iraq: great place for a holiday...

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    Forgive the irony of the title but in response to the drivel and propaganda posted here by jonesy I though it quite appropriate... :)

    US troops kill 97 Iraqis in new attacks

    Saddam loyalists posing problems two months after Bush declared major combat operations at an end

    Rory McCarthy in Baghdad
    Sat*rday June 14, 2003
    The Guardian

    American forces, returning to large-scale combat in Iraq barely six weeks after President George Bush declared victory, have killed at least 97 Iraqi fighters during the past two days in battles against an increasingly sophisticated local resistance.
    Six US soldiers were also injured in the raids directed at an area north of Baghdad that was a stronghold for many of Saddam Hussein's most loyal supporters.

    The assaults - intended to "eradicate Ba'ath party loyalists, paramilitary groups and other subversive elements", according to the US military - were ordered after a particularly deadly fortnight for the occupation forces, with 11 soldiers killed. The high casualty rate has sharpened criticism in the US of the Pentagon's plans for postwar Iraq, with conservatives calling for a far heavier presence than the 150,000 American soldiers now in the country.

    "What you are seeing here is a fundamental reassessment of the situation in Iraq in terms of political and military stability," said Daniel Gouré, a Pentagon adviser at the Lexington Institute in Washington.

    "We have been operating on two assumptions, that once the war was over that Iraqis would rapidly move into peaceful mode, and second, that there would be a new political and economic spirit in the country. We discovered neither of those assumptions is true."

    Well, surprise, surprise... Can you believe the naivety and sheer arrogance of those yanks to think the Iraqis could/should accept Western style democracy just because we say so... ...

    Amid the heat of the raids, military figures now speak openly of a prolonged period of combat.

    "It is still a combat operation, but it takes on, as you can imagine, a significantly different nature than the decisive combat operations which have ended," Lieutenant General David McKiernan, the commander of ground forces in Iraq, said this week.

    The American offensive began on Thursday night with an intense airstrike to destroy what was described as "a terrorist training camp". Paratroopers from the 101st Air borne Division, as well as special forces soldiers, then poured in on foot to clear out the remaining fighters.

    Pentagon officials have suggested there were "foreign fighters" using the camp, although it was unclear who precisely was killed. Troops found about 80 surface-to-air missiles, 78 rocket-propelled grenades and 20 Kalashnikov assault rifles.

    Yesterday tanks from the 4th Infantry Division were ambushed on a main highway heading north by fighters using rocket-propelled grenades. US troops fired back and killed four Iraqis. Then Apache helicopters were called in to chase down the rest of the group and another 23 people were killed, US central command said.

    It was the first time such a large group had mounted an attack on a US position since the end of the war.

    The return to full-scale combat operations is the latest in the series of changes Washington has made to its post-war plans since the undignified replacement of the administrator, Jay Garner.

    The Pentagon has also extended the stay of some troops.

    Earlier this month, the recently retired army secretary, Thomas White, accused the Pentagon of trying to gloss over the fact that troops would remain for months.

    "It's almost a question of people not wanting to 'fess up to the notion that we will be there a long time," he told USA Today.

    A two-week gun amnesty is due to end tonight. From tomorrow, troops will have the power to arrest anyone carrying a weapon without a permit. The number of weapons given up so far is low: 115 hand guns, 446 rifles and machine guns, 152 anti-tank weapons and 266 grenades.

    An Arab newspaper yesterday received a handwritten letter purportedly from Saddam, warning all foreigners to leave Iraq by next Tuesday or face attack.

    Abdel-Bari Atwan, the editor of al-Quds al-Arabi, the London-based daily, said the faxed letter had the same handwriting and signature as four others it had received.

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