Tuesday, September 20, 2005
The official said two unknown gunmen in full Arabic dress began firing on civilians in central Basra, wounding several, including a traffic police officer. There were no fatalities, the official said.
Ok, standard terrorsit sort of stuff. Assholes. The next paragraph is a stunner:
The two gunmen fled the scene but were captured and taken in for questioning, admitting they were British marines carrying out a "special security task," the official said.
British troops launched the rescue about three hours after Iraqi authorities informed British commanders the men were being held at the police department's major crime unit, the official said.
Now the BBC says these two troops were working undercover, but the police "gave" them to Shia militia and that was unacceptable.
Aren't we "friends" of the Shia? When did the Shia, who have been holding back a full-scale civil war through a great deal of self control, become an enemy that posed such a threat to coalition forces?
Was this black Ops? What would coalition forces gain by running missions like this? How about the Iraqi leader who is essentially saying these two guys are terrorists? I think the military will bring much to bear on this journalist to find out who that source was -- they will either need to "shut him up" or make him retract the inflamatory comments. Though, it would probably be no good either way because as the BBC reports, damage has been done.
The BBC's Paul Wood said none of Basra's 20,000 police officers had helped the UK troops "partly because of reticence by their commanders, partly because, I am afraid, they have been infiltrated by these militants".
He added: "Now we are in the situation where presumably revenge will be sought by relatives of the dead Iraqis - and our allies in the police, I think there has been a complete breakdown of trust and it's going to be very difficult for British troops to call on them."
Mr Reid said: "We remain committed to helping the Iraqi government for as long as they judge that a coalition presence is necessary to provide security."
But Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell said: "It is hard to see how relations between the British military and the civilian Iraqi authorities in Basra will ever be the same again.
"This is bound to be seen as a humiliation by many Iraqis - something the insurgents will use to their advantage."
Conservative shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram called on ministers to explain who would decide when to leave Iraq and on what basis.
And in other news that barely gets a line:
On Tuesday a suicide car bombing in the northern city of Mosul killed a US diplomatic security guard and three US private contractors, according to American officials.
The US military also announced that four of its soldiers attached to the Marines were killed in two roadside bombings in the western city of Ramadi on Monday.
Bring them on indeed.
UPDATE: 12:30 -- looks like Cole has a timeline and some possible answers to the questions I posted above.