FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Running Battles in Baghdad

Baghdad.

American forces and Iraqi insurgents fought running battles in the heart of Baghdad yesterday as the latest American losses brought the number of US soldiers killed in combat in Iraq since the invasion last year close to 1,000.

The battles erupted in the Haifa Street district only three blocks from the Green Zone, where the US administration and the interim government have their headquarters. Shooting began when insurgents appeared on the streets looking for Iraqis who co-operate with US forces. The gunmen killed one man as a collaborator and then exchanged fire with US troops in armoured vehicles.

Security in Baghdad is now so bad that when Robert Hill, the Australian Defence Minister, landed at Baghdad airport last week it was deemed too dangerous for him to travel along the airport road to Baghdad. He was unable to visit the Australian embassy.

The number of US soldiers killed in action in Iraq since the invasion on 19 March last year had reached 998 early yesterday morning, according to the Defence Department in Washington. A further 5,049 soldiers have been seriously wounded and 4,503 slightly wounded in fighting; another 272 have died in “non-hostile” incidents.

The US losses have risen inexorably despite supposed turning points such as the capture of Saddam Hussein last December and the transfer of sovereignty to an interim government this June. There is no reason to suppose that the election on 30 January will lead to reduced violence. The main Shia parties, and some smaller Kurdish, Turkoman and Sunni groups, agreed yesterday to be called the United Iraq Alliance to contest the election.

The hopes of US generals that capturing Fallujah, the main rebel stronghold, last month would break the back of the insurgency have been dissipated by heavy fighting in other parts of central and northern Iraq. Eleven US soldiers have been killed in combat since last Friday.

In apparent recognition of how dangerous it is for American soldiers on the roads of Iraq, the US military inflicted only minor punishments yesterday on 18 soldiers who disobeyed orders on 13 October to drive unarmoured fuel tankers from Nasariyah in southern Iraq to Taji, north of Baghdad.

Iraqis aiding the occupation in any way are being targeted. Seven men machine-gunned a bus carrying Iraqi employees of a US base on Sunday, killing 17. The Ansar al-Sunnah Army claimed responsibility for the attack on its website. “We tell all of those who work with the crusaders: ‘This is your fate sooner or later. We’re setting up ambushes for you. Repent to save your lives’,” it said.

Insurgents have made repeated attacks in the past two weeks in Baghdad and in towns along the Tigris. The uprising has intensified in Mosul, a city of 1.2 million people in northern Iraq, where guerrillas launched an offensive last month in which they took over most of the city for a week. A 5,000-strong police force there disintegrated.

The insurgents say they are trying to avoid mistakes made by fighters in Fallujah who fought back despite massive US superiority. By contrast, in Mosul, the guerrillas printed flyers telling their men: “Hide your weapons and disperse.”

The resistance is led by a group called the Higher Committee of the Mujahedin, formed from six other groups including the al-Qa’ida Group of Jihad in the Country of the Two Rivers, though its connection with al-Qa’ida is unclear. The fighters are either former Baathists or Islamic militants.

Earlier this year, US intelligence officers in Mosul predicted serious trouble if Iraqis fighting the occupation joined forces with those who were against Saddam Hussein. This now seems to have happened.

To avoid alienating locals, especially Christians who are numerous in Mosul, resistance leaders have not forced alcohol shops to close. In Fallujah, CD, musical-instrument shops, hair-dressers and coffee shops had all been forced to close.

The resistance has also reportedly launched a campaign against criminals, releasing a video showing the beheading of three men who had kidnapped a Christian shopkeeper. A ransom was repaid.

 

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail