Updated at 7:48 p.m. EDT, Sept. 15, 2010
In what may turn out to be the first controversial event of Operation New Dawn, Iraqi and U.S. troops conducted a joint raid that left nearly a dozen civilians dead or wounded. The raid is already stirring up criticism and will likely lead to a drawn-out investigation by the U.S. military. This is the second raid this week in which Americans participated alongside Iraqis despite the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops last month. Overall, at least 24 Iraqis were killed and 29 were wounded there and across Iraq. Two other attacks against U.S. targets left no casualties.
Early this morning a counterterrorism operation left at least eight people dead, possibly all civilians, and four more wounded in the Fallujah suburb of Jubail. Two Iraqi soldiers were killed as well, and two gunmen were arrested. Conflicting figures were given by various sources in Iraq, so the numbers may change later.
Witnesses saw U.S. soldiers and U.S. helicopters participating in the raid. While a U.S. spokesman did not verify if an al-Qaeda leader was captured or killed, he did admit that seven civilians had died; however, four of the bodies were confiscated by the troops, while the rest were released to the morgue.
The operation began around 1:30 a.m. local time when the troops set off explosives and came under fire. One soldier of an unreported nationality threw a grenade in a yard where a 70-year-old man and three of his young sons were sleeping outside to escape the summer heat. All four were killed. A small child, possibly at the same location, said the soldiers were yelling and cursing at the women and children in the home. His family spent several hours handcuffed as well. At this or another home, women and children were reported killed and wounded, among them an 85-year-old female. Then troops stormed a separate building where they killed a former Iraqi military commander. Altogether, at least five residences were beseiged and several civilian vehicles were destroyed.
Local police complained that the security forces did not coordinate with them. One anonymous official said they were notified of an impending raid, but given no details. An offer to have local police conduct the operation was turned down as well. Meanwhile, the municipal council called the raid "an act of provocation against the population of Fallujah and the city’s security forces" and set aside three days for mourning. A spokesman from the Anbar governor’s office also noted that the troops were directly under the authority of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The Shi’ite-led central government will likely come under further criticism from the heavy concentration of Sunnis in the area. The Fallujah region was once a hotbed of the Sunni insurgency, but the fighters later changed allegiances and give birth to the Awakening or Sahwa Movement, which is credited with reducing violence across Iraq. Despite working with the central government, these Sahwa fighters often went unpaid for weeks or months and remained suspicious of the central government. Many are now considering rejoining the insurgency. To make matters worse, Maliki and his State of Law party have refused to allow the non-sectarian but Sunni-supported Iraqiya Party to take the reins of the new government. In March elections, Iraqiya won the most parliamentary seats, but not enough to take outright control, and Iraq remains under a caretaker government. Many fear this paralyzing deadlock could also ignite a new round of sectarian warfare especially if Sahwa fighters return to the insurgency.
In Tal Afar, 10 Iraqi soldiers were killed and five more were wounded when a bomb blasted the minibus taking them home on leave. The driver was also wounded. Separately, police killed a suicide bomber before he could carry out an attack.
A bomb left at a home in Haswa, killed one person and wounded four others.
Gunmen killed an electrical company employee in Qayara.
In Baghdad, a blast in the Karrada district wounded four people. A bomb targeting an undersecretary in Waziriya left two bystanders with injuries. Gunmen wounded a civil servant in Qadisiyah. Eight people were wounded in two other bombings. B.O.C. liberated a kidnapped child and defused seven bombs.
In Mosul, a body was discovered.
A blast targeting a U.S. vehicle in Basra left no casualties.
A bomb destroyed a U.S. vehicle in Karbala, but there is no word of casualties yet.
Two suspects were arrested near Kirkuk.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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