Iraq: April 10, 2003


Who Is Left to Fight? The foreign volunteers, mainly Arabs, are stuck in Baghdad, armed and still thinking about "drying for Islam". These are the kind of guys who see Iraqis celebrating the fall of Saddam as "bad Moslems," and worthy of execution. Many of the volunteers have to be killed or rounded up. There are probably several thousand of them left. Some will try and get home, but some will fight to the death. There are also thousands of Saddam's Fedayeen who have some fight left in them. Moreover, many of these Fedayeen have blood on their hands for torturing and murdering civilians in the past, so they can either try and get to Syria or Jordan, or go into hiding (and risk being found out and prosecuted later.) Moreover, throughout Iraq, thousands of known (and notorious) thugs who worked for Saddam are now ready and able to fight for themselves rather than be caught and punished.

There are still ten Iraqi divisions up north, and many of these troops are fearful of what the Kurds might do to them if they all start running south. American air transports have moved a hundred armored vehicles to northern Iraq, giving U.S. troops enough mobile firepower to take on any resistance the Iraqis might muster. The Iraqi forces in the north also have to worry about hundreds of thousands of Sunni Arabs who were moved into the homes and farms of Kurds driven further north. The American Special Forces will have to try and negotiate the departure of these Arabs so the vengeful Kurds can be persuaded to move south peacefully.

Today, members of the Special Republican Guard continue to resist in a mosque in northern Baghdad. It is thought these men may be protecting Saddam or some of Saddam's senior aides. 

Tikrit, 175 kilometers north of Baghdad, is Saddam's home town and the location of many special industrial plants and military bases. A brigade of the U.S. 4th Mechanized division is headed there. 

The U.S. Department of Defense said that several 10.5 ton MOAB bomb had been shipped to the Persian Gulf. Potential targets were not discussed. MOAB, and it's predecessor, the "Daisy Cutter" were rarely used against people, but rather to clear landing areas in the jungle or minefields in the desert.

In parts of southern and central Iraq, towns have organized themselves around traditional elders or tribal chiefs. Using long hidden, or recently obtained weapons, the locals have driven off the few pro-Saddam officials and taken control. In some cases, the anti-Saddam groups had been contacted by American Special Forces months ago. In some cases, the Special Forces gave out satellite phones to better coordinate operations with the local anti-Saddam groups.

Basra is more of a problem, as Saddam's security forces always leaned extra hard on any anti-Saddam elements in the city. No group has come forward to organize a local government and police force. The British, with the help of some Spanish Marines, are starting to restore order. 

U.S. casualties have been revised upward, with the total wounded upped to 399, from the previous 155. The reason is problems with reporting, with many minor wounds, treated on the spot for a soldier who went back to his unit, recorded only later. The wounds counted earlier were the ones that came back to field hospitals. Another potential problem with counting wounds is how to rate bullets being stopped by the new protective vests (which are truly bulletproof to rifle bullets). These often leave a major bruise behind, or even a cracked rib? Is this guy "wounded." In most cases, the soldier says some nice things about the vest manufacturer, thanks God and gets back into the fight. Anyway, after 21 days of combat, U.S. casualties are now at 518 (101 dead, 399 "wounded", 11 missing and seven prisoners. This comes to 8 casualties per division per day. Still a historical low for divisions on the offensive and in contact with the enemy for three weeks. 




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