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11/23/2004

Attacks on Sunni Clerics

The increase in assaults on Iraqi security forces is not new news, but the targeting of Sunni clerics certainly is.

A leading Sunni cleric was killed in a drive-by shooting in the northern city of Mosul on Monday, and American military officials in the city discovered the bodies of at least four more Iraqi Army soldiers killed by gunshots to the head.

[Gunmen killed another Sunni Muslim cleric in Miqdadiya on Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing witnesses and hospital officials in the city, 60 miles northeast of Baghdad.]

Insurgents are kidnapping and killing Iraqi soldiers and national guardsmen with shocking regularity in Mosul, the third largest city in Iraq and the scene of a ferocious insurgent uprising two weeks ago that followed the American invasion of Falluja.

In the past two days, American forces in Mosul have discovered the bodies of at least 13 members of the Iraqi security forces, and the bodies of 11 more people have been found in that time but not yet identified.

"It's safe to say they are targeting Iraqi security forces with a campaign of threats, intimidation and murder," said Lt. Col. Paul Hastings, a military spokesman in Mosul.

Concerns are growing that the campaign is succeeding in part because the insurgents have infiltrated the Iraqi security forces.
The Reuters report is here. Targeting of Sunni clerics raises three troublesome possibilities: either (1) Kurdish or Shiite vigilantes are escalating the conflict; (2) American or allied forces are engaging in illegal assassinations; or (3) Sunni fighters are attempting to make others think (1) or (2). It's also possible that the attacks are random, since it takes three for a trend.

See here, here, here, here, and here for more on the terrible yet effective insurgent campaign against Iraqi security forces.

 

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