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[casi] The Fog of War - interesting tho'

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Mysteries Shroud Fate Of Samarra¹s Causalities
A child walks out through a bullet-riddled entrance hit by U.S. soldiers in
Samarra (AFP)
Additional Reporting By Numir El-Higazi, IOL Correspondent
SAMARRA, Iraq, December 2 ( & News Agencies) - Mysteries are
still shrouding the whereabouts of the bodies of Iraqi resistance fighters
said to be killed by U.S. troops on Sunday, November 30, with a myriad of
residents contesting the American version as greatly exaggerated.
U.S. commanders claimed Monday, December 1, that they killed 54 fighters and
wounded 18 in intense exchanges  of fire with the Iraqi resistance in the
northern town of Samarra after they mounted coordinated ambushes of three
separate convoys.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) also cast doubts on the U.S. death count,
describing the whole matter as a mystery that could border on solving a
mathematics equation, which is further deepened by a report of U.S.
Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Gonsalves.
According to Gonsalves, a total of 60 fighters, divided into two groups,
attacked two military convoys in the town. Another four fighters in a BMW
attacked a separate engineering convoy.
If the U.S. troops killed 46, as it was announced in earlier reports, and
captured 11 of them, only three of the survivors would have been left to
pick up the corpses, which is impossible, pure and simple.
On the figures given by U.S. Brigadier General Mark Kimmit, the calculus
becomes even hazier -- with 54 killed, 22 wounded and one captured, 13
fighters remain unaccounted for.
Challenged about what had happened to the bodies, Kimmitt said: "I would
suspect that the enemy would have carried them away and brought them back to
where their initial base was."
Asked about reports from senior police and hospital officials in the town of
only eight civilians killed and dozens more wounded, the U.S. general
insisted: "We have no such reports whether from medical authorities or
Witnesses told Al-Jazeera correspondent on Monday that the number of the
dead has been "greatly exaggerated" by U.S. commanders, asserting that it
did not go beyond "eight killed and 55 injured".
A Shiite Imam sits by the damaged entrance of the sanctuary of Imam Ali
Al-Ahadi (AFP)
Residents in Samarra said they had not seen any of the fighters' bodies, 46
or 54.
Abdelrizek Jadwa, who owns a grocery 50 meters (yards) from the scene of one
of the attacks, wondered where did the bodies disappear.
"After the firing, I went out of my shop. There were no wounded, no killed
on the streets. Have they evaporated?"
The head of the local hospital, Abed Tawfiq, reported eight dead civilians
but no fighters.
And Dr. Falah Hassan told that only seven people, including
an 11-year-old boy, old man and an Iranian woman, were killed and 54 others
Ambulance driver Abdelmoneim Mohammed said he had not ferried any combatants
wounded or killed and wearing the black Fedayeen outfit.
"If I had seen bodies, I would have picked them up. It's not like the
Americans would have done it.
"If the death toll had reached that announced by the Americans, the
atmosphere in Samarra would be quite different," he said.
Salaheddin Mawlud, a colonel in the former Iraqi army, who now heads Samarra
city council's complaints office, said the American toll does not work.
"If there had been so many dead, we would have seen people rushing to the
hospital, the police station or here, and it just didn't happen."
Another local described as "holy" the Samarra battle, claiming that Iraqi
fighters had killed up to 40 U.S. soldiers and destroyed 14 tanks.
Other witnesses told IOL that the town's locals knew about U.S. plans to
transfer newly issued Iraqi dinars to Al-Rashid Bank in Samarra and attacked
the escorting convoys, killing all onboard.
Mohammad Salih, 21, told IOL that only four fighters were killed in the
Women stand at their bullet-riddled balcony after it was hit by U.S. troops
in Samarra (AFP)
"I was hiding inside my father's shop at the time and I saw four fighters
riding a black BMW and firing rocket propelled-grenades (RPGs) at the U.S.
convoys, but a U.S. tank hit back at their car and killed them," he said.
Holy Places Attacked
Witnesses further said that U.S. troops opened fire at the gates of the
mausoleum of Ali Al-Hadi, a Shiite authority, and Al-Risala Al-Muhammadia
The occupation troops further fired shells at the town on Sunday night,
wounding 15 worshippers who were about to perform Al-Maghrib prayers.
"As I was about to say my prayers with other worshippers I heard a powerful
explosion and I fell into a comma to find myself later in the hospital,"
Gamal Muntasir, 19, told IOL.
He said the attack on innocent worshippers came in retaliation for the
grinding battle of Samarra, which inflicted heavy losses on the U.S. troops.
Confused Answers
Furthermore, U.S. commanders tried to dodge questions of reporters, who
tried to figure out mind-boggling mystery of the absence of any fighters'
bodies at Samarra's single hospital or on the city's streets.
"Are you asking me to produce (them)?" Retorted Colonel Fredrick Rudesheim,
who heads the 3rd Combat Brigades that was involved in Sunday's clashes.
"This is a good question and I think perhaps if you can interview the
Fedayeen (a disbanded militia of Saddam Hussein's ousted regime) or whoever
attacked us, you might get a better answer."
Gonsalves, who commands the 166th Armored Battalion in Samarra, also said
his troops were not in possession of the bodies.
The death toll, he said, "is based on the reports we got from the ground."
Lieutenant Joseph Marcee, who took part in Sunday's combat, alleged he saw
several of the fighters lying dead on the ground.
"There was no time to pick up the bodies. We were receiving fire from other
locations," he said.
Sergeant Nicholas Mullen, who fired rounds from an Abrams tank Sunday,
offered yet another explanation for the army's inability to locate the
"We don't stick around," he said.
The events capped the worst weekend in seven months of occupation which saw
the deaths  of seven Spaniards, two Koreans, two Japanese, two U.S. soldiers
and a Colombian.
Ninety-nine occupation troops were said to have died in Iraq during
November, according to a BBC count. They included 82 U.S. troops, and 17
Italian soldiers. 

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