Skip to comments.U.S., Iraqi forces kill 250 militants in Najaf
Posted on 01/28/2007 11:06:07 AM PST by cgkEdited on 01/28/2007 11:44:41 AM PST by Sidebar Moderator. [history]
|U.S., Iraqi forces kill 250 militants in Najaf
Sun Jan 28, 2007 2:16 PM ET
NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. and Iraqi forces killed 250 gunmen in a fierce battle involving U.S. tanks and helicopters on the outskirts of the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf on Sunday, a senior Iraqi police officer said.
The day-long battle was continuing after nightfall, Colonel Ali Nomas told Reuters, as tens of thousands of pilgrims converged on the nearby city of Kerbala for the climax of the Ashura commemorations.
A U.S. helicopter was shot down in the fighting, Iraq security sources said. The U.S. military declined comment. A Reuters reporter saw a helicopter come down trailing smoke.
Shi'ite political sources said the gunmen appeared to be both Sunni Arabs and Shi'ites loyal to a cleric called Ahmed Hassani.
In Baghdad, 13 people were killed in bombings in mainly Shi'ite areas, police said.
Twin car bombs targeting ethnic Kurds killed 16 people as night fell in the northern oil city of Kirkuk, whose population is a volatile mix of Kurds, Turkmen and Sunni and Shi'ite Arabs.
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have converged on Iraq's other main Shi'ite holy city, Kerbala, for Ashura, marking the 7th century Battle of Kerbala, which helped consolidate the schism between Shi'ite and Sunni Islam. It ends on Monday.
It is the first time the 10-day annual ritual has been held since violence erupted last February between Iraq's majority Shi'ites and once-dominant minority Sunnis. Tens of thousands have since been killed in tit-for-tat killings.
The governor of Najaf province said Iraqi troops fought a day-long battle with up to 200 Sunni gunmen, including foreign fighters, holed up in orchards on the northern outskirts of the city, seat of Iraq's most powerful Shi'ite clerics.
Governor Asaad Abu Gilel told Reuters the authorities had uncovered a plot to kill some of the clerics on Monday, to coincide with the climax of Ashura.
"There is a conspiracy to kill the clergy on the 10th day of Muharram," Najaf governor Abu Gilel said, referring to the day of the Muslim calendar on Monday.
A Reuters reporter about 1.5 km (1 mile) from the fighting said he heard intense gunfire and saw U.S. helicopters rocket groves sheltering militants. He saw smoke trailing from one helicopter before it came down in the midst of the fighting.
He was unable to see what had happened to the helicopter, but officers in Iraq's 8th Army Division and policemen said it had crashed and that the two crew members were dead. The U.S. military said it did not comment on operations still taking place.
(Additional reporting by Aseel Kami, Sherko Raouf in Sulaimaniya)
Fox was showing some cell phone video as well - unclear if it was this battle or an earlier one...
Kick some a$$, guys!
Sounds like Puff is on scene or they let the Big Dogs loose. Either way, Good hunting!
make sure evey one of the 250 is found with a gun in their hand. <*?Sarcasm off>
I have to admit I was completely wrong on how hard I thought they'd go after the militias, based on some past history. I am pleased and impressed. I never thought maliki would support this as much as he seems to. I still wonder about it though.
Sheesh, that's a lot of virgins!
Just a headline so far at reuters...
I thought they said that cell phone footage was of one of our choppers going down.
With any luck, they have the ones running with their tils between their legs for Iran trapped and are killing them also.
Go Mother Green!
I thought so as well, but was afraid to say that in case I heard wrong - (plus, I tried to rewind my DVR and accidentally goofed.)...
Is this Shiite or Sunni territory?
I hope they're wrong, too. Too much of that these days.
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