Misery in Iraq: The Latest

[ “The head of US Central Command in Iraq, General John Abizaid,” says he needs at least 10,000 more troops in Iraq. Before the war neither Rumsfeld nor Wolfowitz would hear anything about this from the experts. From CBS, Feb. 28, 2003:

It’s also unclear how long the U.S. will maintain a presence in post-war Iraq, and how many troops will have to be there. This week, Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki guessed “several hundred thousand” soldiers could be needed, but Rumsfeld predicts far fewer will be required.

The article below is captures the situation in Iraq now. –doclalor ]

General asks Pentagon to send 10,000 more troops

13 April 2004 | The Independent
by Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad

The US-led forces in Iraq have lost 70 soldiers this month and killed 10 times as many Iraqi insurgents in by far the bloodiest period since the end of the war, a spokesman said yesterday. Iraqi doctors say their dead are mostly civilians, the majority women and children.

The head of US Central Command in Iraq, General John Abizaid, called on the Pentagon to send 10,000 more troops to Iraq to quell the uprising, back-tracking on a year-long aim to reduce the US military presence. General Abizaid also said that some US-trained Iraqi policemen had defected to the insurgent forces of the radical Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr, while other Iraqi security forces had failed to fulfill their duties.

“These numbers are not large but they are troubling to us, and clearly we’ve got to work on the Iraqi security forces,” he said. General Abizaid added that some troops from the Army’s 1st Armoured Division would stay in Iraq for longer than anticipated. The entire division had been scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of next month but units had been sent to regain control of the southern city of Kut.

The severity of the fighting in Iraq this month has often been more intense than anything seen in the three-week war to overthrow Saddam Hussein last year, when the Allied forces suffered only 89 combat deaths. The exact number of Iraqi dead is uncertain because in Fallujah, scene of some of the worst losses, people are unable to reach the cemetery and are burying their dead in graves in two football fields. A grave-digger said 300 people were buried in one.

US-led forces were maintaining shaky truces with their two main Iraqi opponents yesterday both in Fallujah and in the cities in the south held by Sadr and his Army of Mehdi. The truce in Fallujah was renewed, after some overnight clashes, to allow time for talks between local leaders and mediators from the Iraqi Governing Council. Mohammed Qubaisi of the Iraqi Islamic Party, which is also taking part in the negotiations, said they would continue today.

The US offensive against Fallujah has helped spread rebellion to other areas of Iraq, leading to damaging attacks on American supply lines. A convoy of trucks carrying M-113 armoured personnel carriers was ambushed and burnt yesterday on a road to Latafiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad. Another US supply truck was set ablaze near Baghdad airport and its contents looted as Iraqi police stood by.

Three US Marines were killed on Sunday in Anbar province, the area that includes Fallujah, the military confirmed yesterday. Also on Sunday, an attack on an Army patrol in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, killed a soldier from the 1st Armoured Division.

The extent to which the US military forces have lost control was half-admitted yesterday by Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, the US military spokesman. He said more US troops were being sent “to open up those lines of communications so we can not only re-supply our forces in Fallujah, Ramadi and our forces down south, but also make those roads safe for travel”.

Leave a comment