green Zone district where the gathering was taking place but instead hitting a commuter bus station, killing two people and wounding 17 others, according to the Health Ministry.

Also in Baghdad, a roadside bomb killed a U.S. soldier hours before the conference began. At least 931 U.S. servicemembers have died in Iraq since March 2003.

In the volatile Sunni city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, U.S. warplanes bombed three neighborhoods Sunday afternoon, killing five civilians and wounding six others, said, Dr. Adil Khamis, of Fallujah General Hospital.

The National Conference aims to give a broader spectrum of Iraqis a voice in the political process and increase the legitimacy of Allawi's interim government, which is deeply dependent on American troops and money even after the end of the U.S. occupation.

But Allawi's attempts to show he is in control — already strained by the unending Sunni-led insurgency — have been undermined by the fighting in Najaf against the militiamen of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The country's Shiite majority has been angered at the sight of U.S. troops firing around some of their holiest sites — and many have blamed the Iraqi government.

After the government pulled out of negotiations the day before, U.S. armored troop carriers and tanks Sunday morning moved back into the center of Najaf, where al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia has been in control of the Old City.

Dozens of explosions from tank shells and mortars as well as constant small arms fire shook Najaf's vast cemetery, where Mahdi Army fighters have been battling U.S. troops amid the tombs since the violence first broke out here Aug. 5.

An explosion, believed to be from a tank round, landed near the outer wall of the compound housing the revered Imam Ali Shrine, the militants' informal headquarters and Iraq's holiest Shiite site, said al-Sadr aide Ahmed al-Shaibany. "The shrine was not hit," he said.

Any damage to the shrine itself would further enrage Iraq's Shiite majority, and swell anger at Allawi's government.

Cabinet minister Waeil Abdel-Latif warned of a new major offensive unless the militants drop their weapons, get out of the city and transform themselves into a political party.

"We shall give the peaceful way a chance ... and after that, we shall take another position," he said.

As the explosions and gunfire rang out through Najaf on Sunday, police ordered all journalists to leave the city or face arrest.

The order would mean that the only news coverage of the violence in the holy city would be provided by reporters embedded with the U.S. military. The military had no immediate comment.

In Baghdad, about 1,300 religious, political and civic leaders gathered for the unprecedented three-day conference, which will help choose a 100-member national council meant to serve as a watchdog over the country's interim government before elections scheduled for January.

"This conference is not the end of the road for us, it is the first step ... to open up horizons of dialogue," Allawi told the delegates. "Your blessed gathering here is a challenge to the forces of evil and tyranny that want to destroy this country."

Some 70 factions are participating in the conference, though several are boycotting it — including al-Sadr's movement.

But the Najaf violence cast a shadow from the start.

After the opening speeches, Nadim al Jadari, an official with the Shiite Political Council, ran onto the platform and threatened to quit the conference — which would be a painful blow to the government — unless negotiations were restarted to end the fighting.

"The Iraqi government bears the responsibility for what is going on in Najaf. It has brought U.S. forces to hit our people in Najaf," said Falah Hassan, another group official. "Our demand is to halt the military operations in Najaf and other parts of Iraq. We will withdraw from the conference within 24 hours if our demands are not met."

In an attempt to assuage the complaints, a working committee was formed to find a peaceful solution to the tension in Najaf.

Al-Sadr, a fiery young cleric, has drawn support among some with his denunciations of the continued U.S. domination of the country. He has depicted the fight by his followers as a campaign against occupation.

The U.S. military estimates hundreds of insurgents have been killed since the clashes broke, but the militants dispute the figure. Six Americans have been killed, along with about 20 Iraqi officers, it said.

During the negotiations to end the fighting, al-Sadr demanded a U.S. withdrawal from Najaf, the freeing of all Mahdi Army fighters in detention and amnesty for all the fighters in exchange for disarming his followers and pulling them out of the shrine and Najaf's old city, aides said.

But on Saturday, Iraq's National Security Adviser Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie announced the talks had been making no progress and left Najaf. Al-Sadr aides accused Allawi of breaking off negotiations they said were nearing agreement.

Cabinet minister Abdel-Latif said foreign fighters were among the militants captured in Najaf — a repeated government claim — and he played a video that showed interviews with Iranian, Egyptian and Jordanian fighters and boxes of weapons, reportedly from Iran.

In other violence Sunday, a Ukrainian patrol commander, Capt. Yuriy Ivanov, was killed in a land mine explosion near Suwayrah, 25 miles south of Baghdad, said Lt. Col. Artur Domanski, a Polish military spokesman.

Also, a Dutch military policeman was killed and five others seriously wounded during violence Saturday in the southern city of Rumaythah, the Dutch Defense Ministry said Sunday.

In a separate incident in Rumaythah, al-Sadr militants fought with police in a battle that killed two people, including one policeman, said Dr. Mohammed al-Kharasani, a hospital official.


They really appreciate what we have done for them (editor’s comment).