Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Iraq - Another weekend of death

Two aircraft crashed in Iraq Monday killing nine. In the first incident an Iraqi Air Force plane crashed 150 km north of Baghdad during a sandstorm, according to an Iraqi Ministry official. Four US personnel and the Iraqi pilot were killed. In the second incident an Italian military helicopter crashed near Nassiriya killing all four on board.

Uncertainty still surrounds the where and when for the trial of former dictator Saddam Hussein. Leading Iraqi politicians have said several times that the trial could start within months. But Iraqi prosecutors and their U.S. advisers say a trial is more likely in 2006. And the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, has released a statement on a website claiming that he was injured but is now recovering and ‘overseeing operations’.

Al Qaeda in Iraq were claiming responsibility for two devastating attacks on Iraqi army recruits as they queued for medical checks, yesterday. The US Military say there have been a record 430 suicide attacks in May. Running street battles were reported in parts of western Baghdad as the US/Iraqi forces launched ‘Operation Lightning’. And one British soldier was killed in a roadside bomb 160 km north of Basra. Lance Corporal Alan Brackenbury, 21, was the 89th Briton to die in Iraq.

May death tolls – US – 76 / British – 2 / Italian – 4 / Bulgarian – 2 / Iraqi – 269 /
Civilian death toll – over 700 [Iraq Body Count report a total of 21,000 + since the start of hostilities in March 2003]

[16:18 GMT 31/05/2005]

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