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[casi] The Guardian

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Below is a Guardian article on US military operations in Baghdad. It
should concern us because reports indicate that two bombs weighing 2,000
lbs each were used. It is worrying because this may be the start of more
arial bombardment using heavy artillery. The effects of this on
civilians do not need further elaboration.

The prospect of escalating violence, ie Iraqi resistance bombing US led
coalition targets, being met with more bombing and other US military
'operations' on the Iraqi population, is appalling.

This is not the setting to build peace and reconstruction in Iraq. It's
the continuation of a nightmare for civilians.

U.S. Forces Target Facility in Baghdad

Wednesday November 12, 2003 8:01 PM


Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S.-led coalition forces launched a military
operation in Baghdad late Wednesday, targeting a facility used by
insurgents and setting off explosions that reverberated through the
Iraqi capital.

Earlier Wednesday, a suicide truck bomber attacked the headquarters of
Italy's paramilitary police in Nasiriyah, killing 26 people - including
18 Italians - and possibly trapping others in the debris.

``The facility is a known meeting, planning, storage and rendezvous
point for belligerent elements currently conducting attacks on coalition
forces and infrastructure,'' the Pentagon said in a statement from

``The destruction of this structure will deny enemy forces any use of it
in the future.''

The 1st Armored Division operation came hours after the Nasiriyah
bombing - the deadliest assault on American allies in Iraq since the
U.S.-led occupation.

Up to a dozen detonations were heard about 9:15 p.m., apparently
centered away from the heart of the city.

The attack in Nasiriyah was the deadliest toll suffered by non-American
coalition forces since the occupation began in April, and the first such
attack in this relatively quiet Shiite Muslim city. The bombing appeared
aimed at sending a message that international organizations are not safe
anywhere in Iraq.

Col. Gianfranco Scalas said 18 Italians were killed: 12 Carabinieri
paramilitary police, four army soldiers, an Italian civilian working at
the base and an Italian documentary filmmaker. A spokesman for the
U.S.-led coalition said at least eight Iraqis were also killed. About 15
people were wounded, although their nationalities were not known,
Italian officials said.

``Unfortunately, it's not possible to exclude the presence of other
fatalities,'' Defense Minister Antonio Martino told parliament.

There were fears of others trapped beneath the debris, and bulldozers
worked to clear rubble. As night fell, however, soldiers said rescue
efforts had ended.

Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi called the bombing a ``terrorist
act,'' while Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pledged that it
wouldn't derail his country's commitment to helping Iraq.

Witnesses said the truck driver got past guards after a car ran a
roadblock, distracting the sentries.

The truck rammed the gate of the Italian compound and exploded in front
of the Carabinieri building, which was the former chamber of commerce
building, a coalition spokesman, Andrea Angeli, said.

He said the force of the explosion blew out windows in another building
across the Euphrates River. All the vehicles parked outside the stricken
building exploded in flames.

Angeli said secondary explosions from ammunition stored in the compound
rocked the area moments after the main blast.

Also Wednesday, U.S. troops in Baghdad accidentally fired on a car
carrying a member of the Iraqi Governing Council. The council member,
Mohammed Bahr al-Uloun, escaped injury but the driver was wounded.

And a roadblock in Fallujah, a restive city west of the capital, U.S.
troops fired on a truck carrying live chickens Tuesday night, killing
five civilians.

``They went to bring chickens ... and they came back at 9 or 10 at night
and we were waiting for them,'' said Khalid Khalifa al-Jumaily, whose
two nephews were killed on the truck. ``The Americans fired on them.''

The U.S. military said it no immediate information on the shootings.

In separate attacks, an American soldier was killed when a roadside bomb
exploded near a U.S. patrol by the town of Taji northwest of Baghdad,
the U.S. military said. A 1st Armored Division soldier died of wounds
suffered in a roadside bombing in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Their deaths bring to 153 the number of soldiers killed by hostile fire
since President Bush declared an end to active combat May 1.

The truck bomb in Nasiriyah, about 180 miles southeast of Baghdad, went
off at about 10:40 a.m. in front of base of the Carabinieri's
multinational specialist unit, the Italian paramilitary police said.

Italy has sent about 2,300 troops to help rebuild Iraq. About 340
Carabinieri are based in Nasiriyah, along with 110 Romanians.

Alice Moldovan, a spokeswoman for Romania's Defense Ministry, said there
were no reports of Romanian victims.

Carabinieri are paramilitary police under the Defense Ministry, and
frequently serve in international missions such as in Afghanistan and
the Balkans.

Since August, car and truck bombs have targeted several international
buildings in Baghdad, including the United Nations headquarters, the
offices of the international Red Cross, the Al-Rasheed Hotel and the
Turkish and Jordanian embassies.

Although Nasiriyah has been quiet in recent months, it was the scene of
heavy fighting during the war. It was where the 507th Maintenance
Company was ambushed in March and where a number of Americans were
captured, including Jessica Lynch.

Italy had suffered no combat deaths during the occupation. The Italian
official heading U.S. efforts to recover Iraq's looted antiquities,
Pietro Cordone, was in a car that came under mistaken U.S. fire in
September in northern Iraq. His Iraqi interpreter was killed.

Earlier Wednesday, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council said the body
was not to blame for the lack of progress in drafting a constitution
that would enable democratic elections and a return to Iraqi

The comments by Mahmoud Othman, a Sunni Kurd member of the
U.S.-appointed body, follow reports that Bush's national security
advisers are frustrated by the council's performance and are consulting
with Iraq's top American administrator, L. Paul Bremer, over how to
break the deadlock.

``Such accusations are unreasonable and do no good for the country,''
Othman said. ``The Governing Council should not alone bear the
responsibility of any inefficiency.''

Othman acknowledged the constitutional process was moving too slowly but
said Iraq's U.S.-led administration bore much of the blame.

``This is supposed to be a partnership based on equality,'' Othman said
in an interview. ``But when Americans want to find solution for their
problems, they do it in any way that suits them.''

Bremer said Wednesday after meeting with administration officials in
Washington that he believed the Iraqis were becoming ``more and more
effective in their assumption of authority.''

``I don't think it's fair to say the IGC is failing,'' Bremer said.

Bremer attended a White House meeting Tuesday with Secretary of State
Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, National Security
Adviser Condoleezza Rice and other key officials.

Administration officials expressed disappointment in the council's work
but said Bush was not about to disband it.

``The notion that we are about to throw the council to the wolves is
exaggerated,'' a senior administration official said, speaking on
condition of anonymity. ``But there is a need to put some energy into
the political transition.''

U.S. officials believe key members of the Iraqi council are stalling in
hopes of winning concessions from American leaders under political
pressure to turn over power to the Iraqis. In contrast, Bremer wants to
transfer sovereignty after the Iraqis draft a constitution and hold
national elections.

Othman denied members of the body were intentionally stalling work on
the new charter in order to exert pressure on Bremer.

``It is true that council members are demanding more powers, but they
are not trying to use the slowness in the process of work as a weapon to
gain concessions,'' he said.

The Iraqis have yet to agree on how to choose delegates to draw up a

Also Wednesday, Iraqi police in Qadisiyah detained several people
suspected of involvement in an apparent rocket attack that brought down
a U.S. Black Hawk helicopter near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit
last week, killing six soldiers, a U.S. official said.

Before dawn, nearly the entire 500-member police force of Tikrit
searched door-to-door in a dusty suburb looking for weapons and



Guardian Unlimited C Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

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