Even as U.S. military officials and lawmakers argued over continued U.S. involvement in Iraq, another U.S. soldier was killed while conducting military operations in central Iraq. Separately, at least three Iraqis were killed and 14 more were wounded in other attacks. Also, the debate over granting region status to more provinces rages on.
U.S. defense officials today relayed to senators the extent of continued U.S. military involvement in Iraq after next month’s scheduled withdrawal. Counterterrorism experts will train Iraqi forces at 10 separate camps but will not venture out on operations with the Iraqis. At least 16,000 civilian and military contractors, attached to the embassy in Baghdad, will replace the U.S. troops, much to the chagrin of lawmakers who wanted President Barack Obama to maneuver an extended invitation for the U.S. military to stay.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reminded the senators that the president’s hands are tied in the matter so long as the Iraqi government insists that U.S. troops would have no immunity against Iraqi laws. He also gave his analysis of the Iraqi situation and pointed out three areas that will be of a particular challenge for Iraq. First is the continued violence by insurgent groups. Next are sectarian conflict between political groups and external defense. The last one concerns Iranian influence on Iraq.
Iraqiya MP Khalid al-Alwani expressed astonishment at Baghdad’s silence when it comes to southern provinces’ bids for region status. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been extremely resisted to recent attempts by Salah ad Din province to assert its right to transform into a semi-autonomous region much like Iraqi Kurdistan. Yesterday, Turkmen in the north expressed similar desires. The Interior Ministry today responded by saying they would create another battalion in Kirkuk to protect all ethnic groups, including Turkmen.
In Mosul, a bombing left a policeman dead and three civilians injured.
Gunmen wearing military uniforms killed a Sunni tribal leader at his home in Adhaim.
A doctor was shot dead at his Qayara clinic.
In Baghdad, a bomb planted in Nasser Square wounded three people when it exploded.
Near Baquba, gunmen shot and wounded a Sahwa member.
An exchange office operator was injured during an attack in Dujail. When he called for help, local civilians captured his attacker.
A roadside bomb in Habaniya wounded two policemen.
An I.E.D. targeted U.S. troops near Diwaniya but no casualties were reported.