Deadly Pattern Continues In Anbar Province

Deadly Pattern Continues In Anbar Province
December 16th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Deadly Pattern Continues In Anbar Province

Deadly Pattern Continues In Anbar Province
Philadelphia Inquirer
December 16, 2006
Two Marines died there. Also, Prime Minister Maliki answered the Iraq Study Group report.
By Kim Gamel, Associated Press
BAGHDAD - Three more U.S. troops died in fighting this week, the military said yesterday, raising to 54 the number of Americans killed in Iraq in December - nearly half of them in volatile Anbar province.
The month is shaping up to be one of the deadliest for Americans since the war started, especially for those trying to tame the Sunni-led insurgency in the province west of Baghdad.
At least 25 of the U.S. troops killed this month - most Marines - died in the vast stretch of desert that extends from the capital to the borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Three U.S. aircraft also went down in a span of two weeks, starting with the crash of a fighter jet on Nov. 27.
The large number of casualties reflects the strength of Sunni insurgents, including al-Qaeda in Iraq, in the region, even as violence in Baghdad shifts to a fight between Sunni and Shiite militias.
It also comes despite a decision by some U.S. commanders in the area to pull troops out of combat missions and partner them with Iraqi army units as advisers and mentors.
With President Bush weighing strategy changes in the war, the Army's chief of staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, said Thursday that Gen. George Casey, the U.S. commander in Iraq, was considering shifting many troops from combat missions to training Iraqi units, among other options.
Two Marines died Thursday in fighting in Anbar province, the military said. In Ninevah province to the northwest, a soldier assigned to the Fourth Brigade Combat Team, First Cavalry Division, was killed Tuesday, the military said.
At least 2,942 members of the U.S. military have died since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, issued his first public comment on a bipartisan U.S. report that said American policies in Iraq were failing and urged drastic changes.
"The report should have read the events more accurately and turned them into a good base for a solution. Instead, it contained contradictions in vision and recommendations," Maliki said in an interview on the pan-Arab satellite station Al-Arabiya.
He said the 96-page report contained "good elements" regarding the political process and Iraq's unity, but it also included "insults and negative directions." He did not elaborate.
The prime minister's comments were the latest in a flurry of criticism by Iraqi leaders, who have said the recommendations in the Iraq Study Group report did not acknowledge realities in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq and infringed on the country's sovereignty.
The nonbinding report recommended direct diplomatic engagement with Iran and Syria, approval of a law that could reinstate thousands of former officials of Hussein's Baath Party to their jobs, and a pullback of most American combat brigades by early 2008.
Maliki also said he planned a cabinet reshuffle but cautioned that he would scrutinize candidates for ministerial posts and warned that he would not accept candidates nominated by his coalition partners if he found them to be unqualified.
"I am not obliged to accept anyone and I will choose ministers myself if I have to," he said.
Also, two suicide car bombs exploded yesterday at U.S. checkpoints in the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi and American soldiers opened fire to foil one of the attacks, an Iraqi police lieutenant said. He said four Iraqi civilians were killed.
At least 34 people were killed or found dead yesterday, including 22 whose bullet-riddled bodies were discovered in several parts of the capital, apparent victims of sectarian death squads that have killed hundreds in recent months.
Gunmen also killed a Shiite tribal sheik linked to British forces in a drive-by shooting yesterday in the southern city of Basra.
The slain cleric, Muhsin al-Kanan, was a member of the provisional council in Iraq's second-largest city, and had good relations with British forces in the area, police said.
Iraqi Red Crescent Contends U.S. Forces are Harassing
Harassment from U.S. forces is a greater threat to the work of the Iraqi Red Crescent than insurgent attacks, a senior official of the Red Cross-linked humanitarian organization said yesterday in Geneva, Switzerland.
Jamal Al-Karbouli, vice president of the Iraqi Red Crescent, said some U.S. forces appeared not to realize that the society, which uses as its symbol the Muslim red crescent instead of the red cross, was part of the international humanitarian movement.
"The main problem we are facing is the American forces more than the other forces," Karbouli told reporters in Geneva. "We are spending a lot of time to explain about the Red Crescent."
Karbouli said insurgent groups in Iraq did not pose as great a problem for the organization.
He also complained that Red Crescent offices in Baghdad and Anbar and Najaf provinces had been repeatedly "attacked" by U.S.-led multinational forces searching for insurgents.
Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said the U.S.-led coalition forces "strive to ensure they are respectful when they conduct interaction with the local population."
"When we conduct searches, we do not 'attack' the place we are searching," he said.

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