US troops ready to withdraw from Iraqi cities

Baghdad, June 25: US combat troops will pull out from Iraq’s cities and main towns as the war-torn country takes sole charge of security in a major stepping stone to a complete American withdrawal.

Most American troops will retreat to their main bases and only re-enter urban areas if the Iraqi security forces ask for their support in tackling unrest or conducting other operations.

Formal ceremonies will take place on Monday but the government has declared the official departure day a national holiday.

Over 60 killed in Baghdad market blast

Baghdad, June 25: More than 60 people were killed and at least 150 wounded Wednesday when a bomb exploded at a crowded market here, media reports said.
The explosion, which took place in the Maridi market in eastern Sadr City area of the Iraqi capital, left 62 people dead and 150 injured, security sources told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani “vehemently condemns the attack”, according to a statement from his office.

The bomb was planted in a motorbike, security sources told DPA. Earlier reports said the bomb was concealed under a vegetable cart.

Continuing attacks claim 30 lives in Iraq

Baghdad, June 24: Bombings and shootings killed more than 30 people across Iraq, including high school students on their way to final exams, as a wave of violence swept the country ahead of next week’s deadline for US troops to withdraw from urban areas.

The attacks pushed the three-day Iraqi death toll over 100, shattering a recent lull and adding fresh doubt to the ability of government forces to protect civilians without US soldiers by their sides.

American combat troops have already begun moving from inner-city outposts to large bases outside Baghdad and other cities.

Iraq gets ready for the Yanks to go home

Baghdad, June 14: There are few American patrols on the streets of Baghdad and soon there will be none. In just over two weeks, on 30 June, US military forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities. The occupation which began six years ago is ending. On every side there are signs of the decline of US influence.

When the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, held a meeting with 300 top military commanders last week a US general who tried to attend was asked to leave. “We apologise to you, but this is an Iraqi meeting and you’re not invited,” he was told.

32 killed in Iraq car bomb blast

Baghdad, June 10: At least 32 people were killed and 47 injured when a car bomb exploded at a market in the southern Iraqi city of Nasriya Wednesday, a security official said.

The explosion took place in al-Bathaa market in the north of the city during a busy morning.

The injured were transferred to a nearby hospital. Many of the city’s residents remained indoors following the attack.

Nasriya, the capital of the relatively peaceful province of Dhi Kar, is situated some 375 km south of Baghdad.

Iraqi cops train to hunt militants with DNA, dogs

Baghdad, June 09: At a sparkling new forensic crime office in Baghdad, trainees in white lab coats drip blood into test tubes in search of genetic clues.

The seven-month-old DNA analysis facility is an important part of efforts by Iraq to bolster its security forces as the US military hands over responsibility to locals ahead of the withdrawal of US combat troops from urban centres this month.

‘This is the first step, to analyse DNA in Iraq,’ said Shafan Khalid, a student from Arbil in the widely autonomous northern region of Kurdistan, looking up from his work.

Photos show rape and sex abuse in Iraq jails

London, May 28: Photographs of Iraqi prisoner abuse which US President Barack Obama does not want released include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Thursday.

The images are among photographs included in a 2004 report into prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison conducted by US Major General Antonio Taguba.

Taguba included allegations of rape and sexual abuse in his report, and on Wednesday he confirmed to the Daily Telegraph that images supporting those allegations were also in the file.

Iraq’s Alcohol-drinking Youth

Baghdad, May 27: The consumption of alcohol in on the upswing in Iraq, particularly among its younger generations from different social classes and genders. “I and my friends are used to leave college and get some snacks with bear in a local restaurant at Mansour district,” Khalid, a business school student in Baghdad, told.

“There is nothing to do in this country and we have to find nice ways to have fun with our friends. The alcohol is just a detail and can help us get some relaxation from the tough life.”

Iraq air raids hit mostly women and children

Baghdad, April 16: Air strikes and artillery barrages have taken a heavy toll among the most vulnerable of the Iraqi people, with children and women forming a disproportionate number of the dead.

Analysis carried out for the research group Iraq Body Count (IBC) found that 39 per cent of those killed in air raids by the US-led coalition were children and 46 per cent were women. Fatalities caused by mortars, used by American and Iraqi government forces as well as insurgents, were 42 per cent children and 44 per cent women.

Saddam’s room to host honeymooners

Baghdad, April 14: Iraq has invited honeymooners to stay in Saddam’s luxurious bedroom in a presidential palace located in the war-torn town of Hillah.

The Iraqi cultural heritage officials have offered the former dictator’s bedroom for £150 per night as a part of efforts made to revive the country’s tourism industry.

The presidential palace, which used to stun visitors with its numerous Roman columns, chandeliers and gargantuan bathrooms, has been built on top of a manmade hill overlooking the Euphrates.