The Bush Assministration’s Strategy for Success in Iraq characterizes the “enemy” as “rejectionists, Saddamists, and terrorists affiliated with or inspired by Al Qaida.” It says nothing whatsoever about Shiite militias.
American and Iraqi government forces clashed with Shiite militiamen in Baghdad on Sunday night in the most serious confrontation in months, and Iraqi security officials said 17 people had been killed in a mosque, including its 80-year-old imam.
It appears that US forces are giving the Shiia a taste of what we’ve been cooking up for the Sunnis for the past three years, and the Shiia do not like it.
Iraq’s security minister, a Shi’ite political ally of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, accused U.S. and Iraqi troops on Monday of killing 37 unarmed people in an attack on a mosque complex a day earlier.
“At evening prayers, American soldiers accompanied by Iraqi troops raided the Mustafa mosque and killed 37 people,” Abd al-Karim al-Enzi, minister of state for national security, said.
“They were all unarmed. Nobody fired a single shot at them (the troops). They went in, tied up the people and shot them all. They did not leave any wounded behind,” he told Reuters.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said the premier was “deeply concerned” and had called the U.S. commander in Iraq, General George Casey, who said there would be a full inquiry.
Iraqiya state television carried lengthy footage of the bloodied corpses of men in civilian clothes, in a room where no weapons were visible, calling them victims of U.S. gunfire.
“American forces raid and burn Mustafa mosque. A number of citizens martyred inside,” it said in an on-screen headline.
Sadr aides said troops killed unarmed people: “The American forces went into Mustafa mosque at prayers and killed more than 20 worshippers,” Araji said. “They tied them up and shot them.”
Transport Minister Salem al-Maliki, from Sadr’s group, said: “This was part of an escalation programme to drag Sadr’s group into another battle or to obstruct the political process.”
After declining requests to respond to the allegations, the U.S. military issued a statement saying Iraqi special forces, along with U.S. advisers, killed 16 “insurgents” in Aadhamiya, next to Shaab, and detained 15. The statement denied any mosque was entered and said a foreign, non-Western hostage was freed.
After the statement was issued, U.S. spokesmen declined to elaborate or say if the raid was close to the Mustafa mosque.