BAGHDAD – Volleys of rockets struck the capital’s crowded Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Sadr City on Saturday, hitting a busy market, smashing into a home and killing at least seven Iraqis. Outside Baghdad, insurgents rocketed a U.S. military base, killing five soldiers.
Besides the deaths in the Sadr City rocket strikes, at least 26 Iraqis were reported killed in a bombing at Tikrit, clashes between Polish troops and Shiite militiamen in Karbala, U.S. raids overnight in Sadr City, and a roadside bombing south of Baghdad.
Five American solders were killed around dawn when two rockets fired from a truck hit the U.S. base at Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad, Air Force Lt. Col. Sam Hudspath said. U.S. helicopter gunships then destroyed the truck, the military said.
Six soldiers were wounded in the attack, three of them critically, the military said. …
U.S. commanders have blamed Sunni Muslim insurgents for military-style rocket attacks on U.S. bases in the past. But people in the neighborhood blamed the Americans for Saturday’s rocket barrages, which came after the overnight clash.
After the rocket strike, residents chanted: “Long live al-Sadr! America and the Governing Council are infidels!”
Here’s an insightful piece by Walid Phares on this mess in Iraq: “Al-Qaeda’s War on Iraq.” Phares asks who is waging the war on Iraq, and then offers an answer:
Tuesday’s deadly bombings in Basra provide us with the answer. In several mortar and car bomb explosions, directed against police stations and civilians, terrorist attacks killed more than 70 men, women and children and injured nearly 250. The slaughter was a vivid reminder of similar attacks in several cities around the world including Istanbul, Riyadh, Madrid, Bali and Moscow. Mass killing of civilians has all the al-Qaeda hallmarks. But the Basra massacre has even more to tell us.
In targeting police stations, the attacks were meant not only to kill security officers, but also to disrupt the present and future security of Iraq. The aim goes beyond the British troops deployed in this major Shiite city; the real targets are the Iraqis who must become the backbone of stability and normal civil society in Iraq. What the attackers want to achieve is the preemptive assassination of normality for a society in search of peace and progress.
In place of these security forces, which will be serving future democratically elected governments, the terrorists want to see fundamentalist militia at the service of some emir or other. Thus the forces of reaction desperately try to block the march toward the future. If the new Iraq rises, radical forces will be reduced to gangs, or at best, marginal radical factions, which could hope to get at best only a few seats in the representative assemblies. That future is what these killers are trying to forestall.
Al-Qaeda may be emboldened by its bloodshed around the world and particularly in Iraq, but the Iraqis are not the Spanish voters, totally blinded by their own media. The people of Iraq have lived under terror longer than al-Qaeda has been in existence. Ordinary Iraqis, who have no links to the Fallujah Fedayeen or supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, have deep instincts. They have been gassed in Halabja, tortured in Baghdad and piled up in mass graves. They understand the terror message; they know who their real enemy is. Yesterday morning in Basra, they saw the monster devouring the lives of their children. Unlike the Spanish voters, they will not submit to al-Qaeda, for one simple reason: They know that there is a war against their freedom, and that war on Iraq is al-Qaeda’s war.