It is with profound sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of one serviceman from 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force and two servicemen from 1 Squadron RAF Regiment on Thursday 19th July 2007.
They were killed in an indirect fire attack on the Contingency Operating Base in Basra, Iraq.
The above is from the United Kingdom's Military of Defence's "Three RAF personnel killed in Basra." ICCC puts the total number of British troops killed in the illegal war at 162. Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) notes:
The U.K. is the second-largest contingent of the American-led coalition in Iraq. More than 30 U.K. service members have died in Iraq so far this year, compared with 29 deaths in all of 2006.
Earlier, the MoD announced that the number of British troops in Iraq will be cut to 5,000 by the end of 2007.
Troop numbers were cut from 7,100 to the current 5,500 earlier this year.
Of the 162 dead, ITV News reports:
Of those, 126 died in action. The rest of the deaths were accidents or linked to natural causes, illness, remain unexplained, or are still under investigation.
[. . .]
The deaths follow two military fatalities on July 7 when Lance Corporal Ryan Francis, 23, of 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, and Corporal Christopher Read, 22, of 158 Provost Company, 3rd Regiment Royal Military Police were killed.
Lnc Cpl Francis from Llanelli, south Wales was killed by an improvised explosive devise in north Basra during a large-scale operation to arrest individuals suspected of attacks.
Cpl Read, originally from Poole in Dorset, was fatally injured by small arms fire while on his way back from the same operation.
From yesterday's snapshot:
Meanwhile, the ICCC total for British troops is 159 and Sean Rayment (Telegraph of London) reports, "British troops serving in Iraq are being killed at a proportionally greater rate then their American allies for the first time since the start of the war. The stark finding marks a 'watershed' for British involvement in the conflict, it is claimed, and had led to calls for the Government to set an immediate timetable for withdrawal from the war-torn country. Prof Sheila Bird, the vice-president of the Royal Stastistical Society, analysed British and American fatalities from May 2006 to June 2007, and found the death rate of British troops has now surpassed that of Americans, following a sustained upsurge of violence in the southern city of Basra."
Again, 3 have been announced dead in Basra, the total has risen to 162.
In the New York Times this morning, Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Abdul Razzaq al-Saiedi's "Sunni Legislators Return to Work in Iraq After Reaching Deal on Speaker" addresses several issues (17 corpses discovered in Baghdad) but mainly, like Megan Greenwell's "Sunni Group to End Five-Week Boycott Of Iraqi Parliament" (Washington Post, noted by Martha), they are covering the Iraqi Parliament. From Monday's snapshot:
Meanwhile Iraq's Parliament is on hold. Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was forced out as Speaker and this remains an issue. CBS and AP report that al-Mashhadani's party, Iraqi Accordance Party is boycotting which may end if al-Mashhadani is returned to his post long enough to retire while al-Sadr's bloc was deciding whether or not to end their boycott until the mosque in Samarra (damaged in Feb. 2006 as well as a few months back) was repaired.
In the end, none of the above mattered. Parliament did not meet. "Very bizarrely," Jaime Tarabay (NPR) explained today, "they decided to cancel the session because there was no electricity in the assembly building" -- no lights, no air conditioning.
al-Mashhadani is now back in and apparently per the conditions cited. The Post notes a voice disputing that it's a temporary return:
Jubouri, the Accordance Front spokesman, disputed Khuzai's account, saying that the other political blocs had agreed to reinstate Mashhadani permanently.
"He's back as head of the parliament, and nobody put any kind of conditions on that," Jubouri said. Parliament voted to remove Mashhadani in June after one of his bodyguards was accused of roughing up another lawmaker.
The Times notes another Sunni bloc that that remains missing:
Still, six cabinet ministers from the main Sunni political bloc, the Iraqi Consensus Front, continue to boycott meetings to protest the handling of accusations that one of the six, Culture Minister Asad al-Hashimi, masterminded the attempted assassination of another politician. Six other ministers from Mr. Sadr’s bloc have also left the cabinet.
Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) mentions the apparent unmentionable in "Main Sunni bloc ends parliament boycott:"
The oil law is particularly controversial, with some critics claiming it is unnecessarily generous to multinational companies and others claiming that it devolves too much power away from the central government to northern Iraq’s Kurdistan regional government.
The desire to push through the theft of Iraqi oil is so great (al-Maliki knows that's what the US administration is waiting on) that any significant bloc in the parliament can write their own check -- have a member re-instated, have charges dropped, you name it -- just by the threat of boycotting at a time when the puppet needs to show results before he's pulled from the power seat he was installed in.
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