U.S. Forces Try to Quell Insurgency in Mosul
The Iraqi government hurriedly pulled in troops Friday to help control the burgeoning insurgency here, while Sunni Muslim preachers used weekly prayers to urge Iraqis to take up arms on behalf of their brothers in Fallouja.
The Iraqi government called in national guardsmen from camps on the Iranian and Syrian borders, according to an Associated Press report. Meanwhile, the U.S. moved a Marine Stryker battalion from Fallouja to help quell the violence in Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city.
On Thursday night, U.S. planes bombed the southwest region of the city, held by guerrilla forces. The attacks came after insurgents raged through the city for two days, burning police stations, terrorizing police officers and Iraqi national guards, stealing weapons and assassinating key public figures.
Insurgents Friday attacked the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of two Kurdish political parties, setting off a gun battle.
Ten guardsmen were killed in Mosul, said U.S. Brig. Gen. Carter F. Ham, who commands an Army battalion in the city. The Iraqi interior minister fired the police chief amid accusations that the police were conspiring with insurgents.
“It’s fair to say that there are some ties to the insurgents,” Ham said.
Meanwhile, Sunni preachers at three key mosques called for jihad. “U.S. forces have dishonored us, killed our sons and detained our women. Therefore, it is every Muslim’s duty to go to jihad,” one preacher said.
A military spokesman said U.S. forces were in control, but a Los Angeles Times correspondent traveling around the city spotted only three Humvees. Iraqi police officers and national guardsmen seemed to have vanished, the correspondent said.
Elsewhere, two car bombs killed eight people in the south-central town of Hillah, which had been almost entirely peaceful. In the northern town of Tall Afar, insurgents attacked a police station, and there was hard fighting in Ramadi, a city about 30 miles west of Fallouja.
Insurgents brought down the third U.S. helicopter in two days, a Black Hawk flying near Taji, a few miles north of Baghdad. No one was killed in any of the incidents, but three soldiers were wounded in Friday’s crash.
Abu Musab Zarqawi, thought to be one of the leaders of the foreign insurgents, issued an Internet message urging Fallouja fighters to defy the Americans.
At Umm Qura, one of the largest mosques in Baghdad, Mohammed Basher Faidhi, a spokesman for the Sunni Muslim Scholars Assn., urged worshipers to join the insurgency and boycott January’s scheduled elections.
The message was only slightly less militant in the predominantly Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Sadr City. Sheik Abdul Zahra Swaidi condemned the involvement of clerics in the elections.
Special correspondent Ahmed reported from Mosul and Times staff writer Rubin from Baghdad. Special correspondent Said Rifai in Baghdad contributed to this report.