Many dead in weekend attacks in Iraq

The US military reports that its soldiers have killed 46 Iraqi guerillas who launced two coordinated attacks in the town of Samarra, north of Baghdad. A further 18 were reported wounded and another 8 captured. Five US soldiers were reported wounded.

The whole thing seems odd. If these numbers are correct, then at least 72 guerillas were involved in the attacks. This is an incredibly large number to have taken part in a single operation. It may indicate that several small independent groups have come together, and thus that various cells in some parts of the country are moving towards a kind of centralized control structure. Greater numbers and greater coordination may be providing a kind of impetus for bigger and militarily "more impressive" attacks. On the other hand, from the guerillas' perspective this operation was a total failure. One reason for the large number of guerilla casualties may be that the US soldiers destroyed 3 of the buildings from which the attacks were launched, apparently during the firefight. This tactic, to be viewed as part of the US military's new "overwhelming firepower" policy, may have taken the attackers by surprise. Finally, according to a US military spokesperson, "many" of the dead attackers were wearing "Saddam Fedayeen" uniforms. Why they would do this, I have no clue. To boldly announce that they are violently anti-American? To ensure that they stand out as much as possible from the general population? I'm just surprised that none of the dead guerillas turned out to be carrying "Syrian passports" as well.

As the BBC notes, no non-US military account was available by late Sunday evening. We could see a very different version of events coming out shortly.

Meanwhile, 2 US soldiers were killed and a third wounded in a small arms-RPG attack in western Iraq. This attack capped a particularly deadly weekend in Iraq, in which 7 Spanish intelligence officers, 2 Japanese diplomats, 2 South Korean technicians, and a Colombian were killed. A handy chart from the BBC article lays out the details of the attacks:

- Seven Spanish agents killed and one wounded near Hilla
- Two Japanese diplomats and their Iraqi driver killed near Tikrit
- Two US soldiers killed near the Syrian border
- One Colombian contractor killed and two wounded near Balad
- Two South Korean electricians killed near Tikrit
- Three ambushes said foiled by US troops in Samarra

The guerillas are apparently shifting their attacks to "softer" targets while the new US offensive is under way.

In other news, an AP report in the WaPo quotes General Sanchez as saying that "some U.S.-trained Iraqi police appear to have coordinated" some of the recent attacks against US soldiers. No specifics or analyis are given. This possibility is something I have discussed several times, most recently here. As long as there is no credible political system in place and the resistance to the US occupation continues, it is likely that more and more of the people being recruited into the new Iraq army, and especially the police and other security forces, will in fact be working with the guerillas. (link via Antiwar.com)

One final point, a bit of pure speculation: I wonder how Sanchez and his lieutenants are dealing with the presence of "double agents" in the new Iraqi police/security forces. Would they, for example, feed them information that deliberately underestimates the strength and firepower of "easy-to-target" convoys?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?