Thursday, July 17, 2003

The nightmare continues.

General Abizaid said, "It's unclear, but it's troubling, that Al Qaeda either look-alikes or Al Qaeda people are making an opportunity to move against us." The Ansar al-Islam terrorist group, whose camps in northeastern Iraq were attacked during the war, is also trying to reconstitute within Iraq, and foreign money is underwriting some of these terrorist efforts, General Abizaid said.

Of the anti-American forces operating in the central and north-central parts of Iraq, where American forces have come under heaviest attack, General Abizaid, "They're better coordinated now."

The insurgents, he said, are showing "some level of regional command-and-control" that indicates planning beyond individual small groups striking only at targets of opportunity.

General Abizaid refused to be drawn into discussing whether his assessment of the insurgent threat in Iraq contradicted that of Mr. Rumsfeld or other officials; he said that the description of "guerrilla tactics" was proper "in strictly military terms."

But General Abizaid said that, at present, the force of about 147,000 American troops and 13,000 allied forces on the ground in Iraq was sufficient.

"I think our current force levels are about right," he said. "If the situation gets worse, I won't hesitate to ask for more."

General Abizaid also said that anti-American forces had fired two surface-to-air missiles at American aircraft within the last two weeks; one of them was today. Those attacks on C-130 cargo planes also indicate an escalation in the weapons used against allied forces, beyond automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

"Matter of fact, I was on the deck of a C-130 the other day, and we had a missile warning," General Abizaid said. "And the guy made a hard right bank. And we fired off all of our flares and, you know, we looked out there. And these were guys from the Oklahoma National Guard, and they actually thought it was fun. I was terrified."

This next part will make you cry.

Pentagon officials also disclosed today that there have been about five deaths among troops assigned to the Iraq mission that commanders say might have been suicides. As inquiries continue, one official said the suspected suicides were not clustered in any single time period that might indicate a related cause.

Goddamn you Bush.

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