It appears that the 'Surge' is collapsing. More than 100 people died in attacks on Shia markets in Baghdad and Khalis (north to Baghdad) today. Two suicide bombers attacked in Baghdad despite tough security measures and massive presence of the US and Iraqi forces. In Khalis three truck bomb attacks killed and wounded more than 100 people.
The first attacker in Khalis drove his explosives-laden car into the crowded area, followed in five-minute intervals by the other two bombers, who apparently were aiming at rescue crews and onlookers gathering in the aftermath, police said.
Police said the bombers came from two separate directions.
But the worst incident happened yesterday in Tal Afar, demonstrating that it's impossible to fight modern Islamist insurgencies by a piecemeal approach. One rather subjugates the whole country or it's hopeless.
Tal Afar came twice under attack by kamikadzes this week. But yesterday's attack was the breaking point that has totally undid what was once claimed a major American and Iraqi government's success in stabilizing Anbar province.
Two hours after the explosion of truck bombs, which killed 83 people and wounded more than 185, the gunmen — some of whom witnesses recognized as police officers — went house to house in a Sunni neighborhood, dragged people into the street and shot them in the head, witnesses and local leaders said. The killing went on for several hours before the Iraqi Army intervened. The police are mostly Shiites, although the city is mixed.
In Tal Afar, the Turkmen Front, a political movement that is strong in northern Iraq where there are many ethnic Turks, condemned the killings in a statement Wednesday morning.
“The militia after the explosions, backed by the police, raided the Sunni houses in the area and pulled people outdoors and killed them,” it said. “There are tens of bodies still scattered on the road. In the meantime, the state security forces are incapable of doing anything.”
. . .
. . . there was conflicting information about the dead. Military sources described those killed as men, between ages 20 and 60. But Dr. Salih Qadou, the chief doctor at the Tal Afar hospital, which received the bodies, said there were women and children as well. He said the number killed was 60.
“So many bloodied corpses were brought in on Tuesday night that the entry hall could not be kept clean,” he said. “If you would have seen the inside of the hospital yesterday, it would have looked as if it were painted red despite all our efforts to clean the entry. But the influx of casualties kept growing bigger. I haven’t heard or seen such a massacre in my life.”
In Fallujah the insurgents tried to attack a government complex with two truck bombs loaded with chlorine canisters. The attack started after the complex has been shelled with mortars. Iraqi police and soldiers opened fire on both suicide bombers detonating the trucks before they reached the complex. 15 US and Iraqi soldiers were wounded from chlorine exposure.
The chlorine gas attack was the eighth since Jan. 28, when a suicide bomber driving a dump truck filled with explosives and a chlorine tank struck a quick-reaction force and Iraqi police in Ramadi, killing 16 people.
Chemical weapons are actually not that difficult to produce and it's surprising that until now the insurgents satisfied themselves with ineffective chlorine truck bombs driven by kamikadzes. Yet if an effective chemical technology ever reaches the hands of insurgents, it's a sure bet that similar to the suicide bombing techniques of the Palestinians it will quickly spread via internet and video cassetes all around the place. It goes without saying that in this region of simmering ethnic and communal tensions, institutionalized tit-for-tat killings and long memories, it will be the end of the Middle East that we know.
Probably the breaking point has been reached not only in Tal Afar. It's now just a matter of time. The Yankees are leaving.Update
The death toll from suicide attacks on Shia markets in Baghdad and Khalis was updated to 125. More than 150 are reported wounded.
Three suicide vehicle bombs, including an explosives-packed ambulance, detonated in a market in Khalis, 50 miles north of the capital, which was especially crowded because government flour rations had just arrived for the first time in six months, local television stations reported.
At least 43 people were killed and 86 wounded, police said
The attack in Baghdad was carried out by two suicide bombers in the Shaab neighborhood. The attackers apparently used Palestinian style explosive belts to reach Shalal market on foot, slipping past the roadblocks set up to stop truck bombers.
The Shaab neighborhood was one of the first that U.S. and Iraqi forces tackled when the security crackdown began Feb. 14. It was also the scene of a bombing nearly two weeks ago in which officials said a car bomber used children as decoys to get near the busy complex of shops and street vendors.
At Imam Ali hospital in the poor Shiite Sadr City neighborhood, where many of the Shalal wounded were taken, cries of pain and grief filled bloodstained corridors.
Salam Hussein, who was near the Shalal market when the bombers struck, said two of his relatives were killed and three others were wounded. He said most of the victims were women and children, including six siblings.
"I saw headless children and body parts everywhere. I brought four wounded to the hospital. But resources there are very limited. The refrigerators at the morgue are full. It's a disaster," he said at the hospital.
Nahid Abdul-Ameer, who runs a soft drink stand about 100 yards from the market, said he saw the two bombers explode their vests at the same moment. He was cut by flying glass but was able to help with carrying away the dead and wounded.
"People went out to shop today in large numbers. They had a false sense of security," he said. "People were removing dead bodies on pushcarts normally used for cases of vegetables and fruits," he said.
Also regarding the massacre in Tal Afar in the aftermath of a truck bomb attack on a local market:
The Islamic State in Iraq, an umbrella group of insurgent and terror groups — including al-Qaida — claimed responsibility for the Tal Afar bombing attack in an Internet statement.
And on a totally different note (or maybe not NB) .. .
WASHINGTON - A defiant, Democratic-controlled Senate approved legislation Thursday calling for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq within a year, propelling Congress closer to an epic, wartime veto confrontation with President Bush.
Labels: Iraq, Sunni vs Shia, Truck Bombing