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Nov 12th, 2008


BREAKING NEWS UPDATES

3 Days of blasts shatter Baghdad calm (AP, Nov. 12, 2008) – A series of blasts struck Baghdad for the third consecutive day, killing nine people and wounding more than 30 others Wednesday, police said. … In the face of heightened violence in Baghdad, the Iraqi military said it was taking measures to curb “the increasing number of terrorist attacks” in the city.

Conflict in Iraq video

Filkins: Iraq peace is ‘fragile’ (MSNBC, Nov. 12, 2008) – New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins, author of “The Forever War,” discusses changes for the better in Iraq on Morning Joe, but warns that security gains may not hold. (07:43)

Iraqi soldier kills 2 GIs; blasts again hit Baghdad (AP, Reuters, Nov. 12, 2008) – An Iraqi soldier shot dead at least two U.S. troops Wednesday at a joint security station where Iraqi and American forces operate side by side in volatile Nineveh province, Iraqi police and a mortuary official said. The shooting, which took place in northern Iraq, came after a series of bombings shook the capital Baghdad for the third straight day, killing 16 people and wounding dozens, police said. The attacks were part of an upswing of violence in the capital this month that has set back recent security gains.

Bomb rocks Afghan government office; 6 killed 42 wounded (AP, Nov. 12, 2008) – A car bomb explosion ripped through an Afghan government office during a provincial council meeting Wednesday in this former Taliban stronghold, killing at least six people and wounding 42, officials said.

U.S. aid official killed in Pakistan (Reuters, Nov. 12, 2008) – Gunmen shot dead a U.S. aid official along with his driver as he left his home in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar Wednesday, police said.

Iran test-fires new missile (AP, Reuters, Nov. 12, 2008) – Iran has test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface missiles, the country’s defense minister said Wednesday.

North Korea to halt border crossings (AP, Nov. 12, 2008) – North Korea ratcheted up its threats to sever ties with South Korea by announcing Wednesday that it will halt cross-border traffic next month over what it calls Seoul’s confrontational stance against Pyongyang.

Gunmen kill two Christian sisters in Iraq’s Mosul (Reuters, Nov. 12, 2008) – Gunmen killed two Christian sisters and wounded their mother on Wednesday in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which has seen thousands of Christians flee their homes because of violence in recent weeks, police said.

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FEATURED STORY

Battle for Iraq’s 3rd City Hangs in the Balance

Image: Mosul battle
U.S. Army soldiers investigate the site of a car bombing in Mosul, northwest of Baghdad, Iraq on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008. Five years after the U.S.-led invasion and following a significant drop in violence countrywide over the past year, the battle for Iraq’s third-largest city continues. (Photo credit: Maya Alleruzzo / AP)


Nov. 11, 2008

MOSUL, Iraq – It’s not a pretty sight: Sagging skeletons of two- and three-story buildings under a threatening gray sky. Abandoned shops with corrugated iron fronts riddled by bullet holes. And amid the garbage heaps and pools of fetid rainwater, a roadside bomb set to explode. …

Lt. Col. Robert Molinari, executive officer of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, says Mosul “looks like Baghdad about 18 months ago” at the height of violence in the Iraqi capital. …

‘Mother of Two Springs’

In the city’s version of the Baghdad surge, 22,000 U.S. forces and Iraqi troops and police have spread out in an operation called “Mother of Two Springs” – taken from an Arab nickname for Mosul – that began in May and went into a new phase Oct. 15.

Armored vehicles snake through mile-long lines of traffic, backed up behind checkpoints. Soldiers man sandbagged positions atop houses and mosques. Iraqi and U.S. troops stage patrols around the clock from some 40 makeshift bases in the city of 1.8 million people.

U.S. and Iraqi commanders cite some progress after months of struggling to root out insurgents in street-by-street battles. Attacks, they say, are down to fewer than 70 a week, compared to about 130 before May.

Insurgents have had to switch from well-coordinated attacks to hit-and-run strikes and hurried planting of roadside bombs. Some city quarters are relatively safe, with commerce reviving and shops staying open after dark. …

But nobody is yet declaring victory, and Molinari says the current military push “just treats the symptoms, not the problems” of ethnic politics and a wrecked economy.

On the security front alone, Mosul is a complex nut to crack. Not just al-Qaida, but more than a dozen Sunni Muslim and other insurgent groups are on the loose, together with criminal syndicates and rival tribes. …

‘Enemy territory’

Since the 2003 invasion, the pendulum here has swung several times between stark violence and fragile security, and this year is no different. Last November, when the American regiment arrived, the city’s western half was “entirely enemy territory,” with other areas not much better, says Maj. John Oliver, operations officer of the regiment’s 3rd Squadron.

U.S. and Iraqi forces then froze all commerce, secured the main arteries and fought their way into insurgent strongholds. A dramatic drop in attacks followed. But after midsummer, the violence began to pick up.

“Security was good, but reconstruction and political reconciliation did not happen, the money didn’t come from Baghdad,” says Oliver, of Fontana, Calif.

“After two and a half months of people holding their breath and waiting, they said, ‘I’ve got to feed my family, so I’m going to take the money and start planting IEDs (roadside bombs) again.’” …

Iraqi commanders differ about how long it will take to pacify Mosul. Some say months, others years – depending on several variables. U.S. troops could be pulled out of Iraq’s cities by June 30 [2009] under a Status of Forces Agreement being negotiated by Washington and Baghdad. …

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Related report on this site

Much of Mosul Reduced to Rubble (Oct. 27, 2008)

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Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Nov. 11, 2008, as reported by Reuters.

BAGHDAD – Two roadside bombs killed at least three people and wounded 17 in Palestine street in northeastern Baghdad on Tuesday, police said.

BAGHDAD – Several mortar bombs killed one person and wounded five others near a police station in the Shaab district of northern Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – A parked car bomb wounded 17 people in central Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb wounded six people in Tahrir square in central Baghdad, police said.

——

PAKISTAN/AFGHANISTAN

Pakistan: Militants Hijack U.S. Supply Convoy

Image: Hijacked armored car.
Local Pakistanis stand near an armored car reportedly hijacked by militants in the Khyber tribal region of Landikotel, 34 miles northwest of Peshawar, Pakistan, on Monday, Nov. 10, 2008. (Photo credit: Stringer / AP)


Nov. 11, 2008

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Suspected Taliban fighters hijacked trucks carrying Humvees and other supplies for U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, authorities said Tuesday after a brazen attack near the Khyber Pass that underscored the militants’ grip across key mountain strongholds.

The assault highlighted the vulnerability of a vital supply route for the 65,000 U.S. and NATO forces battling a resurgent Taliban in landlocked Afghanistan. A significant amount of supplies for the Western forces go through Pakistan.

Attacks on convoys carrying food, fuel and other supplies are common on the road. But Monday’s raid was especially large and well-organized. It also could further strain U.S.-Pakistani relations over rooting out Taliban and al-Qaida militants along the border, which remain entrenched despite military offensives and U.S. missile strikes.

Some 60 masked militants blocked the route at several points before overpowering the convoy, said Fazal Mahmood, a government official in Khyber tribal region. He identified the attackers as members of Pakistan’s Taliban movement.

Security forces traded fire with the gunmen, but were forced to retreat, he said. The militants took about 13 trucks along with the drivers, who were believed to be Pakistani. …

Later Monday, a separate group of insurgents halted a truck carrying what appeared to be a NATO jeep, setting the military vehicle on fire, Mahmood said. …

Security forces, backed by helicopter gunships, hunted for the missing trucks and drivers. The military said late Tuesday it had recovered some of the stolen materials but would not specify what. …

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10 Responses to “Iraq War Drags On in Mosul”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Much of Mosul Reduced to Rubble Says:

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