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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-29-2007, 09:50 AM Thread Starter
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"Soldiers of heaven" go poof...

Just curious: I wonder if the "Soldiers of Heaven" are now fighting other factions in hell?




Iraqis: At least 200 insurgents killed

By SINAN SALAHEDDIN, AP




Iraqi officials said Monday that U.S.-backed Iraqi troops had targeted a religious cult called "Soldiers of Heaven" in a weekend battle that left 200 fighters dead, including the group's leader, near the Shiite holy city of Najaf. Two U.S. soldiers were also killed when their helicopter crashed during the fighting.

The Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said the raid on Sunday in date-palm orchards on the city's outskirts was aimed against a group called the Jund al-Samaa, or Soldiers of Heaven, which appeared to have had links to Saddam Hussein loyalists and foreign fighters. Officials said the cult was hoping to force the return of the "hidden imam," a 9th-century Shiite saint who Shiites believe will come again to bring peace and justice to the world.

Both Mohammed al-Askari, the defense ministry spokesman, and an Iraqi military commander in charge of the Najaf area said 200 terrorists were killed and 60 wounded, lowering previous estimates for the death toll. Maj. Gen. Othman al-Ghanemi, the commander of the 8th Division that is in charge of Najaf, said 150 had been captured, while al-Askari put that figure at 120.

The fighting began Sunday and ended Monday. Iraqi security forces frisked suspects while others patrolled elsewhere on the battlefield in a mopping up operation.

Authorities said Iraqi soldiers supported by U.S. aircraft fought all day Sunday with a large group of insurgents in the Zaraq area, about 12 miles northeast of the Shiite holy city of Najaf.

Provincial Gov. Assad Sultan Abu Kilel said the insurgents had planned to attack Shiite pilgrims and senior clerics in Najaf during ceremonies marking Ashoura, the holiest day in the Shiite calendar commemorating the 7th century death of Imam Hussein, grandson of tprocessions in Najaf, Karbala and other Shiite cities.

Al-Ghanemi said the army captured some 500 automatic rifles in addition to mortars, heavy machine guns and Russian-made Katyusha rockets in what amounted to a major test for Iraq's new military as it works toward taking over responsibility for security from U.S.-led forces.

The commander said the leader of the group was among those killed and identified him as an Iraqi named Ahmed Hassan al-Yamani, also known as Ali bin Ali bin Abi Taleb or Abu Qamar al-Yamani. He was wearing a coat, hat and jeans and was carrying two pistols, al-Ghanemi said.

The commander said the area where the men were staying was once run by Saddam's al-Quds Army, a military organization the late president established in the 1990s. Al-Ghanemi said "the gunmen had recently dug trenches in preparation for the battle." He added that the area of full of date palm groves. Other officials in Najaf said Saddam loyalists bought the groves six months ago.

Al-Ghanemi said 600 to 700 gunmen had planned to disguise themselves as pilgrims and attack the holy city of Najaf on Tuesday, the day they believed that the Imam Mahdi, or the "hidden imam," would reappear. He said leading Shiite ayatollahs consider such fringe elements as heretics.

Their aim was to kill as many leading clerics as possible, al-Ghanemi said.

U.S. and British jets bombed and strafed the militants, the U.S. Air Force said Monday. U.S. F-16s and A-10 jets dropped 500-pound bombs on insurgent positions, the Air Force said.

U.S. officials said the two Americans died when their helicopter went down while supporting Iraqi forces but gave no further details. Al-Ghanemi said the helicopter was shot down; U.S. officials declined comment.

It was the second U.S. military helicopter to crash in the past eight days.

Najaf government officials indicated the militants included both Shiite and Sunni extremists, as well as foreign fighters. Although Sunni Arabs have been the main force behind insurgent groups, there are a number of Shiite militant and splinter groups that have clashed from time to time with the government.

The mortar attacks and bombings appeared to be part of the sectarian reprisal killings that have pushed Iraq into civil warfare over the past year, violence that President Bush hopes to quell by sending up to 21,500 more American soldiers to Baghdad and surrounding areas.

Bombings and mortar attacks targeting Shiites killed at least 15 people elsewhere on Monday.

Mortar rounds rained down on a Shiite neighborhood in the Sunni-dominated town of Jurf al-Sakhar, 40 miles south of Baghdad, Monday morning, police spokesman Capt. Muthanna Khalid said. He said 10 were killed, including three children and four women, and five other people were wounded.

A wounded boy lay next to his bloodstained father at a hospital in the nearby town of Musayyib, while six bodies were covered with blankets in the morgue.

The strike came a day after mortar shells hit the courtyard of a girls' school in a mostly Sunni Arab neighborhood of Baghdad, killing five pupils and wounding 20. A Sunni organization, the General Conference of the People of Iraq, blamed Shiite Muslim militias with ties to government security forces.

Also Monday, a prominent Shiite leader renewed his calls for setting up federal regions in Iraq, saying that would solve the country's problems.

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Shiite bloc in the 275-member parliament, spoke at a Shiite mosque in central Baghdad to mark Ashoura. "I reaffirm that the establishing of regions will help us in solving many problems that we are suffering from. Moreover, it represents the best solution for these problems," he said.

Al-Hakim said his concern cut across sectarian lines.

"I sympathize with our Sunni brothers in their ordeal with the terrorists as I sympathize with the Shiites in their ordeal with the terrorists," he said. "I condemn the killing of Sunnis as I condemn the killing of the Shiites."

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-29-2007, 10:05 AM
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So this is getting confusing. Saddam-linked Shiites?

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-29-2007, 11:59 AM
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Fools, don't they know the only 'soldiers of heaven' recognized and approved by god are Merkin soldiers?
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-29-2007, 12:09 PM
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A comedian on TV the other day remarked on how every sports team believes that God is on their side. He said that if he knew God was on his side, he wouldn't even bother to suit up. Just show up in street clothes and tell the coach, "Don't worry, we got this one. We can't lose."
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-29-2007, 06:30 PM
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I like it when bad guys get bunched-up.

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