Skip to comments.U.S. raids Baghdad slum; 26 Iraqis die (PM Maliki condemns raid into area barred from entry)
Posted on 06/30/2007 10:14:57 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
BAGHDAD - American soldiers rolled into Baghdad's Shiite Sadr City slum on Saturday in search of Iranian-linked militants and as many as 26 Iraqis were killed in what a U.S. officer described as "an intense firefight."
But residents, police and hospital officials said eight civilians were killed in their homes and angrily accused U.S. forces of firing blindly on the innocent. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned the raids and demanded an explanation for the assault into a district where he has barred U.S. operations in the past.
Separately, two American solders were charged with the premeditated murder of three Iraqis, the U.S. military said Saturday. And in Muqdadiyah, 60 miles north of the capital, police said a suicide bomber blew himself up near a crowd of police recruits, killing at least 23 people and wounding 17.
A U.S. soldier was killed Friday and three wounded when a sophisticated, armor-piercing bomb hit their combat patrol in southern Baghdad, the military announced a day later.
The U.S. military said it conducted two pre-dawn raids in Sadr City, killing 26 "terrorists" who attacked U.S. troops with small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs. But Iraqi officials said all the dead were civilians.
An American military spokesman insisted all of those killed were combatants. "Everyone who got shot was shooting at U.S. troops at the time," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver. "It was an intense firefight."
U.S. troops detained 17 men suspected of helping Iranian terror networks fund operations in Iraq, a military statement said. There were no U.S. casualties.
Witnesses said U.S. forces rolled into their neighborhood before dawn and opened fire without warning.
"At about 4 a.m., a big American convoy with tanks came and began to open fire on houses bombing them," said Basheer Ahmed, who lives in Sadr City's Habibiya district. "What did we do? We didn't even retaliate there was no resistance."
According to Iraqi officials, the dead included three members of one family a father, mother and son. Several women and children, along with two policemen, were among the wounded, they said.
The assault brought quick criticism from al-Maliki. "The Iraqi government totally rejects U.S. military operations ... conducted without a pre-approval from the Iraqi military command," al-Maliki said in a statement released by his office. "Anyone who breaches the military command orders will face investigation."
Sadr City is the Iraqi capital's largest Shiite neighborhood home to some 2.5 million people. It is also the base of operations for the Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The fighters are blamed for much of the sectarian killing in Baghdad.
Last year, al-Maliki banned military operations in Sadr City without his approval after complaints from his Shiite political allies. But he later agreed that no area of the capital was off-limits, after President Bush ordered reinforcements to Iraq as part of the Baghdad security operation.
Houses, a bakery and some other shops were damaged by U.S. tank fire during the assault, Iraqi officials said. In the Shiite holy city of Najaf, Sheik Salah al-Obaidi, a spokesman for al-Sadr condemned Saturday's raids: "The bombing hurt only innocent civilians."
A policeman wounded in the raid, Montadhar Kareem, said he was on night duty when U.S. troops moved in and "began bombing houses in the area."
"The bombing became more intense, and I was injured by shrapnel in both my legs and in my left shoulder," Kareem said from a gurney at Al Sadr General Hospital.
Hours afterward, a funeral procession snaked through Sadr City. Three coffins were hoisted atop cars.
One resident who goes by the nickname of Um Ahmed, or "mother of Ahmed," stood outside her home as mourners passed by.
"We are being hit while we are peacefully sleeping in our houses. Is that fair?" she cried. The woman gave only her nickname, fearing reprisal.
The U.S. military statement said American troops opened fire on four civilian cars during the assault one that failed to stop at a checkpoint, and three that insurgents were using for cover as they shot at U.S. soldiers.
"Every structure and vehicle that the troops on the ground engaged were being used for hostile intent," Garver said. Some of the 26 dead were in civilian cars, some had been hiding behind cars and others had fired on U.S. troops from nearby buildings, he said.
In the murder case, the two American soldiers are accused of killing three Iraqis in separate incidents, then planting weapons on the victims' remains, the military said in a statement. Fellow soldiers reported the alleged crimes, which took place between April and this month near Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad, it said.
The U.S. military on Saturday identified the soldiers as Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley from Candler, N.C., and Spc. Jorge G. Sandoval from Laredo, Texas.
Hensley is charged with three counts each of premeditated murder, obstructing justice and "wrongfully placing weapons with the remains of deceased Iraqis," the military said. He was placed in military confinement in Kuwait on Thursday.
Sandoval faces one count each of premeditated murder and placing a weapon with the remains of a dead Iraqi, a statement said. He was taken into custody Tuesday while at home in Texas, and was transferred to military confinement in Kuwait three days later, it said.
Saturday's blast in Muqdadiyah ripped through a crowded market area where Iraqi police recruits were having coffee, police said.
One witness, 30-year-old Abu Omar, said he rushed to the area where his brother has a shop, and saw police loading mutilated bodies into the back of a pickup truck. Fire engines sprayed water onto burning storefronts, and ambulances evacuated the wounded, he said.
At least seven shops were destroyed by the explosion, and the market street soaked with blood, Omar said.
Carry out the raids without any interference. Do the job.
That we are even agreeing not to take out Mookie al Sadr and his merry band of killers is even a much bigger mistake, IMHO.
Maliki needs to be found in the rubble in the aftermath of one of our raids!
In other words, a terrorist safe haven. I'm a little surprised to learn that US operations were barred from operating anywhere. Hopefully, this is a new aggressive trend.
Gee isnt it intresting that the All Propaganda reporting on both Iraq and Afganistan start out today with claims of wanton civilian attacks by Coalition forces
Let see. Both from AP, the same orgnaization that has a number of local stringers it hired sitting in Iraq prisons caught read handed aiding the Insurgents.
Could it be that maybe AP needs to do some house cleaning since it is pretty obviously being used as a propaganda outlet by our foes?
About as effective with that as with managing the rest of his country.
Looks as if Maliki is two-faced and is doesn't want peace.
I think you’re very correct.
Maliki has not been a very good ally. I don’t know why he’s protecting Sadr .. but I can guess.
demanded an explanation for the assault into a district where he has barred U.S. operations in the past.... because the assholes were there. Get a grip, Mr. Leaky. Embrace the suck.
Terrorists are all civilians.
AP, what is this, pure Mookie propaganda?
Who wrote this article a Sadrist?
You got it - It is clear the latest angle the MSM are going to take is to start hyping that virtually all we kill on the battlefield are "Civs".
The MSM is pathetic, disgusting and intellectually empty.
As for Maliki, hopefully he isn't being quoted correctly, or is simply saying this for domestic spin (though even that is becoming BS to swallow at a point)....or he does simply need to STFU....and should be told so in no uncertain terms if that be the case.
Well, this ain't the past. The US forces are under new management.
So al-Maliki is going to investigate Petraeus since Petraeus didn't ask al-Maliki first? Too funny!
SURE! (because Al queda's hideout is there)
Who are these "Iraqi officials?" They should be taken out and shot.