Skip to comments.US attacks Shiite targets (fires Hellfire missile in the main Shiite stronghold in Baghdad)
Posted on 03/28/2008 1:22:32 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
BAGHDAD - U.S. forces stepped deeper Friday into the Iraqi government's fight to cripple Shiite militias, launching airstrikes in the southern city of Basra and firing a Hellfire missile in the main Shiite stronghold in Baghdad.
The American support occurred as Iraqi troops struggled against strong resistance in Basra and retaliation elsewhere in Shiite areas including more salvos of rockets or mortars into the U.S.-protected Green Zone in Baghdad.
It was the first time American jets have been called to attack militia positions since Iraqi ground forces launched an operation Tuesday to clear Basra of the armed groups that have effectively ruled the streets of the country's second-largest city for nearly three years.
One militia barrage slammed into the headquarters of the Basra police command late Friday, triggering a huge fire and explosions when one of the rounds struck a gasoline tanker, police officials said.
Earlier Friday, U.S. jets struck a building housing militia fighters and blasted a mortar team that was firing on Iraqi forces, British military spokesman Maj. Tim Holloway said without further details.
Many of those groups are believed to receive weapons, money and training from nearby Iran, the world's most populous Shiite nation.
The crackdown in Basra has provoked a violent reaction especially from the Mahdi Army of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. His followers accuse rival Shiite parties in the government of trying to crush their movement before provincial elections this fall.
Their anger has led to a sharp increase in attacks against American troops in Shiite areas following months of relative calm after al-Sadr declared a unilateral cease-fire last August.
Before dawn Friday, a U.S. aircraft fired a Hellfire missile in the Sadr City district the Baghdad stronghold of the Mahdi Army after gunmen there opened fire on an American patrol.
The U.S. military said the missile strike killed four militants, but Iraqi officials said nine civilians were killed and nine others wounded.
Another U.S. airstrike targeted a rocket-propelled grenade mounted vehicle in the mostly Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah, killing two militants, the military said separately.
Defying a curfew in Baghdad, Shiite extremists lobbed more rockets or mortars against the U.S.-protected Green Zone, which has come under steady barrages this week. The attacks prompted the State Department to order embassy personnel to stay inside.
At least two rounds Friday struck the Green Zone offices of Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, killing two guards and wounding four, his daughter and executive secretary Lubna al-Hashemi said.
In all, the U.S. military said 13 suspected militants were killed Friday and 26 on Thursday in Baghdad operations.
"As you know, we've been getting attacked and going after the enemy all day," said Maj. Mark Cheadle, a spokesman for the Baghdad area command.
An American soldier was fatally injured Friday in a roadside bombing south of Baghdad, the military reported without elaboration. The area is religiously mixed, and it was unclear whether he was killed in a Shiite district.
At least 26 people were killed Friday in fierce fighting in the southern cities of Mahmoudiya, Nasiriyah and Kut, according to police and army officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite who once maintained close ties to al-Sadr, has put his personal prestige on the line in the Basra crackdown, flying to the city five days ago to assume personal command of the operation there.
Al-Maliki has vowed there would be "no retreat" in Basra, the nation's commercial center and headquarters of the vital oil industry.
In Washington, President Bush said the battle against Shiite extremists presents "a defining moment in the history of Iraq" and a "necessary part of the development of a free society."
The United States has called the Basra campaign an important test of Iraq's ability to handle its own security affairs. But setbacks in the battle could increasingly draw in American forces, worried that a sustained fight and the backlash in Baghdad and elsewhere could wipe away many of the security gains of recent months.
The situation in Basra remained tense as a Friday deadline for gunmen to surrender their weapons and renounce violence expired, although a few complied. Al-Maliki's office announced a new deal, offering Basra residents unspecified monetary compensation if they turn over "heavy and medium-size weapons" by April 8.
Masked militia fighters, meanwhile, moved around freely in a southwestern neighborhood and there was little traffic, according to Associated Press Television News footage. Residents complained of rising food prices and power shortages.
The government relaxed a days-old curfew in Basra to allow people to move around in the city from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to facilitate shopping and other necessary tasks.
"The situation was better this morning so I went to a small market near my house. I was surprised that the price of vegetables and meat had gone up fivefold," said Ziyad Khalid, 27.
Hamid Saaid, 47, said he saw dozens of people lined up for bread and to fill canisters with clean water from a tanker truck.
In Baghdad, the Sunni speaker of Iraq's parliament called a special legislative session Friday in hopes of launching an initiative to negotiate a peaceful end to the Basra fighting.
But the main Shiite political bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance, and its Kurdish allies refused to attend. The alliance includes al-Maliki's party and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the main political rival to al-Sadr's movement.
With so few lawmakers attending, parliament could approve no binding resolutions but instead established a committee to explore ways to mediate a settlement. The initiative was spearheaded by former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who brought al-Sadr's followers into the government under his administration.
Al-Maliki has insisted the fight is targeting criminal gangs in Basra, not al-Sadr's movement.
However, al-Sadr's followers sharply condemned the prime minister during sermons Friday in mosques across the country.
"He imprisoned and displaced thousands of Iraqi people under the name of democracy. He is killing the citizens in the south of Iraq," Sheik Jalil al-Sarghi said, referring to al-Maliki as U.S. helicopters buzzed over the office where the prayer service was held.
Mahdi Army fighter takes up a position in Basra, Iraq, Friday, March 28, 2008. Shiite militants clashed with government forces for a fourth day in Iraq's oil-rich south and sporadic fighting broke out in Baghdad, despite a weekend curfew in the capital. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)
Time to kill off the Mahdi-— Iranian backed Militia’s....
A Mahdi Army fighter passes a poster showing radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his father Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, in Basra, Iraq, Friday, March 28, 2008. Shiite militants clashed with government forces for a fourth day in Iraq's oil-rich south and sporadic fighting broke out in Baghdad, despite a weekend curfew in the capital. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)
Give me a magpup masada chambered for 6.8mm and I will clean up the city.
Look at me getting all misty eyed, got a love a heart warming story. Daang I hope they got that on video!
Residents try to hose down a house after a U.S. air strike in Baghdad's Sadr City March 28, 2008. The attack killed four people and wounded three others, police said. REUTERS/Kareem Raheem (IRAQ)
Vehicles burn after a U.S. air strike in a parking lot in Baghdad's Sadr City March 28, 2008. The attack killed four people and wounded three others, police said. REUTERS/Kareem Raheem (IRAQ)
If the media hasn’t been working directly for the militias how are they getting all these photos of clowns walking around with guns?
I heard it...it was so COOL. Sounds like a sudden low flying fast jet but it only lasts a second or two...then the .50 cal followed. It was awesome. :-D
Then I went back to sleep.
Mahdi Army fighters take positions in Basra, Iraq, Friday, March 28, 2008. Shiite militants clashed with government forces for a fourth day in Iraq's oil-rich south and sporadic fighting broke out in Baghdad, despite a weekend curfew in the capital. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)
The 2 pictures are the same guy. The MSM is trying to pass this off as the militias are flooding the streets.
Hah! This explains why my son can now fall asleep at a moment’s notice under any circumstances;)
Interesting pic in that they guys has western style fatigues, boots, gear, etc. in pretty good condition. Could this guy be Iraqi security force that switched based on Shia alliances?
Iraqis chant after prayers, next to a poster of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Kufa, Iraq, Friday, March 28, 2008.
Shiite militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr called on Thursday for a political solution to the burgeoning crisis and an end to the 'shedding of Iraqi blood.'
(AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)
LOL. Quel sang froid, dear girl.
If we are lucky, we get videos down the road.
All I see are pictures of sniper-bait.
Mehdi Army fighters loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr hold their
weapons as they dance in a street during a lull in fighting in Basra,
550 km (340 miles) south of Baghdad, March 28, 2008.
We know where the main stronghold is? Any reason we arent’ testing daisy cutters on it?
Such posers. If these terrorist were really walking around the streets the way the media is portraying it then I have to wonder why there’s only 200 dead. To me it looks too staged by the media.
these are photo ops, nothing else..
one of the captions offers pics were taken during lull in fighting.. scripted? I guess you could call it that..
Glad you got some beauty sleep...one needs sleep...
I have a fairly realistic Comanche helicopter simulator which fires Hellfire missiles. My impression is that missile carries one powerful wallop of a building flattening warhead.
18 pounds of shaped charge explosive will do that to anything.
Basra [Rich Lowry]
As Max Boot points out, it’s a complex situation in Basra. It is a cockpit of Shia competition, with a variety armed groups jockeying for control over resources and power. To simplify: What appears to have happened is that Maliki has committed us to a fight against Iranian-backed JAM special groups. In theory, we have wanted him to become more aggressive against these elements for a long time. Now, unexpectedly, he has. If we want him to prevailand we shouldwe probably have to stop our drawdown and commit troops to Basra. My understanding is that the Iraqi military is out-gunned and if they take this fight on alone, they well could lose. But with our support, they are quite likely to prevail. It won’t be easy though, and the fight is likely going to spread throughout Iraq. The temperature will obviously get turned right back up on the Iraq debate here at home.
03/28 04:46 PM
Will not really flatten a building but it will ruin your whole day.
So I don't think Maliki's actions were a surprise....
Hellfire! Best name for a missile-Ever!
I’m disappointed if it won’t flatten a building, it does on the simulator, but I’m still glad it ruins their day! In my version, it is guided by the pilot’s lock on throughout its flight, it goes up, acquires the target and comes straight down.
If you heard GWB’s speech yesterday at the National Air Force Museum, you would have heard him say that Iran must stop destabilizing Iraq and attacking MNFs. His voice, visage and body language made clear he is deadly serious; he said nothing more on the topic in the speech. Couple that with the sudden retirement of Admiral Fallon and VP Cheney’s trip to the ME and Israel and one could get the feeling that something big is in the offing with regard to Iran and Syria.
I may be wrong- but I think Mookie is at the base of the way this has developed- and Maliki responded in an uncharacteristic way- probably delighting W.
Some of the Press reports are not correct...but there is a battle.
The gloves are starting to come off with these punks.
We don’t need to commit ground troops just support with aggressive air support the resistance will give up or die. Only two choices with US air power overhead.
The thing that gets to me is how we let these little demigods float around all over the place causing trouble and not take them out while we know where they are. Now, Mookie, like bin laden, is hiding in Iran and we can’t take him out. He should have been erased the first time he caused a ruckus.
There were many times when we probably could have done as you say, but now his supporters will be decimated by the Iraqi Army, and the survivors will see that once again he’s the General with the virgin sword.
The targeted terrorists will have all of eternity to compare it to the real thing.
I know, but it just burns me to think of these evil men getting a pass, at least until they meet their maker.
Gun’s too new, as are boots, and they look US military.
Blam! Bring it on Sadr so we can settle up soon.
Bush’s fault. ;’) Thanks Ernest.
Bush Sees Iraq Violence As Defining
breitbart.com | Mar 28 12:36 PM US/Eastern | Terence Hunt AP White House Correspondent
Posted on 03/28/2008 4:59:42 PM EDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
Basra a British failure: Times of London
Hot Air | March 28, 2008 7:54 am | Ed Morrissey
Posted on 03/28/2008 3:22:04 PM EDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
Iraqi militia success means Britain must fight — or admit failure
(Times of London Headline)
Times -UK | March 28, 2008 | Richard Beeston, Foreign Editor
Posted on 03/28/2008 3:29:32 PM EDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
The hellfire has a pretty parabolic trajectory, so it sounds right. Although the newer ones have a flatter path.
The old ones were laser riders, the new ones are fire and forget.
Blowing up a building(depending on what you mean by building) is pretty serious stuff. It takes a big weapon to do that. Kill everybody inside takes much less.