The U.S. military fired guided missiles into the heart of Baghdad's teeming Sadr City slum on Saturday, leveling a building 55 yards away from a hospital and wounding nearly two dozen people.
AP Television News footage showed several ambulances destroyed and on fire, thick black smoke rising from them as firefighters worked to put out the flames.
The strike, made from a ground launcher, took out a militant "command-control center," the U.S. military said. The center was located in the heart of the eight-square-mile neighborhood that is home to about 2.5 million people. Iraqi officials said at least 23 people were wounded, though none of them were patients in the hospital.
The U.S. military blamed the militants for using Iraqi civilians as human shields.
"This is a circumstance where these criminal groups are operating directly out of civilian neighborhoods," military spokeswoman Spc. Megan Burmeister told The Associated Press in an e-mail.
Stop--before we get to the good stuff.
"Specialist" Burmeister is now speaking for the US military in Iraq? What the fuck? Are all of the public affairs officers on leave? Whatever happened to that mouthy Colonel who worked for Petraeus? Colonel Who Gives A Shit? [The name is Boylan, but since he obsessively reads progressive blogs for any citation of his name now that he's pretty much gone from somebody to nobody in the space it takes for someone with more rank to blow their stack, all I can say is--who gives a fuck?] They're sending an E-4 straight out of DINFOS to brief the media on what's going on? Kudos to you, Specialist. You're probably a damned sight better than the officers who have probably been taking your work and have been taking credit for it.
Shiite extremists are known to have operated in a building next to the hospital, local reporters said.
U.S. and Iraqi forces have waged street battles with Shiite militias since late March in Sadr City, the power base of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia.
The fighting is part of a 5-week-old crackdown by the Iraqi government and U.S. forces on Shiite militia factions. The clashes have brought deep rifts among Iraq's Shiite majority and have pulled U.S. troops into difficult urban combat.
Militia members have been blamed for firing hundreds of rockets or mortars from Sadr City into the Green Zone, the U.S.-protected area housing the American embassy and much of the Iraqi government. In the past month, more than a dozen people - including two American civilians and soldiers - have been killed inside the zone during the attacks.
I'm trying to figure out what they mean by "command and control." Typically, that's not the big room you see in Dr. Strangelove, nor is it the special bunker with the insurgents standing around a big sand table as a dude pushes miniature car bombs and US Army vehicles around with a pool cue. It has to be the kind of place where they used their cellular telephones--always the best bet for uncovering any kind of "command and control."
I don't think the intention was to just shoot up a building where someone was traced by the signal emitted from their phone. I think the intention is to kill Sadr, and we'll be seeing that story soon. I don't think they are hiding it anymore--they want to kill him and keep him from gaining power in the next round of elections. Even if he is a martyr, he's a dead martyr who can't oppose al-Maliki anymore.
UPDATE I - PALE RIDER
Two guys you don't hear anything from anymore--General Lute and Colonel Steve Boylan.
Must have run out of imposters...