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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Iraq War News
Iraqi official says 1,000 insurgents killed in Fallujah in Katu.com: Iraq & Terror

Insurgents captured in Fallujah...Bush sees 'progress' in Katu.com: Iraq & Terror

Aid 'enters embattled Iraqi city': "Iraqi Red Crescent officials say a convoy of emergency supplies has entered the war-torn city of Falluja."

In BBC: Conflict with Iraq

Eyewitness: Ghost city calls for help: "An Iraqi reporter in Falluja describes the desperation and despair of its remaining inhabitants, hanging on for help as US forces battle insurgents."

In BBC: Conflict with Iraq

U.S. Troops Attack Holdouts in Fallujah: "Backed by tanks and artillery fire, U.S. troops launched a major attack Saturday against insurgent holdouts in southern Fallujah, hoping to finish off resistance in what had been the major guerrilla bastion of central Iraq. (AP)"

In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq

Iraq say 'mission accomplished' in Fallujah, 1,000 rebels killed: "The military operation to regain control of Fallujah has ended and there are just "malignant" pockets of resistance left to clear up, with more than 1,000 rebels killed, Iraq's national security advisor said. (AFP)"

In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq


Jailed Palestinian wants to succeed Arafat: "Imprisoned uprising leader Marwan Barghouti has decided to run for president in upcoming Palestinian elections, a source close to the popular politician said Saturday."

In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

Black Watch net bomb suspects: "Black Watch troops have snared two suspected suicide bombers after a four-hour firefight with a mob of insurgents and a dramatic helicopter chase south of Baghdad."

In Ananova: War In Iraq

Militants Take Control in Parts of Iraq's Mosul (Reuters): "Reuters - Insurgents were in charge of some areas of south and western Mosul on Saturday, holding two police stations and manning road blocks, as Iraq's third largest city appeared to slide out of U.S. and Iraqi control."

In Yahoo! News: Iraq

Three more Sunni clerics arrested by Iraqi forces in Katu.com: Iraq & Terror

COVERAGE RUNDOWN WEEKEND in Katu.com: Iraq & Terror

Aid agencies see possible Fallujah crisis: "BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqis trapped in Fallujah face a humanitarian disaster unless Iraqi and U.S. authorities allow food, water and medicine into the besieged city, aid agencies said Friday."

In Fresno Bee: Iraq

Aid on way to embattled Falluja: "Relief trucks are heading towards the war-torn Iraqi city of Falluja - but they do not have permission to enter."

In BBC: Conflict with Iraq

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

A Soldiers Blog

Martha Crowninshield O'Brien to Elaine
More options 8:25am (0 minutes ago)

Tattered Flags…….

Since September 11, 2001, much has happened in my life and the world. We’re currently on the brink of a questionable war, smack in the middle of a rare arctic chill continuing to do our best to live well in an unwell world. It’s scary and it stinks. So, driving home the other morning, following a chaotic night shift in delivery under the auspices of a full moon AND a significant shift in barometric pressure (two conditions destined to commence labor AND catastrophe), I was mildly annoyed at the condition of the American flags hanging from overpasses along the highway.

Tattered and worn, shredded and dotted with holes and dirt, they struck me as an eyesore. More than once I wished someone would remove them thinking they no longer reflected the crisp patriotic symbolism we had all come to embrace post 9/11. In some ways I think I couldn’t bear to see them flapping weakly in the breeze, barely recognizable from the beautiful bright American flags reflective of my idea of the United States of America…

Certainly I couldn’t be the only one disturbed by their condition over and over again driving by…Beaten down; useless; No longer regal. Just as quickly I would push that thought to some recess of my overburdened mind, and drive on toward home.

Some say there are defining moments in our lives that we will not ever forget. Events which, like discovered fossils, impress and imprint in such a manner that they are forever etched in our memory banks. Gone, but not forgotten. Something along those lines…September eleventh will never require the year attached in reference to the event. We all know the date…We dread it….We all remember and can’t ever forget. Those memories keep drifting in and out like wisps of smoke from embers of a flame once furious and over time, significantly silenced. Those shredded flags made me remember over and over again, all the feelings I personally experienced that day…..

I spent the night time portion of 9/11 working in labor and delivery. Often I felt as though I should simply move into the suite since I was there so often. I don’t recall the circumstances or any of the patients I treated. Nor can I bring to mind the names of any of the nurses there with me…It was to be the last of any of my relatively benign night shifts. If asked who the call doctor was I might have known prior to the twin towers. Not after or at least, not that night.

What DOES come to mind is waking up to a magnificent brilliantly sunny September morning immersed in guilt because I was just too tired to get up and bring my little ones, ages one, three and four to the playground, as I had promised. I hoped they would forgive me. I knew they wouldn’t understand. I gave thanks that my husband was downstairs feeling well and caring for them. I reflected how fortunate I was. Ironic, when I look back at that time.

On my way to the bathroom I discovered the clock had stopped, and turned on the TV to check the time. At the exact moment I did that, I watched in surreal horror and disbelief as a plane hit the second tower. The correspondent was teary and emotional. I thought I must be dreaming and changed the channel. Again and again and again. When reality hit me a moment or two later, I wished but then knew it must not be a dream. The events were all too real. I was too horrified to cry but knew I must collect myself and be with my family.

Downstairs I heard various timbres of voices filtering through the door. I paused there then, to hear the laughter. I peered in to the room, unseen by them, and watched the little ones play excitedly with their daddy and each other. Memorizing the pure joy on their faces, I remember being struck by the sad fact that whatever transpired, their lives would not ever be the same. I savored the moment and then, in silent agony, with tears streaming down my face, I hugged my husband and babies, and related what I had just seen. I called our oldest son and felt an almost if not definite primal urge to be among those people I loved most in the world. Together, in silence, my husband and I prayed for those whose loved ones couldn’t come home.

“God would make it so no one was hurting,” piped up our four year old. If only that were true I thought..

The night shift of nine eleven, no one really spoke of the events. No one had to. We all clung together and no one was floated that night. We did receive a labor patient but her tears were mostly due to sadness and not pain. What should have been a joyous occasion for her and her family would forever be equated with one of the saddest events known to America. She relayed that she desperately hoped she would deliver after midnight, but delivered just a bit before. She cradled her infant son and with tears of joy tempered with sadness, she said a prayer to the effect that she hoped we all someday could figure out a way to fix these horrible differences and stop the violence. Later, to me privately, she verbalized her fear of having to ever let go of her child. I hugged her and it didn’t have to be spoken that I felt the same. For both of us, our children, our families and the world, we said a not so silent prayer. That night I think we all cried for the innocence this new baby and all our children had already lost.

On the way home early that morning, I was surprised but not at all shocked by the Patriotism unfolding around me. It got to the point that stores ran out of flags, and red, white and blue ribbon. We were nicer to each other. Surrounded with crisp new flags on cars, houses and hanging from overpasses, I felt that heartfelt swelling of pride reserved usually, for special occasions and hoped beyond hope that it would continue long after the initial sting had passed. I, like all I saw that day and for quite some time afterwards was and will be forever proud to be an American.

Now those same flags are in shreds. They are tattered, worn and barely hanging from the spots they adorn. It pains me to admit, although briefly, I did consider them to be an embarrassment due to their wary, dilapidated condition. I wondered how others must feel at their wary sight.

Then, it occurred to me that is the very thing which makes them special. Real reminders that however horrific the circumstance and despite however long it takes, we Americans may be the worse for wear, but we will forever be present and vigilant, not unlike our resilient, beautiful, faded but glorious American Flag. Like them, whose shreds whip around in wicked wind and all the elements time and circumstance can muster, we will persevere and eventually prevail. We always have and will forever continue to do so. We will NOT give in.

These days when I pass beneath aged flags I once imagined should be removed and even replaced, I catch myself and think back to that awful dark day when cowardly terrorists elected to harm innocent people for no good reason, separating not only Americans but innocent people from around the world like so much discarded unimportant garbage…Misguided cowards who take everything yet give nothing to the world. Deviants who claim to speak for Allah much as uninformed people would dare to speak for God.

My heart hurts to think of the needless suffering, and conversely, swells with pride at the actions of so many people, Americans by birth, by choice, or both. I am also touched by the people worldwide who grieved and continue to grieve along with us. Thankyou.

Each time I catch even a brief glimpse of one of those well worn flags, it brings me back to that day and honors each victim in my mind, heart and soul.

I thank God, Allah and every person’s personal concept of a higher power for those tattered flags because the message they convey is one of hope, resilience, recovery and someday, of a world more interested and invested in peace versus hate.

If all I can do is raise my children to respect themselves, each other, their families and friends, take pride in the privilege of being Americans, and continue to be open to the ideas, thoughts and customs of other cultures, then I will have done my personal part in promoting peace .

Now, each time I see a worn, world weary flag sputtering in the wind, I see a remnant of hope, and hope, like a tattered flag, is something that no one can ever take away.

Written by: Martha J. Crowninshield O’Brien 01/24/03
A Soldiers Blog
Iraq War News
Allawi Relatives Kidnapped: "A cousin and at least one other relative of Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi have been kidnapped in Baghdad and may be threatened with beheading. In Fallujah, the battle continues; so far the dead includes ten GIs, two Iraqi soldiers, and 71 rebels."

In CBS News: Iraq Crisis

U.S. Forces Hold 70 Percent of Fallujah: "
American forces battled through boobytrapped lanes and alleys Wednesday in a stunningly swift advance, taking control of 70 percent of Fallujah and bottling up enemy fighters along a strip of territory flanking the main east-west highway that bisects the rebel bastion.

The military said at least 71 militants had been killed as of the beginning of the third day of intense urban combat, with the casualty figure expected to rise sharply once U.S. forces account for insurgents killed in airstrikes.


Good analysis here. Scroll down to previous entries as well.


In Command Post: Irak

Top Islamic Cleric at Arafat's bedside: "A top Islamic cleric rushed from the West Bank to Yasser Arafat's hospital bedside Wednesday in what an aide to the Palestinian leader called the "final phase" of his life."

In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

Palestinian leadership holds meeting: "The Palestinian leadership met Wednesday to discuss arrangements for the funeral of Yasser Arafat, who remained in a deep coma in a Paris hospital, officials said."

In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

Attacks continue elsewhere in Iraq in Katu.com: Iraq & Terror

Battle rages in centre of Falluja: "Rebel losses in Falluja are said to be in the hundreds as US marines fight their way into a city in ruins."

In BBC: Conflict with Iraq (UK Edition)

Rebels fight from mosques as US says 70 percent Fallujah taken (AFP): "AFP - Crouching in mosques, rebels traded fire with US troops in the heart of Fallujah as the military pushed south after seizing 70 percent of the Iraqi city on the second full day of battle."

In Yahoo! News: Iraq

US marines expect to control Fallujah within 48 hours: "US marines expect to take complete control of the Iraqi rebel bastion of Fallujah within 48 hours if their assault continues on course, a US military officer said. (AFP)"

In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq

The perpetual gloom of Fallujah not easily forgotten by Marines: "Marine Staff Sgt. Robert Talley has a term for the sniper fire his platoon encountered in Fallujah this year: "Spray and pray.""

In San Diego Union-Tribune: In Iraq

Black Watch soldiers remain defiant: "Black Watch soldiers in Iraq are continuing their mission to stop insurgents escaping from the under-siege city of Fallujah."

In Ananova: War In Iraq


Army regiments to be saved, says MP: "Scotland's historic Army regiments will "almost definitely" be saved from the axe under new proposals which the Government is set to adopt, an MP said."

In Ananova: War In Iraq

Baghdad under Curfew: "

From the AFP via The Australian :

IRAQâ??S interim government set a night curfew on Baghdad and its surrounding areas today following the bombings of churches and a city hospital that killed at least 16 people.

The measure was introduced after US-led troops fought their way into reached central Fallujah, the main stronghold of Sunni resistance west of the capital, on the orders of Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

The curfew was in force from 10.30pm until 4am and will remain in place until further notice, Allawiâ??s office said.

(Iraqi Government)

In Command Post: Irak

Islamist Website Urges Iraqis to Stay Home: "

From The Australian :

A posting on an Islamist website has warned Iraqis to stay at home today in Baghdad and other cities or they would be â??putting their lives in dangerâ??.

The statement, in the name of eight known militant groups, said the unified â??Islamic resistanceâ?? would step up operations against the â??American enemyâ?? in retaliation for the US-led attack on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.

The statement urged Iraqis to stay at home today â??to avoid putting their lives in dangerâ??.

In Tikrit, Saddam Husseinâ??s hometown, insurgents distributed leaflets warning shopkeepers to close their stores indefinitely starting today to protest about the attack on Fallujah.


In Command Post: Irak

Resistance Still Co-Ordinated, but Not Strong: "

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

US tanks pushing into central Fallujah have met fierce resistance from well-organised insurgents who show no signs of giving up, US Marines said today.
US infantry and tanks have punched deep into the city, and their Iraqi allies have made gains, but there are no signs Fallujah will come under their full control soon.

After a relative overnight lull, fierce fighting erupted again today.

A tank platoon that moved along Fallujahâ??s main street saw fighters who had just come under mortar fire climb onto rooftops and fire rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and machineguns.

â??There are lots of them. We took heavy fire,â?? Gunnery Sergeant Ishmail Castillo told Reuters.

â??They opened up on my tank. They donâ??t look like they are going to cave in.â??

Sergeant Castillo said his tank had killed six guerrillas and two Marines were wounded in fighting.

â??One of the Marines was hit in the head by RPG shrapnel,â?? he said.

Artillery barrages and machinegun fire echoed across the city as plumes of black smoke rose.

Tank platoon commander Lieutenant Joe Cash said the guerrillas were unleashing coordinated attacks.

â??They hit us from one area and then another right afterwards. There is in-depth organisation. There were small-arms attacks all night,â?? he said.

Running along Fallujahâ??s streets in groups of four or five, the guerrillas appeared in black clothes and headscarves or dressed in uniforms worn by Iraqi government forces, said Lieutenant Cash.

â??Some take off their fighting clothes, walk to a weapons cache and next thing you know they are shooting at you,â?? he said.

â??You see a guy walking in the street with normal clothes and he gives you a hard look and you just know he is one of them.â??

Lieutenant Cash said Marines found many weapons caches around Fallujah, including in mosques.

â??Weâ??ve reached the heart of Jolan,â?? Major Clark Watson said of a northwestern district of the Iraqi city where insurgents have long had a strong presence.

â??We have pushed through four square kilometres, but itâ??s too early to say we are controlling it,â?? he told Reuters.

â??That will take time because there will always be pockets of resistance.â??

Maj Watson, of the 1st Battalion of Marine infantry, said guerrillas were fighting back, but not as hard as expected.

â??It wasnâ??t as much as we thought it would be, but they have put up resistance,â?? he said.

(Tactical Reports)

In Command Post: Irak

7 Coalition Troops Killed in Roadside Blasts: "

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Six Iraqi national guards were killed when two roadside bombs exploded minutes apart in northern Iraq, an Iraqi official said.

â??A roadside bomb exploded at 7:45 am in the path of a national guard patrol in Tuz, destroying a vehicle and killing four of its occupants,â?? said national guard general, Anuar Mohammad, noting that a commander was among the victims.

Twenty minutes later, a second bomb exploded near a patrol that had been dispatched to the scene of the first blast, killing two, Mr Mohammad said.

One US soldier was killed and another injured when their armoured patrol struck a roadside bomb north of Baghdad, the US military said.

â??A 1st Infantry Division soldier was killed and one injured after their combat patrol was struck by an improvised explosive device near Balad at about 4:20 am,â?? it said in a statement.


In Command Post: Irak

Another Church Bombed: "

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

An explosion outside a Catholic church in south-western Baghdad has wounded at least 35 people, police and hospital sources said.

The blast destroyed the outer wall of St Bahnamâ??s Church and set the house next door ablaze, witnesses said.

A doctor at Yarmouk Hospital said 35 people had been brought in from the blast in the capitalâ??s Dora district.

Police said a car bomb had detonated outside the church but witnesses said it appeared explosives were planted nearby.

Five churches were hit in a string of bomb attacks in October that seemed designed to intimidate the countryâ??s small but deep-rooted Christian community, already shaken by a series of church bombings that killed 11 people in August.

Iraqâ??s 650,000 Christians, mostly Chaldeans, Assyrians and Catholics, comprise about 3 per cent of the population.


In Command Post: Irak

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Black Watch 'move into position': "Black Watch troops are reported to have moved into position ahead of the imminent US and Iraqi assault on the rebel stronghold of Fallujah, it was reported."

In Ananova: War In Iraq

Government backs Fallujah strike: "The Government has backed an assault on the rebel stronghold of Fallujah, insisting it is vital to stop Iraq becoming a terrorist safe haven."

In Ananova: War In Iraq

Israel prepares for Arafat's burial: "Israel has completed preparations for the ailing Yasser Arafat to be buried in the Gaza Strip, outlining plans to allow West Bank Palestinians to cross through Israel for the funeral and permitting enemy Arab leaders to attend, security officials said tod"

In Ananova: War In Iraq

UN concern for hostages' health: "Militants threatening to kill three UN hostages said talks were to begin with Afghan and UN officials, ten days after the victims were abducted at gunpoint on a street in the capital."

In Ananova: War In Iraq

Iraq declares 60 day state of emergency in Katu.com: Iraq & Terror

Iraq Emergency URGENT in Katu.com: Iraq & Terror

Fallujah wait continues...Insurgents attack...Crash site search in Katu.com: Iraq & Terror

Insurgents kill more than 50 across Iraq: "BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Insurgents attacked police stations, gunned down government officials and set off bombs Sunday in central Iraq, leaving more than 50 people dead and more than 60 injured over two days in a dramatic escalation of violence as U.S. forces prepare to storm rebel-held Fallujah."

In Modesto Bee: Iraq

Afghan militants say talks on U.N. hostages underway in Katu.com: Iraq & Terror

Marines focus on Fallujah...France sends in reinforcements in Katu.com: Iraq & Terror

Iran says provisional nuke pact reached: "Iran and European nations reached a provisional agreement over Iran's nuclear program at talks aimed at avoiding a U.N. showdown, but all parties involved still must approve it, Iran's chief negotiator said Sunday."

In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

Iraqi Gunmen Kill Three Province Officials (AP): "AP - Three Diyala provincial officials were shot and killed by unknown assailants while traveling on Sunday to a funeral for a colleague killed earlier in the week, Iraqi officials said."

In Yahoo! News: Iraq

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