There is not much left in Baghdad that all its residents, Sunnis and Shiites, laborers and professors, consider their own. But the Sarafiya bridge, flung across the Tigris, tied the city together, literally and metaphorically.
When the bridge was destroyed early Thursday morning by a truck bomb that collapsed a large section into the river, Baghdad mourned. People who had crossed the bridge every day to go to their jobs on the opposite side gathered on the riverbanks and stood weeping as if they had lost someone they loved.
More people have died in many other bombings, but the destruction of the bridge struck at the city’s soul, at its lingering romance with an all but vanished image of Baghdad as a Paris of the Middle East.
The above is from Alissa J. Rubin's "Latest Casualty Is Symbol of City’s Heyday and Unity" in this morning's New York Times. Though there has been some speculation about the parliament bombing (who benefits, who was attacked), I haven't heard much of the bridge bombing which is surprising when you consider that it connects the city and the US plan is now to divide Baghdad up into 'gated' communities. The only thing I've heard from anyone serving in Iraq was wondering if the resistance was thinking 'long term strategy' and this was part of an effort to better coordinate attacks? (Take out the bridge, where things moved a little quicker, and, due to check points and traffic, other areas are congested and those waiting are "sitting ducks".)
Martha notes Joshua Partlow and Sylvia Moreno's "'This Is Tough News': Soldiers and Their Families Brace for Extended Tours" (Washington Post):
They found out by reading exasperated e-mails from their spouses, hearing somber announcements from their platoon commanders, seeing snippets of the secretary of defense at a televised news conference: The American soldiers who thought they were staying in Iraq one year would now stay 15 months. All of them.
From Texas to Baghdad and Baqubah to the Beltway, the reaction Thursday among U.S. soldiers and their families to the news of the mass extension was akin to a collective groan.
"It flat-out sucks, that's the only way I can think to describe it," said Pvt. Jeremy Perkins, 25, who works in an engineering battalion that clears roadside bombs in the embattled city of Baqubah, about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. "I found this out today from my squad leader. I still haven't told my wife yet. I'm just trying to figure out exactly how I'm going to break it to her that 'Honey, uh, yeah, might be home before our next anniversary. Sorry I missed the last one.' "
For Perkins, as for many other soldiers in Iraq and their loved ones back home, the dismay derived not so much from surprise -- rumors of such a possibility had been circulating for weeks -- nor even from extra time in war zones. The worst was the prospect of the continued strain of missing friends and relatives.
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the new york times
alissa j. rubin
the washington post