From Associated Press:
Apr 26, 9:48 AM EDT
Raid involving US forces kills woman in Iraq
By HAMID AHMED
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD — A deadly pre-dawn raid by U.S. forces that killed a woman in southern Iraq on Sunday drew sharp fallout from Iraqi authorities who demanded an investigation and ordered the arrest of two high-ranking Iraqi military officers for allegedly allowing the operation without Baghdad’s approval.
The cascade of events – beginning with a large protest hours after the operation in the Shiite city of Kut – could bring one of the first serious challenges to the new U.S.-Iraqi security pact that requires American commanders to coordinate raids and other pre-planned strikes with the Iraqi government and military.
In the past, civilian casualties caused by U.S. raids has been a major cause of concern for the Iraqi government.
At least one person died in the raid, which the U.S. military said targeted the financier of Shiite militia factions believed to be aided by the Iranians. Iraqi officials placed the death toll at two.
But the larger issues could be over possible violations of an agreement that took effect Jan. 1 and governs the responsibilities and actions of U.S. forces. Under the pact, the U.S. military has to advise Iraqi authorities on operations or work in joint U.S.-Iraq units.
The Defense Ministry spokesman, Mohammed al Askari, said an Iraqi brigade commander and a battalion commander were arrested for “allowing American troops to conduct a military operation in Kut province without informing Iraqi government or coordinating with it.”
Kut provincial police chief, Brig. Gen. Raed Shakir Jawdat, said he was unaware a raid was conducted.
The U.S. military, however, said the raid was in compliance with a U.S.-Iraqi security pact, but gave no further details on the planning behind the sweep into Kut, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad. The military did not provide information on whether Iraqi security forces took part.
The military said a woman was in the area during an exchange of gunfire with one of the suspects and “stepped into the line of fire.” It also said that forces arrested six members of so-called “special groups” – Shiite militia factions that were once part of the Mahdi Army of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Washington says the groups are backed by Iraq.
A Freudian slip? Probably, “Iran” is meant here. Echos of George W. Bush, who also did not know the difference between Iran and Iraq, using the same lies about “weapons of mass destruction” as pretext for war against both countries?
Tehran denies the charges.
Iraqi police officials say the wife and brother of a local clan leader were killed. They also say the soldiers arrested the clan leader, Ahmed Abdul Muneim al-Bdeir, his brother – an Iraqi police captain – and five others related to the al-Bdeir.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to release the information.
Hundreds of protesters gathered at the morgue in Kut to denounce the American military and demand an investigation. The provincial council later called an emergency meeting and a three-day mourning period.
“We condemn this crime,” said Mahmoud al-Etaibi, head of the council.
He also called on the American military to release the six arrested and provide a full report of their alleged links to the special groups.
Protests in Iraq over a US special forces raid in the city of Kut on Sunday will add to the mounting concerns in the Obama administration and American military over the country’s ongoing instability: here.
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