7,000 more U.S. troops to be deployed to Iraq
Washington escalates imperialist war
1,100 U.S. troops in Sadr City; airstrikes up
AFP/Getty Images/Wisam Al-Okaili
Iraqi special police forces escort on March 6 U.S. convoy into Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, a stronghold of the Shiite militia led by Muqtada al-Sadr. Washington has moved 1,100 of its occupation forces there, as part of sending 28,500 more troops to Iraq.
BY SAM MANUEL
WASHINGTON, March 7The Pentagon announced March 1 it is planning to send 7,000 additional troops to Iraq to support the 21,500 combat forces moving into Baghdad and Anbar province since U.S. president George Bush announced in January the escalation of the imperialist war in Iraq. That would bring the additional troops to 28,500 and the total number of U.S. forces in the country to nearly 159,000.
The escalation includes a broader use of airpower, according to the U.S. military. In the first week of March, two precision-guided bombs destroyed an alleged car bomb factory and another airstrike killed at least seven people allegedly firing at U.S. troops. More U.S. fighter jets are flying closer to troops on the ground, Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, told the press March 3.
The following day a combined force of 1,100 U.S. troops and Iraqi police began a push into Sadr City, a working-class district of Baghdad, which has been a center of operations by the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia headed by Muqtada al-Sadr. The Mahdi militia has been a special target of a U.S.-led crackdown in the city against armed groups loyal to Shiite and Sunni capitalists vying for dominance of the Iraqi government.
In a similar offensive, a March 4 raid by British and Iraqi government forces on the offices of an Iraqi intelligence agency in Basra found 30 prisoners, some of whom showed signs of torture. It was the latest instance in which Iraqi government operatives have been implicated in the torture of prisoners.
U.S. deputy defense secretary Gordon England disclosed the dispatching of the additional 7,000 support groups at a March 1 Senate Budget Committee hearing.
Army spokesman Lt. Col. Carl Ey said 10,000 troops that are part of the escalation are already in Iraq, according to an article in the March 12 issue of the Army Times. In all there are about 140,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq.
Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee expressed no opposition to the deployment of up to 29,000 more troops; some only expressed reservations at the estimated cost involved. The Congressional Budget Office has said the real cost of the escalation will be around $20 billion while the Pentagon and Bush administration put it at $5.6 billion. "Put me down as a skeptic on the $5.6 billion," said Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota.
U.S. and Iraqi government troops have begun house-to-house searches in Sadr City and are converting a police station into an operations center, according to the Associated Press. They have met no resistance from the Mahdi militia, the result of an apparent deal between al-Sadr and the government, according to the private U.S. intelligence outfit Strategic Forecasting.
In an indication that knowledge about torture of prisoners reaches the highest levels of the government, Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned the raid on the government intelligence office in Basra and promised to "punish those who have carried out this illegal and irresponsible act."
A similar raid on a police station in Basra last December found 127 prisoners, some of whom also had been tortured. Last year U.S. and Iraqi troops found a secret Interior Ministry prison where some of its 1,400 inmates had been subjected to systematic torture and abuse.
Meanwhile, the bloodletting caused by factions of the Iraqi capitalist class fighting over the country's resources continues. More than 150 Iraqi civilians were killed in attacks in southern Baghdad today and by two car bombings around Karbala yesterday that targeted Shiite pilgrims going there for a religious ceremony.
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