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Old 04-05-2007, 12:09 PM   #1 (permalink)

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Post Iraq Watch: April 5, 2007

Iraq Watch: April 5, 2007

8 U.S., 4 British Soldiers Killed in Iraq (4-5-07)

BAGHDAD - The U.S. military reported Thursday that eight U.S. soldiers were killed in the Baghdad area over the past three days as militants fought back against a security plan in its eighth week. An Army helicopter went down south of the capital, wounding four, after an Iraqi official said insurgents fired on it.

Four British soldiers — including two women — died Thursday in an ambush that Prime Minister Tony Blair called an "act of terrorism," suggesting it may have been carried out by elements linked to Iran but stopping short of blaming Tehran.

One U.S. soldier died and two were wounded in a roadside bombing Thursday in restive Diyala province north of Baghdad, the military said. Four others died Wednesday in two roadside bombs explosions in southern Baghdad and north of the capital, while another was killed by small-arms fire in the eastern part of the city. Two other soldiers were killed by small-arms fire on Tuesday — one in eastern Baghdad and another on foot patrol in the southern outskirts of the capital.

The U.S. military said the downing of the helicopter carrying nine people was under investigation.

An Iraqi army official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns, said the helicopter went down after it came under fire from anti-aircraft guns near the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Latifiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad. The U.S. military did not confirm that account.

It was the ninth U.S. helicopter to go down in Iraq this year. The U.S. military has studied new evasive techniques, fearing insurgents have acquired more sophisticated weapons or have figured out how to use their arms in new and effective ways.

The deadly attack against the British patrol in southern Iraq was the greatest loss of life for Britain in more than four months and it cast a shadow over celebrations marking the return of 15 British sailors seized by Iran two weeks ago in disputed waters in the Persian Gulf.

"Just as we rejoice at the return of our 15 service personnel so today we are also grieving and mourning for the loss of our soldiers in Basra, who were killed as the result of a terrorist act," Blair said.

The British patrol struck a roadside bomb and was hit by small-arms fire early Thursday in the southern city of Basra, British military spokeswoman Capt. Katie Brown said. The explosion created a 9-foot crater in the road. Hours after the attack, a British soldier's helmet was still laying in the street among dozens of spent bullets.

A civilian interpreter was also killed and a fifth British soldier in the unit was seriously wounded, Brown said.

Blair raised the possibility that Iranian-linked fighters may have sprung the ambush, although he conceded it was too early to directly accuse Tehran.

"Now it is far too early to say that the particular terrorist act that killed our forces was an act committed by terrorists that were backed by any elements of the Iranian regime, so I make no allegation in respect of that particular incident," Blair said.

He added, however, "This is maybe the right moment to reflect on our relationship with Iran."

The U.S. military has accused Iran of providing sophisticated roadside bombs known as explosively formed projectiles, or EFPs, to Shiite militias. British Lt. Col. Kevin Stratford-Wright said all of those killed were in the vehicle that was struck by the roadside bomb, although he declined to say whether it was an EFP, saying only that "it was certainly a powerful device."

It was the third deadly attack against British forces this month in the predominantly Shiite south. One British soldier also died Sunday and another on Monday — both from small-arms fire.

The latest casualties raised to 140 the number of British forces to die in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion — 109 in combat.

Blair has announced that Britain will withdraw about 1,600 troops from Iraq over the next few months and hopes to make other cuts to its 7,100-strong contingent by late summer.

At least 49 people were killed in shootings, bombings and mortar attacks across Iraq on Thursday, including 20 men whose bullet-riddled bodies were brought to a hospital in Baqouba a day after they were abducted at an illegal checkpoint.

Earlier this week, 21 people were killed after they were snatched in a similar incident.

Police also found the body of a famous television anchor from the Saddam Hussein era who was kidnapped two days ago in western Baghdad. A car bomb struck a Sunni television station in the same neighborhood, killing the assistant director and wounding 12 others, according to the Iraqi Islamic Party, which owns the station.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but members of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party have been targeted in the past by suspected insurgents because they have joined the U.S.-backed political process.

Task Force Lightning Soldiers Attacked (4-5-07)

MND-B Patrols End With Roadside Bomb; Small Arms Fire (4-5-07)

Roadside Bomb Strikes MND-B Patrol (4-5-07)

MND-B Presence Patrol in East Baghdad Ends With Small Arms Fire (4-5-07)

Four British Soldiers Killed in Iraq Roadside Bomb Attack (4-5-07)

Iraqis hold a British soldier's helmet and pieces of a military vehicle as they cheer after a roadside bomb hit a British patrol in Basra, Iraq, Thursday, April 5, 2007.

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Old 04-05-2007, 01:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Iraq Watch: April 5, 2007


Nightline had a much longer piece last night. It's not available as transcript or video yet. Shocking for ABC to do such a long bit about how good things are getting in Baghdad since the start of the surge.

Hey, what do you know? Just as I write about Nightline, ABC puts up a partial article on their site:

Curfew Eased in Baghdad as Safety Improves

Residents Return to Tea Shop and Amusement Park as Safe Zone Emerges

April 4, 2007 — - It's the question many people are asking -- is the troop surge in Iraq succeeding? It depends whom you ask. Sen. John McCain believes it is. He flew to Baghdad over the weekend, spent an hour in a market in the city center surrounded by heavy U.S. security, and then rushed to a press conference to announce that things are getting better.

"I believe we have a new strategy that is making progress," McCain said.

For the Republican senator from Arizona, there is a lot riding on the new Baghdad security plan. His presidential ambitions are more closely tied to the success of the U.S. surge than any other candidate's.

For the citizens of Baghdad, the stakes are even higher -- for many, it is a matter of life or death.

One thing is certain: The security situation in Baghdad has improved enough that the Iraqi government is going to shorten the capital's imposed curfew.

Residents will be allowed on the streets until 10 p.m., which adds two hours to the cutoff time that existed when U.S. and Iraqi troops began neighborhood sweeps in February.

While Baghdad is still rocked by car bombs every day, a small area of relative calm has emerged in the city center, thanks to the stepped-up U.S. patrols and increased Iraqi checkpoints.

While it remains dangerous for Westerners to travel out of doors in the city, ABC's Terry McCarthy has spent the past week visiting five Baghdad neighborhoods where the locals said life is slowly coming back to normal.

Tea, Clothing and an Amusement Park

McCarthy visited Haifa Street, otherwise known as "Sniper Street," as it has long been considered one of the most dangerous parts of the city.

Now, people who live on Haifa Street say the violence is subdued enough that they can venture back onto the street. At one tea shop a group of men actually asked the ABC News crew to film them to show life as it returns to normal.

And the improved conditions are already starting to benefit business, according to one shop owner. "When people heard that it was safe they started coming out and spending money again," said Baghdad store owner Hussein Jihad.

Other signs of improvements: a mosque in Zayouna that was fire-bombed is now open for prayer, and Baghdad's biggest amusement park in Zawra is open again.

"It's safe here," said 12-year-old Abdullah. "There used to be some bullets, but not anymore."
Nobody knows if the small safe zone will expand or get swallowed up again by violence. But for the time being, people here are happy to enjoy a life that looks almost normal.
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Old 04-05-2007, 08:37 PM   #3 (permalink)

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CS MONITOR: US priority: managing captives in Iraq (4-5-07)

DAILY TELEGRAPH: On patrol where death lurks on every corner (4-5-07)

MCCLATCHY: U.S. outposts face stiff challenges in Baghdad neighborhoods (4-5-07)

WASH POST: Hussein's Prewar Ties To Al-Qaeda Discounted (4-5-07)
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