Sunday, January 6, 2008

Iraqi Soldier Turns His Weapon on American Soldiers, Killing Two and Wounding Three

On Saturday, the military announced that on December 26, Capt. Rowdy Inman and Sgt. Benjamin Portell, soldiers assigned to the Third Squadron of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Hood, Texas, died during a joint American-ISF combat operation in Mosul in northern Iraq. When the deaths were announced earlier it was said merely that the two died of small arms fire. That was true - but not the whole story.

A senior Iraqi military officer said that insurgent gunmen hiding in a vehicle and a building opened fire on the patrol, and during the firefight , one of the Iraqi soldiers turned his weapon on the Americans he was ostensibly supposed to be fighting with. It was almost certainly calculated that he killed the Sergeant and the Captain, and wounded three others.

He did not target other ISF personnel, but singled out Americans. The Iraqi soldier who murdered the two Americans attempted to flee, but was apprehended. Another soldier was detained as well, indicating that the gunman is suspected to have had at least one accomplice.

Iraqi Brigadier General Mutaa Habib al-Khazraji, who commands the Iraqi Army 2nd Division said that the gunman was an infiltrator who had ties to the insurgency.

The American military has thus far refused to cite a motive for the shooting, but would confirm that two Iraqi soldiers were in custody and that possible insurgent links were being examined. U.S. Army spokesman Major Gary Dangerfield did say that based on evidence thus far collected, and witness statements from American and Iraqi soldiers “we feel pretty confident that we have the right guy.”

Dangerfield also reported that B.G. al Khazraji had ordered an immediate stand down of theSecond Army Division under his command, and said that he would cooperate fully with the investigation. “We will not let this tragic, isolated incident hinder our partnership with the Iraqi Security Forces and keep us from establishing security in our area of operation,” he said.

The incident is sure to renew the pervasive questions about the loyalty of the Iraqi forces who are bing armed and trained by Americans to take over the security of the country as American forces withdraw.

From the New York Times:

...The Iraqi Army remains dominated by Shiites and Kurds, many of whom are suspicious of the allegiances of Sunni Arab soldiers. Many Sunnis, in turn, fear that the Kurds and Shiites are faithful only to their factions and are habitually hostile to Sunni Arabs.

...The American military did not disclose the circumstances of the shootings until Saturday afternoon, shortly after Reuters reported that Iraqi commanders had said that the American troops had been deliberately shot by an Iraqi soldier.

...The shooting was deliberate,” another Iraqi Army commander in Mosul, Brig. Gen. Noor al-Din Hussein, told Reuters. “It was not an accident.”

...He said the Iraqi soldier had been in the army for a year and was an Arab from the Jubouri tribe, which in Mosul is mostly Sunni. “There is some penetration” by insurgents, he said, “and we want to purify the Iraqi Army.”

News outlets have been quick to point to reductions in violence in Baghdad and western Iraq, but other parts of the country, specifically the north, remain gripped by violence and under the sway of insurgents fighting the American occupation.

Diyala Province, the most troubled region in the country has been rocked by a series of bomb blasts. In the provincial capital of Baquba, a bomb blast wounded three civilians, and north of Muqdadiya, an insurgent-planted bomb exploded and killed six and wounded four. A suicide bomber in Baquba killed four and sounded 23, and A truck driver was killed by gunmen in northeast Diyala. An American soldier died when an IED exploded under his vehicle.

Baghdad experienced the deadliest suicide bombing since September when, on New years Day a suicide bomber attacked a funeral for the victim of a previous suicide bombing, killing 34 and wounding 38.

As the unsustainable shell-game known as the Surge™ winds down, and American forces necessarily withdraw from Iraq, incidents such as this are likely to take place with greater frequency. Barrels of ink and trillions of pixels have been devoted to the infiltration of both the Iraqi Military and the Iraqi police by insurgents and all the things that can go wrong when you make a deal with the devil.

This would be a good time to start paying attention and taking notes, in case you haven't been. Petraeus comes back to Congress to peddle his special line of bullshit in March.

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