Residents: Sadr City Raids Target Civilians - 02.25.2008

[Update: Our correspondent, Nabeel Kamal, tells us that the cousins interviewed by the New York Times about the US raids later died due to their wounds. These are the same cousins mentioned in this video as having been “martyred.”]

Baghdad, Iraq - Sadr City - In October 2007 the US Military claims it raided 3 locations in pursuit of a Shi’a masterminding a kidnapping gang. Iraqi civilians in the area claimed differently. The Coalition forces claim 49 criminals were killed and no civilians were injured in the raid. Iraqi Police and hospital officials reported only 15 deaths including three children. Another report from the Iraqi Ministry of Interior claimed there were 13 killed and 69 injured.

In other reports, the shadowy “Task Force 88″ or “Task Force Black” was cited as being involved in this raid. The report from Long War Journal suggested that they were involved due to the United States’ claim that the raid targeted the so-called “Special Groups,” off-shoots of the Mahdi Army who have defied Muqtada Sadr’s ceasefire order and are being supplied by Iran. In Esquire, Thomas P.M. Barnett writes that Task Force 88 was sent into Somalia seeking Al-Qa’eda operatives, with orders to “Kill anyone still alive and leave no unidentified bodies behind.

Iraqi civilians in Sadr City expressed anger, frustration, and confusion regarding the raid. Ali Al-Dabbagh, spokesman for the Iraqi Government, says that Prime Minister Maliki called General Petraeus to lodge a complaint, and attacked the United States for killing civilians and using excessive force. None of the civilians who spoke with Alive in Baghdad could explain the reason for the attacks, they claimed there were no fighters for the Mahdi Army in their area, and implored the international media to come and examine the neighborhood themselves. Alive in Baghdad correspondent Nabeel Kamal witnessed no evidence of militia activity in the area while producing this story. The US and Iraqi governments have agreed to investigate the incident further, but as this goes to publish, Alive in Baghdad could not determine any new details or information uncovered by the investigation.


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