Monday, December 01, 2003

Samarra 46

An American military spokesman has said that the American forces killed 46 Iraqis and captured eight in two simultaneous repelled ambushes on American convoys in Samarra, and one slightly later attack on some military engineers. The convoys were reportedly carrying large amounts of the new Iraqi currency, and it is thought that the attacks may have been robbery attempts. Many of the killed are said to have been wearing black uniforms which identified them as fighters for Saddam. This is all very odd. The Iraqi ambushes are being described as a large change in tactics, but the success of the Iraqi freedom fighters has been in traditional guerilla-style shoot-and-run attacks. It makes little sense for them to think they could win in a fire fight against American tanks. I have to wonder whether this was an attempt at a quick attack by the Iraqis, with the deaths occurring during the American overreaction, perhaps intended as part of the operation of increasing violence in the area to teach the Sunnis a lesson. Local residents said that at least some of the deaths occurred when American tanks fired randomly near a factory when workers were leaving at the end of their shift. The high ratio of dead to captured - 46 to 8, and actually 46 to 4, if you consider that the separate attack on the engineers resulted in four captured but none killed - looks like the Americans were operating to take no prisoners. You have to wonder whether much of the American story has been concocted to cover a Jenin-style massacre of civilians mixed with resistance fighters. This may turn out to be yet another war crime.