Today the US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq – Two Multi-National Division – North Soldiers were killed and three wounded during a small arms fire attack at a combat outpost south of Mosul early this evening. According to initial reports, an individual dressed in an Iraqi Army uniform fired on the Coalition forces and was killed in the incident. The incident is currently under investigation. The names of the deceased and wounded are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." The announcement brings to 4284 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. May just started and already there are death announcements from the US military. There are also Iraqi deaths. Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which left one person injured, a Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed 3 lives and left two people injured, and Iran bombed Arbil and Sulaimaniyah. Reuters notes 1 person killed in a clash at a "Sunni Arab militia checkpoint in Yusufiya".
Meanwhile, as Marcia noted, Moqtada al-Sadr visited Turkey. Today's Zaman reports:
Diplomatic sources said Sadr came to Ankara as part of Turkey's policy of maintaining contact with all groups in Iraq. The United States views the Shiite leader's visit positively, said the sources.
Al-Sadr's talks in Ankara focused on the "political process" as Iraq heads towards general elections in December 2009. The request for the visit came from al-Sadr, according to sources. The Shiite leader is also due to head a meeting of his supporters in İstanbul before he leaves Turkey.
While Moqtada makes some form of move, Nouri al-Maliki's refusal to work with Sunnis has blowback. Ali Rifat, Hala Jaber and Sarah Baxter (Times of London) report:
IRAQ is threatened by a new wave of sectarian violence as members of the “Sons of Iraq” – the Sunni Awakening militias that were paid by the US to fight Al-Qaeda – begin to rejoin the insurgency.
[. . .]
A leading member of the Political Council of Iraqi Resistance, which represents six Sunni militant groups, said: “The resistance has now returned to the field and is intensifying its attacks against the enemy. The number of coalition forces killed is on the rise.”
The increase in attacks by such groups, combined with a spate of bombings blamed on Al-Qaeda, has had a chilling effect on the streets of Iraq. More than 370 Iraqi civilians and military – and 80 Iranian pilgrims – lost their lives in April, making it the bloodiest month since last September. On Wednesday, five car bombs exploded in a crowded market in Sadr City, Baghdad, killing 51 people and injuring 76. Three US soldiers were killed on Thursday and two more yesterday when a gunman in Iraqi army uniform opened fire near Mosul.
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