Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Appointment in Samarra
Scepticism grows over the Sammarra firefight, with even the Telegraph sucking its teeth and shaking its head.

US forces insisted they had killed 54 Iraqi attackers after two of their armoured convoys came under co-ordinated attack while delivering new currency to local banks on Sunday. But local people and a hospital doctor reported only eight dead, who they insisted were mainly civilians, including an Iranian pilgrim.

Yahoo news goes into the inconsistencies in more detail.

According to him, a total of 60 militants, divided into two groups, attacked two convoys escorting new Iraqi currency to banks in the city.

Another four assailants in a BMW attacked a separate engineering convoy.

If the US troops killed 46 and captured 11 of them, only three of the survivors would have been left to pick up the corpses.

On Kimmit's figures the calculus becomes even hazier -- with 54 killed, 22 wounded and one captured, 13 militants remain unaccounted for, although both commanders did say the cash convoys also came under attack on their way in and out of the city.

As to how the troops came up with their casualty figures, Rudesheim said it was by counting their weapons.

So what actually happened? A firsthand account here from SFTT

...most of the casualties were civilians, not insurgents or criminals as being reported. During the ambushes the tanks, brads and armored HUMVEES hosed down houses, buildings, and cars while using reflexive fire against the attackers. One of the precepts of "Iron Hammer" is to use an Iron Fist when dealing with the insurgents. As the division spokesman is telling the press, we are responding with overwhelming firepower and are taking the fight to the enemy. The response to these well coordinated ambushes was as a one would expect. The convoy continued to move, shooting at ANY target that appeared to be a threat. RPG fire from a house, the tank destroys the house with main gun fire and hoses the area down with 7.62 and 50cal MG fire. Rifle fire from an alley, the brads fire up the alley and fire up the surrounding buildings with 7.62mm and 25mm HE rounds. This was actually a rolling firefight through the entire town.