Iraq: February 7, 2004


A typical day (February 2nd) of military operations in Iraq saw coalition troops conducting 1,625 patrols, 12 offensive operations and 15 raids. These operations resulted in the arrest of 42 suspects. In the past week, the daily average of attacks on coalition forces was 23, plus four attacks on Iraqi police and two attacks against Iraqi civilians. Not counted, because not all are reported, were threats made to Iraqis who worked for the coalition or the Iraqi Provisional Authority. These threats probably number over a hundred each day. So far, several a week are followed up with assassinations. In addition, there are non-fatal attacks on victims or their property. Some Iraqis have quit their jobs as a result of this violence. Some of the attackers have been caught. While most of these thugs are Sunni Arabs trying to prevent a new government from forming, other attackers have been foreigners. These are Islamic radicals (killing Iraqi leaders who oppose an Islamic republic) or Arab nationalists (killing prominent Iraqis for supporting the overthrow of an Arab leader; Saddam Hussein.)

Another type of operation not counted are the quick reaction forces that stand by to assist convoys or camps that are attacked. There are also dozens of sniper teams that maintain stake outs in areas hostile Iraqis have been operating in. There is also an ongoing battle between Iraqis mortar teams and American radar teams (that spot the incoming shells and calculate where they were fired from) and reaction forces that try to catch the mortar teams. The mortars are usually fired from residential areas at night, meaning that the troops can't just use their own mortars to fire back. So reaction forces are on alert to rush to areas where mortars were fired. Sometimes, firing locations that have been used more than once are discretely staked out by troops, or reaction forces are made ready to quickly man blocking positions. Mortar teams have been caught, but it's hard work.

Yesterday's report of an assassination attempt on Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani turned out to be false. 


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