An old man sat wailing in a plastic chair Sunday in the middle of a busy market street here, a pool of blood at his feet. It was all that was left of his grandson Ammar.
"He lay on the ground right here," said Haji Kareem of Ammar, 15, who was killed in a car bombing Sunday afternoon along with nine other people, including several women and youths. About 25 people were injured in the attack in front of Kareem's small kebab restaurant in the central Baghdad neighborhood of Karada. Kareem said his other grandson, Khudhayir, 14, lost his hand in the attack, and his wife was also injured.
"Ammar, Khudhayir," he cried, "may my eyes go blind."
Kareem, a heavyset man with a white beard, searched the pocket of his beige dishdasha robe, bloodstains on its hem, for his heart medicine. It was missing. Unwilling to quit his vigil, he had a relative fetch the bottle from his home above the restaurant.
As the old man waited, young men approached and embraced him. He welcomed them. When they cried, so did he.
The above is from Molly Hennessy-Fiske's "An Iraqi mourns his grandson" (Los Angeles Times) and it's just one of thousands (at least thousands) of stories in Iraq that can be told on any given day. The fact that we see so little of that type of coverage doesn't mean it the feelings, the loss, doesn't exist. Meanwhile puppet of the occupation declared this weekend that US forces leaving Iraq was no big deal. Thomas Frank (USA Today) reports on the pushback regarding Nouri al-Maliki's remarks in the United States as everyone rushes to say (everyone in the administration and Republican senators) that, basically, "That is what he said, but what he really meant was . . ." On al-Maliki's remarks, Skip notes "Iraq tells US 'leave any time'" (Australia's Herald Sun):
IRAQ Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has shrugged off US doubts of Iraq's military and political progress, saying its forces are capable and American troops can leave "any time they want".
And one of his top aides accused the US of embarrassing the Government by violating human rights and treating his country like an experiment in a US lab.
Dropping back to yesterday, we'll note Tony Perry's "Marine says beatings urged in Iraq" (Los Angeles Times) on the training of US forces in Iraq (additional training) and the results:
A Marine corporal, testifying Saturday at the murder trial of a buddy, said that Marines in his unit began routinely beating Iraqis after being ordered by officers to "crank up the violence level."
Cpl. Saul H. Lopezromo said Marines in his platoon, including the defendant, Cpl. Trent D. Thomas, were angry when officers criticized them as not being as tough as other Marine platoons.
"We're all hard-chargers, we're not there to mess around, so we took it as an insult," Lopezromo said.
Within weeks of allegedly being scolded, seven Marines and a Navy corpsman went out late one night to find and kill a suspected insurgent in the village of Hamandiya near the Abu Ghraib prison. The Marines and corpsman were from 2nd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment.
Lopezromo said their target was known to his neighbors as the "prince of jihad" and had been arrested several times, only to be released by the Iraqi legal system.
Unable to find their target, the Marines and corpsman dragged another man from his house, fatally shot him, and then planted an AK-47 assault rifle near the body to make it look like he had been killed in a shootout, according to court testimony.
AP reports an F-16 crashed yesterday in Baghdad (says the pilot was unharmed). And in other Air Force news, AP reports:
The airplane is the size of a jet fighter, powered by a turboprop engine, able to fly at 300 mph and reach 50,000 feet. It's outfitted with infrared, laser and radar targeting, and with a ton and a half of guided bombs and missiles.
The Reaper is loaded, but there's no one on board. Its pilot, as it bombs targets in Iraq, will sit at a video console 7,000 miles away in Nevada.
The arrival of these outsized U.S. "hunter-killer" drones, in aviation history's first robot attack squadron, will be a watershed moment even in an Iraq that has seen too many innovative ways to hunt and kill.
And the US military announces that two schools in Baghdad have been destroyed in two days.
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