Friday, December 24, 2004

Insurgents operate at will in Mosul

Insurgents have been able to "operate at will" in Mosul, where 22 people died in a bomb attack this week, because the US forces and the Iraqi authorities have failed to tackle them, an intelligence assessment by senior US officials in northern Iraq concludes.
The report, seen by the Guardian yesterday, was drafted before this week's suicide attack on the mess tent at Camp Merez.

It was made after the uprising last month, when most of Mosul's police force either deserted or defected and parts of the city fell, albeit briefly, to the insurgents.

It does not specifically mention threats to US bases, but it catalogues a series of errors and missed opportunities in intelligence gathering, recruitment to the Iraqi security forces, and operational issues.

Its assessments and recommendations reflect many of the concerns expressed in briefings of the Guardian recently by General Carter Ham, the US commanding officer in Mosul, and senior Iraqi officials in the city.

Tuesday's explosion was the worst single attack on the US forces since the invasion in March last year, and has thrown Pentagon officials and the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, on to the defensive, on account of their apparent failure to protect the US troops in Iraq adequately.

If you start from the assumption that the insurgents are not crazy about our election plans for Iraq, I think you have to look at stories like this one as mere dry runs for what is coming in the days leading up to the election. And that day is likely to be marked by so much bloodshed that even our government will have to take notice.


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