Monday, November 29

U.S. army soldiers guard the scene near a body after two men were found murdered in Mosul, Iraq , Thursday, Nov. 25, 2004. Previously, 20 bodies were found in Mosul in the past week, including ten identified as Iraqi regular army soldiers. Insurgents rose up this month in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, during an offensive by U.S. and Iraqi forces in Fallujah. (AP Photo/Jim MacMillan)
AP - Nov 25

In Mosul, grisly discoveries follow in insurgents' footsteps
By Kirsten Scharnberg, Chicago Tribune (via The State), November 25, 2004

Almost every morning for the past several days, American soldiers have made the gruesome discovery. Sometimes the bodies are partly burned; sometimes they are dismembered; sometimes they are shot in the head.

When two more victims were found slumped on a busy street corner this week, Lt. Col. Erik Kurilla finally lost it. The Army commander, a bear of a man who usually is the first to crack a joke even in the direst of circumstances, stormed across the street and began chastising the Iraqis gathered there.

"Why do you not have the common decency to clean them up?" shouted Kurilla, who is in charge of securing much of historic Mosul, as he angrily motioned to the bodies.

"Your fellow Iraqis are lying dead in the streets, and you sit there doing nothing. To say nothing is to support the insurgents. These were Iraqi soldiers who were trying to help your country, to serve you. How can you do nothing?" ... ...

... But the joint missions do not always go flawlessly. Many Iraqi soldiers insist on wearing masks while conducting missions and patrols. And sometimes they are reluctant to talk with residents on the street for fear that someone will recognize their voices. That frustrates U.S. military officers who struggle to overcome the language barrier with the Iraqis and who long have hoped that Mosul's residents would trust local troops far more than the Americans who routinely kick in their doors during searches and patrols.

Even more, because the Iraqi troops often ride in the kinds of unarmored vehicles that are most vulnerable to suicide attacks and roadside bombs, they can be jumpy. Sometimes they open fire with little cause on passing cars or start shooting without warning during foot patrols. ... ...

... Where in places such as Fallujah the insurgents came out into the streets with machine guns, mortar tubes and rockets, in Mosul they have grown adept at working just below the radar.

Under the cover of night, the insurgents have taken to the streets and covered the walls of homes with intimidating graffiti: "God be with the mujahedeen forever." Or "Together we will all fight America." Or "Allawi, we will kill you," a reference to the U.S.-backed interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi.

In one neighborhood, the insurgents handed out leaflets warning that anyone seen cooperating with the Americans would be killed; in another they dumped the bodies of those who were.

It appears to be an effective strategy.

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