Violence is spreading further across Iraq, as Shia Arab tribes in the south begin to engage occupation forces in new armed resistance.
Resistance in the southern parts of Iraq has been escalating over the last three months, leading to increased casualties among British and other occupation forces.
In the last seven months, at least 24 British soldiers have been killed in southern Iraq, with at least as many wounded, according to the independent website Iraq Coalition Casualties. So far at least 128 British soldiers have died in Iraq, along with 123 of other nationalities. Most of these have been stationed in southern Iraq.
Casualties earlier were far lower.
Attacks against occupation forces appear to stem more a growing nationalism.
"This is not about vengeance," a former Iraqi army officer from Kut, 200 km south of Baghdad told IPS in Baghdad. "People have lost hope in the U.S.-led occupation's promises, and they are thinking of saving the country from Iranian influence which has been supported, or at least allowed by the Multi-National Forces."
British and U.S. military leaders tend not to say who has been targeting their forces in the south. They simply call the resistance fighters "terrorists", or they point to the Mehdi Army led by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as the only source of disturbance in the south.
While members of the Mehdi Army certainly carry out attacks against occupation forces in southern Iraq, other home-grown resistance seems to have taken root, fed also by earlier memories.
Billie noted the above from Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily's "Southern Tribes Joining Armed Resistance" (IPS). You won't read about the above in the mainstream until it's too late, if ever.
On Saturday and Sunday, arguing what the military refuses to allow Ehren Watada to present in his February 5th court-martial, a Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq was held in Tacoma. On that hearing, Charlie notes this from Amy Rolph's "Faux tribunal contends war in Iraq is illegalTwo-day hearing staged to support soldier facing trial" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer):
Among those who testified on the matter was Darrell Anderson, who served in the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad and Najaf in 2004.
Anderson testified that soldiers undergo training that dehumanizes Iraqis in their eyes. After watching friends get shot and wounded in battle, he said, the training starts to kick in.
He once contemplated killing prisoners of war whom he was guarding, Anderson said. The prisoners had bags over their heads, and their hands were fastened behind their backs.
"They're not human to me," he said.
"I'm just standing there wanting to kill these guys."
But the violations don't stop there, Anderson contended. He said that while in Iraq he was told, "If you're fired on in a public place, shoot everyone there."
And lastly, Zach notes Leila Fadel and Hussam Ali's "Details emerge of gunmen, posing as soldiers, attacking U.S. troops in Iraq" (McClatchy Newspapers):
Chilling details emerged Sunday of gunmen posing as American and Iraqi soldiers in an ambush on U.S. troops in Karbala a day earlier that killed five Americans and wounded three.
On Saturday, a civil affairs team of American soldiers sat with local leaders in Karbala's provincial headquarters to discuss security for Ashoura, a Shiite commemoration of the massacre of the revered Imam Hussein that began Sunday.
Outside, danger was approaching. A convoy of seven white GMC Suburbans sped toward the building, breezing through checkpoints, with the men wearing American and Iraqi military uniforms and flashing American ID cards, Iraqi officials said. The force stopped at the police directorate in Karbala and took weapons but gave no reason, said police spokesman Capt. Muthana Ahmed in Babel province.
A call was made to the provincial headquarters to inform them an American convoy was on its way, said the governor of Karbala, Akeel al-Khazaali. But the Americans stationed inside the building, which acts as a coordination center for Iraqi officials, Iraqi security forces and U.S. forces, had not been informed, Iraqi officials said.
As the U.S. soldiers and the Iraqis scrambled to figure out if the men were Americans or an illegally armed group, the convoy arrived and the gunmen tried to break in.
The gunmen launched grenades, mortars and small arms fire, according to a U.S. military statement. The U.S. military said Sunday it was still not clear if the gunmen were Sunni or Shiite militia. Abu Abdullah, a commander in Karbala of the Mahdi Army, the militia led by firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, on Sunday denied involvement in the attack.
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