Wednesday, April 23, 2003

This, from The Guardian about two hours ago, doesn't look good....

KUT, Iraq (AP) - Dozens of protesters blocked U.S. Marines trying to cross the main bridge over the Tigris River in this southern Iraqi city Wednesday - a more than four-hour standoff sparked by the detentions of two Iraqis.

The incident came after a rock-throwing crowd protesting the American presence here slightly injured a local man working as an interpreter for U.S. civil affairs troops.

The rocks shattered the windshields of at least three Marine vehicles - including trucks carrying medical supplies for local hospitals. Marines fired several warning shots to turn back the demonstrators.

The incidents caused Marines to postpone plans to start foot patrols side-by-side with local police in Kut, about 100 miles southeast of Baghdad. Marines had seized a police station in Kut earlier in the day.

Theocracy? Did someone say theocracy?

Marines from Task Force Tarawa entered Kut more than a week ago without opposition, only to find a local Shiite cleric, Said Abbas, had occupied City Hall and claimed control.

U.S. forces say he has links to Iranian groups pushing for Islamic rule, but have abandoned plans to forcibly eject him. Instead they are ignoring him.

But Iraqis love us for liberating them!

As the protest disbanded, one Iraqi man hysterically called out to U.S. troops, telling them ``Leave!'' and saying ``We need freedom!'' Another man rubbed his index fingers together and shouted ``Saddam and U.S.A. - they're friends!''

And there's this:

In a separate incident near Kut on Tuesday, three Marines were killed and seven injured while they were handling a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

U.S. Central Command said the Marines with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force were firing the weapon - commonly used by paramilitary groups that have threatened U.S. and British forces - to familiarize themselves with it. The launcher malfunctioned.

I guess this is probably a coincidence -- right?

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