Updated at 7:45 p.m. EST, Dec. 3, 2008
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has made the accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq a high priority in the coming months. Violent attacks left at least 21 Iraqis killed and another 16 Iraqis wounded. A blast in the Green Zone left an unknown number of casualties as well, and a journalist was jailed for writing a story on homosexuality. Meanwhile, a U.S. defense contractor was in the news over allegations that employees knowingly let U.S. soldiers be exposed to toxic materials. They also apparently held foreign workers against their will in Baghdad. Also, Prime Minister Maliki will allow Awakening Councils to continue to exist in Iraq.
A group of National Guard soldiers sued KBR, Inc., claiming employees of the defense contractor knew they were exposing the soldiers to toxic chemicals. Also, a Kuwaiti subcontractor working with KBR, Inc. denied confining as many as 1,000 foreign workers while trying to find them jobs. The workers staged a mass demonstration and the company now says it will pay them and send them home.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected a request from the Presidential council, led by President Jalal Talabani, to disband the tribal councils that grew out of the Sunni Awakening (Sawha) movement. The movement is credited with reducing much of the violence in Iraq, but Talabani, who is a Kurd, believes that their existence in Kurdish areas only adds to the instability in those regions and accused Maliki of using them to tighten his grip on those areas. Oddly, the U.S. only handed over control of the Sahwas to Iraq about eight weeks ago, and many of the fighters believe the Shi’ite-led, central government is hostile to them.
Despite an uptick in deaths, Army Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin said that November saw the fewest number of attacks since the 2003 invasion.
Another mass grave found in Albu Toma area contained 13 bodies. In the last few days, several graves have been found there. The town was emptied of residents during the height of sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007 and was the scene of “al-Qaeda trials” and executions.
About 500 people gathered in Baquba to protest the death of an Awakening Council (Sahwa) leader. He had been in police custody since last week. The provincial council leader accused police of torturing the detainee, but police claim he died of kidney disease. Separately, two suspects were arrested.
In Baghdad, a bomb killed one person and wounded five others in the Amin neighborhood. Four people were wounded during a bombing in Fadhila. Three security personnel were injured during operations that netted 16 suspects. A blast in the Green Zone left an unknown number of casualties. U.S. forces killed a Katai’b Hezbollah member and arrested two others in separate incidents. Also, a body was found in Bayaa.
Gunmen killed a Sahwa leader and three of his cousins in Jalawla.
A girl was wounded when a sticky bomb exploded outside her Tal Afar home.
In Mosul, police defused a sticky bomb attached to a patrol vehicle. No casualties were reported during a mortar attack on a police station. Nine suspects were arrested across the city. Also, hope for a less violent Mosul now rests with the upcoming provincial election.
A large cache of ammunition was found in Kirkuk.
Three suspects were detained during raids in Hawija.
Police arrested nine suspects near Nasariya in the al-Sdinawiya area.
Two suspects were arrested in Muqdadiya.
In Basra, 13 suspects were arrested.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis