May 21, 2004

Back to Iraq (again).

The blogosphere's reporter in Iraq is back on duty.

Last year, Chris Allbritton raised US $13,000 on the web and filed reports from Iraq during the early days of the invasion. He recently raised another US $11,000 to go back to Iraq again. Allbritton arrived in Baghdad a couple of days ago and has started filing a new series of reports on his blog, Back to Iraq. His latest post deals with the downfall of Ahmed Chalabi and the apparent bombing of an Iraqi wedding by US forces near the Syrian border.

In other news, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt stuck to the story that the attack in the desert yesterday, about 25 km from the Syrian border, was no wedding party, contradicting what many news organizations have reported and many Iraqis have claimed. When pressed to explain the number of women and children among the casualties — as shown on APTV, hardly an Al Jazeera clone — he said the images on the television and what American troops found on the ground were “inconsistent.”

Specifically, Kimmitt says the attack was in the middle of the desert took place along a known “rat-line” that serves as a route for foreign fighters and smugglers coming into Iraq. U.S. troops recovered shotguns, pistols, AK-47, sniper rifles, RPG launchers and other weaponry along with about $1,000 in mixed Iraqi dinars, he said. When it was pointed out that the sum of money and cache of guns didn’t seem that unusual — for Iraq — Kimmitt basically shrugged.

“This operation was not something that fell out of the sky,” he said. “We had significant intelligence which caused us to conduct a military operation in the middle of the desert. … We are satisfied at this point that the intelligence that led us there was validated by what we found on the ground. There was not a wedding party going on.”

Most reporters in the room seemed to have sources different from Kimmitt’s. A Reuters reporter said a wedding singer and his brother were at this gathering and died in the blasts The singer’s cousin was the source. Kimmitt stuck to his “We don’t know, we’re investigating,” line and promised … an investigation.

Finally, after a brisk 37 minutes, [chief coalition press flak Dan] Senor cut off the questioning and called it a day.

Posted by Magpie at May 21, 2004 07:33 AM | Iraq | Technorati links |