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[casi] US launches offensive in 'liberated' Iraq

The occupying forces have started a brutal
attack on Iraqis called "Peninsula Strike".
But demoralization among the US military is
starting to set in too.

And if the world-wide protests against the
war could be repeated in intensity and force
against the occupation, more demoralization
would set in - make things difficult for the
occupiers. They have to leave, so Iraqis
can get on with what is left of their lives.

So please let's start anti-occupation campaigns
to show support for the Iraqis. Give them some
hope from outside... We can't just sit by while
the brutal conquerors destroy all life in Iraq.

Even Chalabi is now against the occupation.
And he is no humanitarian.

Calling all friends of humanity,



US launches major military offensive in "liberated" Iraq

By James Conachy

13 June 2003

Two months after the fall of Baghdad, the American
military has been forced to launch a major assault on an
area to the northwest of the Iraqi capital in a
desperate bid to suppress mounting resistance to the US

Ten American troops have been killed in Iraqi guerrilla
attacks in and around Baghdad over the past 15 days
alone, with dozens more wounded. As the military
operations continued yesterday, the US administrator
over Iraq, Paul Bremer, issued a proclamation outlawing
any "gatherings, pronouncements or
publications" that call for opposition to the US
occupation or the return to power of Saddam
Hussein's Ba'ath Party.

Code-named "Peninsula Strike," the US offensive
launched June 9 involved over 4,000 troops, backed
by helicopter gunships, jet fighters and patrol
boats. A 30-mile-square area around the Tigris river
towns of Thuluya and Balad has been cordoned off and
raids have been conducted on numerous houses and
buildings where Iraqi fighters were alleged to be
hiding. According to the US military, 397 "suspects"
have been detained and a large number of weapons seized.

Over the last 24 hours of the US offensive, at least 10
Iraqis have been killed, while 10 Americans were
wounded. Iraqis shot down a helicopter gunship and a
jet fighter was also brought down. Pentagon officials
claimed the fighter crashed because of mechanical
problems. Thuluya, a predominantly Sunni Muslim town
considered a hotbed of resistance by the American
military, is under curfew.

According to Iraqi sources cited in the western media,
"Peninsula Strike" has been intense and brutal.
Reuters filmed houses with their doors smashed
in and ransacked by US troops as they searched for
weapons. Women and children were driven out of their
homes and handcuffed. The June 12 New York Times
reported Iraqi allegations that US troops beat a
suspected guerrilla to death with their rifles and
prevented medical treatment from being administered to
another who was suffering a heart attack. The Washington
Post reported accusations that US troops had beaten
Iraqi suspects and that some of those detained were
as young as 13.

There are indications that the US military believes
former Ba'athist leaders may be active in the
Tigris river towns, organizing loyalists to attack
American forces. According to the New York Times, one
detained Iraqi who was subsequently released claimed he
was specifically interrogated about the whereabouts of
one of Hussein's main military commanders, Gen. Ali
Hassan al-Majid. Also known as "Chemical Ali,"
he is a cousin of Saddam Hussein who had previously been
reported killed in Basra. Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the
pro-US exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, alleged
in New York on Tuesday that Saddam Hussein himself was
in the area.

While the scale of "Peninsula Strike" may be a
response to intelligence that senior Ba'ath leaders
are in the area, the operation is part of a sweeping
nationwide crackdown against both political and military
opposition to the American occupation forces.

Over the past 10 days, US troops have launched two
raids on offices of the Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution (SCIR), a leading anti-Hussein Shi'ite
Muslim organization with links to the Islamic
fundamentalist regime in Iran. At least 20 SCIR
officials were detained in Baquda on charges they were
behind an attack on US troops in the town. The raids are
widely viewed as revenge for the SCIR declaration that
it will boycott any interim Iraqi government authority
that is appointed by the US. Paul Bremer, the US
administrator, responded to SCIR's opposition to US
neo-colonial rule by denouncing Iran for "interfering"
in Iraq's affairs.

Since June 5, some 3,000 US troops from the Third
Infantry Division have been deployed in Fallujah to
suppress resistance among the quarter of a million
residents of the largely Sunni Muslim city west of
Baghdad. One American was killed and five wounded in an
attack the same day. After American massacres of Iraqi
civilians in the city on April 28 and April 30, Fallujah
has been, in the words of a US soldier, a "mini
war-zone." While during the day the city has been
largely peaceful, at night resistance fighters have made
regular attacks on the American troops. According to the
US military, residents of the city have been employing
simple but ingenious methods to assist the nighttime
guerrilla operations. Different colored flares and light
signals have been used to warn Iraqi fighters about the
strength of approaching US units so they can attack the
most vulnerable. The US occupation authority has placed
the city under what amounts to martial law.

The US military will continue suffering casualties until
the day it leaves Iraq. More than a decade of American
aggression has produced a vast reservoir of anti-
colonial feeling among Iraqis. Added to the devastation
of the first Gulf War and the years of economic
sanctions, the Iraqi people now face the humiliation of
being taken over by a foreign power and the social
disintegration of their country.

War and looting have destroyed most public
infrastructure and industry. Large areas of the major
cities still do not have regular electricity, adequate
fuel supplies, running water or functioning sewerage.
Crime is endemic. Unemployment, already over 50 percent
before the invasion, has soared due to the disbanding of
the Iraqi army and the shutdown of dozens of state-owned
companies. Subsidies for farmers have been abolished by
the US authority, slashing the price of a ton of grain
from $205 to just $105.

The UN agency UNICEF is warning of a potential health
disaster during the hottest months of the year, July and
August. The collapse of sanitation has already caused at
least 70 percent of Iraqi children to suffer at least
one bout of diarrhea this year. Cases of dysentery and
typhoid are being reported.

While the Bush administration and Bremer dismiss the
resistance as acts of isolated elements loyal to Saddam
Hussein or encouraged from outside Iraq, US troops
legitimately see enemies everywhere in the country they
were told they had "liberated." There is almost nowhere
in Iraq where they can safely walk without fear of
being shot.

Asked to explain who he thought was behind an attack in
Baghdad last month, an unnamed US officer told the Los
Angeles Times: "We don't know if they are old
[Iraqi] army guys motivated because we slaughtered
thousands and thousands of them. It could be
Ba'athists. It could be soldiers. It could be
terrorists. We don't know."

A US soldier involved in "Peninsula Strike"
told the Associated Press: "We're just not
taking any chances. My life's in danger so I'm
going to approach them (the Iraqis) as hostile. And
until I'm proved otherwise, that's the way I'm
going to approach it."

A military policeman now patrolling Fallujah told
the Washington Post: "We've got to be on our toes
all the time. Eyes open, scanning the buildings.
It's not tanks and infantry we're fighting
anymore. It's something hidden."

There are already references in the US press to
demoralization among the US military. Since the fall
of Baghdad in April, it has suffered on average one
fatality a day together with many more wounded and is
facing a counterinsurgency quagmire that could well end
in a humiliating defeat and withdrawal.

One brigade of the Third Infantry Division, which was
heavily involved in the assault of Baghdad, has been on
deployment for nine straight months and is now being
told it will kept in Iraq for at least several more
months. Members of the brigade were not likely comforted
by comparisons with World War II, when the same unit
remained in the field for 531 consecutive days. One of
the brigade's officers told the New York Times that
his troops "almost feel betrayed."

Of the US Army's 10 divisions, five are now
involved in the occupation of Iraq or supporting
it--some 180,000 troops.

Copyright 1998-2003
[8] World Socialist Web Site
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