More Last Throes: "Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Qaim."
Well, it’s a good thing Vice President Dick Cheney is back from vacation. I'm sure there will be a Fox News interview with him shortly so he can explain how this is further evidence of "The insurgency is in its last throes."
Insurgents Assert Control Over Town Near Syrian Border appears in this morning's Washington Post.
Fighters loyal to militant leader Abu Musab Zarqawi asserted control over the key Iraqi border town of Qaim on Monday, killing U.S. collaborators and enforcing strict Islamic law, according to tribal members, officials, residents and others in the town and nearby villages.Ah, yes! This is definitely a sign of "last throes". Will Bush now join in and tell us once again, “The more they attack us, the more it means we're winning in Iraq.”
Residents said the foreign-led fighters controlled by Zarqawi, a Jordanian, apparently had been exerting authority in the town, within two miles of the Syrian border, since at least the start of the weekend. A sign posted at an entrance to the town declared, "Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Qaim."
Insurgents have occasionally made similar shows of force, such as the takeover of a Baghdad neighborhood for a few hours late last month by dozens of gunmen. They then slipped away, having made the point that they can muster men as well as plant bombs. The weekend takeover of Qaim extended already heavy insurgent pressure on the people there and came after the U.S. military said it had inflicted heavy bombing losses on foreign-led fighters.Do they appear desparate, Mr. President? Mr. Vice President?
Capt. Jeffrey Pool, a Marine spokesman in Ramadi, capital of the western province that includes Qaim, said he had no word of unusual activity in Qaim. Marines are stationed just outside the town, and no Iraqi government forces are posted inside, Pool said.Do we have enough men on the ground?
Witnesses in Qaim said Zarqawi's fighters were killing officials and civilians whom they consider to be allied with the Iraqi and U.S. governments or anti-Islamic. On Sunday, the bullet-riddled body of a young woman dressed in her nightclothes lay in a street of Qaim. A sign left on her corpse declared, "A prostitute who was punished."
Zarqawi's fighters have shot and killed nine men in public executions in the city center since the start of the weekend, accusing the men of being collaborators with U.S. forces, said Sheik Nawaf Mahallawi, a leader of the Albu Mahal, a Sunni Arab tribe that had clashed earlier with the foreign fighters.How is the training of the Iraqi military coming? Are they being trained faster than they are being killed?
Fighters loyal to Zarqawi openly patrolled the streets of Qaim with AK-47 assault rifles and grenade launchers. The fighters included both Iraqis and foreigners, including Afghans. They draped rooftops with Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq banner of a yellow sun against a black background.How are our forces doing in controlling the towns that were reported to have been cleared of insurgents?
Residents said insurgents in recent weeks had begun enforcing strict Islamic law, burning shops that sold CDs and a beauty parlor, and lashing men accused of drinking alcohol. They said Zarqawi's fighters were killing government workers but had spared doctors and teachers.
Early Monday morning, six members of an elite U.S. special operations unit were wounded in what was to have been a raid on the home of a suspected insurgent leader, according to U.S. commanders. Members of the unit, which is charged with searching for high-level insurgents, and the Army in Tall Afar would not provide details.Well, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, with all your hard work making progress in Iraq, you must need another vacation.
A roadside bomb killed one soldier in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tall Afar on Monday, and two British troops were reported killed by another roadside bomb in southern Iraq.
In Baghdad, insurgents launched a dawn attack on the Interior Ministry, killing two police officers, officials said. Other political violence Monday in Baghdad killed at least 13 civilians, the Associated Press reported.
A roadside bomb and other attacks killed four oil workers associated with a northern oil company in Kirkuk. Insurgents have mounted frequent attacks to disrupt Iraq's oil exports.
Mortar fire hit a residential neighborhood in the central city of Baqubah, killing six civilians, said Ahmed Fouad, a hospital physician. Eight other civilians were killed by a car bomb in the western town of Hit, the AP said.