Iraq: September 9, 2004

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: When reporting fighting in Iraq, its common for journalists to report only Iraqi deaths known to local hospitals, and question American military reports of higher enemy casualties. The reporters apparently are unaware that the gunmen will not take their dead to a hospital, and often not take their wounded either. This is because American troops make every effort to identify dead or wounded enemy, so as to obtain more information on what individuals, and families, are involved in anti-government activity. U.S. troops maintain databases of who they are fighting, the better to pick targets for raids or surveillance. 

American smart bomb attacks continue on Fallujah. The attempt, last Spring, to have former members of the Iraqi army provide security in Fallujah, failed. The Baath Party and al Qaeda gangs terrorized the Fallujah Brigade and firmly control the city of 300,000. But the anti-government forces have many enemies in Fallujah, and the U.S. is apparently getting lots of targeting information. Daily, the smart bombs blow apart houses used by the gangs for housing, headquarters or ammo dumps. The gangs have become very paranoid, believing there are spies everywhere. They are correct, but some of the most revealing spies are unreachable. Above Fallujah, U.S. warplanes and UAVs circle constantly, able to clearly view what is below, day or night. The telescopic bomb sights allow pilots to see what kind of weapon people are carrying, or whether women and children are in a crowd. The gangs have learned to never gather in large groups, at least not without plenty of women and children nearby for protection. But that doesnt always work, for the AC-130 gunships can kill a man without harming someone ten feet away. The gangs fear that the American troops are coming back to Fallujah, and they are right. The not-so-secret plan is to go back in before the end of the year, kill all gang members that can be found, and then turn the city over to Iraqi troops, composed mostly of Shia and Kurds. Fallujah has long been controlled by Saddam supporters, and the non-Sunni Iraqi occupation force is not expected to be afraid to use force against their long time tormenters.

American combat casualties passed 1,000 this week. The Department of Defense deliberately does not count Iraqi casualties, to avoid the body count syndrome. But its estimated (from information that can be obtained from individual troops and commanders as well as Iraqis), that some 30,000 Iraqis have been killed in the same period. Some 80-90 percent of the dead Iraqis were armed men. When fighting U.S. troops in places like Najaf, the ratio of Iraqi to American dead is closer to 50:1. The ambushes and roadside bombs are much safer for the Iraqis, which is why they prefer them. But the American convoys pack a lot of firepower, and know how to use it. The Iraqis take a beating in the ambushes as well. The Baath Party still have lots of money, and unemployed Iraqis are willing to take a chance planting a bomb or taking potshots at American troops for a few hundred dollars. Al Qaeda preaches holy war against foreigners, even though many al Qaeda in Iraq are not Iraqis. No matter, the Arab media heap praise on al Qaeda and dying with a gun in your hand has become fashionable for young Iraqis. American troops help these young Iraqis to achieve their dreams.

 

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