Ramadi Mosques Searched for Insurgents
Ramadi mosques searched for insurgents (Army Times – AP)
Iraqi forces backed by U.S. soldiers and Marines raided mosques Tuesday in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi and detained a prominent cleric following fierce clashes that hospital officials said killed at least four people. U.S. aircraft also rocketed a mosque northwest of Ramadi on Monday after insurgents opened fire from there on U.S. Marines, the command said. The seven mosques targeted in Ramadi are suspected of supporting insurgents through a range of activities, including harboring terrorists, storing illegal weapons caches, promoting violence and encouraging insurgent recruitment, the U.S. command said. Sheikh Abdul-Aleim Saadi, the provincial leader of the influential Association of Muslim Scholars, was detained at Mohammed Aref Mosque, his relatives and followers said.
Angry residents accused Americans of disrespecting the sanctity of city mosques. Ã¢€œThis cowboy behavior cannot be accepted,Ã¢€ said cleric Abdullah Abu Omar of the Ramadi Mosque. Ã¢€œThe Americans seem to have lost their senses and have gone out of control.Ã¢€ The 1st Marine Division said the raids followed a pattern of insurgent activity in and around Ramadi mosques in recent weeks. Ã¢€œThe 1st Marine Division respects the religious and cultural significance represented by mosques,Ã¢€ it said in a statement. Ã¢€œHowever, when insurgents violate the sanctity of the mosque by using the structure for military purposes, the site loses its protective status.Ã¢€
The participation of American Marines and soldiers in the raids was limited to supporting Iraqi security forces, said Brig. Gen. Joseph Dunford, assistant division commander of the 1st Marine Division.
On Monday, U.S. aircraft attacked a mosque in the nearby town of Hit and set it on fire after insurgents hiding in the shrine opened fire on American Marines, the U.S. military said. In Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, insurgents opened fire from a mosque after a car bomb exploded in front of a U.S. convoy, the military said. One U.S. soldier was killed and nine were wounded, the U.S. command said. City hospitals reported at least two Iraqis killed and 18 wounded.
While strikes that damage mosques may cause short-term harm to our position, this should have been done long ago. We simply can’t fight a war against people who violate the laws of war by hiding in protected sites without taking action against them when they do so. Defeating the insurgency is Job One. The quicker that happens, the quicker the politics can be handled.