"Excerpts from the Guardian
: Between six and 14 members of an Iraqi family were reported dead yesterday after US warplanes obliterated a house in the northern oil town of Baiji. Enraged local officials described the attack as unjustified and said it had killed an innocent family, including one member who worked for the Iraqi police.
"I absolutely confirm there were no terrorists in this house," police chief Colonel Sufyan Mustafa told Reuters. "Even if there had been, why didn't they surround the area and detain the terrorists instead?" People at the scene of the blast said seven bodies were recovered from the rubble, including at least two children.
A preliminary investigation indicated the blast had killed the wife of the home's owner, his daughter-in-law and seven children and grandchildren, including one son who worked for the police, said Maj. Muthanna al-Qaisi, a spokesman for the governor of Salahaddin Province. Three more relatives were wounded, he said.
A statement from the US 101st Airborne Division said troops monitoring images from an unmanned reconnaissance drone on Monday night had observed three men "as they dug a hole following the common pattern of roadside bomb emplacement"
The men were tracked from the road site to a building nearby, which was then bombed with "precision guided munitions," the military said. The statement did not say whether a roadside bomb was later found at the site. An additional military statement said Navy F-14's had "strafed the target with 100 cannon rounds" and dropped one bomb. [End excerpts]
Get ready to see a lot more of this, because Bush has finally settled on an "exit strategy" for Iraq: he's going to bomb his way out.
... But, aping his idol, Winston Churchill
, Bush intends to control the "recalcitrant" Arabs with air power
: [comment: the two previous links are very noteworthy
] dropping 500-pound bombs on private homes and residental neighborhoods, and keeping the natives under constant watch by helicopter gunships and robot sky-drones. "Air America
January 4, 2006
"A bomb that killed six civilians Monday near Baiji, Iraq, missed its target by 65 feet (20 meters) and hit the wrong home, military officials said.
The bomb, which was dropped by a U.S. fighter plane, was aimed at a building that three men entered after planting a roadside bomb as an unmanned surveillance plane watched from overhead, the officials said.
A U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat fighter jet strafed the building before the bomb was dropped, according to a U.S. military statement released after the nighttime attack.
The bomb had "successful effects against the insurgents," the statement added.
The strike flattened a family's home, killing six of the family members and wounding three others, said a spokesman for the Salaheddin provincial governor's office. A father and daughter survived with only minor injuries, he said.
The Baiji strike was one of 58 air missions the U.S. military carried out Monday over Iraq.
U.S. military officials said they are investigating why the wrong building was hit.
In a news conference Tuesday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan emphasized the U.S. position that its military "goes out of the way to avoid civilian casualties.""U.S. says bomb hit wrong house in Iraq
January 5, 2006Updates:VIDEO: Iraqi Civilians Killed in U.S. Air Strikes , January 6, 2006the Video Clip (allow Flash 8 to be installed)
"The dead included women and children whose bodies were recovered in the nightclothes and blankets in which they had apparently been sleeping. A Washington Post special correspondent watched as the corpses of three women and three boys who appeared to be younger than 10 were removed Tuesday from the house
Because in this case – unlike in so many others in which American air power utilizes "precisely guided munitions" – there was on-the-spot reporting for an American newspaper, the U.S. military command was required to explain these casualties. Without conceding that the deaths actually occurred, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson
, director of the Coalition Press Information Center in Baghdad, commented: "We continue to see terrorists and insurgents using civilians in an attempt to shield themselves."
Notice that Lt. Col. Johnson (while not admitting that civilians had actually died) did assert U.S. policy: If suspected guerrillas use any building as a refuge, a full-scale attack on that structure is justified, even if the insurgents attempt to use civilians to "shield themselves
These are, in other words, essential U.S. rules of engagement. The attack should be "precise" only in the sense that planes and/or helicopter gunships should seek as best they can to avoid demolishing surrounding structures. Put another way, it is more important to stop the insurgents than protect the innocent.
And notice that the military, single-mindedly determined to kill or capture the insurgents, cannot stop to allow for the evacuation of civilians either. Any delay might let the insurgents escape, either disguised as civilians or through windows, backdoors, cellars, or any of the other obvious escape routes urban guerrillas might take. Any attack must be quickly organized and – if possible – unexpected.The Real Rules of Engagement in Iraq
We can gain some perspective on this military strategy by imagining similar rules of engagement for an American police force in some large city. Imagine, for example, a team of criminals in that city fleeing into a nearby apartment building after gunning down a policeman. It would be unthinkable for the police to simply call in airships to demolish the structure, killing any people – helpless hostages, neighbors, or even friends of the perpetrators – who were with or near them. In fact, the rules of engagement for the police, even in such a situation of extreme provocation, call for them to "hold their fire" – if necessary allowing the perpetrators to escape – if there is a risk of injuring civilians. And this is a reasonable rule… because we value the lives of innocent American citizens over our determination to capture a criminal, even a cop killer.
But in Iraqi cities, our values and priorities are quite differently arranged. The contrast derives from three important principles under which the Iraq war is being fought: that the war should be conducted to absolutely minimize the risk to American troops; that guerrilla fighters should not be allowed to escape if there is any way to capture or kill them; and that Iraqi civilians should not be allowed to harbor or encourage the resistance fighters."A Formula for Slaughter January 11, 2006